Japanese Kei Truck Rail Grind Wins 2023 Niseko Shootout ProAM

Deep powder isn’t the only thing Niseko is known for!

A quirky custom-built Japanese “kei truck” has captured the attention of the voting public to win this year’s ¥80,000 Niseko Shootout ProAM Public Vote.

Kei truck’s are mini pick up trucks that are cheap to register and run, and are seen everywhere in rural Japan – Niseko included.

This particular kei truck is called Sabi-chan and was customised by the rider in the photo, Kiwi Henry Johnson.

The photographer was Tomek Ustupski from Poland.

Niseko Shootout Founder Winse Heyward said it obviously resonated with the voting audience.

“So many locals own a kei truck or van because they’re cheap and have character, and this one is like the poster child for Niseko,” said Winse.

“The patchwork of coloured timber panels popped with the lighting, and the ridge on the roof created a classic Niseko urban feature for Henry to transition on.

“Very cool, very Niseko and a very worthy winner of this year’s Niseko Shootout ProAM!”

Judges Vote Winner

Niseko is also famous for its powder pillows – or mushrooms as they’re called locally.

Pro-pro team made up of local photographer Aaron Jamieson and visiting pro skier Dennis Ranalter took out the Judges Vote with a spectacular bluebird pillow-line shot.

It snowed almost every day between December 1 through the contest period ending January 9, meaning there were plenty of mushrooms ripe for harvest for the ProAM.

This particular line is a favourite spot for travelling ski and snowboard media, however, getting a good photo is much trickier than getting a good video.

The judges all know this fact well and recognised the difficulty in capturing such a pristine bluebird powder shot, awarding Aaron and Dennis the win.

This year’s judges were Taro Tamai, Tsutomu Nakata, Yoichi Watanabe, Neil Hartmann, Torah Bright, Eric Pollard, Matt Hampton and Winse Heyward.

Niseko Shootout ProAM Format

The Niseko Shootout ProAM is one of three categories under the annual Niseko Shootout photo and film competition banner.

Professional and amateur athlete-photographer teams take to the mountains in and around Niseko in early January each year.

Each team takes as many photos as they like during the competition window, but submits only one for judging following the final day.

This year a record 62 teams entered with 34 shots submitted for judging.

Pro athletes that took part this year include Dennis Ranalter, Hedvig Wessel and Wakana Hama.

This year’s competition saw high school students entering the competition for the first time, with Juma Findlay, Shinnosuke Tanaka and Ollie Nichols all taking part.

Still underway this winter is the headline Niseko Shootout hashtag photo competition, with any photo hash-tagged #nisekoshootout this winter in the running to take out one of a host of prizes.

The Shootout culminates with the Niseko Shootout Short Film Festival to be held on March 11th this year.

For more details about the Niseko Shootout, check out HERE and follow @NisekoShootout and @NisekoTourism to stay up to date.

Don Julio Tequila & Rhythm Provide the Party

More than 150 fans flocked to ski rental hub Rhythm Base on Friday night (January 20) for the awards party.

With tequila brand Don Julio 1942 sponsoring the party, it was a fittingly boisterous celebration for a classic Niseko Shootout ProAM.

Check out the photos captured during the Award Ceremony and the Award Video below!