AFTER a cool spring, Niseko’s summer sprang to life over the weekend, headlined by the Grand Hirafu Bike Challenge downhill mountain bike championships.
With the very last patches of snow about to disappear up high on Mt Yotei, beautiful summer weather and temperatures approaching a balmy Hokkaido 30C graced Niseko..
Several local favourite venues including A-Bu-Cha restaurant and Paddy McGinty’s Irish Pub reopened for the summer season, and several local sporting competitions took place.
Hirafu hosted a softball competition as well as the Grand Hirafu Bike Challenge (GHBC), and down in Kutchan Town the annual Summer Kutchan Soccer Competition took place (see gallery by Glen Claydon here).
GHBC race organizer Martin Tse said it had been a great turn out for the first race of the summer.
"It was a new modified course and there was great turnout for the first event here," he said.
"It’s a fantastic start to summer, the weather really turned it on after a couple of weeks of it being overcast.
"Everyone is looking forward to coming back in September 6 for the Niseko Cycle Week and Round 2 of the Grand Hirafu Bike Challenge."
The eventual winner of the race was Koji Takeuchi of Asahikawa, a town in the centre of Hokkaido about four hours drive north from Niseko.
Just two hundredths of a second behind him was Takashi Modoro of Sapporo, and three tenths of a second behind him was fellow Sapporo rider Ryo Yamada. The best performing local was Stuart Brogden in 11th place.
The next stop on the Hokkaido MTB Series is Otaru, followed by Teine and Tenguyama, before the next Niseko event to be held during Niseko Cycle Week on September 6.
For more info on mountain biking in Niseko go to www.nisekomtb.com.