by Keith Wilkins So there we were… the mighty Cru (including family and new friends) assembling from all parts of the greater Tokyo for the Annual Ski Trip, this year in the mightier Japanese Alps around Hakuba. Riding on trains, (planes), and automobiles, the spectacle of the Cru eventually trickled into the fine accommodations that Frank (and by Frank we mean Junko) coordinated for all of us. Even thoughFrank had counseled the Cru to keep it down after 2230 (hotel policy) …when it was already 2345… a few of us remained up to ring the midnight bells in good spirits excited for the weekend in the mountains. After a delightful breakfast, the Cru eventually rumbled their way to Tsugaike and enjoyed an overcast day shredding the slopes… unfortunately without much newly-fallen white stuff… but still enjoyed the wonderful frozen form of water known as snow, which on this particular day, was likened to skiing on sugar. At the end of the day, 14 members and their gear were carefully packed into the last 8-passenger shuttle van from the mountain to the hotel, with the late-comers having to walk. The evening consisted of new connections and friendships through such card games known as “UNO” and “AS SHOLE” and about 37 pizzas that Junko (once again) kindly ordered for the Cru. Sunday started on a ‘sour’ note as Frank, who had promised to wake up at 0600 to link up the replay of the England vs Wales 6 Nations game, was nowhere to be found…. the Cru that were up were patiently awaiting, watching the game on their smartphones until half time when ‘the tall one’ finally appeared. After enjoying another breakfast and packing our bags, the Cru decided to split between Tsugaike and Happo One to tackle a Blue Bird day, with much better snow conditions, in the beautiful Japanese Alps. The Tsugaike Cru ripped groomers all day trying to see how fast they could get down the mountain and therefore how many runs they could get in, while the Happo One Cru enjoyed the groomers and some backcountry teamwork. Of course, the top highlight of the trip was Tooley on two fronts… his ski outfit from 1989 and his unique dance moves to “Smack That”!… with an honourable mention of the Four And Twenty meat pies on sale in the cafe. See you all next year !