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Indoor Skiing: Learn to ski without the resort price tag

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Posted by Cags R under Skiing on 22 December 2013 at 12:00 AM

Skiing and snowboarding aren't often celebrated as easily accessible sports, but all that is changing with the introduction of indoor slopes in over 20 countries around the world.

Whilst dry slope skiing has been around since the early 1970s, recent developments in snow cannons and investment in indoor skiing has allowed the winter sport to be practised all year long.

You can pick up a whole day skiing for around £40 including hire of equipment with tuition for an hour and a half for around £50. We decided to find out a little more about indoor skiing by taking a trip to the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead. There's a training slope for beginners as well as a main slope for people with a bit more experience - our team had varying levels of experience, from complete beginners to experienced seasonairres so we were ready for the challenge to give indoor skiing a pretty thorough review!The Snow Centre

For complete beginners

One Ski SkiingThe Snow Centre was an excellent starting point for our group of 5 total beginners, Jenna A who just wanted a little refresher and Adrian K who is an experienced snowboarder who wanted to try skiing. We were taken to the training slope where our instructor Doug started us out on one ski to get used to balancing on skis.

Doug was quick to pick up on the more advanced skills of Jenna and Adrian, checking their technique before giving them the OK to head off onto the big slope.

From here, the rest of the beginners could pick up the basics at a pretty steady level, there was a huge focus on controlling speed, which it turned out we were all a little too keen to go for speed rather than technique!

"I thought the whole thing was great fun and I'd happily go again. The instructor was very friendly and encouraging. The process from baby steps to turns etc. was pretty quick, which made it really rewarding." - Joe C

Skiing beginngers

"I really enjoyed the skiing, I had snowboarded about 10 years ago but wanted to try something completely new. Whilst it was a little depressing seeing some kids who were nailing the technique first time, it was a really great experience and I'd love to go again for another lesson to improve on these initial basic skills." Cags R

By the end of our 2 hour lesson, 4 of the original 5 complete beginners were upgraded to the big slope. During that time we covered the basics of snow plough and turns, while we may have had a couple of tumbles, we were all pretty happy with the progress we made!

Now to the group who decided to just go for a lift pass...

Group shot

For the rusty old-timers

Steve and David had skied in the past but it had been a while since they hit the slopes, for both, the Snow Centre was a great place to refresh almost forgotten skills and build up confidence on the slopes again. 

"I hadn't been skiing since I was a teenager, but was pretty certain I would remember so by-passed the lesson and went straight on the main slope. I only wish the slope was a little longer, it seemed to always come to an end as I getting comfortable in my run." David

"I started out on the training slope, doing a couple of runs before an instructor spotted me and sent me off onto the main slope... I was a bit nervous and probably should have started out from one of the lower exit points on the ski lift but I quickly regained my skills from previous trips and really enjoyed myself!" Steve

For the more seasoned skiers

They may not look much from this picture but our group had a couple of seasoned skiers who were trying out indoor skiing for the first time - Priya, Andrew and Neil were showing off their skills on the slope!

Priya and Neil posing

"I've been abroad to a few different resorts abroad but have only been on dry Ski Slopes in Britain before, namely Hillend in Edinburgh, which are really not very good compared to real snow. The real snow slopes offered here are great and there's more than enough room on the slopes...which was pretty important when kamikaze Joe came out to play. Definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to brush up on their skiing before they go away on a skiing trip or for those who want to learn." Neil B

Priya is without a doubt the most accomplished skier in our group:

"The Snow Centre is a great place to start for those who don't want to waste their first day on the big mountains walking up baby slopes - I'd just returned from a weekend in the Alps and obviously the shorter indoor slope can't compare to the real thing. However, I do think this is a much better option than dry slopes for those who aren't able to get to the mountains and especially for beginners/intermediate level skiers looking to hone their skills." Priya S

Andrew and BroadyAndrew was a little paparazzi on the day, capturing some of our finer moments (and some of our less graceful points) but he showed off some confident parallel skiing skills. 

Andy B was the group's only snowboarder on the day - as an experienced boarder he made the most of the day:

Overall I thought it was awesome and gives you a good experience of the real thing, not sure I would do it again though as I feel I have done it now. 

"My favourite part of skiing/snowbarding is exploring the slopes and the scenery, can’t do much of that there :) But if I wanted to learn new tricks then I think its the perfect place,  as the terrain doesn’t change much so you know where all the jumps are, and because its quite small, it's quick and easy to practice on the same jumps.

The quality of the equipment was great, all the clothing was dry and warm enough for the environment. Boots, bindings and board where good too (for my level of experience)"

Overall, we had a great time at the indoor skiing facility - while it may not be ideal for more experienced skiers and snowboarders, it's definitely an amazing place for beginners and well worth a trip to freshen up rusty skills if you're heading out to the mountains after a long break from the slopes.

The best part of the entire experience... we'd have to say seeing Julien T trying to fit his helmet on over his amazing afro!

Julien and Joe

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    Comments

    20120724225015-gk1ceo

    I gotta be honest, for that price, I'd rather just do the real thing (unless your somewhere insanely expensive like vail or aspen). Maybe if you're a brand new not most athletic person in the world I can see this working. And what happens if you catch on quick and want to do something more challenging? But the place also looks tiny, you get one busy day and it won't be fun at all. Granted this applies to any ski resort but I could see it being especially bad there. But I'm just going off the pics. Are there bigger/stepper hills I can't see? Or is there a limit to how many ppl they let in?

    Lavinia I encouraged this.

    20140811112945-cags

    Hey Colleen, I was a total beginner and found the 2 hour lesson was perfect for a taster, but as @priyas points out in the article, if you're experienced then you may not gain too much from the experience! In regards to price, it really is pretty good to get 2 hour lesson and all equipment for £50 in my opinion, but that's because here in the UK you really can't get to the real slopes without spending at least that amount on flights.

    Jane H and Colleen O encouraged this.

    20131122040327-janeh

    Thanks Cags, interesting concept, haven't seen one Downunder. BTW TS snow clothing??

    20140811112945-cags

    Hey @janeh, we were all wearing base layers, half-zips and tech tees under the rental gear, giving it all a good sweat test! I looked into whether there's one in Aus and there's a treadmill style slope in Melbourne which looks great fun! http://www.skicity.com.au/

    Jane H and Barry Y encouraged this.

    20131126112258-adrian

    @gk1ceo - as cags pointed out, in the UK we can't get to real slopes without paying for flights and accommodation, it's the same in many places in the world where you find indoor slopes. Also, we went on a day when there were no freestyle features in place (perfect for beginners, which we were as a group) but at least 2 days a week there are big kickers, pipes, rails, air bags, slaloms and the like set up for more experienced riders who need to work their technique. The one day we visited doesn't really tell the whole story.

    Colleen O and Barry Y encouraged this.

    20131122040327-janeh

    Will have to check it out @cags, great to hear the base layers put to use. I am loving my gear, finding it so comfortable and a great fit. I was training with my running club the other day, wearing the singlet with the wide yellow straps, one of the girls was admiring it asking where I purchased it. She writes for a running magazine and often tries out and reviews new clothing pieces.

    Brenda D and Barry Y encouraged this.

    20140811112945-cags

    @barryy. I have to admit, the treadmill style indoor slope looks a bit more intimidating to a beginner, my go to move when things go wrong is to fall over and hope for the best - don't think it would be as effective at SkiCity!

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