IN this column last issue we spoke about the slow start to winter ’08/’09 and how a season could go from average to amazing in the space of a week. Well, it happened. Between the December 20 and year’s end a storm moved through and dumped more than two metres of powder. Official Kutchan stats said 246cm had fallen for the month, the highest December total of the past three seasons. Mike Richards, a local ski instructor, has been taking daily snowfall measurements at his Hirafu home for the past three winters. Despite the slow start to the month, his recording of 327cm was the most snowfall he had measured in three Decembers, and the third snowiest month he had recorded since coming to the area in November, 2006. “December came in like a lamb and out like a lion,” Mike says. “The end-of-December storm saw 12 consecutive days of snowfall with a total accumulation of 203cm at village level, and much more up on the hill.” While it may have been good for recent times, a look back through the local records reveals some awe-inspiring stats. There have been plenty of 4–5m Decembers, and looking back at December 1969, Niseko got a whopping 587cm, just shy of the all time record 601cm… the previous January! What a year!? “Oh to have been here as a three-year-old,” laments Mike.