Meet The Rhythm Family: Stefan Boers – Rides Guiding Supervisor

A real key player in the Rhythm Rides crew Stefan brings with him a wealth of experience to the team. The Dutchman learnt to ski at a very early age after spending winters in the Austrian Alps in ski daycare whilst his mother worked as a ski instructor. As soon as he was tall enough to ride a board he switched to snowboarding and has not looked back. Aged 16 he gained his dual certifications as an instructor before specialising in guiding. In between work and study, Stefan was competing in Freeride FWQ events around Europe and spending his summers saving up for Winter and surfing. His formal guiding qualifications and training were in New Zealand but valuable experience was gained through years of spending time in the mountains with veterans.

As the interest in competition faded and surf culture started to influence his riding style more it became inevitable that Hokkaido was the next destination for Stefan.

We caught up with Stefan to discover a bit more about his love for his job and the time it allows him to spend in the mountains.

 


 

How long have you been in Niseko and what brought you here? 

This season will be my 8th Winter in Japan. During the summer of 2015 – whilst working in Spain – I got a call from a snowboard buddy about coming to Japan and instructing… the rest is history. Initially, I was doing back-to-back winters in between Japan and either NZ or Australia but recently I have enjoyed spending some summer months in Japan.

 

What is your role in the Rides program?

My job title is Resort & Backcountry Guiding Supervisor & Lead Guide. Within this role, I am responsible for developing the Safety Management Plan and making sure this is followed throughout the season to ensure everybody has a safe time and great turns.

Can you tell us a little bit about snowboarding in Niseko?

The feeling of surfing powder is an addiction and to be able to get the hit every day in winter with the weather providing continuous top-ups is amazing. Niseko has everything from hot laps in the resort to an easily accessible backcountry when you want to look a bit further and explore new lines.

 

With your busy work schedule, how much time off do you have to ride?

During the peak period, you have to get a bit creative with your free time and that includes lots of early morning sunrise hikes and then back in time for work and daily operations. The night riding in Niseko is another great outlet.

Outside of peak season, it’s go-time; we get the crew together and head a bit further afield within Hokkaido to explore new zones and lines.

 

During the Winter season, what does a day off look like for you?

With my role at work, I always have a close eye on the weather so I normally start making plans a few days out with the squad. The night before we dial in a plan with a last-minute conditions check and aim for a dark start/alpine start. 

I never leave the house without a proper breakfast, which is usually oats topped with fruits and nuts. There is a touch of nerves as the excitement builds for the day. The mandatory gear and safety checks at the trailhead signal the start of the action then it’s skins-on and uphill-time as we search for perfect snow and exciting terrain. I always hope to head out with a crew of similar abilities so it doesn’t feel like I am guiding on my days off. 

 


 

The perfect day would be the ultimate combo of a new zone/line with deep snow and everybody getting home safely.

 


 

The trust and dynamics with the crew mean no time is wasted with faffing, everybody has the gear and knows how to use it.

After riding the go-to meal is an onsen lunch set so you can have a nice meal with a soak in the onsen to relax the body.

If the conditions don’t line up for the day I always have my surfboard in the car and will drive to the ocean to check if the surf is firing.

Any day off rituals?

I like to stretch every morning, but this is more focused on my days off. In the evening I love a smoky Japanese whisky to finish the day.

 

Any favourite snacks or convenience store treats you can recommend?

When out on the hill I love the Alfort Pirate Ships chocolate snack and can always be found at the top of a hike with a packet of these before dropping in. 

You cannot beat the convenience store onigiri selection and my current favourites are the vegetarian options such as the burdock and vegetable or inari zushi.

The pandemic provided extra down-time which offered Stefan the freedom to spend almost a whole season with Babu the dog. No lift pass – just exploring the limitless terrain on offer in the Niseko region. That time to reset and spend time with man’s best friend provided valuable memories.

 

Do you have much time off snow?

Surfing is a big winter passion of mine and it is a big debate whether to surf or snowboard. Any time off snow is usually spent in the water but this has led to many days doing both.

What excites you about the future of rhythm rides?

The potential to expand the program and help more people experience what Niseko and the surrounding areas have to offer with the infrastructure already in place at Rhythm.

 


 

Learn more about Rhythm’s exciting new Rides programs for winter 2022/23 here

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