Around the start of April Niseko's premier resort, Grand Hirafu, move their snowpark up the mountain. The rising temperatures make this a necessary move to avoid the slush and help keep the features in good condition for longer. It also improves lift access, because at the end of March the resort shut the lift that provides access to the winter park. Curiously they also shut the lift which would provide the best access for the spring park, but the Triple Hooded lift still does a good job.
In terms of features, it is the same rails and boxes used in the winter park, plus a few extra jumps. There are three jump lines and the foot of the park is host to a large table jump which doubles as a hip.
There is a relatively small jump line running through the centre, which consists of a small table jump to medium table jump to butter box.
The second jump line to skiers right is a medium table jump into larger table jump.
The final jump line on skiers right is a medium cheese wedge into larger cheese wedge.
From all of the jump lines in is possible to get to the final features, which is either a flat box or flat rail. From their it is onto the final big booter/hip. There are a set of rollers that follow the final booter with a flat rail positioned on the side of the final one. It is possible to hit a small quarter pipe if you it the hip as well. However these final features were a superfluous.
The run down to the triple hooded lift can be a little bit of green piste, but if you go through the trees you can enjoy a natural half pipe which provides a couple of fun hits.
All in all it was good that Grand Hirafu prolong their park, and keep the freestyle skiers and snowboarders entertained. It was nice to see two good cheese wedges instead of endless table jumps. The jumps were also well maintained and salted to keep the hard. The park crew do a good job of keeping all the features in good condition. The also did a good job of shaping the features and take offs for the jibs.
Unfortunately Niseko's main spring park suffered from the same lack of imagination as the winter park. The jibs hardly ever change, and the flat butter box, flat box, and flat rail get old very quickly.
There was also relatively little for beginners. No jump was nice for first timers and beginners trying to learn their 180's. It would have been nice to see the middle table jumps changed for smaller wedge jumps or even jump a small drop to allow kooks to get a little bit of air.
For me, the nice surprise was the quality of the hip jump. Good hips are pretty rare, but this one was very well shaped and had an ideal run-in. It was a fun size, allowing riders to go pretty big if they went full speed. Good hip.
My overall impression of park in Hokkaido was poor, but people don't go to Hokkaido for the parks. Also, due to the disaster in March most of Niseko planned for a poor year financially. However if next years continues from the high visitor numbers achieved this year, the park budget should increase. So hopefully next year will see more features and better freestyle terrain on offer.