I had some good fun at the Chill Factore in Manchester when they invited me to take part in the snow centre’s 10th anniversary celebrations in November.
I joined up with all the instructors and we formed ourselves into a ‘10’ formation to ski down the slope. I don’t know if they were trying to tell me something, but I was part of the ‘zero’!
When I was learning to ski, we didn’t have real snow indoor slopes in the UK and it’s good to see how many have sprung up over the last 10 years or so, with more in the pipeline.
However, I still think there is a place for the plastic artificial slopes as these ski centres offer a cheaper alternative for people wanting to get their first experience of skiing and snowboarding.
Obviously, it’s great to be able to ski on snow at the indoor centres, but they are basically huge refrigerators, which means it costs quite a lot to run them and this has to be reflected in the entry prices.
Personally, I like to be outdoors, and very often the artificial slopes are surrounded by great scenery and have lovely views. Of course, you sometimes have to put up with wind and rain, but the plus side is the wet weather usually makes your skis and snowboards run even better.
This makes the plastic slopes great to race on, and we need more kids to be introduced to competitive skiing and snowboarding this way.
Another thing I think the real snow and artificial slope centres could all be used for is regional ski shows. In recent years we have seen the shows at Manchester, Birmingham and in Scotland all disappear and the only one left is London.
I attended this year’s show at Battersea Evolution in October to meet up with Richard Barker, the MD at Kicking Horse Powder Tours. I donated some of my old jumping skis and Richard had them made into some chairs, which were then sold to raise money for charity. I also visited the Austrian stand as I am doing some promotional work with them this season.
But although the London show was attractive, it felt like it only took me about five minutes to walk around as it is nowhere near the size it used to be. Plus, if I wanted to take my family, it would cost me about £60 in rail fares before I had even bought tickets to get in or buy anything.
Therefore, I wonder if it would be better these days to have smaller regional shows that could take place at some of the slopes and ski centres around the UK?
Exhibitors and visitors are then already in a skiing environment rather than in an exhibition centre where, I feel, you lose a bit of atmosphere.
Despite such shows being on a much smaller scale, I think overall they could collectively pull in a larger audience from all over the UK, and could also highlight the services and attractions at the artificial slopes and indoor snow centres at the same time.
I am not saying I have all the answers when it comes to the future of ski shows, but this is the best solution I can think of – unless someone can think of a better one?
If you can, send me an email via the editor at the Skier & Snowboarder magazine or leave a comment below.
* Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards will be writing for the Skier & Snowboarder throughout the season. The column is being supported by skiweekends.com who are also making a donation to the charity Ski 4 Cancer – www.ski4cancer.org
You can read Eddie’s column in the magazine throughout the season and every month on the Skier & Snowboarder website
Categories: Skiing with Eddie