Article: Niseko puts the POW in Powder

Published on www.nisade.com

Back-flipping actionNiseko has many attractive features, including great restaurants, quaint yet quality facilities, and a unique Japanese-culture-meets-western-ski-town ambiance. But let’s be honest, what brought us here and what keeps us coming back is the white stuff: the pure abundance and consistency of powdery snow.

For me, a powder day means bombing runs that I am usually afraid of, making an awesome snow angel and getting my friends to take lots of pictures, and probably getting stuck somewhere and having to dig myself out. However, for one young man that I caught up with recently, a powder day means back-flips.

“Oh righto,” you might say, “some park rat who spends his time doing tricks instead of chasing fresh lines.” But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Geoff prefers to spend his time off-piste and only visits the park on occasion. Back-flips are just something that evolved out of a love for playing in the deep Niseko powder.

“There was a day when we wanted to go and build a kicker somewhere,” says Geoff, “and I asked my mate what he wanted to try. He said back-flips, so I thought, ok. We are doing back-flips. I wasn’t really scared to try, because I knew it’d be like landing in a giant pillow.”

I am definitely not encouraging anyone to go out and start back-flipping; tricks are risky, and I for one am happy with my attempts at 180s that usually result in a 90. What I will say is that Niseko’s beautiful, reliable, and cushion-y powder creates plenty of playful opportunities.

Geoff has also snowboarded extensively in Australia and New Zealand, but when I asked if he had tried a back-flip at any of these resorts, his comment was, “It never even crossed my mind”. The quality and regularity of snowfall in Niseko creates a gloriously distinctive skiing experience.

Let’s talk figures. The snowfall in Hirafu during December, January and March of the 2012-2013 season was 418cm, 443cm, and 406cm respectively. These measurements were taken at the base of Grand Hirafu, suggesting a much higher quantity on the upper slopes. Some speedy snow maths will reveal that this averages out to 14cm a day. Every day! This tops the snowfall of the legendary Mt Baker, WA by more than 100cm over the same period, despite their record-breaking December ’12.

No wonder Geoff is doing back-flips!

I know this sounds like a sales pitch, but I am truly smitten by Niseko and its capacity to deliver on a promise of consistent snow.  Whether you’re thinking snow angel or 360, these resorts provide the powder to play with. So next time you are choosing a ski destination, perhaps drawing up a list of pros and cons, make sure you put a big POW in the pros column for Niseko!

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