A Day At Rusutsu

Niseko Hirafu has received 2 metres of snow in the past 72 hours and it is still snowing! Truly epic conditions. So this morning a few of us jumped in the car, left Niseko and drove to Rusutsu, a ski resort 45 mins away…

A sensible person would ask why the need to drive so far away when the dump of the season so far has thrown so much powder at us. A good question. Thankfully we made the right decision and were rewarded with light, dry, bottomless powder under foot and clear skies above offering fantastic visibility. All the lifts were running and we got fresh tracks through 60cm of fresh every single run. Day trips to Rusutsu, we love you!

Heading into the trees

Feels like you have the resort to yourselves

The Red Bullet assesses the landing

Launch 1

Launch 2

Smiles as big as Jolly Ranchers

So much new snow to play in

Steep and deep

Make sure you pack your powder board

Came back to find this view from the window

In case you’re wondering how the conditions were in Niseko, check out today’s Daily Flake snow report for some awesome footage:

Japan Snow Report – The Daily Flake 31 Jan 2011 from The Daily Flake on Vimeo.

Awful Feedback

A guest returning from a JSE holiday in January 2011 had this to say:

“It was awful.

Far too much snow. Groomed pistes with 2 to 3 inches of powder and no ice, lumps or bumps.

Ques at the lifts are terrible typically taking 30 to 40 seconds during week days and 2 or 3 minutes at the bottom lift on a Saturday.

Some people even had the cheek to ski on the same piste we were on.

Food is cheap, tasty and in most cases you know what you are ordering. Where is the challenge in that?

The bar staff and owners are really pleased to see you and in some bars you pop in for a quick drink and then they insist on giving you free beer and food.

The worst thing is when you try and leave the resort to go home, the Hotel owners surround your taxi and keep hugging you. Anyone would think we were in Royston Vasey and not allowed to leave.

It was nothing like a traditional ski holiday so next year we have been discussing going back to France or Italy where we can guarantee crap snow, overcrowded pistes, big ques and expensive, non de script food and beer served up with belligerence and attitude by staff who couldn’t give a toss if you were there or not.

After all. That’s what we have come to expect a real skiing holiday should be all about.”

Phil Hutson, Leicester, UK, January 2011

A Weekend at Hanazono

There are some really exciting ski and snowboard events and competitions taking place this weekend at Niseko’s Hanazono resort.

Today was the training day for the FIS Snowboard Japan Cup 2011 Halfpipe event. Tomorrow, 29th January, will see the main event and there will be some top riders in action. The competition begins at 09:20 and we recommend getting there early to avoid missing out on a good view point.

Then on Sunday Hanazono will be hosting Bagjump Mania 2011. The Bagjump is an innovative tool used to practice freestyle jumps safely (see image below). So you can expect to see a whole host of skiers and snowboarders going all out to see who can throw the biggest tricks. It’s a great spectacle and not to be missed if you’re anywhere near the area. The competition begins at 11:00.

Head to Hanazono this weekend and you’ll find a lot going on with enough excitement for everyone!

Niseko: The Season So Far

After the slowest start to a season for 20 years Niseko has been playing catch up in style. It has now snowed for 15 days in a row and the ‘no snow show’ of early December has become but a distant memory.

Anyone who has been in Niseko since 2011 arrived and kick started the epic snowfalls has been rewarded with dump after dump of fresh, light powder!

Here are a few photos of the area taken over the past few weeks showing how the snow level has risen and risen in and around the Niseko resorts:

10 Dec 2010. Enough snow has fallen to cover the ski runs

12 Dec 2010. The slow start continues but a decent dump lifts hopes

14 Dec 2010. Lifts re-open although a lot of shrubbery still visible

16 Dec 2010. More fresh snow and areas are slowly filling in

21 Dec 2010. The clouds clear, Mt. Yotei is revealed …

21 Dec 2010. … and the resort of Hirafu looks much healthier

26 Dec 2010. This year santa brought us … a big dump of snow :)

30 Dec 2010. A beautiful bluebird to bring 2010 to a close

06 Jan 2011. Big snow falls and the Japan Ski Experience office is buried

07 Jan 2011. Heavy snow continues and people lose their cars …

08 Jan 2011. Balconies fill with snow quicker than they can be cleared

13 Jan 2011. Moiwa. Grins big as watermelons given away for free

13 Jan 2011. Every building in sight is wearing a big snow hat

14 Jan 2011. Some complain about shovelling snow. Everyone else euphoric

18 Jan 2011. Best runs of the season today

18 Jan 2011. 2 weeks + fresh snow everyday = Epic. Good job Niseko!

Celebrating 100 years of Skiing in Japan

2011 marks a century of skiing in Japan and the main celebrations take place in Myoko Kogen this weekend, the 15th and 16th January. If you’re in or near the Myoko area, make sure to be at the ‘birthplace of Japanese skiing’ and join the party!

You can also click here for further information