Yutaka Takanashi came to Niseko in 1992 as a 20-year-old who had just spent a year in nearby Rusutsu, and got hooked on Niseko’s size after visiting for a day. He started skiing before switching to snowboarding. He loved the feel of riding through powder but felt the urge to be different and realised no one was telemarking here. He took to it like a hound to powder and ended up competing on the world circuit. These days he’s still skiing hard and is one of Grand Hirafu Resort’s poster boys. Six years ago he opened Toyru ski store in Hirafu, specialising in telemark gear and back country equipment. Toyru is just near the Hirafu gondola.