Gentem Bowl Sessions

Japanese snowboard soul meets Canadian wonder at the Gentem Bowl Sessions, in the heart of the Canadian Interior.

The Gentemstick crew is a group of friends from Japan who mostly hail from the Niseko region on the North Island. They make snowboards, called Gentemsticks, and they build giagantic rideable bowls out of snow. And because they're all craftsman, both the boards and the bowls are beautifully built, like works of art that are also really fun to ride.

Every spring, for a few years now, the crew has been holding somewhat underground bowl-riding sessions in Japan. But this last weekend, the crew brought the fun to Whitewater, a little resort outside of Nelson, B.C. in Canada, for the Gentemstick Bowl and Bank Session.

The session was inspired by Nelson-based Sweetgrass Productions, who recruited the Gentemstick guys to come out to B.C. to build a bowl for a part of their upcoming film "Valhalla."

The session was a two-day deal. Saturday was reserved for an invite-only list of locals, pros and Gentemstick crew, with the general public invited to come up and watch. Spectators filled the deck of the bowl, loving every minute of it, cheering, hollering and waving fists for all the bowl riders.

Josh Dirksen, who is filming with Sweetgrass, came out early for the session to help with dig. It was his first time checking out the bowl-building scene and he couldn't get enough.

The session went off all day, until the mountain closed. Then, after everyone had left, the Gentem gang stayed on, raking the bowl smooth so it could freeze overnight and set up for the next day.

Sunday, the public was invited to get in and give the bowl a go. Easter services kept the masses away most of the morning, so the Gentem crew had the bowl to themselves to do their own type of worshipping.

And for whatever reason, there was some sort of misty-almost-spiritual aspect to the whole session. Maybe it's the super-mellow yet clearly contemplative demeanor of all the Gentem guys, or the simple fact that all those hours of digging, and shaping and reshaping and raking -- all that energy is poured into something that's just going to melt and disappear. There's got to be some sort of lesson in Zen in there somewhere ...

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