COVID 19, WHERE TO SKI: ENDLESS SLOPES CLOSE TO HOME
With COVID-19 putting severe restrictions on traveling to ski areas across the world, we need to be creative to still enjoy what we all like most; winter sports. And there are plenty of opportunities to still enjoy skiing or snowboarding or even telemark, whilst not having the need to travel far. In many countries, indoor ski slopes have been developed over the past years, such as for instance, the different Snowworld locations in the Netherlands and the indoor Skihalle Neuss in Germany. Also, outdoor ski slopes, both carpet, and plastic (link to an article in Huizen) are present in many places. However, not all winter fanatics might know that there are even literally endless opportunities close to home. The indoor treadmill ski machines. Slopes, varying in speed, steepness and without an end, without any need to take the lift, endless meters, endless fun.
With the growing demand for skiing close at home, at all times of the year, the number of indoor treadmill slopes is increasing rapidly. This means that also more instructors are needed to continue meeting the high demand for ski lessons. With Snowplanners we have recently participated in the indoor treadmill ski instructor course, to better understand why more and more people are daring to take the step from real slopes to the endless slopes and vice versa. And we can tell you, this is not only due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
When as an experienced skier and instructor, starting to ski on a “magic carpet”, it takes some time to get acquainted to the new surface, the lower forward speed, and the relatively small slope. Due to lower centrifugal power and the risk of getting caught by the carpet due to imprecise skiing, the beginning might also for experienced skiers feel a bit unusual or even scary. This instructor course, given by Daniel Schinkel at Snowsport Center Utrecht, focuses on how to connect skiing on the indoor treadmill with skiing in the snow and the other way around. What are the main similarities and are there differences between skiing in these different environments?
Skiing on a treadmill slope is in many aspects very similar to skiing on a normal slope. Almost all types of turns (apart from those very long ones) that can be made in the snow can also be made on the carpet. What is needed more, is a good feeling of how to use the edges of the skis. Incorrect edging can immediately result in unbalance or even falling down. Whereas imprecise skiing in the snow will not always have immediate effects, a lack of precision on the carpet you will notice immediately. And exactly this point is why even good skiers can often still improve a lot on the treadmill slopes with the help of good ski instructors.
Being a ski instructor on the carpet is not the same as being an instructor in the snow. Actually, more skills are demanded by an instructor on a carpet. Whereas in the snow instructors can easily take a lot of time guiding around, varying in slopes and areas, and having the group ski behind, instructors on a carpet need to be “on” every minute. In the first place to control the slope, turning it on and off, adapting the speed, and in some cases even changing the steepness of the slope. In addition, there is a continuous feedback loop between the instructor and the guest. From an instructor, a lot of focus and a good understanding of technical skiing is demanded to be able to provide direct feedback and exercises during the time the guest is on the slope (on average between 7.5 to 10 minutes per block). Guests can directly apply the feedback received and can even verify their own practices in the mirror that is placed in front. During the indoor ski instructor course, a lot of effort is put on how to build-up the lessons and how to adapt to the different types of guests, both in terms of personalities and skills. Due to the different backgrounds of the instructors, some being complete beginners versus very qualified and experienced instructors, a final exam is taken by Snowsports academy to guarantee a minimum level of instructors that will teach across the different indoor slopes.
Whether you are a complete beginner or a very experienced skier, Snowplanners can guarantee you that skiing on a treadmill slope can bring you to the next level, and even if not skills-wise, then mentally when your ego might get hurt the first time you try 😉. All we can say is that it is worth it. It is a great opportunity close at home that will give you not only a better condition and preparation for the winter season but also a better understanding of the mechanics and physics behind skiing, snowboarding, or telemark. Just try it, after the COVID-19 restrictions are over, you can judge yourself whether your on-snow skills have improved. Be open, be creative in looking for opportunities, and do not forget to enjoy.