Hit the slopes
Muddy sent Nicky Richardson and her brood up the carpeted slopes (yes, really!) at Skizone in Basingstoke, here's the lowdown.
I have a love/hate relationship with skiing. Gliding down a pristine piste surrounded by stunning scenery and feeling the sun on your face can be idyllic. Or, struggling in the snow and wind, lugging all the equipment in heavy uncomfortable boots to risk life and limb throwing yourself down a mountain can be downright terrifying.
With the annual ski trip looming, we decided that it would be great to get our ‘ski legs’ before heading off to the Alps. Snow domes can be fun but the quickest and therefore more economical way to get your technique nailed is to head to Skizone in Basingstoke (there is also one in Castleford, Yorks) where you will ski on a damp carpet. Yes, that’s right, it’s basically a wide carpeted treadmill that can fit up to 3 skiers and can be adjusted in height and speed.
Thankfully there’s a bar you can hang on to whilst you get used to the sensation and a mirror to watch yourself as the instructor analyses and adjusts your technique. It’s quite tough on the legs – in fact half an hour on the carpet is the equivalent of a morning on the slopes. Here’s my kids being taught by the lovely Maddie.
The most bizarre thing is that by doing a really wide snow plough, you propel yourself backwards up the carpet ready to ski down. Once you get used to it, it does feel like proper skiing, although the thickness and consistency of the carpet makes parallel turns more difficult than on snow. But Maddie assured me that when I did get on the real stuff, it would all feel so much easier and do my confidence the world of good.
So was she right? I definitely felt more assured on the first day of my ski holiday. We only had one lesson at Skizone but you can sign up for a series of them and really be prepared to hit the pistes. The staff – Alex and Maddie – were very helpful and great with the kids. I’m sure they would be brilliant with even the most anxious of beginners. Even though you can’t beat real snow, I loved the fact that you didn’t have to queue for a lift to take you up a mountain (or hill in snow domes) and could just focus on your technique. Plus I felt we could dispense with ski school this year and just enjoy skiing together as a family.
I am back from my ski holiday with all limbs intact – hurrah – and will definitely hit the Skizone carpet again before my next one (there are 2 treadmills at Skizone but you do need to book in advance). It certainly helped my technique and confidence and above all, it was great fun.
Basingstoke – Skizone, Basingstoke Leisure Park, Euskirchen Way,Basingstoke, RG22 6PG
Words: Nicky Richardson