We made the most of today. We resolved to get onto the slopes at opening, instead of being tardy at home (yesterday we started at 11 am). Bec headed off to another lesson. We caught the shuttle to the base today, incredulous that we had carried our skis all the way up hill yesterday. The bus was full by the time we piled out onto the gondola.
Although the sun had been shining with blue sky and few clouds when we woke up this morning, by the time we got up the mountain it had started to snow again. We crossed over to Niseko Village side anyway, determined to try the runs there. I’m glad we did. Cruiser, 900 m, 7 to 17° green run near the bottom is a gentle curve that Daniel just pointed his skis straight down the hill and thoroughly enjoyed. I carefully controlled my descent, arcing left and right, and arrived minutes later. We caught the Banzai chair up and did the Banzai green run, a 950 m 7 – 15° run, leading into the Shaky Knees 650 m, 4 to 9° connection to the last 300 m of Final Fling, a green run that ends at the Hilton Niseko Village.
We had coffee and an apple pie at the Hilton before catching the 2.66 km 9 min Niesko Gondola back up the mountain and doing it all again, twice.
We staggered up from green to red runs during the day, Daniel first. I’d head on the green, Daniel on the red, and he’d ski straight down hill, and wait for me at each plateau. I began to feel frustrated that I was making him wait, though he protested that he did not mind. Most of my frustration was with myself, at my fearfulness and seeing how quickly I was left behind.
When the sun began to peek through clouds and I could actually see the lumpiness ahead of me in the run, or the edge of the run (and not accidentally ski right off a drop) my confidence returned and I began to do some red runs. Daniel was lucky that I did as he did a great stack, losing a ski and ending up 20 m downhill. I picked it up for him.
I did a great face-plant early on in the day, while getting the feel of the powder at the base near a ski lift. I pointed my skis right at Dan, who was waving at me and suddenly the snow met my face, my left ski detached and my right ski externally rotating my hip. He didn’t have his GoPro on, which is bad and good.
Our last run of the day was Alpen, an 814 m 15 to 28° red run at the base of Hirafu. It is wide, so I calmly controlled my descent, practicing several of the technique exercises we’d been taught in Ontario: tap the heel of the uphill ski, keep your hands and poles and chest facing front like you’re taking a photo, jump like a bunny at the point of inflection across the mountain, pole plant before bending into a turn, hockey stop!
I found I started the day favouring weight on my right leg, but that improved with a run of hockey stops on my left leg. As I began to fatigue I started leaning up hill and managed to fall, backwards, when I leant too far.
During the day we’d shared a gondola with snow boarders, twice, and on both occasions the boarders were poor company. Both times the boarders talked loudly to each other, not caring that they were forcing us to listen to their inane conversations. Both times the conversation revolved around themselves. I don’t want to go to work. My girlfriend and I aren’t really going out. I don’t want any responsibility. Why is that pow out-of-bounds? Let’s go there anyway! I don’t care if they clip my ticket, Fuck you! The last two were Americans who work in hospitals, loudly complaining about patients with urosepsis, pressors and Foley catheters. The one behind me was literally yelling, because he’d forgot he had music playing in his headphones. At least the other attempted an apology when we crawled out of the gondola, “We’ve had whiskey!” That’s a promising combination: whisky, off piste, boarding. Maybe they’ll be gone tomorrow.