Meet The Trainers

We are a hand selected group of high end training professionals who are dedicated to your learning and skill development. We are ski & snowboard scholars, professors of the snow crystal, scientists who shred and academics of alpine adventure. We are mountain people who want to share our connection to the alps and the outdoor experiences that drive our lifestyle, so you can live the dream with us here in Hakuba.

Stefan Gassner

Freeride Department Manager

Stefan was born and raised in Austria and started skiing when he was 4. He grew up competing in alpine and skier cross races and basically spends his entire live in the Alps whether it’s rock climbing, ski touring or canyoning.

After graduating from an Austrian ski racing high school he followed his passion and shared his experience for the last 6 years coaching race teams and ski instructors in Austria, Australia and now Japan. Stefan is usually a man of not too many words but when it comes to skiing you can see his passion in his eyes, always on the hunt for the perfect turn or the best lines in the backcountry.

Stefan completed his Austrian ski diploma (The ‘Staatlicher’- full cert trainer/examinator qualification), D-Trainer (Race coach qualification) and his Skiführer diploma (Austrian guiding certificate) as well. He loves sharing his knowledge about the alpine environment and boosting peoples skiing abilities, so weather you look out for a great day in the powder or shredding down groomed slopes, he knows his stuff.

James Hyland

Evergreen Head Snowboard Trainer / Chief Examiner

James Hyland was born, as all Canadians are, with skis and a toque on. James started skiing at the young age of 4 and grew up skiing, racing competitively and eventually became an instructor and race coach. His snowboard journey began in 1990 when he switched from ski racing in preference for riding sideways like one of the all-time legends, Damien Sanders. Soon after he began competing at a national level in freestyle competitions, representing Ontario.

James started freestyle coaching, training and certifying instructors at 21 years of age at his hometown ski club Snow Valley

(Ontario) and internationally throughout Europe and Japan. After moving to the Canadian Rockies James obtained his level 4 CASI and became Head Trainer for programs like Nonstop in Fernie, BC, and now at Evergreen International Ski School in Hakuba

. Snowboarding is James’ life, his love of the sport and leadership is second to none and if there is anyone to spread the love to shred, it’s this guy.

Luke Smith

Snowboard Trainer

Originally from the UK, after travelling around the world for a while,

Luke finally settled in Hakuba, Japan where he now lives year round working in the beautiful Japanese Alps.

Always an ‘enjoyer’ of the outdoors and the sports that go with it, Luke finally found a sport that had it all…. Snowboarding! He now spends his winters as a CASI Level 3 instructor, trainer and CASI course evaluator for the Alpine Academy. When not at work he gets out into the amazing Hakuba Backcountry as often as possible. With his local knowledge and time spent

 in the Hakuba mountains, ask him nicely and he might just tell you one of his secret shred spots!

It’s the Japanese snow and his passion for snowboarding that keeps his stoke level maxed out all winter. But his expertise in the mountains does not stop there…! In Summer Luke is an ACA Pro Canyon guide so you’ll find him in a wetsuit and harness with a bag of rope on his back guiding people through the local canyons. If not in the canyon then he’ll be out rafting or mountain bike guiding.

With his variety of guiding and teaching experience he’ll be sure to get you improving and having fun in no time!

Ott Hang

Gap year course manager

Ott was born and raised in Estonia where the mountains are not as tall but there is still plenty of snow. Whilst he didn’t grow up snowboarding, sliding on cross country skis was part of everyday life in the winters.

Ott’s first contact with snowboarding was in the early days of internet where he saw a picture of a rider in the Alaskan backcountry and that planted a seed that kept on growing in his heart. 15 years later he moved to Canada for 2 years in order to become an instructor. Spreading the love of snowboarding around the globe for 9 winters across 4 continents, Ott is coming back to Hakuba as a level 3 CASI instructor/trainer. He has left some sweet lines behind him in Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland and Japan and is convinced that mountains and culture in Hakuba are some of the best in the world, hence returning for a 3rd winter. Of course, as the legendary Japow is at its finest here.

As Ott didn’t grow up snowboarding he knows the struggles to became good at it. He has the patience to help everyone with riding goals whether it is taking your first turns in the powder, your dream to become an instructor or simply

Rusty (Zi Xiang Lin)


Rusty was born and raised in Taiwan.You might wonder how a man who come from a country without snow could becomes a professional snow sports instructor and trainer.After years backpacking around the world.Rusty easily addicted to the life style of snow mountain.He learnt how to snowboard in Australia.Obtained his first instructor certification in Japan.Got instructor position in Canada.Through seasons back to back worked as instructor in ski schools in Canada,Japan and Australia.He commit all his enthusiasm to snow sports and consider it as his life time career.

Combining with passion and profession. He always teaches students with all his heart and soul.Seizing every chance to Improve his riding technique.All the efforts made him became the first Taiwanese who passed CASI level 3 and also the only one who work as Trainer in the ski school in Japan and Australia.He will keep evaluating CASI courses and exams in Hakuba.

Follow Rusty.You will own a chance to explore the enjoyment of snowboarding.To overlook the beautiful snow view from the summit of mountains.To search for the traces of powder and enjoy the one of the kinds experience.

Zack Ford


Zack was born in the southeast of the United States and was raised in the outdoors from an early age. Spending most his time biking and fishing until he moved to Montana and started exploring the northern Rocky Mountains on his snowboard . Here he found a love for snowboarding and mountaineering. After spending much time in the mountains he was convinced by a dear friend to take an avalanche course. From there it opened a lifetime passion of studying snowpacks all around the world and riding big mountains. Last season was his first season in Hakuba, and he is stoked to return to teach free ride and avalanche training to people.  Come out for a day to C his passion of avalanche education and riding where he will help you find the best snow available. On top of shredding powder he will help you to enjoy the natural environment surrounding the Hakuba area.

Daniel Krueger


Daniel Krueger grew up in the United States far away from mountains or snow but has found his forever home in Old Man Winter’s domain. Always curious about nature and seeking out adventure, his love of the ocean and surfing was transformed into a love of snowboarding when exposed to the Rocky Mountains of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming at age 21. Thirteen years of riding and eight years of teaching and coaching later, he is a fully certified instructor with the ability to teach anything from the basics to advanced freestyle. Chasing new adventure and a beautiful woman, Daniel moved to Alaska three years ago to elevate his snowboard coaching, mountaineering, and backcountry skills. During the summer you can find him climbing with his board to peaks where snow lingers long after winter’s retreat, mountain biking the brown pow, hunting for moose, and fishing for king salmon in Alaska’s wilderness. He has never outgrown his love for the outdoors or sharing that love through teaching snowboarding.  He is beyond stoked to be fulfilling a lifelong dream of teaching and riding in Japan. He lives by a simple mantra: “you don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing.”

Scott Daletas


People learn to walk, Scotty learned how to ski. Some people would argue he was born on skis. Scotty, grew up in a ski racing environment in Oregon, competing all over North America while performing at the Junior Olympics, FIS circuit races and competing on the Collegiate scene for two years on the College of Idaho Ski Team. After ski racing, he craved for something more. He quickly found it; the last frontier, Alaska. It’s where he calls home now. You can find him earning his turns in the Alaska & Hakuba backcountry, teaching avalanche courses, fly fishing and enjoying nature. Most importantly, if you get the chance to ski with Scotty you’re in for a treat. His appreciation for nature while being safe in the mountains is what he enjoys sharing the most with his clients. Your trip will consist of subpar jokes that you must laugh at, tall tales of big fish and one contagious smile. He believes “the best skier on the mountain is the guy with the largest smile.”  Scotty has no off-season he owns Kenai Drift Anglers where he guides clients on fly fishing trips down the Kenai river in Alaska, but when the leaves turn color he trades his fly rod in for his skis and heads for Japan. I asked him, what fuels his passion? “There’s such a strong connection between skiing and fly fishing. The powder we ski today, will soon be the water we fish tomorrow. The true reward is when people find the beauty of skiing and the art of fly fishing in these captivating places, I like to help with that journey.”

Pim de Koning


Growing up in a place that is on average seven meters below sea level, Pim had been always fascinated and drawn to the mountains from his early childhood. Origin from the Netherlands, he got used and found joy in travelling to get to his desired mountains.
Pim started skiing in Austria once he turned five years old and later went to become an instructor as soon as he could. During his Instructor career and getting more and more certifications, Pim was drawn more and more into off-piste skiing to challenge himself and expand his knowledge. That’s how he fell in love with freeriding. The feeling of making turns in a fresh layer of snow and being surrounded by nature is a hard feeling to beat.
During a trip to Niseko, Hokkaido, he discovered the unique nature and culture of Japan and got addicted to the unbeaten “Japow”. Pim found his passion in Freeriding and his destination in Japan and now he wants to share this experience and joy with others.

Agustin Cruz


Since very young I’ve been in contact with nature. I’m a passionate of risk sports, I have practised climbing, canyoning , snowboarding,  among others, but freeride skiing is the one that I currently practise. I’ve been doing double winter season in Europe and South America for several years and I can’t imagine my life without the freedom of movement on the skis. I have a degree in sports sciences, specialized in high performance alpine skiing, Spanish instructing level 2 and avalanche level 1. I’m an adventurous and proof of it is that I crossed the Atlantic ocean as crew sailing a catamaran.

  • Evergreen International Ski School
  • Evergreen Outdoor Center
  • Evergreen Backcountry Guides