Becoming Pro’s in Powder
And, that’s a wrap; I’ve dropped the last of the Pro Powder team at Kutchan station and sent them off on their travels before they head home. After the last drive in the van back ‘home’, I definitely feel a little bit sad and if anything a little homesick. Aw. It’s strange to not be going home after the season, but – apart from not seeing Marmite (my dog) – there are exciting times ahead. I just have a little waiting time to kill, and having moved from the little green house to the big green, and very empty, staff house in town ‘Renient’, it’s going to go slooowly. The last two leave in the morning and then it’ll be me and Conor, who is currently waddling round the house with his knee in a brace post surgery.
Working as a supervisor, and living a little out of town, meant balancing a professional and social relationship with the team was a challenge for me at times. It’s always the good times that stick and I have some very fond memories of the team:
– the one who came to Japan and doesn’t like sushi, and who also couldn’t cook but became a chef over the course of 4 months
– the sheep shearer who is allergic to wool but gives a brilliant rendition of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’
– the Skiline geek who went up and down the gondola for 10hrs to be No.1 for the most vertical skied, in Niseko, in a day
– the one who broke their shoulder on a green run (not me!)
– the punters
– the apricot jam, egg and cheese (something like that!) on toast lovers
– the ones who always got the first lift and of whom I was always very jealous as I did the split
– and lastly, the oh so very funny banter as I ferried them around in the van.
Skiing with these guys was a pleasure and I definitely won’t forget their whoops of joy and big smiley faces as we cruised through the powder.
Spring is definitely here, and although no blossom yet (it slowly travels north – I hope to catch some of it at some point), the metres of powder turned to metres of slush and, finally this week, brown patches have appeared on the lower slopes. The park has moved up the mountain and I have never seen such huge kickers in my life. Our Pro Punter day saw some of the boys try and clear the final kicker. Despite straight-lining the run up to the jump and nearly going into a tuck, they still scraped the knuckle – insane!
There have been a few events over the final weekends of the season such as the slalom in Hanazono where Pro Powder’s Jeanie came third in the girls. There was a bumps competition (I lost the photographs of the actual event, doh!) with an interesting rut line at the bottom where skiers basically straight-lined a dodgy rut line and bounced their knees to the finish.
The Japanese freestyle team were hanging around over the school holidays – the powder hounds had gone home. Eri went to compete in a Giant Slalom race and complete the avalanche & mountain safety course to obtain her ISIA card – she is awesome and passed both.
I still can’t believe with so few lifts open and the interesting conditions this weekend the car park was still full – I don’t think I have ever come across a nation SO keen to ski.
The locals have been spreading ash over their fields to encourage the snow to melt so they can start growing crops. It has also been interesting to see tennis courts, driveways, pavements, even buildings emerge from the melting snow.
I came here with the goal, among many others, to build my confidence in powder and being surrounded by a lot of snow. That box has a nice tick in it. Even when the conditions weren’t powdery, there was always good snow to be had and pockets of awesome snow to be found. That I will miss without a doubt. Skiing through the trees, face sprayed with snow, bouncing through endless powder was incredible. I miss it already. Okay, maybe the teeth-chattering broken biscuits right at the beginning of the season, some of the rain and wind, and maybe the mountains of slush on the home run at the end of the season weren’t ideal, but fun in its own way and they only acted as book ends to what was otherwise a fantastic ski season. In my post before coming here, I said that Niseko blatantly wouldn’t have as much snow as they are accustomed to, and sadly that came true. But hey, they still had more than enough.
This time last year I was celebrating HARD. I had just finished all my BASI exams and was drinking, eating a lot of food at countless end of season BBQ’s and definitely would not have imagined that in a year’s time I would be in Japan having had a pretty great season, that I’d be going to Australia and doing a season in New Zealand (job confirmed – Coronet Peak/living in Queenstown), or that I’d be about to run a marathon. 6 days to go; roll on Nagano…