Category Archives: Editorials

Madarao, Japan: special offer for SRA subscribers

The deal

This month, Hakken – by Active Life, Madarao, is offering Snowriders Australia subscribers a one-off special deal.  If you are looking to travel between 17 December 2017 and 17 January 2018, and book by the end of October 2017, you’ll receive 20% off the accommodation rack rate, free continental breakfasts and one free drink at the Hakken inhouse bar.  Offers are open exclusively to SRA subscribers for a minimum stay of 3 nights or longer. Yep, that’s 20% off in peak season, meaning MadaPOW is almost guaranteed. But you need to book before the end of the October.

Hakken, Madarao

Situated less than 5 mins walk from the Madarao Resort chairlifts, Hakken by Active Life Madarao, is a small, relaxed snow lodge offering ski-in access for guests. Newly renovated in 2017, Hakken offers a unique experience for guests in some rooms, blending modern western style comforts with traditional Japanese Tatami floors.

Hakken, meaning Discovery in Japanese, offers its guests a unique experience filled with modern comforts, all things authentically Japanese, served by our friendly Australian, Kiwi and Japanese staff.

Enjoy a great night’s sleep in Hakken’s newly renovated rooms. They offer 3 attractive room styles for our guests:

  • Family Room for 4 people;
  • Deluxe Room for 3 people; and
  • Standard Room for 2 people.

All rooms are equipped to provide every convenience you could need for your stay, including free Wifi, private bathrooms, western style beds, an LCD TV, a safe, and a fridge.

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Hakken by Active Life Madarao is located in Madarao Ski Resort (aka Madarao Kogen) in the northern part of Nagano Prefecture (near a town called ‘Iiyama’), between Nozawa Onsen and Myoko Kogen. The nearest train station to Madarao Ski Resort is Iiyama train station (pronounce ‘ee-ya- ma’) which is easy to get to.

Hakken by Active Life Madarao also offers complimentary shuttle to and from Iiyama train station as well as to and  from Nozawa onsen for our hotel guests.

To be eligible, you must be a SRA subscriber.

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How to subscribe

Subscribing to Snowriders Australia is easy.

If you haven’t already subscribed by clicking on the ‘pop-up’ form on your arrival, simply click on the subscribe button on the top left hand side (on a desktop computer), or if you are on a tablet or mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the page and do the same.

To redeem you benefits, simply print out or screen-grab you confirmation email (Snowriders Australia will send you an email when you subscribe), and take it with you next time you visit your nearest participating retailer. Easy! Be sure to take down the Hakken Code displayed in your confirmation email.

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Snoga: It’s yoga for skiers

So you like yoga, but have you tried snoga? Snoga is the brainchild of Falls Creek local,  Janette Lawson, and it’s the latest craze to be sweeping the Aussie resorts.

To us, skiing and yoga are an unlikely pair. But speaking with Janette, we now understand this is a misconception: by definition yoga is the act of preparing the body for mediation, achieved by quietening the mind and focusing on one thing.  “Skiing is just that”, explains Lawson. “…It’s meditation in motion, particularly on advanced terrain, when really we are just focusing on the next turn”.

“Skiing is just like yoga”, explains Lawson.  “…It’s meditation in motion, particularly on advanced terrain, when really we are just focusing on the next turn”.

Lawson believes this is why guests feel just as rejuvenated from a snow holiday – despite the physical demands – as they do from a week spent by the pool in Bali. “True rest only comes when the mind is quiet. Mindfulness is found on the slopes and yoga is the perfect counterpoise to the physical strain placed on the body during a ski trip.”

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Snoga is hosted by instructors Jane and Janette, and run out of one of Falls Creek Resort’s most awarded lodges, Trackers Mountain Lodge.

Trackers Snoga Retreats are the perfect fusion of the best things in life; good food, new friends, skiing and the beautiful practice of yoga with stunning views of snow covered alps as your backdrop. Retreats are suitable for singles or couples. Non yoga partners and adult family members are welcome to stay without participating in yoga sessions if they wish.

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Yin Retreat

Qualified instructors will take you through a slower paced retreat designed to nourish body and soul and to get your central nervous system purrrrrring. Yin Yoga is a slower modality of yoga where poses are held for longer so that connective tissue – the fascia – is gently stressed and hydrated.

Complete beginners to elite athletes and everyone in between benefit from practicing Yin.  Your day starts with a leisurely breakfast and then a 90 min Yin class, after that the day is your own to spend as you with before we reconvene for an evening yin class.

Retreat

This is a more active retreat designed for the accomplished practitioner.  The day starts with a 90 min Vinyasa Class and we meet in the evening for a 60 min yin class to stretch and release after a day on the slopes.

“HypnoYoga”

This retreat is deeply restorative and suitable for beginner to advanced practitioners.

Hypnosis is best described as a deep state of relaxation.  In other words, a normal, natural, healthy state of mind. In this relaxed state the subconscious mind can be accessed and blocks that prevent us from living our optimal lives can be explored.

All attendees will have one on one time with the retreat facilitator to discuss individual concerns or goals so numbers are limited to 10 attendees Your day will start with a light breakfast then a gentle “Yin – Yang” session of 60 mins.  After breakfast the day is your own to do with as you wish; ski, snowboard, a long leisurely lunch or just relaxing fireside at the lodge.  We will reconvene late afternoon for a 45-60 min Restorative class performed with hypnotic induction.

All prices are based on twin share with same sex room share allocation.  Double and family rooms are available.

All retreats are $1250 twin share and $1750 single share.  All retreats include breakfast, dinners, afternoon teas, all day tea and coffee, one snow picnic or snow based activity and use of all lodge facilities.  Additional optional activities available for guests include snow mobile tours, skiing, snowboarding and cross country skiing.

For more information and bookings go to http://www.trackers.com.au/contact-us/

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2017 produces all time conditions for Australia’s premier nordic skiing event

If you haven’t heard of the Kangaroo Hoppet, it’s time you did. The Kangaroo Hoppet is Australia’s premier long distance (42 km) cross country ski race, and a member of the prestigious Worldloppet series of international cross country ski events.  Kangaroo Hoppet is held annually at Victorian Alpine Resort, Falls Creek.

As much as the event can be affected by lower than average snow falls, this years’ epic falls presented problems of their own. Following the much publicized Blizzard of Oz events and high winds, the entire Hoppet course had to be rebuilt in less than a week by the Falls Creek Resort Management with assistance from Parks Victoria.  The efforts of staff produced all time conditions, and the ‘icing on the cake’ was a hugely exciting race.

Half a boot separated American entrant and winner Mike Havlick and second placed Australian skier Phillip Bellingham after 42km. Third place went to the Swiss, Valerio Leccardi from Switzerland, and head coach of the Australian Cross country team.

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Men’s podium (from left: Phillip Bellingham, Mike Havlick and Valerio Leccardi)

In the women’s event, Australia came out on top with Barbara Jezersek taking 1st place, American Mary Rose second and Iris Pessey of France third.

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Women’s podium (from left: Mary Rose, Barbara Jezersek and Iris Pessey)

In addition to the fantatsic efforts of the athletes, feedback was also glowing for the race organizers. Conditions for the 42km Hoppet, the 21km Australian Birkebeiner and the 7km Joey Hoppet were magnificent according to race director, Peter Cunningham:

”The weather was brilliant. blue skies, the snow temperature -4C one hour before the race, the snow didn’t chop up at all the entire race and the groomers provided nice straight classic grooves and in some spots, the course was two to three groomers wide in Sun Valley allowing skiers to spread out and pass one another safely.”

For more information regarding the Kangaroo Hoppet event visit http://www.hoppet.com.au/

Main image credit: mike@top shots, Falls Creek; Podium images credit: http://www.hoppet.com.au/

Spring is in the air and there’s never been a better time to ski

After the Blizzard of Oz 1 and 2, it’s safe to say that 2017 has been one of the best seasons in living memory. And with over 100 cm of snow still on the ground in most resorts, it’s also fair to say that if you’ve ever contemplated a spring skiing holiday, now is the time to do it.

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Image courtesy Snowatch http://www.snowatch.com.au/

And why wouldn’t you with some of the deals on offer.

Discounted lift passes

Both Mt Hotham and Falls Creek are offering a special ‘spring pass‘ for $449. The spring pass gets you 28 days of skiing for the price of a 4-day pass. That’s unlimited access to 158 runs across both Hotham and Falls Creek from September 4 – October 1. Get in quick though. Spring Passes are released for a limited time only, buy before 25 August to save and avoid disappointment.

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Ruined Castle, Falls Creek this week. Image: Falls Creek

Discounted family lift & lesson packages

Hotham are also offering a family fun pass this September. Kids Ski FREE while parents enjoy 50% off lift passes, group lessons and equipment hire! The package includes:

  • 3 x Days Adult Lift and Lesson
  • 3 x Days Kids Ski FREE Lift Pass
  • 3 x Days Ski or Board Equipment Hire per person
  • 3 x Night Stay in Schnapps 2 bedroom/2 bedroom Apartment

Inclusive cost starts from $235.00 per adult per night* and $138.00 per child per night* based on a 6 person share. And, BOOK BY AUGUST 31 and Hotham Holidays will also cover your 3-day resort entry!

Across the way at Falls Creek, Alpine View Apartments are offering a similar value family fun in the snow pass. From the 3 September to the 1 October, receive:

  • 5 Nights Apartment Style Accommodation
  • 2 Bedroom 6 Share Value Apartment
  • 5 Day Lift Pass.
  • 5 Group Lessons Per Adult.
  • 5 Full Days of Snowsports School Per Child
  • 5 Days Ski or Board Rental.

All for the low price of $859 per adult and &766 per child (3-17 yrs). To book call 1800 45 35 25 or email accom@fallscreek.net. Quote Code AV50JSH.

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A Falls Creek sunset. Image: Falls Creek

Accommodation

Spring is also a great time to secure some great accommodation deals. How does $40 a night sound at the Snowbird Mt Hotham? Just enter SKISEPT into the Promotional Code Box located here. Valid throughout September. Minimum 2 nights’ stay. Subject to availability.

If Falls Creek is more your cup of tea, Gebi’s Apartments also have a great low season deal (valid 3 September to the 1 October). For $723 per adult and 649 per child (3-17), you’ll receive:

  • 4 Nights Apartment Style Accommodation
  • 2 Bedroom 4 Share Apartment
  • 4 Day Lift and Lesson pass per Adult
  • 4 Full Days of Snowsports School per Child
  • 4 Days Ski or Board Rental

To book go to the website contact page and quote Code GB2608.

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Hotham’s iconic summit area for beginners (about 50 m from the Snowbird)

Brace yourself, it’s the Blizzard of Oz 2.0

It seems like only yesterday that we nervously awaited the season’s first big dump. Now, only a week or so later, we await another significant snowfall, leading some to brand the event #blizzardofoz2, snowmageddon or Heaven forbid #snowymcsnowfaceridesagain (ok so I made the last one up, but let’s hope she doesn’t think of it :-)).

Here’s a wrap of the predictions from three of best: Pete ‘the frog Taylor (Snowatch), the Grasshopper (Mountainwatch) and Jane Bunn:

Snowatch is going for conservative totals between 35 and 65 cm over the next 48 hrs.

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Mountainwatch is calling for over 100 cm at the NSW resorts over 7 days (and we haven’t even mentioned NZ…wow).

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Last but not least, Jane Bunn is calling for an even 100 cm over 6 days.

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Good news however you look at it. Hope you are getting amongst it this weekend.

The Snowriders Team

P.S. Those that have been following us know we like our snowfalls statistics. Soooo, because we know you can’t enough, we are busy analysing the last 63 years of Spencer’s Creek snow fall data to find patterns in the ‘dumpage’. We’re testing a hypothesis.

We have a theory that the variability in the weather cause by C-change (because we hesitate to use the word in this post-Trump era) is contributing to more extreme, or unexpected snow events (some interspersed with significant rainfall events). We might be able to see the patterns in the Spencer’s Creek data. We’ll have a look-see and get back to you.

5 reasons you should visit the Aussie snow fields this year

The Australian snow fields are undeniably unique.  Juxtaposed against the lush, green-colored plains of central Victoria and NSW, the white sails of Mt Feathertop and the Kosciuszko main range, are not scenes typically found on Australian postcards. Yet every winter, some 66,000 square km of the Aussie landscape is transformed beneath a thick, semi-permanent layer of snow and ice – a feature, which every year attracts 10s of thousands of people, whether first timers or serious snow sports fanatics.

In this article, Snowriders Australia National President, Glenn Shiell, explores what it is that makes our snowfields so special, and why it is you should visit in the near future. Continue reading 5 reasons you should visit the Aussie snow fields this year

2017 opening weekend is here and it’s set to be a cracker!

With a good mix of natural snow falls and perfect conditions for snow making, this opening weekend is set to be a cracker!  For the low down on what’s happening, read on.

Falls Creek

Falls Creek is not called the ‘snow farm’ for nothing.  True to form, they’ve accumulated plenty of fresh this week, especially on the south side and the staff have been cranking the snow guns at every opportunity. While its not certain exactly how much terrain will open, a little birdie tells us the team have been working hard on Towers, Main St, Nastar, Wombat’s & Mouse Trap. Expect an official announcement in the morning 😉  For the full schedule of events and further announcements keep an eye on their website by clicking the image below.

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Image Falls Creek

Hotham

Hotham has also enjoyed a cracking start to the season.  Yesterday Hotham announced the Summit Quad, Big D and Summit Trainer will all be spinning this opening weekend! Consistent snowfalls together with cold conditions have set the scene perfectly.  Cooler temperatures have allowed the snow guns to work their magic and the resort has never looked so good so early in the season!

And there’s more!! Hotham are set to bring in the 2017 snow season with a cracking fireworks display from 7pm.  Otherwise check out the action in the bars and retail outlets, from bubble wine and cheese at One-Tree Sports Boutique & Ski Shop, quality food and live music (Chill Bar & Café, Swindlers, The General and Zirky’s). You can also practice your skills at Hotham 360, Hotham’s newest indoor ski slope.  Click on the image below for the latest news.

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Image courtesy Mt Hotham

Buller

Buller this year invested $1.6 million in new snowmaking facilities, including its new Snowfactory technology which can make snow in any temperature. This clearly  paid off with the opening of Bourke Street last Friday for night skiing.  Buller has also done well this week receiving a healthy mix of natural snow and ideal temperatures for further snow making.  Today Buller announced that in addition to Blue Bullet, which has been operating since last week, Skyline, Express and ABOM are scheduled to open tomorrow.  Keep an eye on their website for further announcements.

As is tradition, there will be lots of  festivities right across the mountain with lots of free entertainment over the long weekend. The program is packed with fun activities for the kids like face painting and hula hooping, complimentary hot chocolate, gluhwein, roasted chestnuts and toasted marshmallows for everyone. Plus they have a fantastic live act performing on the village stage and of course their season opening fireworks display at 6:00pm. For the latest news click on the image below.

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Image Mt Buller

Perisher

Thanks to consistent natural snow falls, snow making and lots of hard work by the grooming team, Perisher announced today it is opening nine (yes NINE) lifts this weekend, commencing Friday.   Enjoy some turns on Goats Gully or shredding down Escapade. Perisher are planning to open the Happy Valley T-Bar, the Village 8 Express, Sturt and Mitchell T-Bars as well as the ski conveyor for beginners. The Perisher Kids area will also make its debut including the 2 ski conveyors and Tom Thumb! To top it all off Perisher are also celebrating with a huge fireworks display on Saturday night at 7pm over Perisher’s Front Valley!  For more information click on the image below.

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Image Perisher

Thredbo

Expect big celebrations at Thredbo this weekend as it celebrates it 60th birthday.  On the snow front, the long weekend is shaping up to be awesome with Cruiser, High Noon and Friday Flat all expected to open. But its not all about the snow!  On Saturday there will be five hours of tunes in the outdoor Village Square. Headlining is rising pop powerhouse Montaigne, her album Glorious Heights.

Did someone say fireworks? The region’s biggest fireworks display will light up Kosciuszko at 6pm while the king of carving Kenji Ogawa, fires up the chainsaw to create an icy village sculpture that will becomes the centrepiece of the popular GH Mumm Village Long Lunch on Sunday (now sold out).

The kids will be entertained too with lots to do including a village wide treasure hunt, face painting and art sessions. Keep an eye out for the roving mischievous Magician who is sure to amaze all ages with his sleight of hand bag of tricks.  The village bars and restaurants will be open, the party program big and with activities galore, this is set to be a lot of fun.  Get the latest by clicking on the image below.

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Image Thredbo

About Snowriders Australia

Snowriders Australia is an on-line community group for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. It serves as a meeting point for fellow riders and as a source of snow related information. Through our website, we regularly publish reviews, original articles (opinion and research), athlete profiles and news about upcoming social events including skiing and snowboarding trips. We also post links to relevant images, video clips and industry related news through our Social Media and Snow Forum pages, which together have roughly 20,000 followers.

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Diary of a snow-bound parent: two weeks in Hokkaido with kids

Guest reporter, Di McLean from Perth, Western Australia recently traveled through the beautiful Hokkaido mountains, with hubby and two children aged 4 and 6.   Here she writes about her experience.

My hubby, Steve, and I hadn’t snowboarded for nine years and we were itching to hit the slopes in Japan and introduce our girls aged 4 and 6 to snow for the first time. We decided to visit Hokkaido (the northern Island of) Japan, in late January. The timing coincided with the Western Australian school holidays and the period of reliable snow fall. Our schedule included 7 nights in Niseko, 3 in Sapporo and 4 in Furano.

The traveling

Our checked baggage included three large suitcases, one snowboard bag (which took both our boards and boots) and a couple of toboggans that we strapped together. These as we found out later doubled as sleds for dragging the kids around when they were too tired to walk! Our carry on was filled to the brim with bulky jackets, beanies and gloves plus changes of clothes for the kids. In case of accidents.

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To get from Perth to Niseko took approximately 20 hours (airport to welcome centre). The kids were very excited on the way over and didn’t sleep well, so were ratty (irritable) for a good portion of the travel time. Our four year old also likes to be carried. A lot. If I’m honest, there were some very challenging times! The journey home was much smoother when they knew what they were in for.

Niseko

The last time we were in Niseko was in January 2008. Since then, both my husband and I couldn’t believe how much it had changed. It is much more developed, much more westernised, busier and more expensive. But still awesome.

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We stayed in a 2 bedroom apartment in lower Hirafu, a five minute walk (15 mins with kids) from the main intersection. We were fortunate enough to have both my sisters (best Aunties ever) along for the Niseko part of the trip which reduced accommodation costs and helped immensely with the kids.

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There are so many bars, restaurants, shops etc. that it was impossible to visit them all. We were advised to book restaurants in advance, which we did, but still could not get in to several despite asking a full month prior. Its that busy in Niseko during peak periods. Once in Niseko, however, we found that because we were generally eating at 6 pm, we could get into most restaurants. Seicomart on the main road was a good source of snacks, cheap meals, alcohol and the basics for cooking breakfast in our apartment.

Sapporo

We stayed 3 nights in a Hotel in Susukino but in hindsight would have only stayed 2 as this was ample time to explore the main shopping arcades and fish market. The kids loved the pet shop and the amusement arcades best. We also took the kids to Nakajima Park which is very scenic and you can rent nordic skis for free and use them to scoot around the park.

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 Furano

Our last 4 nights were spent in Furano – an easy 2 ¼ hour train ride north from Sapporo. We really loved it there. We stayed in a Pension on a hill overlooking a vineyard just out of town where the owners cooked us amazing breakfasts and dinners and drove us to and from the slopes each day. Furano was very different to Niseko, for two primary reasons:  (1) it was next level cold and (2) it has a quiet, local feel.

We woke to -29 degrees on our first morning (-35 on the mountain) but generally it was between -10 to -15. There were therefore no drying rooms (as things don’t get wet) and no icy patches on the slopes as it’s too cold for the snow to melt, rather it just gets shifted around and then groomed. While the snow was amazing, on the coldest of days the kids couldn’t handle more than 1 ½ hours on the mountain at a time before they were too cold, usually on their faces.

The mountain is smaller than Niseko, with two main sides, the Furano Zone and the Kitanomine Zone. There were good off-piste areas but being our first time here, we didn’t have time to sufficiently explore them. There were no crowds and there is a ‘local’ feel to the mountain. The kids especially loved it in Furano with a huge range of beginner and intermediate, very scenic, long runs. Note that they do not offer group ski lessons for children under 6.

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The New Prince Hotel is at the base of the Furano Zone which has toilets, ski schools and ski hire gear on its ground floor. Beside the hotel there is a bakery and a forest area within which there are a scattering of 15 wooden cottages each selling beautiful and unique homemade crafts. Next to this area there was a kid wonderland area. Open from 4 pm there was tubing and husky sleds, igloos, ice sculptures all lit with fairy lights. We will definitely be returning to Furano and hoping that it has not changed too much before we do.

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Kid’s n’ snow gear: why you don’t need to take out a 2nd mortgage

By Clare Shiell

“We love dressing our kids in expensive gear only for them to grow out of it after one season!” – said NO ONE EVER!!!

Kids take a lot of effort – I never had grey hairs before I had kids, just saying – and the snow requires a lot of gear, and when it comes to gear, working out what’s essential and what’s not can be tricky.  As the Snowriders Australia – Victoria President, I clearly love skiing, and fortunately for me, my two kids love it too.  They also have champagne taste… but I’m a renowned bargain hunter and in my many years of planning and taking ski trips, I’ve got the kids outfitting down to a fine art. Continue reading Kid’s n’ snow gear: why you don’t need to take out a 2nd mortgage