Fashion first at Sunday’s race |

Fashion first at Sunday’s race

Ian Cropp
Preston Utley/Vail DailyJapan's Akira Sasaki tickled the crowd pink in Sunday's World Cup slalom race at Beaver Creek.

For Japan’s Akira Sasaki, racing well just isn’t enough. “I need to have fun,” Sasaki said.Last year, Sasaki seemed to enjoy himself, donning a Spider Man suit and throwing fake spider webs into the crowd before he hit the slopes. And at the end of his slalom run – the first, not the second – he pulled a 180 to cross the finish line backwards.”My finish last year was so-so, so I decided to make a 180,” Sasaki said. “But today I did better.”

In Sunday’s slalom, Sasaki tied for fourth place.In the fashion contest, however, Sasaki earned a gold.Sasaki donned clothing from his own apparel line, EMUSI, which he says means “sold” in an older Japanese dialect.His proudly showed me his pink goggles.”There are so many Japanese who use it, but I just made them for myself,” Sasaki said. Well, apparently the Japanese aren’t the only ones riding Sasaki’s fashion wave. This year, American Steve Nyman is sporting EMUSI goggles.In addition to Sasaki’s pink goggles, he lit up the course with his pink poles.

By my estimation, there are only two other people I’ve seen with such fashion acumen, and both were five-year-old girls.And lest I forget Sasaki’s red and green boots.”They are Christmas colors,” Sasaki said.For anyone who missed Sasaki’s skiing or clothing, he’ll plans to be back next year.”Today, I wore nothing, but next race, maybe I’ll wear a Japanese animation costume,” Sasaki said.Podium placers

Sasaki’s teammate, Kantaro Minagawa, knows just how important it is to keep your feet warm while looking good.In the racer’s corral, Minagawa traded his boots for a pair of vintage black and orange Jordan’s.”My style is freeride,” Minagawa said.Ted Ligety made a bold statement with his racing, as well as his goggles.Ligety’s said his pink Uvex’s were just what he needed for a podium finish.”They seem to be good luck this year,” Ligety said. “I tried yellow Saturday, and I’ve got some lime green ones as well, so we’ll be changing it up.”The eyesore of the week goes to Slovenia, whose lime-green uniforms just didn’t cut it.

Of the myriad fans, the best dressed was an eccentric Austrian. He was not wearing lederhosen, but a fur Spyder jacket and fur pants that made him look like Chewbacca from Star Wars.Best DNFKudos to the official bird of prey, “Liberty.” While being showcased in between races, the Falcon had the common sense to fly away from its handlers. If you see her catching a powder run or sipping on a foamy latte in the village, send her my regards. Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or Colorado

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