Most ski areas are closed. Indoor snow slopes are closed. All due to COVID-19. But outdoor sports are allowed. And then all the disappointed ski fanatics come out and play.
Dry slopes and moguls
There are quite a few dry slopes in the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, and other ‘lower countries’. Not many of them have moguls, though. Most of them are quite smooth. The plastic mats (‘brushes’, as we call them in the Netherlands) have to be sprayed with water and silicone solution to glide. And to have some edge grip on skis, you really have to edge aggressively. After a few runs you do get used to it, though.
But then there are the moguls. In the snow, moguls shift or change throughout time. Troughs get deeper with every skier that goes trough. But these moguls on the dry slope remain the same. In shape, their distance relative to each other… “The best moguls to train on,” says Roderik Sillevis. He is the trainer for these series. “They are always the same, so you can only blame yourself when you screw up” he laughs.
It isn’t because of COVID-19 that these skiers train their mogul skills on the dry slope. Epique, an organization that specializes in freeride trips around the globe and in technical training (moguls, freeride, basic ski technique for advances skiers), has been organizing this mogul course for five years now. “There clearly is an audience for them. COVID-19 has nothing to do with that. Although I think there is a bit more interest this year because the season has been cut short. For ski-addicts this mogul training is a fix. And a great opportunity to brush up their mogul skill, obviously”. Brush up… no pun intended, I assure you.
A skier’s work-out
This mogul course consists of two-hour sessions in the evening (8-10 pm). In a small group (8 people maximum), the skiers work on their skills. Roderik, the trainer, is a Level 4 ski instructor who built the moguls himself. He is also the managing instructor at the ski club where the training is held. He takes the pupils through a tailor-made program that includes lots of personal feedback and video analysis as they lap the dry slope mogul field one by one.
And it’s quite a work-out too. At the start of the session, it is still 20 degrees. That and the hard work in the moguls means sweat. A lot of sweat. A good friend of mine and fellow Snowplanner Gera Kiewiet – a level 3 ski instructor herself – shows her sports watch after a few runs. A heart rate of 150 beats per minute. “You have to work hard, but it’s nice and good for my technique. And anyhow, all that matters is that it’s another opportunity to ski!” That’s the spirit!
Even though it’s not the steepest or the longest slope, it’s still tricky getting trough the moguls smoothly. There are some crashes and egos do get crushed. But in the end, it is a great way to keep skiing and training. In the open air, on a beautiful spring evening. What else would ski fanatics wish for? Consider it a perfect start of season 2020-2021.