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Melo Imai opens up about her troubled past, return to snowboarding

TOKYO (TR) – Snowboarder-turned-adult-video-star Melo Imai said she attempted suicide and sought psychiatric treatment in a televised interview earlier this month that covered her troubled past and her victorious return to snowboarding, reports Sports Hochi (Nov. 3).

During a broadcast of Fuji Television Network’s “Kiteretsu Jinsei,” which features women who have led tumultuous lives, Imai, 30, described her difficult upbringing, which included her father’s intensive training program that began when she was just 6 years old, and the rise and fall of her once-promising career.

Melo Imai
Melo Imai returned to snowboarding glory two months before her AV debut for label Muteki

The former athlete, who has starred in two adult video (AV) productions for popular label Muteki, parted ways with her father in 2002 and entered a child welfare center. She said she eventually became depressed and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

Despite the trials and tribulations, Imai notched a number of achievements, including a victory at the 2004–05 FIS Snowboard World Cup. But she lost during qualifying in representing Japan in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy in the half-pipe event.

“Japan’s embarrassment”

Once hailed as a child prodigy, Imai said she was left shattered by the loss in the wake a backlash from the public, which claimed she was “a waste of taxpayers’ money” and “Japan’s embarrassment.”

Unable to go out, Imai became a hikikomori, or a recluse, for six months until she decided to “become a normal girl” by moving to Osaka. There, she worked as a bar hostess and splurged at host clubs, which provide women with male companions, by outlaying 5 million yen.

Imai later turned to work as a prostitute once the sponsorship money she saved from her snowboarding days had been exhausted. “I wanted to give congratulatory money at my friend’s wedding, so I worked for three days at a sex parlor,” Imai said.

After, as she said, “living started to feel stupid,” Imai attempted suicide by slashing her wrists. “I just wanted to depart from this world,” said Imai, who revealed in a past interview that she was raped when she was 17.

“First time after 11 years”

To this point, it has been quite a journey for Imai. Her other activities have included work as a television personality, the penning of an autobiography and appearances in nude photography collections. She has also been married and divorced and given birth to two children.

She can also say she has re-emerged as a snowboarder. Two months before the release of her AV debut for Muteki in March, she took first place in the half-pipe at the 35th All Japan Snowboarding Championships.

“I was so nervous since this was my first time on the super-pipe after 11 years,” Imai said after her victory, according to snowboarding site Heavysnowker. “But my mom came to watch me this time, so I was thinking I just had to try my best and win. So I’m really happy I was able to do that.”