"Aiming for better service while facing a warm winter" <2020: Behind the scenes of ski resorts_Meiho Ski Resort, Gifu Prefecture>

"Aiming for better service while facing a warm winter"
<2020: Behind the scenes of ski resorts_Meiho Ski Resort, Gifu Prefecture>

From the beginning of the season, ski resorts all over the country have had a great deal of trouble because the winter of this season is a mild winter, which is rare in recent years.As global warming progresses, there is little snow as to whether it will finally reach this point.Of course, many ski resorts rely on natural snow to open.In this situation, I think that all ski resorts have the same stance of trying to open for as long as possible, but there is no doubt that the areas with a lot of natural snow were directly affected by the warm winter.On the other hand, in areas where there is not much snow, there are some places that have managed to keep up even in this situation.As an example, we talked to President Ito of Meiho Ski Resort in Gifu Prefecture.

Meiho ski resort to shoot at the end of February.There is no snow around, but the course is well covered with snow

Measures for warm winter at Meiho ski resort with less snow

Q) I think every ski resort is having a lot of trouble this season due to the lack of snow nationwide. What was the situation like at Meiho Ski Resort?
I agree.The situation that the temperature did not drop was remarkable this year.However, at the beginning of the season, artificial snowfall was possible in areas with high altitudes of 1,000 to 1,100 m, even though the temperature was a little high.Therefore, the opening date was December 12th in the previous year, but this year it was opened on December 15th, 6 days earlier than last year.However, the difference from last year was that I slid down to the base at the same time as the opening last year, but this year I can only slide down to the middle.Moreover, even after that, it was difficult to get snow in the lower area, and it was December 12th that I was able to get down to the base.

Q) Why was the upper area opened a little hotter than the previous year?
This year, even if the temperature is barely enough for artificial snowfall, we have been trying to make the maximum amount of snow on the day when snow can be made.Operating the snowmaking machine at the last minute is still inefficient in terms of electricity and fuel, but there was a warm winter forecast this year, and even so, it will not be possible to open it unless the snowmaking machine is operated. Although it was inefficient, I made it work.And the snowmaking machine is operated as much as possible under the conditions that can be operated even in this season.

Q) Is there an artificial construction machine at Meiho Ski Resort?
There is no "artificial snow machine".Many ski resorts in the area have it, but in the end, although the snow maker can make stable snow, it cannot make so much snow.For example, it takes nearly a month for a snowmaking machine to make a 1,000m course, but depending on the performance of the machine, it can be made within a week if the environment that can be operated 1 hours a day continues. ..In order to create a sufficient course, the part of how to operate the snowmaking machine well becomes important.
Also, this winter we reduced the number of old snowmaking machines by 7-8 and increased the number of the latest snowmaking machines by 18 instead.The amount of snow that can be made per unit differs by 1 to 4 times between when the temperature is low and when the temperature is just barely enough to make snow.Therefore, in a hot environment, the number of snowmaking machines is directly linked to the amount of snow that can be made.I think that the increase in the number of snowmaking machines is one of the factors that made it possible to open early (successfully).Of course, it is not possible to increase the number of snowmaking machines at once because it requires a budget to increase the number of snowmaking machines.The gradual increase, such as replacing it with a new one little by little every year, led to a response to this year's warm winter.A snowmaking machine is also installed on the top of the mountain, and the snowmaking machine covers the entire 5m course that is currently open. I have a machine.

The α5,000, which can slide down 5000m at a stretch, which can be said to be a feature of Meiho ski resort, is equipped with artificial snowmaking machines from top to bottom, and in reality most of it is a course made by artificial snowfall.

Q) I am surprised that Meiho Ski Resort keeps such snow conditions in the situation where it is struggling with snow shortage even in areas called heavy snowfall areas due to warm winters nationwide.Is the climate peculiar to this area affecting the approach?
This area is characterized by the fact that it does not snow naturally even if the temperature drops throughout the area.In particular, Meiho Ski Resort has a long history of snowmaking in Gujo, so we have been focusing on snowmaking.In recent years, there has been a shortage of snow due to global warming, so we are preparing for light snow by modifying it so that it can be used on the down line of the lift.I didn't use the lift down line because I was able to open the base quite early last season, but for the 12 days from December 5th to December 12th when I couldn't open the base this year, I went up with the lift. I had them slide on the top and get off at the down line of the lift.As a result of these efforts, the originally set sales target by early April has not changed.It depends on the situation in the future, but I'm thinking of making snow so that I can do business to that extent.

If there is a chance, operate an artificial snowmaking machine to make snow.Make snow on the side of the course and store it, and continue to maintain the course by using this snow to maintain the missing parts later.

Q) Creating a stable course with artificial snowfall and stabilizing the business period to some extent will have the advantage of making it easier for customers to make plans.
In fact, in the old days, it was hardly open in April.It's been 4 years since the ski resort started, but until about the 31th year, it was closed at the end of March even if there was snow, so there was a strong image that the Meiho ski resort had less snow. think.Nobody thinks it will close even though there is snow.I wonder if it's closed because there is no snow.However, since I have invested so much in snowmaking, I would like to change the image to the image that the snow is stable.Recently, we have changed our policy to open as soon as possible and open as long as possible by mid-April.As a result, I feel that the image that there is snow in Meiho ski resort has finally permeated the customers.Especially this year, there is little snow nationwide, so if we can open until the beginning of April, we will have a strong impression that it is a ski resort with snow.Currently, we can only slide 25% of the total gliding area, but thanks to you, we are able to operate, and in February we have almost the same number of customers as last year.In that sense as well, it seems that the ability of the snowmaking machine has been improved.However, as a result of gradually increasing the number of snowmaking machines from 3 years ago, this situation is just happening now, and it does not mean that it has happened in the last 4 to 4 years.

Impact of disasters and the new coronavirus

Q) In recent years, there have been various troubles such as heavy rains and typhoons, and I think it will have a considerable impact on ski resorts.I think it will be difficult to repair each time, but is it treated as a natural disaster and dealt with?
I agree.Due to the heavy rain two years ago, the road connecting the courses collapsed and could not be repaired, so I could not use it for one season last year.It was a perfect system this year after fixing it last summer, but on the contrary, I couldn't use the course even once due to lack of snow this year.

Q) Due to the influence of the new coronavirus in the final game of the season, I think there are various concerns for ski resorts, but how about it?
School is also closed due to the influence of the new coronavirus.So are you all at home?I don't think that's the case.There is information that the outdoors are safer than the indoors, and there are expectations that people will come on the contrary.As a company, we have been taking measures since the end of January.At that time, I could still buy masks, so prepare for about a month.After that, we were in a situation where we were going to prolong until the end of the season, and we were able to arrange and secure the necessary amount during the season via the parent company.There are no negative inquiries from customers, and we receive inquiries asking "Are you open?"I want to go skiing, but maybe it's not open?Seems to be worried.

Q) SBJ ON SNOW FESTIVAL (the largest test drive event in Japan) has been canceled due to the influence of the new coronavirus. What is the point that you would like to continue the test drive event as a ski resort? ??
It was a pity that this year's SBJ ON SNOW FESTIVAL was canceled.What I feel after holding the event three times so far is that those who have never been to Meiho Ski Resort will come to this test drive event.Of course, the same is true for manufacturers.Many of the manufacturers who came to the event for the first time said that the walls are interesting when they actually slip.Manufacturers also have the power to communicate, so I think they will talk to us in various places, and we also expect that our customers will spread more and more around us.We are in the age of SNS, but I still think that word of mouth is big.Whether you trust me even if you send it on SNS from here, even if you see it.After all, I think it would be best if the word of mouth conveys that "it was good".There are many concerns about coronavirus, but I would like to take appropriate measures so that customers can enjoy the rest of the season.

For SBJ ON SNOW FESTIVAL, we will prepare a snow surface to set up the venue even in areas where artificial snowfall is not normally required.I wanted to prepare for the event, but I had to cancel it in response to a request from the government to refrain from the event due to the coronavirus.Originally, it was planned to welcome a maker tent full of this area and 2000 test ride participants.

So that those who come will think "I want to come again"

Q) Speaking of Meiho ski resort, the terrain parks scattered in the course that continues from the mountaintop are also impressive, but please tell us the concept of the park.
We have designed small parks here and there so that you can enjoy the 1m gliding distance and course width, which is our number one selling point, so that you can play while flowing.The items are not for advanced users, and we have not made large ones so that even beginners can enter.The biggest kicker right now is the 5,000m kicker, and even if there is enough snow, there are no plans to make it over 5m.After that, I made some small mini kickers and I can fly continuously in the flow of sliding 5m.Until then, we had created a park area in a fixed place, but we dared to differentiate it from other ski resorts.We have received good responses from our customers.

The α5000 can also be played using the wall in some places.Especially the upper area is fun because the snow quality is good

Actually, the current terrain park was created by watching customers play on the wall and saying, "Let's make a wall, let's put snow on the wall."It started exactly four years ago when SBJ ON SNOW FESTIVAL started.If you can afford it, use an artificial snowmaking machine to blow snow onto the wall.At Meiho Ski Resort, there is also a machine that scrapes the snow on the slopes and blows it off to put snow on the walls.I haven't moved yet because there isn't much snow this year, but I'm trying to do that.
Originally, the amount of snowfall is small and the construction of the park will be postponed, so if you pile up the soil and make the base of the kicker, you will be able to fly if it snows 30 cm, so take in the opinions of young people and do not be dangerous. Make a wall too.The first year was produced by Ryuji Takai.I also make a bank on the foundation.I have only used one or two places this year, but I think that I can play in the bank as early as possible by preparing.Ski resorts are best sold on the slopes, so we continue to devise ways to make the slopes enjoyable.Of course it is necessary that there is snow.

In the middle of the course, you will see such an artificial snowmaking machine.The tip rotates and is deployed so that snow can be blown toward the wall

Q) Depending on the ski resort, DJs may be closed on weekdays, the area where the lift can move is limited, and the menu of guerrilla food may be narrowed down, but at Meiho, the DJ booth and lift are the same as on holidays even on weekdays. Isn't it working?
We have created a DJ booth two seasons ago, and during the season we are constantly moving from open to closed.The operation is outsourced, but it has a good reputation.On the other hand, the course is lifted very efficiently, so if you stop one of them, you will end up with a non-slip course.To put it the other way around, the lift cannot be stopped in order to slide on all courses.It is possible to stop it if there are many in the same place.We are moving all the lifts so that customers who come on weekdays can enjoy various courses.The sales system, holidays, and weekdays are the same.The number of staff will increase a little.The meal menu has not been reduced so far.Of course, we also think about cost reduction, but the idea is that if we do that now, customers who can only take a rest on weekdays will not be able to fully appreciate the appeal of Meiho.
However, there are many core people at the beginning and end of the season, and there is a big part that I want to slip rather than eating, so I may narrow down the time a little, but during the high season it is the same as a holiday. It is also open on weekdays.

Since the lifts are arranged efficiently, it is difficult to stop the lifts and carry out reduced sales even on weekdays.On the contrary, it also leads to the expectation that if we go on weekdays when we are free, it will be even more fun.

Q) You are putting a lot of effort into the kids park, do you have any vision?
Currently, as Japan's population is declining, I don't want the skiing and snowboarding population to decrease.It's been four years since I started to focus on kids' parks because I think that if you get to know the snow from a small child, you will be able to ski and snowboard again after you grow up.At first, we introduced SpongeBob SquarePants, increased the number of items, and made the tubing course a lively color. As a result, we focused on improving the atmosphere, and as a result, the number of customers increased rapidly.I think it's important to devise something that makes you think it's fun.I decided on SpongeBob only by using colors.It changed to Shaun the Sheep from last year, but Shaun the Sheep is relatively popular with mothers.The element of receiving children is also important, but the final decision is a big decision for the mother, so I changed it to pink so that the mother would receive it.Last year, about 4 people visited during the three consecutive holidays in the middle of February, and this season we also constructed a kids' park in the summer to expand the area, but unfortunately only the artificial snowfall part is open due to lack of snow. There is no situation.

Q) What I felt when I saw the slopes today is that the entire slopes are well managed.One way to set up the pole is very polite, and no trash has fallen.The part where there is not enough snow is well filled in the course.How do you manage it?
We attach great importance to the opinions of patrols and will not open the slopes unless we say that patrols are good.We of course want to open it, but if the patrol says "this is dangerous" it follows that opinion.And we will connect it to measures for how to open it.Patrols are slipping and checking all courses in the morning. If there is an opinion that "this is dangerous, so let's rebuild the net", the opening may be delayed due to the work, but I think it is necessary.
In addition, the artificial snowmaking unit and the compressed snow unit are working in close cooperation with the patrol.For example, patrols scrutinize the slopes in the evening, behind the last guest.Therefore, if there is a part where the snow is thin, give instructions to the snow compaction unit, and follow the instructions to make snow or adjust the snow with a snow compaction vehicle.The snow-packed snow asks the patrol, "Don't hesitate to tell me when the snow-packed snow is dirty."You can be honest about the situation in your area, so you can work more responsibly, and if you are told that "the snow pressure is good and it is very slippery," you will be motivated.Since long ago, we have strong mutual trust and cooperation, so I think that it has led to the creation of a comfortable and polite slope.

Q) You are also focusing on sales during the summer season, aren't you?
Currently, camping is the main activity, but this year, besides camping, Zipline and Tsugaike's "WOW!We would like you to enjoy the activities regardless of the season by further enhancing activities such as the introduction of outdoor playsets such as ".By enriching each season, I feel that the flow of play is being created, from summer to winter and vice versa.Previously, the campsite SNS was independent, but by consolidating winter and summer information transmission into a single SNS, both customers who use ski resorts and summer information can be sent to customers who do not ski. We are devising so that we can deliver winter information.

Due to the influence of the coronavirus, this season we faced even more difficult problems.There is no doubt that ski resorts are a playground and an indispensable place for us.While many ski resorts are plagued by mild winters, they are doing their best to meet the expectations of snowboarders and winter sports enthusiasts.I hope that the behind-the-scenes efforts of these ski resorts will be fruitful and connected so that the snow sports environment that has increased so far will not be lost one by one.I hope I can go to the ski resort for the rest of the season.

> The official website of Meiho Ski Resorthere
> Iwata lays back at Meiho Ski Resort ~ "RIDE FOR A SMILE" West Japan's first triphere