Ski Resorts of the 1998 Winter Olympics
Nagano is home to around 80 ski resorts. Blessed with fantastic snow and a welcoming atmosphere, you really can’t go wrong when choosing a resort – or resorts! – to visit while here in winter. But for those of you looking to relive the Olympics, you might be interested in which resorts hosted events in 1998.
Somewhat surprisingly, out of those 80 resorts only a handful played host to Olympic sports. These were the selected few:
Shiga Kogen / Yamanouchi Town
As Japan’s largest and highest ski resort, Shiga Kogen hosted several events in different areas of the resort. Notably for snowboarders, Shiga Kogen was host of the first-ever medaled snowboarding events at an Olympic Games.
Yakebitai in Shiga Kogen hosted snowboarding slalom snowboarding and alpine skiing slalom events, while Higashidateyama hosted alpine giant slalom. The courses are still clearly marked today, allowing skiers and snowboarders to test themselves on Olympic runs.
The ski fields of Yakebitaiyama are a particular favourite. Serviced by two gondolas transporting to the summit at 2000 metres, the beautiful tree-lined courses a delight – particularly on those big powder days.
Kanbayashi Snowboard Park
The Kanbayashi Snowboard Park no longer exists but was located in Kanbayashi Onsen – most famous as home to the Jigokudani Monkey Park. For visitors using the Snow Monkey Express Bus to reach the park, when you arrive you will see a large grey concrete building. The park including half-pipe was directly behind where this building now stands – hard to believe it was once an Olympic venue.
Less than an hours drive from Kanbayashi, Nozawa Onsen is one of Nagano’s most popular resorts. Ideally suited to snowboarders, Nozawa is blessed with great powder, mixed terrain and a lively village to keep you entertained at night.
In 1998, it was less rowdy and hosted biathlon events. But don’t let that fool you! Nozawa is now very much a big favourite of international visitors and has a fun, youthful atmosphere.
Iizuna Kogen Ski Area
Heading west, the small (and very quiet) resorts of Iizuna Kogen Ski Area played host to freestyle skiing, bobsleigh, luge and skeleton. Unfortunately Iizuna never achieved the popularity of other resorts and has recently closed.
Hakuba Happo One
As the most popular and international resort in Nagano, visitors to Hakuba Happo One could be forgiven for forgetting which country they are in. Once another quiet ski village, the Olympics brought the resorts of Hakuba global attention. As host of the alpine skiing events including downhill, Supger G and combined, Happo One was the unofficial main venue of the Games.
Construction of the Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium and Snow Harp – which hosted cross-country and Nordic events – meant that Hakuba hosted the most sports and drew the biggest crowd.
To this day, Hakuba’s international profile continues to grow and offers international visitors the largest range of facilities, accommodation, English-language services and all-important après-ski
Of course none of that would matter (or exist) if the snow was no good. Sitting in the dramatic North Alps, Hakuba is blessed with a stunning alpine landscape and loads of great powder.
Kazakoshi Park Arena, Karuizawa
Finally, the small resort town of Karuizawa – a stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansnen line running from Tokyo to Nagano – played host to the first-ever Olympic curling events at the Kazakoshi Park Arena. Home to a small ski resort, Karuizawa remains popular with Tokyoites who frequent the town in both winter and summer to enjoy a little snow, shopping and dining or escape the heat later in the year… and enjoy a little shopping and dining.
For information regarding host venues in Nagano City, please refer to our ‘Olympic Venues in Nagano City’ page.