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Korea - Trip Report!


kipstar
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Well, i finally did my week for this year, and it was a pretty decent 4 days at YongPyong resort (www.yongpyong.co.kr) in Korea; apparently this is the biggest and best field, although does not receive the most snow...

Korea is cold in winter, but dry. So apparently they only get like 2m of snow (that is about 80 inches of snow) a year! Compared to Tahoe, well, you can get that in a night.....

Anyway, the runs are well groomed; the first day was after 2 days of rain on man made snow, so it was a bit like riding an iced up race course. The steepest runs are all groomed; there is no off piste riding here at all, so good for carving. During the week, it was not crowded at all, and the level of skiing here is pretty good; plenty of guys carving it up on skis. I'd say weekday that on the advanced slopes (about 30% of the mountain maybe) 80% are skiers and 20% are boaders; of the boarders for the period i was there it was maybe 1 in 5 that was riding alpine gear. 1 in 10 at worst. Alpine is alive and well here! Also, it was like riding ice on the first day at least, so freestyle would have been pretty tough, although they have park and pipe.

The best two runs would be on par with a groomed siberia bowl on squaw or Cornice at mammoth; only short. Since only decent skiers were on them, they stayed empty and smooth all day. And rock hard as well. That cold wind kept things pretty hard.

The locals ride with the racer style; without starting anything, if the EC guys came here, they would have a ball, and would be quite the novelty. There is a big mixture of gear, with a ton of boards I had not seen before; virus, a brand called Sharp?, new oxygens, new burtony looking boards and Moss (which I do know from Japan). Bindings all brands including bomber (!!!), catek, F2 and so on. All Raichle boots. The stuff is not cheap to buy here. But there were alpine boards for sale (3 or 4) at the base lodge. most of the gear is not the super narrow stuff, even though the korean skiers were mostly really big guys (the race team were training for something) but the snowboarders are smaller size. They had a race on the last day which I somehow managed to miss, only beginner style slalom course but even so there would have been maybe 80 competitors? not all on hard boots but mostly....

Lift tickets; if you stay at the hotel in the resort it is 30% off; all day excl the Gondola (which is not that good) is then $40 USD about. There is a bus to and from the Seoul for $14 USD each way.

Do NOT go in the weekend; the vibe is exactly like comparing a normal weekday on any resort with president weekend; suddenly is very crowded and busy with heaps of people riding runs they should not be.

They speak basically no english at all, so it is fun explaining to a skier about how I was turning the board :-) since I cannot say much in Korean.

Snow is groomed well, but man made, so it helps to wax and tune gear (I didn't bother). If you are from Tahoe, expect to get your teeth rattling a bit because it is a lot harder than there. However, just as rideable, just a bit tougher on the feet and shins.

Season is from Nov - Mar, but i understand Jan is the time to go....

If anyone going over that way, I recommend it as a good place to ride; just have to know how to get around in advance because there is not much english speaking there to help.

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I'm surprised by the lack of English since I thought it was mandatory right up to high school. Plus, skiers are going to be the more educated, affluent types.

Apres ski, did you get into the Soju and karaoke?

And did you see any of those Korean bindings we were talking about earlier? The S5s?

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I rode with quite a few racers, but I did not know what the brand was; anyway I saw many racers, and none had that binding. I did look out for it though...

I was surprised too; here in Thailand the level of english is pretty bad, but it was much better than Korea. Maybe I was just in the wrong places!

The skiers themselves could speak a little. But the shop service staff selling lift tickets and things, could not speak any at all for the most part.

Karaoke is big here, so did not check that out; the hot pools looked great, but I scraped a big chunk out of my shin on the first day, so no chance to enjoy; maybe next trip!

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Interesting! I forwarded your post to my daughter who just arrived in Korea a few weeks ago. She's teaching English for a year in Souel. I taught her to ride on plates several years ago but unfortunately (for me) she didn't stick with it. I'll be going over to visit this summer. I just found it interesting to find a post about Korea here on Bomber.

Take care, Miguel

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No nachos senor...

They have a food court Asian style, with Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Western all about 7000 won ($7uSD) a plate for some stew or noodles or similar, and then they serve a side of kim chi both red and white, some soup and the cabbage stringy stuff that tastes like cholorine (Sorry Skategoat, but this is what it tastes like man!)

Since you are up with AzN prYdE Mr Ong, I am sure you would enjoy the food :-)

Regarding those bindings, I wanted to buy a set, but I didn't see anyone with them at all the whole time I was there... and I saw more hardbooters on the last day than I probably saw in 4 weeks boarding in Tahoe (where there are actually quite a lot of riders, just a way to compare). The strange thing is that there are overall not many snowboarders, the advanced groomer slopes being groomed and pretty hard means that they suit carving; either ski or snowboard it don't matta.

Just FYI tell your daughter to avoid the pickled raw fish stomach that came with kim chi on one meal, that stuff stinks and made me sick; me who eats roadside food daily in Bangkok.

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Excelent to hear that Alpine is alive and well in Korea.

I`m always finding a few people riding alpine in Japan. Probably only one in 50 though. But.....40 of those fifty are out for their one ski trip for the year and seem to spend most of their time sitting in the middle of the groomers.

How did you go swapping som-tum for be-bim-ba all week? Withdrawal symptoms?

I think different countries have different bacteria in the food, I always eat street food and for the first week or so it makes me sick but then my body adapts and it`s all good again. Go to another country and I get the same thing:(. Gypsy Syndrome perhaps?

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I was fine eating street food; it was the hiso restuarant with the 12 traditional Korean Kim chi stuff...that's what killed me!

I always get sick eating in NZ as well, the dairy food has something I am allergic to, but I claim it is that the food is too clean :)

My friend is coming to Japan next week, but going somewhere near Tokyo though (and not alpine either).

The standard of riding in Korea was good, although they all ride the same technique for the most part, very racer style which was well fast on the race course, but I like to ride a bit different to that (although i did try their way and can admit it works better on icy ruts). How about Japan?

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The Japanese riders also seem to ride race style for the most part. Although I`ve never seen anything else so anything thats on an Alpine board looks like race style to me.

I`ve seen a few really good guys doing turns that I really can`t comprehend from my level of understanding. ie. laid over, flexing the board so it looks like a banana, digging half moon shaped trenchs in the snow and going as fast as I go when I`m just pointing straight down the hill.

The general level of Alpine riding is far beyond the "average joe freestyler". That said though, I`ve also seen a few people riding softboots and doing some really good carving.

The thing I don`t see much of though is "Powder Boards", Most days I`ve been on the snow this season it`s been Deep and everyone is struggling. I`ve seen lots of people riding little slalom boards in powder:confused:.

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