Lotte Arai, Japan’s flash new resort is still for powder poachers
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”.
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 …
In the first of a series of interviews leading up to the Winter Olympics, starting on February 9, The Snow Gauge chats to moguls skier Matt Graham and talks about his rivalry with Canadian great Mikael Kingsbury.
Matt Graham is looking to add an Olympic medal to his World Cup wins and awards. Pic: OWIA
Just how do you dethrone the king?
It’s a question that has been on the mind of Australian moguls champion Matt Graham for some time.
While Graham will head to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February as one his country’s best medal prospects, there’s royalty in his way.
It comes in the form of Canadian Mikael Kingsbury, a six-time World Cup champion who, quite simply, is the best the sport has seen.
Craig Tansley laying out a sweet arc at Soho Basin, NZ.
It’s the size of a resort but doesn’t have a chairlift.
There’s untracked powder as far as the eye can see. There’s cruisey wide-open bowls, chutes or hits for the adventurous. There’s an extraordinary lunch served in amazing surrounds. There’s a dozen of you but probably less. There’s no pressure.
It’s Soho Basin in New Zealand, and I suggest you get there before the word gets out.