Sister cities come together for Ski to Sea

By Issei Tanaka

Hikaru Yasuma is a Whatcom Community College student who will graduate in spring quarter 2019. Hikaru Yasuma is the president of the Japanese club. Her father Yoshihisa Yasuma came to Bellingham 26 years ago to participate in the 1993 Ski to Sea race. Yoshihisa Yasuma participated in the 2019 Ski to Sea.
The Ski to Sea began in 1973 and has been supported by over 900 volunteers every year.
Over 400 teams of three to eight people participate in seven different athletic events: cross-country skiing, downhill skiing or snowboarding, running, road biking, canoeing, cyclocross biking and sea kayaking.
Yoshihisa Yasuma was a road biker for Ski to Sea in 1993 and again for this year race. The 2019 road bike course was 41 miles (66km) and had a 2100 ft (600m) difference in altitude between the starting and ending point.
The course started at the DOT Shuksan snow shed on Mt. Baker Highway, went through the Silver Lake Park entrance, and finished at Riverside Park in Everson.
It rained the day before the race, which made the course potentially dangerous for Yasuma, who said he could reach almost 37 miles per hour (60km) on a downhill slope.
26 years ago, Yoshihisa Yasuma was a beginner in road biking, but now he has much experience through many other races. For instance, he has completed a full triathlon three times. He did not worry about the slippery road much.
Yoshihisa Yasuma and Hikaru Yasuma came to Bellingham from Tateyama, Japan, a sister city of Bellingham. Tateyama is in Chiba Prefecture, Japan.
Bellingham and Tateyama became sister cities on July 11, 1958, and both cities have been building an international relationship since then.
Participating in Ski to Sea with the sister city association team was part of their international exchange. By visiting, Yoshihisa Yasuma is improving international relations.
This year, the Sister Cities Ambassadors organized nine people: cross-country skiers Kevin and Allen-Schmid, downhill skier Ji-Young Hong, runner Eriko Kondo, road biker Yoshihisa Yasuma, canoers Blaine Holden and Darryl Spencer, cyclocross biker Eric Smith, and kayaker Temuulen Smith.
Hikaru Yasuma also said when she wanted to study abroad in America, she decided to come to Bellingham because of the connection she would have.
This June 2019, Hikaru Yasuma will graduate from Whatcom, so her father Yoshihisa Yasuma decided to come and compete in Ski to Sea at Bellingham for the first time in 26 years.
The Sister Cities Ambassadors successfully finished the race at 228th place among 419 teams.

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