02 Oct 2020
Alpine skiing was split across two venues at Sapporo 1972. Slalom and giant slalom were held at Mount Teine, which was already a renowned ski resort in Asia.
A newly constructed 31-passenger ropeway, capable of transferring 330 people per hour, and two chairlift facilities, able to transport 600 passengers an hour, were constructed to improve access to the two giant slalom courses.
The slalom course was laid out over the northern slope of the mountain’s second-highest peak. Covering an area of 14,000 square metres, it was – and still is – visually impressive. On a clear day, spectators could watch the skiers’ entire run from start to finish.
The Olympic Winter Games put Mount Teine on the world map, and it has subsequently hosted the Asian Winter Games Alpine skiing competition on three occasions (1986, 1990 and 2017), as well as the 1991 Winter Universiade Alpine skiing events. It is known as one of Japan’s best ski destinations, renowned for the quality of its powder snow.
It has two “zones” – Highland and Olympia – and a central resort with ski-in-ski-out facilities, including restaurants, ski schools and rental shops. There is also a terrain park for snowboarders and freestyle skiers.
The Teine Olympia Ski School remains well known; as the first ski school in Hokkaido to be accredited by the Ski Association of Japan, it has produced many excellent skiers.
The site for downhill skiing in 1972 was Mount Eniwa in Shikotsutoya National Park. Rising 1,320m above Lake Shikotsu, the active volcano was the only nearby site that could provide the right topographical conditions to host the downhill skiing events.
The decision to use this location met with controversy. Plans to make it a permanent venue were overturned after opposition from the public and a nature conservation group. The Sapporo Ministry of Public Welfare was also concerned, and it granted consent for a temporary venue only on the condition that all facilities be removed afterwards, and the area be permanently restored to its original state post-Games.
The two courses had a width of 20 to 60 metres, and around 20 hectares of forest were cut down to make way for them. The venue was removed after the competition, and the forest was successfully replanted.