Monday, February 13, 2006

no name lift

Here in the snow, there's a competition at the moment to give the new lift at Niseko a name. Currently it is referred to as the "no name lift", which really wont do for all of eternity. Other than getting people to the top, the lift symbolises a cultural change in Niseko. Five years ago, you would have come here and seen hardly any westerners. Today, the main street is crowded with Aussies, swearing, drinking and basically standing around as if they own the place. It's part of our national psyche to invade a place, and then claim it's been "ours" all along. There are hardly any other Northern Hemisphere people here as they have their own snow, so the Australian contingent is strong. So strong that some of locals have picked up the Aussie drawl, pronouncing words the oz way: "gday. ow ya goin maate?" with everything else in English being a struggle involving charades. Just letting you know that as I type this, I periodically hear "fuck you" and "dickhead" and "cunts" being yelled by drunken Aussie out my window.

The lift itself isn't brand new. It too is an Aussie export, coming from the slopes of Falls a year or so ago. Massive job that. Putting up a lift, then taking it down, shipping it 10,000kms away and setting it up again. The company that owns Falls and Hotham back in Oz, also owns one of the resorts here and has an interest in increasing their market share in the global snow business.

But what to call the new lift? Within the group of guys I go boarding with, much shit is spoken, sayings dreamt up, usually resulting in something unintelligible being shouted at each other as we rest or attempt to punch one another in the balls. (do all blokey guys do this?). We speculated using one of these stupid saying as our entry into the competition, but it wasn't really fitting. One night in Hotham during last season, a small group of us were returning on the snow bus to our lodge after a night at the General, Hotham's answer to a pub. We go there to try and win snow gear, but in the process get a little toddled at the same time (one drink = one entry). Being slightly inebriated we jump onto the comparably warm bus, to be greeted by the Working Class Man himself, Jimmy Barnes. Hartley took the lead and assumed the position, stretching out his legs, rock salute in the air and shouted out "Barnesy!" much to the amusement of the others. The bus driver responded by turning up the volume and much pre-Cronulla Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi was had. We had just discovered something new to shout at each other for the following weeks of boarding.

On this Japan trip, it being the first snow trip to Japan for most of us, Hartley bought himself a Pickachu beanie. This prompted a variant of his original "Barnesy" saying, becoming the slightly modified: "Pickarnesy", which duley became our initial idea for the lift name. I'm unsure of how a made up word shouted at each other is supposed to represent the meeting of cultures, and what it would actually mean to anyone except us, so we decided against it. But we didn't want to loose that momentum of what Pickarnesy represented to us. A meeting of cultures, a different attitude (snowboarding in general is really changing the way snow resorts operate) and the influence of Australian culture on the local environment.

Until today.

Welcome aboard Niseko's new lift: The Cold Chisel
We are fairly confident that our name will get up and hopefully we'll be invited back for the naming ceremony.

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