This winter has been great with a constant amount of snowfall throughout the season, we have accumulated over 1,086 cm of snow by the end of February 2022, which has already surpassed the 2019/20 snowfall total of 1,070 cm.
While we appreciate living in a town renowned for the best powder snow in the world, we also want to recognize the legends behind the beautiful snowscapes; the snow-clearing team who work incredibly hard throughout the whole snowy season, ensuring every guest has an amazing winter experience.
Yukio Ito, a person in charge of the snow clear team from Niseko Management Service, one of the largest management companies in Niseko, is with us today to share his winter experience.
Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Yukio Ito and I’m originally from Iwanai. I’ve lived in Niseko for 27 years, I was working at Niseko Village for 18 years before joining Niseko Management Service 7 years ago.
Do you ski or snowboard? How about summer, what do you like to do?
I have been skiing since I was young and I absolutely love it. When there is no snow, I play golf. There are so many amazing courses in Niseko, my favourite one is Hanazono Golf Course because it is very well maintained, they do it very well, the green grass is just nice. I also love the variety of courses and terrains, it offers a good challenge. The views are amazing. You can see both Mount Yotei and Mount Annupuri.
Can you tell us your day when you snow clear - what time do you start working, what is a typical day?
It really depends on the shift, we are a team of 7 staff and 3 tractors; the earliest start time for us is 4am, and the latest start time is 8am. The priority for us is to keep the properties and car park clean and clear, so guests can access the slopes easily in the morning when lifts are open from 8:30am. We also clear snow on the rooftops too when needed. We work throughout the day just to make sure everything is good and the snow doesn’t build up.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
I enjoy grooming the area, it has been something that I really enjoy. The grooming area is where we reuse the collected snow. We are slowly turning a smaller river into a snow playground with all snow collected from all the properties and carparks every day since December. At the same time, by being outdoors we get to enjoy the surrounding nature, it is really very nice to be so immersed in nature.
Compared to the previous winter, would you say we got a lot more snow than the last season?
I would say it has been a good snowy winter season, I feel like we had a lot more snow compared to last winter. This season the snow has been very consistent, we have been getting new snow almost every single day from mid December through January and most days in February.
How about the snow quality across the season? Can you tell the differences when you snow clear?
Yes absolutely, we can tell the difference. The snow quality in winter is very light and soft, you can feel it when you clear the snow. Once spring comes around, with the higher temperature the snow gets a bit heavier, but it still feels nice. It is a job where we get to experience snow every day which is very special. But at the same time, it is also hard because working conditions when it is snowing or after a snowstorm can be very difficult. But we need to keep working because those are the best times to ski and enjoy the mountains, so we must make sure everyone has safe access.
We can totally understand that. Will our guests see you and your team snow clearing around the resort next winter?
Yes, of course. We are looking forward to working with the team at Setsu Niseko.
We appreciate the snow clearing team that service the resort, not just this team but also everyone who services the resort, town and the local communities keeping this fantastic snow destination operational all year round and making sure Niseko is a safe and special place that everyone wants to visit and come back to every year.
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