Steamboat college students ski Japan’s 'Kiroro effect' as part of study abroad program |

Steamboat college students ski Japan’s ‘Kiroro effect’ as part of study abroad program

Students sample the goods in Kiroro, Japan.
Photo courtesy of Mike Martin

They call it the “Kiroro effect,” and Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs students got to travel to Japan to see — and ski — it first hand this winter thanks to Michael Martin, director of CMC’s ski and snowboard business program. 

During a scouting trip in 2016, Martin hooked up with SASS Global Travel, based in Kiroro, Japan, and quickly hatched a plan to make it his classroom by creating a study abroad course for nine days in January 2019.

“It absolutely dumps there, and it was great to let the students experience it,” Martin said. “Kiroro seems to be the spot. The terrain is vast, with abundant sidecountry and arguably the best snow on earth.” 

With Martin’s industry connections with Nordica and the resort’s proximity to the ski manufacturer’s Japanese headquarters, the trip offered both bountiful snow and ski business lessons.

“It brought the next generation of media content producers to Kiroro to shoot the deepest days of the year and capture some great content,” said Martin, who stayed with the students in nearby Otaru, Japan. 

A long way from Steamboat.
Photo courtesy of Mike Martin

The six-credit course, titled “Product and Promotion and International Action Sport Business,” gave students experience in creating a marketing and distribution plan in a real-world scenario.

By partnering with Nordica, Martin said, they created content relevant to today’s marketplace while building their resumes and expanding their knowledge base. They learned how to curate a marketing media plan and execute a shot list by filming athletes. They also took part in an avalanche awareness seminar led by SASS guides.

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“Our goal was to create unique, relatable, story-based content, and Kiroro was the perfect place,” he said. “It also provided a great cultural experience away from Westernized crowds.” 

And the students, of course, felt it beat the ski pants off any lesson in a classroom.

“It was hands down the best trip of my life,” said student Vicente Katz, who was picked by SASS to stay on as an intern with them in Argentina this summer. “We got to experience an amazing culture, and it was great to learn about the filming side of skiing and produce content that can be used in business.”

To reach Eugene Buchanan, call 970-871-4276 or email

CMC students reveling in the city life of Otaru, Japan.
Photo courtesy of Mike Martin

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