MINT CHICKS JAPAN
7 Nights I 6 Days Riding
February 17, 2019 to February 24, 2019
With Guest Hosts Cheryl Maas & Sarka Pancochova
Mint Chicks Snowboard Tours
For 2019, we’re excited to announce that we will have two of our favourite female professional athletes (and snowboarding legends!) are joining us for Mint Chicks Japan. Cheryl Maas and Sarka Pancochova. These ladies are X Games medalists and 3 times Winter Olympians. They will be joining us in Japan to ride, share stories and throw a high five once you’ve scored your first powder turn or stomped a landing into deep Japanese pow! They will also be filming for their web series Shark Tales & Maas Attacks! To see what these inspirational riders are all about, check out their adventures in Japan HERE
Mint Chicks is a women’s snowboarding tour for intermediate to advanced riders. Our home base is magnificently located in Aizu prefecture, on the main island in Japan. This area is blessed with lots of snowfall, no crowds and very little western influence, which makes it the perfect destination for our snowy adventure. Along the way you’ll be hosted by our qualified coaches and guides who have years of experience in making sure you achieve your goals.
About the area.
Our Mint Chicks Japan Tour is based in Aizu. This region is well and truly off the radar for most international skiers and snowboarders who head to Japan. Unlike the high profile Japanese ski resorts that are busy and over-commercialised, you can find a true Japanese resort experience in Aizu. We love that this area is a lot quieter than the larger resorts, so lift lines are non-existent and on a powder day (which is often!) there’s lots of opportunity for fresh tracks all day long. It’s also easy to access from Tokyo. Jump on the bullet train and within 1.5 hours you’ll be in Aizu, the gateway to our secret powder paradise.
Our hotel located in the village of Kita-Shiobara, on the shores of frozen Lake Hibara. From the moment you arrive and see the towering snow banks lining the roads, you will know you’re in for an amazing powder-filled adventure.
Our location in Kita-Shiobara gives us easy access to the best resorts in the region. Each day we can look at the weather and snowfall and drive to the best location on the day. We have our 4WD vehicles on standby to shuttle you to the resorts. We conduct our snowboarding sessions on the uncrowded slopes of Alts Bandai, Nekoma, Gran Deco, Inawashiro and Minowa, which all have perfect terrain for progression. What you can expect is empty runs, and powder turns until the lifts close.
Daily Snowboard Coaching.
As part of the tour, all guests receive daily professional snowboard coaching with our qualified Mint Chicks coaches. Our coaches are on-hand to make the progression fun and to provide individual feedback. We will ride to the conditions, and change the plan and pace to suit. We typically keep our group size to 6 ladies per coach, so you can get the most out of the sessions. All our coaching sessions are conducted on terrain suitable for progression. Each guest will receive a minimum of 3 hours of coaching per day. This allows guests to focus on the technical side of snowboarding in the coaching sessions, then put it into practice during our daily freeriding and guiding sessions. Our freeriding and guiding sessions are conducted every afternoon and are hosted by our qualified coaches and guides.
We have 5 resorts which can be easily reached from our hotel; Nekoma Ski, Alts Bandai, Inawashiro, Minowa and Gran Deco. All of these areas are medium sized resorts by Japanese standards. There are numerous marked runs, but there are plenty more lines to be found just of the pistes and in the trees. They all have great lift systems with gondolas and hooded chairs which are handy when it’s dumping snow. The terrain at the resorts is perfect for progression. The resorts all have long, wide-open, rolling groomed runs that caters to intermediate to advanced snowboarders. If you’re not ready to tackle the trees, there are lots of easy to reach powder stashes just off to the sides of the runs. Once you’re used to riding in powder, there are perfectly spaced trees where you can practice your powder turns. There are plenty of tree runs and no competition for the plentiful fresh powder. They also maintain an impressive park setup, complete with features from novice to advanced riders. Some resorts also have a ‘nighta’ session from 4 – 9pm, where you can ride under the floodlights.
Snow & Conditions.
This tour is running at the peak of Aizu’s snow season. At this time of year, the Aizu region sees consistent storms that bring massive quantities of light, dry powder snow. Many of the resorts have north facing slopes which keeps the snow in pristine condition. Even if we don’t get fresh snow overnight, the cold temperatures and our local knowledge will ensure you’ll be able to ride light dry snow days after a storm. Most days you can expect to ride powder that’s anywhere from boot to waist deep.
Professional Photographer on Hand.
Throughout the tour we’ll have our professional snowboard photographer on hand to capture all the action. At the end of the tour we’ll have a photo night where we’ll sit around and see the highlights from the tour, plus you’ll be able to download all the images.
During our coaching sessions we typically keep our group size to a maximum of 6 people for a more personal experience between our guests and guides. This ensures you get the most out of your time with us, and keeping the groups small means less time waiting and more time riding powder!
Optional Cat Ski Day.
For any guests wanting to experience the thrill of cat skiing in Japan, we will have an optional cat ski adventure. You don’t have to compete for fresh lines here, we have the an entire part of a resort to ourselves, with the exclusive use of a snowcat to shuttle us to the top after each run. We have the cat ski operation at our disposal for a half day so we can access the amazing terrain in this area.
We make sure all our guests stay in quality accommodation that’s in the best location. Throughout the tour you’ll stay in luxury accommodation at the Urabandai Lake Resort. Our comfortable twin share rooms are equipped with 2 single beds and offer glimpses of the beautiful frozen Lake Hibara. Our comfortable rooms will have you feeling zen in no time. Each room has a great heating, private ensuite bathroom, TV, and free WiFi. Buffet breakfasts and dinners are included. We also have access to the indoor and outdoor hot springs, drying room, coffee shop, bar, convenience store, karaoke room and games room.
Access to Powder Boards from Nitro.
To help you float in the deep Japanese powder, all our Mint Chicks guests receive access to our fleet of powder boards from Nitro Snowboards. You’ll get to ride the latest powder shapes from the Nitro 2018/19 range, including their female specific boards, the Drop and Treehugger.
A Typical Day.
Mornings Each morning we’ll have breakfast at the hotel which consists of a wide selection of western and Japanese foods including eggs, bacon, breads, rice, fresh fruits, cereal, yoghurt, miso, soups and salads. You won’t go hungry! To prepare for the day ahead, hit the onsen in the morning, do some stretching and then it’s time to gear up and head out onto the snow. If you want test out one of our powder boards, ask one of our friendly guides to help you set up the board. Before we head out on snow, your coach will complete a gear check, and run through the plan for the day. Our hotel is impressively located just a short drive from 4 of the best resorts in Aizu. Each day we’ll load up the bus and head off to our selected area.
Morning Coaching Sessions Each morning we’ll have a dedicated coaching session where you’ll work on individual goals. Our morning coaching sessions typically run from when we arrive at the resort until midday. Your Mint Chicks coaches are on-hand the whole session to give you feedback, encouragement and of course to make it fun. No matter what you want to work on, your coach will be able to provide you with the tools to take your snowboarding to the next level!
Lunch After our morning session is complete, we’ll break for lunch on mountain. Take the opportunity to rest the feet, warm up with a hot drink and lunch, and work out what you’d like to focus on for the afternoon.
Afternoon Sessions Snowboarding in deep powder can be hard work, so each afternoon you can choose what you’d like to do. Join our afternoon guiding sessions where you can explore more of the mountain with our guides. Your guides are on hand all afternoon so you can get the most out of your time on-snow. If you’d prefer to go freeriding with your new skills and new shred-buddies, feel free to head off on your own, or even hit the park, which is always fun with small jumps and easy ride-on features.
Evenings After a long day riding deep Japan powder, there is no better way to warm up and soothe the muscles than to hit the onsen. Our hotel has a beautiful indoor and outdoor onsen with natural geothermal water. Relax and revive, while taking in the snowy views all the way out to Lake Hibara. There is also a day spa where you can get a massage, or if you still have energy to burn, you can hit the gym. Each evening, catch up with the ladies and other Mint Tours guests and guides at the hotel bar. Grab a hot drink or something stronger and catch up on the days’ happenings. Each night we have a buffet dinner included at the hotel. You’ll be able to sample some of the freshest seasonal produce from the Aizu region, plus there is a great selection of international dishes, with over 40 items to choose from. Round off your meal with a trio of sake samplers from the local area. For anyone wanting to kick on, join the other guests and guides in the bar for some after dinner drinks and fun, or if you’re game we can break out the Karaoke.
Arrival Day – February 17, 2019
Welcome to Japan! Make your way to Koriyama Shinkansen Station where we’ll arrange your transfers to the resort. Once you arrive, your guides will be on hand to check you in to our hotel and make sure you are settled in and feeling at home. In the afternoon we’ll hold a welcome session and gear check where we’ll go over the plan for the week and you have the opportunity to ask any questions. In the evening we’ll bring the group together for dinner at the hotel. It’s a great opportunity to get to know the other ladies as well as your coaches and hosts.
Warm-up Day – February 18, 2019
We start the day with hearty and healthy breakfast at our hotel. Then it’s time to get your gear together and meet your coach for your first day on-snow. Your coach will do a gear check in the morning to ensure that everyone is prepared for the day ahead. We’ll make the short drive to Nekoma Resort and kick off our first session. Our first morning on snow is very relaxed and everybody is encouraged to ride at their own pace. The morning coaching session is all about warming up and getting used to the conditions and terrain. The warm up session is also a good opportunity to work out your riding goals for the trip. After our morning session we’ll break for lunch and head to one of our favourite mountain restaurants. After everyone has refuelled and warmed up, we’ll head out for our afternoon session. We’ll explore another part of the resort and your guides will be on-hand to give you encouragement and tips along the way. After riding, head back to the hotel and you’ll have free time until dinner. Catch up with the group for some apres beverages in the bar, or relax and enjoy the onsen or even get a massage. In the evening we’ll head out for a group dinner at the hotel.
Coaching Days – February 19 – 23, 2019
Each day will follow a similar format starting with an early breakfast at the hotel. Your coach will meet you each morning and we’ll aim for a 9am start. Your coach will tailor the session to suit group and individual needs. After our morning session, we’ll break for lunch on mountain and then it’s up to you what you’d like to do in the afternoon. You can join the afternoon freeride and guiding sessions where you’ll get to explore more of the resort, join our photographer to session a feature in the park or powder so you can get your iconic Japan shot, or break off with your new riding friends and do your own thing. After riding, you’ve got your afternoons free to relax. Head to the onsen to relax, or even head to the day spa for a massage. Back at the hotel we’ve got a communal chill out area where you can kick back and chat with the others. In the evening we’ll have a group dinner. The food in Aizu is amazing with lots of local produce on offer. There is a bar for anyone wanting to finish off the day with a few cocktails, a game of pool and maybe some karaoke.
Departure Day – February 24, 2019
We say goodbye, high fives all round after an epic week of riding. Everyone will travel back to Koriyama Shinkansen Station for our farewell, with a few new tricks in their bag as well as a bunch of new snowboarding friends.
Your tour includes:
- 7 nights twin share accommodation with ensuite
- Daily buffet breakfasts
- Daily buffet dinners
- 6 day lift ticket
- Daily coaching sessions with our qualified Mint Chicks coaches, minimum 3 hours coaching per day.
- Daily guiding sessions with our Mint Chicks guides
- Daily guiding sessions with professional athletes Cheryl Maas & Sarka Pancochova
- Photographer on hand to capture all the action
- Photo package for all guests at end of tour
- Daily bus transfers to and from resorts
- Free access to demo powder boards from Nitro Snowboards
- Board setup, and tech sessions
- Return scheduled bus transfers from Koriyama Station to our hotel
There are only a handful of riders that would you could consider to be legends and in Women’s snowboarding this amount is even smaller. Cheryl Maas is considered by many to be the greatest female snowboarder of all time. From her humble dryslope beginnings growing up in The Netherlands, Cheryl has had a long and successful career that spans over 15 years that includes highly respected video parts, Olympic runs in both pipe and slopestyle and multiple contest wins. We are honoured and incredibly excited to have Cheryl join us in Japan for Mint Chicks.
Our accommodation for the tour is the Urabandai Lake Resort, which is magnificently located on the shores of Lake Hibara. This 4 star hotel is located within a short drive to 4 ski areas. Each room has amazing views to the mountain or to the lake. The modern and comfortable, twin share rooms come equipped with 2 single beds, a couch and sitting area, TV, free Wi-Fi, Yukata (robe) and ensuite bathroom. The hotel has multiple restaurants, a hotel bar which serves drinks and snacks, a small convenience store, indoor and outdoor onsen facility, day spa, drying room, karaoke room, and coffee shop. As part of your tour package, buffet breakfast and dinner is included.
Our Coaches & Guides
Our supportive coaches and guides are some of the most experienced riders and elite athletes in their field so you’re in good hands and in for a great time. They are on hand throughout the tour to make sure your stay is not only fun but also safe. Our Mint Chicks coaches are Rachel Newton and Juliane Bray. These ladies are qualified coaches who have coached athletes at the highlest level. Their passion for snowboarding is infectious and they are pro’s at helping female snowboarders progress and take on new challenges.
If you’re travelling solo you won’t be alone. In fact, our tour is perfect for solo travellers, we just match you up with someone to room with for the entire time. Not only are our coaches and guides with you on-mountain during the day, they keep the stoke going well into the night, so you’ll always have ladies to hang out with.
If you’d like a bit more room we can arrange a private room for guests. Just ask when booking.
Time on Snow
It’s up to you how much time you would like to spend snowboarding. You can easily ride from first to last chair, however we understand that it’s your holiday so you can participate in as much or as little as you like. Our Mint guides and coaches will be available for scheduled daily coaching and guiding sessions. You are welcome to join in or if you’d prefer to do your own thing that’s also okay.
Free Access to Demo Powder Boards
Our Mint Chicks tour is supported by our good friends at Nitro Snowboards. They are giving us a fleet of powder boards to test drive in the deep Japan pow! We’ll have many boards to choose from including our favourite female specific powder board, the ‘Drop’. We love this board!
Snow & Conditions
This tour is running at the peak of Japan’s snow season. At this time of year the Aizu region sees consistent Winter storms that bring massive quantities of light, dry powder snow. Thanks to Aizu’s location in the northenr part of Honshu, you can guarantee cold temperatures and plentiful snow at this time of year. Even if it hasn’t snowed for a few days, the cold temperatures ensure light, dry snow can still be found days after a storm.
From the moment you arrive and see the towering snow banks lining the roads, you will feel like you are in a traditional Japanese resort area. Don’t expect lift lines at any of the resorts we travel to, this area is virtually empty. These resorts takes longer to reach than the more well-known Japanese Ski Resorts, so is often overlooked. What you can expect is empty runs, and powder turns until the lifts close. We also love that this area isn’t over commercialised, so you’ll enjoy a real Japanese experience. There is enough English signage to feel comfortable, but the lack of international guests helps you feel immersed in the culture. There are excellent restaurants on-site plus you can purchase all the basics in the convenience store. Being an onsen area, guest at the hotel have free access to the onsen facility.
We have 5 resorts which are within a short drive from our hotel; Nekoma Ski, Alts Bandai, Inawashiro, Minowa and Gran Deco. All of these areas are medium sized resorts by Japanese standards. There are numerous marked runs, but there are plenty more lines to be found just of the pistes and in the trees. They all have great lift systems with some having a gondolas, plus some hooded chairs which are handy when it’s dumping snow.
Many of the resorts have north facing slopes which keeps the snow in pristine condition. This tour is running at the peak of Japan’s snow season. At this time of year, the Aizu region sees consistent Winter storms that bring massive quantities of light, dry powder snow. At this time of year, this region often scores the highest annual snowfall on Japan’s main island of Honshu. Thanks to Aizu’s location in the northern part of Honshu, you can guarantee cold temperatures and plentiful snow at this time of year. Even if it hasn’t snowed for a few days, the cold temperatures ensure light, dry snow can still be found days after a storm.
The terrain at the resorts is perfect for progression. The resorts all have long, wide-open, rolling groomed runs that caters to intermediate to advanced snowboarders. If you’re not ready to tackle the trees, there are lots of easy to reach powder stashes just off to the sides of the runs. Once you’re used to riding in powder, there are perfectly spaced trees where you can practice your powder turns. There are plenty of tree runs and no competition for the plentiful fresh powder. They also maintain an impressive park setup, complete with features from novice to advanced riders. Some resorts also have a ‘nighta’ session from 4 – 9pm, where you can ride under the floodlights.
The Aizu Resorts are well and truly off the radar of most international skiers and snowboarders who head to Japan. Unlike the high profile Japanese ski resorts that are busy and over-commercialised, you can find a true Japanese resort experience and fresh tracks all day long. We love that this area is a lot quieter than the larger resorts, so lift lines are usually non-existent and on a powder day (which is often!) there’s lots of opportunity for fresh tracks all day long.
As part of the tour we have included return transfers from Koriyama to the Urabandai Lake Hotel in Kitashiobara. On arrival day your guides will meet you at Koriyama Station and transfer you to our hotel. We request that all guests arrive at Koriyama Station before 3:00pm.
The easiest way to travel to Koriyama Station is on the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo. The trip takes just over 1 hour. Rail passes that will cover your trip can be purchased from Tokyo Station or Narita Airport.
Our Mint Chicks Japan Tour is perfect for intermediate to advanced snowboarders. If you are looking to step up your game and learn how to ride different types of terrain in different conditions, then this tour is for you! It doesn’t matter if you haven’t ridden (or even seen!) powder before. Our coaching and freeride sessions will get you confident to shred Aizu’s powder stashes, even on the deepest days! If you’d like to speak to one of our Mint Chicks guides to see if this tour is suitable for you please get in touch [email protected]
To secure your spot we require a $500 deposit with the balance paid 90 days prior to departure. Group numbers are strictly limited.