This winter I applied for a Park Shaping position in Japan, but due to the amount of snow they get they don’t build a park until the spring (champagne problems eh!) otherwise they would forever be closing it for storms and digging out rails!
I worked at Niseko Village Resort which is one of the 4 resorts that makes up Niseko, it mainly caters for families with Hanazono catering for the park riders. During the spring the patrol staff build the terrain park, which means it looks like this..
Not the standard of park you expect from a resort nowadays and the general feedback was that it was unsafe with wonky lips and bad transitions.
I worked for Niseko Village Snow School from December 2011 until February 2012 when I was lucky enough to be offered a contract extension until April. This was my first time teaching on a mountain and it was great fun, lots of new challenges, like the language barrier for one! To teach here you can get a Japanese certification alongside your ‘real world’ one so I am also SAJ 2 & 1 now!
I have never taught using a chair lift or had to select terrain for my lessons as we have a dedicated lesson slope perfected crafted for our needs and a drag lift back home in MK.
This spring in Japan was my first time working with bigger cats (NV run Pistenbully 300 & 400’s) and shaping on a mountain, even overcoming the language barrier between myself and the groomers & patrol staff to build a safer park than Niseko Village has ever had, unfortunately due to quaint Japanese customs I could not get clearance to work on the park until the final few days of the build but after a jump they built broke the tester’s back they let me bring my experience in and help.
Above is the quarter pipe, next to the jump, so from the top of the park you can drop in and hit either the jump or the QP.
Below is a small Step Up kicker, 3M gap, this was the jump that broke the testers back, it was too whippy with too big of a gap but I managed to translate that we needed a longer transition (which was not easy) and a slighty smaller gap with pointing and hand signals but eventually it got through!
This is a small flat box, this was the first feature in the park off the gondola shaped and ready!
This was the view from the knuckle of the jump looking down to the bottom of the park, the QP is far left of the shot with a skate bowl/hip below and a banana box next to it and then a big wall ride to finish. The Japanese love bowls and skate/surf style riding so a bowl had to be part of it!