Indoor Snow Centres and Dry Slopes
In the UK you can ski or snowboard on dry ski slopes or indoor snowdomes across the country. They're a great way to learn and are an affordable way to develop your skills
Confidence is a huge factor for first time skiers. Before heading out to the mountains going to local dryslope or snowdome will give you a headstart for your first ski holiday. This expert guide explains the types of facilities you can use in the UK before going away.
In the UK there are artificial and real snow slopes all over the country. If you can master basics like stopping and turning before your first holiday on snow, you can make more use of the mountain when you're there. The new GO SKI GO BOARD initiative, backed by Snowsports England, is a great way to get involved with your local dry slope or indoor snow slope.
The three most common surfaces for dry slopes in the UK are Dendix, Proslope and Snowflex. Dendix has been around for the longest and is well known to dry slope skiers nationwide. It's made of plastic bristles with diamond-shaped spaces between the bristles. It's not very forgiving to ski on (especially if you fall over) due to the holes in it, but it is a great place to work on the basics. There are also other surfaces called Snowflex and Proslope. Snowflex has no holes and is a carpet like material. Proslope , has no holes to catch thumbs like traditional diamond matting and bristle technology with 2 different heights to give a better edge control and a snow like feel. Aldershot, Southampton, Snowtrax (Christchurch), Silkworth (Sunderland), Hillend (Edinburgh) are a few of the many dry slopes now operational.
The main benefits of learning on a dryslope are that they can be reasonably priced for lessons or freeski sessions, plus you're out in the open air rather than indoors. The surface maybe hard but if you master the basics on a dry matt surface you will find snow a dream. Olympians such as Billy Morgan, Dave Ryding, Laurie Taylor and James Woods have all trained on dryslopes in their early snowsport careers.
Before you head out to a dryslope make sure you bring a long sleeve T shirt at least to protect yourself from the bristles if you fall. Gloves are also essential too to protect your hands from the aurface. Even though it can be warm your own ski socks are useful too to help with fitting into rental ski boots. It's important to cover up even if it's the summer.
Many dry slopes have rental facilities for equipment such as skis/boards, boots, poles and helmets but it's best to check what your local slope offers before you head there.