It’s that time of year again, innit snowlovers?
You know the ski season is nigh when you see the ads crop up on social media or perhaps the catalogue flitting about at your local shopping centre. Or maybe your next door neighbour is dusting off his knuckle dusters and mouthguard and you’re wondering why …
Yes, it’s the annual Aldi snow sale this Saturday.
But I’m calling for an end to it in its current set-up and here’s why.
The initial word about a new resort area in the Myoko Kogen region of Honshu, Japan wasn’t exactly that enticing.
Firstly, Lotte Arai, or Arai as it was formerly known, was actually a fully functioning resort up until its closure in 2006.
Secondly while refurbished hotels (the centrepiece of the ski area) get some people going, as a bit of dirtbag at heart I often find the sell on these things about as enticing as watching snowboard PGS.
But in the days leading up to my visit, any mention of Lotte Arai to those who’d been there was generally met with a knowing nod and simple acknowledgement I can best sum up as: “this place is the goods”.
There’s not much need to duck ropes in Madarao. Why? Because unlike a lot of Japanese resorts there simply aren’t that many.
In skiing as in life, you tend to look for quality over quantity as the years roll by.
While the Chamonixs, Revelstokes and Whistlers of this world have their lengthy charms there’s a lot to be said for the small, uncrowded ski hills that pack plenty more in their size suggests.
Now I’m happy to add another little fire cracker to the list: Madarao.
Some say it’s the powder.
Some say it’s the culture and food.
Some say it’s the ease of access when coming from down under.
But if you want to know how Japan really sticks a dagger into the side of most other countries’ ski resorts, this frame from the Nozawa Onsen ticket office sums it up.
Who are Australia’s greatest-ever winter athletes? With the Winter Olympics one month away I thought I’d pose what is a difficult question.
How do you compare snowboarders to skiers and those who survived off the sniff of a panini in the 80s to millionaire athletes of the most recent generation?
Well, I’m going to give it a go. The results won’t please everyone but having been to four Games and seen most of them first hand I’m going to rate them from 10 to 1. Drum roll please …