Rusutsu has claimed the title of Japan's Best Ski Resort at the World Ski Awards in Kitzbühel, Austria.

Hokkaido’s Rusutsu Resort has been crowned Japan’s best ski resort at the 2017 World Ski Awards, toppling four-time winner Niseko United. It’s the first time in the awards’ five year history that Niseko has failed to claim top honours in the Japan division.

Rusutsu beat out Niseko and six other finalists including first-time nominee Furano Ski Resort, located in central Hokkaido. As Japan’s top-ranked resort, Rusutsu was also nominated in the World category, but was unable to dethrone French powerhouse Val Thorens which claimed top gong for the fourth time in five years.

Rusutsu is Hokkaido’s largest single ski resort, but is considerably less popular than nearby Niseko United—four interconnected resorts that make up one of Japan’s largest ski areas. Both Niseko and Rusutsu are world-class powder destinations, known to receive some of the world’s heaviest snowfall—particularly in La Niña-affected years.

Niseko was also outdone by Rusutsu in the “Best Ski Hotel” category. In just its second year of operation, the Westin Rusutsu Resort took home the title, edging out four-time winner Hilton Niseko Village.

However, Niseko was strongly represented in other categories. For the fourth year in a row, The Vale Niseko was named the world’s best boutique ski hotel. Developed by NISADE in 2008, The Vale is one of just a few Niseko-based properties that offers ski-in-ski-out accommodation. Sekka Kan, located in Hirafu Village, took out the prize for Japan’s best ski chalet, also for the fourth consecutive year.

Rusutsu’s victory was not the only upset in the Asia Pacific category. South Korea’s Vivaldi Park toppled perennial favourites (and soon-to-be Olympic host) Yongpyong Ski Resort. Despite its relatively small size (12 slopes), Vivaldi Park boasts some of Korea’s most impressive ski infrastructure including Asia’s first 8-seater express chairlift.

The resort, located in Gyeonggi province, is also easily accessible from Seoul, and claims to be Korea’s most visited resort.

Vanke Lake Songhua Resort was named as China’s best ski resort, edging out last year’s winner, Thaiwoo. Lake Songhua is located in Jilin province in China’s northeast, attracting more natural snow than its Chongli-based counterparts.

2017 World Ski Awards Results (Asia)

WORLD

World’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel: The Vale Niseko (Japan)
World’s Best Indoor Ski Resort: Ski Dubai (UAE)

JAPAN

Japan’s Best Ski Resort: Rusutsu Resort
Japan’s Best Ski Hotel: The Westin Rusutsu Resort
Japan’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel: The Vale Niseko
Japan’s Best Ski Chalet: Sekka Kan

SOUTH KOREA

South Korea’s Best Ski Resort: Vivaldi Park
South Korea’s Best Ski Hotel: InterContinental Alpensia Pyeongchang Resort

CHINA

China’s Best Ski Resort: Vanke Lake Songhua Resort