Max Giutronich has been a ski and snowboard instructor, and guide with Hokkaido Ski Club since the company’s opening day. Hailing from Australia but now a Japanese local, Max is one of Niseko’s leading snowboard coaches. He has many former students who are now professional athletes competing internationally across various disciplines, including freestyle and boardercross. We sit down with Max to find out more about him and his passion for snowboarding.

1. Firstly, congratulations on getting married! Why have you chosen to settle in Niseko and what is your plan for the future?

Thanks so much. It’s been 6 months and we are still going strong! Previously we were moving back and forth between Niseko, Sapporo and Sydney throughout the year and it was taking its toll. We both felt the need to have a base, somewhere to call home, so we put down roots in Niseko. We love the contrast of seasons, the food, nature, people and of course the powder. I can surf in summer and snowboard in winter, happy days. Plans for the future… I want to snowboard and share my love of it through coaching and guiding. I also want to open a bar so after riding powder all day I can welcome everyone in for a whiskey and share stories. 

Max leading the way on a powder guiding tour in Niseko

2. You have been teaching in Niseko for over 6 seasons.  Having worked for large resort operated ski schools, why did you decide to join a small size team at Hokkaido Ski Club?  

I don’t want to be just a number, I want to be a valued team member and I value being able to interact with the owners on what direction to take the company. Working in a small team means we are more flexible with everything we do, and that’s so important in a winter environment, with clients wanting different things, and so many uncontrollable variables. It’s great working with everybody at HSC to help give our guests an incredible experience. When they are stoked, we are stoked.

3. Your passion is snowboarding but you also teach skiing. Which one would you recommend to your first-time student and why?

Haha, that’s a tricky question! Snowboarding is my passion, but actually I started skiing before I started snowboarding, and still enjoy it today, so I have love for both. It’s up to the student really, most people have an inclination one way or the other.

If they are surfers or skateboarders, perhaps they will pick up snowboarding quicker. For little ones, say under 5 years, skiing is definitely easier to get the hang of. Having said that, there is no reason why people can’t try both, then they can make an informed decision about which they want to pursue. My next mission is to master free-boarding and telemarking.

4. What makes the perfect ski vacation and why Hokkaido?

The perfect vacation has to hit a few spots for me. Delicious food, culture, beautiful surrounds, relaxation, something fun to do and good company. I can provide the good company 😉 and Niseko provides the rest.

5. Being the most requested instructor in Hokkaido Ski Club, what is your secret?

My secret is not telling anyone my secret… ha. Really, there isn’t a special formula. It’s about being present, being genuine, making them feel safe and comfortable, giving them an insight into our lifestyle and having fun! Being on snow is meant to be enjoyable, so if you can’t show them a good time, then you’re not doing your job.

To book a private lesson or powder guiding experience with Max, send an enquiry requesting for Max to [email protected]