The UK’s three Skiplex indoor ski centres are in the process of going into liquidation.
There were no real advance signs of problems for Skiplex, except perhaps that it stopped accepting online bookings and only accepted telephone or visitor bookings.
The three Skiplex centres, at Reading, Basingstoke and Chiswick each contained special indoor ski machines which allow skiers to descend a continually moving artificial surface slope which moves up towards them – a kind of skiing equivalent of a runner’s treadmill.
It may not all be bad news however, there are reported to be some interested parties who may buy one or more of the centres; and there is also interest from others to buy the actual machines themselves.
The first Skiplex centre opened in 2011 and thanks to their flexibility in slope gradient and operating speed were used by a wide variety of skiers from complete novices to professional racers in training.
“I worked with Skiplex three years ago when they had just launched the Reading and Basingstoke centres and I thought it was a great fun concept and another positive addition to the UK ski market. I’m sorry to hear that the company hasn’t been able to survive in this tough climate,” said Vanessa Fisher of Vanessa Fisher PR
A further Skiplex centre had been ear-marked for a new multi-sports complex proposed for Bristol, but clearly that now seems unlikely.
The machines were first used in ski shops the US in the 1950s but have become increasingly popular over the past 10 years at venues around the world.
Another facility using a similar machine opened in 2015 in London, run by a completely different company to Skiplex, Chel-ski, and a centre in The Netherlands recently installed four of the machines and now claims to be the world’s largest single location for them.
Chill Factore, the North’s premier indoor snow destination, has opened its doors to man’s best friend to celebrate ‘Bring Your Dog to Work Day’ (Friday 23rd June).
Home to the longest indoor real snow slope in the UK, Chill Factore supported the national awareness day by welcoming dogs to join its employees to gain work experience at the iconic leisure attraction and enjoy its famous snow.
Earlier today, the pooches were assisting the Chill Factore team with lessons on the beginner’s slope, offering a helping paw on the guest services desk and even fetching guests their ski gear in the changing village.
Tegen, one year old Collie cross rescue dog, was a natural at welcoming guests and booking them into Guest Services with a bark and a lick, while Loki, two-year-old Australian Shepherd, took his role of fetching snow boots and ski gear very seriously.
The eldest of the group at eight years old, Winnie, a Corgi cross, was Chief of Fun, checking the fluffiness of the snow and teaching the snow crew how sledging should really be done. It wasn’t long before Tegen and Loki went barking mad for the fresh snow, joining snow crew member, Hannah Lockwood, and operations team member, Jo Leyden, in the Snow Park for a ride on the Luge Slip ‘N’ Slide and a spot of snowboarding.
Morwenna Angove, CEO at Chill Factore, comments: “We’re very excited to welcome our canine companions to Chill Factore. They have really taken to their new roles and it has put a smile on the faces of instructors and guests alike. I must say bounding around on the fresh snow slope was the most popular activity, I expect we’ll be overrun with applications from our furry friends to join the snow crew!
“At Chill Factore, we are passionate about providing fun for all the family and Bring Your Dog to Work Day meant that truly everyone could make the most of our attraction.”
The event takes place following a trial run in April when Buddy the Newfoundland became the destination’s first snowboarding dog. Watch his experience here.
Chill Factore would like to give a special thanks to Samantha Capp of Dogwarts Dog Walking and Training for supporting the Bring Your Dog to Work Day activity – find out more about Dogwarts at www.dogwartsdogs.com.
Brentwood Leisure Park at risk of closure after company submits plans to build 13 houses
You can see the full story on Essex Live by clicking here
The future of Brentwood Leisure Park hangs in the balance as the council decides whether to allow the landowner to tear down the existing buildings and replace them with executive homes.
A planning application has been submitted to Brentwood Borough Council which, if successful, would see the business park, in Warley Gap, demolished and replaced with 13 detached houses, a mix of three and four bed properties.
The land owned by Asphaltic Developments Limited is currently used by several popular enterprises including Brentwood Park Golf Range, Brentwood Karting and the Brentwood Park Ski and Snowboard Centre.
The proposal has caused outrage for both staff and business owners on the Leisure Park, with a petition to save the site launched by Ski and Snowboard Centre director Steven Cis.
More than 1,400 people have already signed the petition which will be delivered to the council when it hits the set target of 1,500 signatures.
Sign the petition by clicking here
More than 2,000 youngsters are to get their first taste of skiing and snowboarding as part of National Schools Snowsport Week – and to kick things off some of them had the chance to get top tips from some of our biggest wintersports stars.
Taster sessions are being offered to children at 25 indoor and outdoor slopes across the UK – and other winter activities such as rollerskiing, luging and sno-tubing will be available too. All the sessions will be at very affordable prices. Many slopes, including Runcorn and Silksworth in Sunderland will charge just £1 a session, and they will be free in Tamworth and Norfolk.
Winter Olympians Eddie The Eagle Edwards, Aimee Fuller and Graham Bell were at the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead to help introduce the programme to the youngsters. Organised by Snowsport England and sponsored by Visit Andorra, it aims to give young people the chance to experience the exhilaration of snowsports and hopefully hook them on all the fun and excitement the mountains have to offer. Slalom star Dave Ryding is also backing the scheme.
National Schools Snowsport Week ambassador Eddie The Eagle said: ‘I started skiing when I was 13 and have lived and breathed it for my whole life. I am proof that anyone – no matter what their age or background is – can get into snowsports. I’m proud to support National Schools Snowsport Week and hope it brings lots of young people into our brilliant sport.’
Aimee, winter Olympian and GB Park and Pipe boarder, commented: ‘Both skiing and snowboarding have so much to give socially and are a great way to stay active. If you wanted to consider taking up skiing or snowboarding as a profession, the younger the better, but it’s never too late! Being able to start at school is the perfect intro.’
And five-time Olympian Graham, presenter of BBC’s Ski Sunday, added: ‘I wish every child could have the chance to give snowsports a go and enjoy that feeling of sliding down a slope, adrenalin rushing through your body. National Schools Snowsports Week is such a great idea and I hope that those children who get the chance to try it during the week will keep coming back.’
Andorra, the little independent nation nestled in the Pyrenees between France and Spain, has more than 300kms of ski slopes and is considered a perfect destination for schools, families and beginners. More information on www.visitandorra.com.
Participating slopes: Ackers Adventure, Birmingham; Alpine Snowsports Centre, Southampton; Alpine Snowsports Centre, Aldershot; Bracknell Ski and Snowboard Centre; Chatham Ski and Snowboard Centre; Chill Factore, Manchester; Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre; Gosling Ski and Board Centre; Norfolk Snowsports Club; Precise Racing at Brentwood; Plymouth Ski and Snowboard Centre; Rollerskiing at Dorney Lake, Eaton; Runcorn Snowsports Centre; Sandown Snowsports Centre; Silksworth Ski Slope; Skiplex, Basingstoke; Skiplex, Reading; Ski Rossendale; SnowDome, Tamworth; Snozone Castleford; Snozone Milton Keynes; Stoke Ski Centre; Swadlincote Ski and Snowboard Centre; The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead and Hemel Ski Racing Club.
More details on www.nssw.co.uk.
A NEW artificial ski slope could open in Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. No particular site has yet been identified but members of the public are being surveyed for suggestions. More information can be found at: www.ibsc.org.uk
LONG standing plans for an indoor snow centre in Swindon have been saved by new investor.
The indoor snow centre project was initially announced nearly four years ago but the plans stalled.
A private capital funding company Seven Capital Investments is reported to have agreed in principle to move the development plans forward although a signed deal has yet to been finalised.
EXETER University in Devon had 48 tonnes of real snow delivered from Milton Keynes Snozone nearly 200 miles away!
The snow was used for the ‘Chill Hill’ event in January when 30 skiers and boarders from six universities performed freestyle tricks. The event helped raise money for Disability Snowsport UK.
ROSSENDALE ski centre in Lancashire is to get a £1.1 million upgrade to make it an Olympic training centre for freestyle skiers and boarders.
A 4.5m (14 feet) high tower will be erected at the top of the main slope and at the base there will be ski jumps and a big air bag.
Ski Rossendale was closed down after funding cuts in 2010 but re-opened in 2011 and is now run as a social enterprise.
Two centres lost
WYCOMBE Summit, which was one of Europe’s largest artificial ski slopes until it closed due to financial difficulties in 2003, is to be redeveloped for housing.
Plans to reopen the centre in Buckinghamshire were thwarted by a fire in 2005 and in 2007 the Snowdome Group, which runs Europe’s longest surviving indoor snow centre at Tamworth, announced plans to build an indoor snow centre on the site and reopen the 300m long dry slope which remained on site, but these plans also failed to materialise.
In Yeovil, another former ski Centre has now been bulldozed to the ground. Demolition was delayed after a colony of bats, protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, moved in after skiers and boarders left in the 90s.
Help for homeless
THE Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, collected unwanted snow wear and donated it to the homeless in an effort to keep those who had to spend winter on the streets a bit warmer. All contributions were distributed by the charity Street Souls.
A MASTERPLAN has been drawn up for the re-opening of the Sheffield ski slope area – although at this stage it is unclear whether this plan will include skiing and snowboarding.
Gillespies, a landscape architect firm, was commissioned to review the site of the former artificial ski slope which had been deemed an eyesore after five years of neglect and more than 50 arson attacks.
During its 24 years of operation prior to this, the site was one of the largest dry slopes in the world and is where a number of the UK’s top winter sports athletes trained, including freestyle skier James ‘Woodsy’ Woods whose recently won a gold at the X Games in Aspen.
Tim Buykx, an associate at Gillespies, said “The design concept envisions a range of downhill sports forming the heart of a recreation training and competition facility, which will provide the north of England with an unrivalled city-based adventure sports park.”
The current proposals offer new mountain bike trails and a dual slalom, which have the ability to attract around 10,000 visits a year.
Gillespies assisted Colliers and Sheffield City Council in forming an approach to appeal to investors to come forward with opportunities and development proposals to transform the site at Parkwood Springs.
The Council issued a deadline of noon on Friday 7 April 2017, for interested parties to express their interest. They will then invite a preferred bidder to purchase a long lease with the intention of developing, financing and operating the site.
PLANS for an indoor snow centre in East London appear to have taken a step forward following news that Westfield, the Australian company backing the project, has purchased the land where the new slope could be located.
Westfield are the owners of Europe’s largest retail mall complex, the Stratford City shopping centre, and the website costar.co.uk, which provides reports on commercial land and property, says that the company has acquired a 4.6-acre site close to the shopping mall for an undisclosed sum.
It is believed that this land is intended for the indoor snow centre, first announced two years ago. The centre would form part of the 2012 Olympic legacy project, which has the support of London Mayor Boris Johnston. Proposals include a 300m indoor snow slope, nearly twice as long as the UK’s existing longest indoor slope, as well as an ice rink, toboggan run and children’s snow fun area.
The centre would be a second real snow slope for London with the existing Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead located north of the capital.
Older skiers and snowboarders will remember Beckton Alps, the former artificial slope built on the site of a former gasworks in East London that was open for business from 1989 to 2001.
In 2010 a plan was put forward to convert the derelict site into Snoworld, a real snow centre with a 200m run plus shops, restaurants and bars. But the plans hit the buffers and were shelved.
NATURAL Retreats, the organisation that now operates Cairngorm Mountains in Scotland has announced plans to add a dry slope to its facilities.
Three of the four other Scottish ski centres already have dry slopes and Cairngorm does have several artificial slopes in its vicinity including one at Glenmore Lodge, one at a ski shop near the slopes and one at the nearby Loch Insh waterpark.
No details of the slope have been announced as yet but Cairngorm is located in a protected wilderness area of natural beauty so it is unclear if any special permission to add a dry slope is required.
Hemel Run 2 released
A VIDEO of a run in and around the outside of Hemel’s Snow Centre by Team GB’s Olympic Snowboard finalist, Jamie Nicholls, became an internet hit when it was released in 2014. Now the 22-year-old has made a video of his second ‘Hemel Run’
The 2015 stunt, filmed earlier in the year, features a brand new route around the outside of the building and past The Snow Centre’s 160m Main Slope, completing seven different daring snowboard tricks.
The Snow Centre’s team worked through the night to build the course, moving tonnes of snow outside the building and shaping jumps, boxes and rails over a period of 17 hours.
“I am excited to see if everyone likes my 2015 ‘Hemel Run 2’ as much as 2014’s footage,” said Jamie. “I just wanted to do something even more inspiring that would push the limits of UK snowboarding even further.
THE ONLY snow ski club in Teesdale has closed after more than 50 years in existence due to a lack of volunteers.
The Harwood Ski Federation operated had a clubhouse and ski tow above Langdon Beck. After a heavy snowfall the 500m piste often used to attract between 50-80 people and après ski was enjoyed in the Langdon Beck Hotel.
But in a recent interview with the local media, the Federation’s treasurer Simon Land said the decision to close the club was taken by directors because they simply did ‘not have the people to run it’.
A post on the club’s website said: “This has been a very difficult decision to make and we thank all those people who have supported us. Remaining funds will be used to help clear the site and any residual monies will be donated to local charities.”
TWO years after a series of fires devastated Sheffield Ski Village, the future for what is now a derelict site remains unresolved.
Sheffield Sharks Ski Club members are among those moving to reopen the slopes.
A decision to demolish the derelict buildings has been delayed by Sheffield City Council.
Some local people, known as the Friends of Parkwood Springs, want a country park to be created in the area, however Kevin Pullan who controls the site aims to build homes near the site, where there are also hopes of recreating a snowsports facility. He told local media it was not right that the land be turned in to parkland as it is officially designated as an area for employment.
MK Enterprises is supplying its Playgrass Ski Carpet slope surface to the newly extended ski area at the volunteer-run Kidsgrove Ski Centre in England, which is celebrating 40 years of operations this year.
The new slope was conceived two years ago and initial work commenced last summer on phase 1, a mini ‘slope-style’ course – one of very few in the UK.
A new ski lift has been ordered and should be installed by 31 July 2014 although a planned second lift, a travellator by the nursery area, has been delayed until funding has been raised.
The new slope will have a further 2,300sqm of Playgrass Ski Carpet to make the fun-park and will be open for the end of September.
OLYMPIC bronze medallist Jenny Jones (inset picture), Paralympic gold medallist Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans (on left of picture) and multi Olympic medallist Jade Etherington (pictured right) and her guide Caroline Powell have all been awarded the Ski Club of Great Britain’s Pery Medal in recognition of their outstanding performances and services to skiing.
This is only the second time that the club has awarded more than one Pery Medal in the same year. The joint award honours the on snow success at the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. It was Great Britain’s most successful Olympics for 90 years, equalling the medal count of the 1924 Winter Olympics (four medals) and the most successful Winter Games ever for Paralympics GB (with a total of six medals).
The Pery Medal was awarded not only to recognise the contribution the athletes have made to the success of competitive international skiing but for their ongoing contribution to the development of snowsports.
Ski Club President and BBC correspondent Frank Gardner OBE, who is pictured above with three of the winners, presented the Pery Medals at the Ski Club of Great Britain’s headquarters in Wimbledon Village, London.
Jenny Jones; Olympic slopestyle bronze medallist at the Sochi Olympic games and the winner of three X Games gold medals in a row, is the first British snowboarder to win an Olympic medal and also the first snowboarder to be awarded the Pery Medal.
Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans triumphed in Sochi finishing first in the visually impaired Super-G competition and winning the first ever gold medal on snow for a British Athlete at either the Olympics or Paralympics.
Jade Etherington and her guide Caroline Powell won silver in the women’s downhill skiing, combined and slalom, and bronze medals in the Super-G at the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi.
INDOOR real snow centre, Chill Factore near Manchester has launched a Bootcamp In The Snow for those looking for a new way to keep fit.
Chill Factore has teamed up with local health and fitness company Novak Health & Performance to provide weekly fitness session that works in a similar way to interval training, constantly moving the body at different speeds in order to be more effective.
Due to the cold temperatures, the class is tailored for higher intensity exercises, focusing on intense warm ups to ready the body for exercise and sustaining this status throughout the routine. It’s for adults only and five sessions cost £40 (when quoting promo code BOOTCOURSE at chillfactore.com).
TAMWORTH Snowdome, one of the longest surviving UK ski centres, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Famous visitors to the snowdome have included Boyzone, comedian Eddie Izzard, Ant and Dec, Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin, Jamiroquai and the Prodigy. Plus several television shows have filmed at Tamworth.
The Snowdome, which has a 150m long main snow slope, was taken over by its management team in 2000 and has seen a subsequent £7m investment to turn it into a multi sports venue with ice rink, swimming and spa facilities on site.
A NEW world record for skiing the greatest distance in 12 hours on an indoor ski slope has been set by a team made up of Snowbility’s students, instructors, and Paralympian, Anna Turney at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.
The attempt, which involved more than 250 skiers and was part of The Snow Centre’s fifth birthday celebrations was made on 1 May but has only just been confirmed as a Guinness World Record.
A total of 5,608 runs, 714 kilometers or 444.29 miles was achieved smashing the previous record of record of 3,921 runs.
Snowbility, based at The Snow Centre, is the brainchild of Ski Development Coach, Richard Fetherston. It was established in 2011 with the aim of using snow sports coaching to help students with additional needs, and specifically autism, to show to themselves and their families and friends that they have natural abilities just waiting to be expressed.
Richard Fetherston said: “I am just so proud of everyone involved and most importantly, I am at my happiest to see all my students achieving something that most people only ever dream about. Just think what they can do if we can break down a few more barriers for them.”
Snowbility snow sports student Sonny McAnulty, aged 11, added: “Because of my poor sight, my friends are always better than me at football, rugby and cricket but they can’t ski like I can, and I know that if I keep training with Richard I might be able to ski in the Paralympics one day.”
A SNOWSPORT England research project called ‘SlopeTracker’, which uses data from artificial and indoor snow slopes in England, has reported robust growth in domestic snowsports participation between 2011 and 2014.
The SlopeTracker reports also collects research from people using the slopes, and highlights of the market research include high rates of satisfaction and high rates of retention.
More than 65% of people said they would be ‘extremely likely’ to continue using the slope/ centre and that 53% of people would be likely to recommend the slope/ centre to a friend.
“We can only be encouraged by the findings of the SlopeTracker report which show increases in participation at slopes across England,” said Tim Fawke, Chief Executive of Snowsport England.
“This is the first SlopeTracker report to be published in what we see as a long term project. We hope that more slopes will be able to come on board and share data to make the report even more valuable, and make it an important tool for all our slopes and centres.
“The next report will be available in December and we hope will show the impact of Sochi 2014 and the buzz it created around the country.”