A GLITTERING maze of shopping, people, food and entertainment, Sapporo offers a great diversion from the snow of Niseko. And for one night each February it also hosts one of the world’s biggest straight jump comps – the Toyota Big Air.
With prizes in excess of ten million yen including a brand new Toyota 4×4, there’s always a solid line up – Kevin Pearce, Shaun White and Nicolas Muller are on the list of past champions.
With talent like that and a 47m high ramp to huck off (that’s roughly the equivalent of balancing Hirafu’s two tallest buildings on top of each other) you can be sure the 24,000 people who head out to the Big Air each year are going to be entertained.
In between jumps there’s also a band or two, lots of food stalls, and a whole bunch of stuff happening.
This year’s comp saw previous winner and Olympic Silver Medallist Peetu Piroinen (FIN) back to defend his title against a host of upcoming young guns.
At this level they’re all pretty amazing, but there were a few real standouts – Seb Toots (Heelside Double Rodeo Indy 10), Seppe Smits (Cab 12) and Mark McMorris (Backside Double Cork Mute 12) were all super impressive, but Chas Guldemond’s BS Melon 12 (Go massive, spin 3½ times, land backwards…!?) earned him the glory this year.
With another Big Air all wrapped up the crowds headed into Susukino to the after party – the real reason most locals roll in each year!
A-Life supplied the tunes and drinks, and the sun was well up before the party finally wound down.
The Toyota Big Air is a great event – the comp itself, the very Japanese crowd and the after party make it a unique experience.
There are always a few tours from Niseko down to the Big Air each year, and it’s a great excuse for a trip out to Sapporo.
Tie it together with a shopping / sightseeing day and you’ve got a great rest day!
You’ve missed it for this season – all the more reason to start planning next year’s trip now!
Words and pics Chris Chan