Our eldest child loves winter, loves snow, loves skiing. He has been very disappointed at the lack of snow here in Cambridge. Whilst searching for the nearest ski places for him, I stumbled across both indoor ski centres and dry ski hills, both of which seemed extremely exotic to me but are dotted about the country here. The indoor ski centres are, as the name suggests, artificial environments which make snow on a slope in an indoor centre. For our first non-traditional ski experience, we decided to try something which seemed even more unusual, dry skiing.
A dry ski slope is a ski slope which attempts to replicate the experience of skiing or snowboarding on snow by using artificial materials to cover the hill. We went to a dry ski slope about 30 miles away from our house at Gosling Sports centre.
Having done a Wikipedia search, I am guessing the material on the slope we went to was made of Dendrix, which looks like short broom bristles stuck together in a mesh pattern. One of the instructors I spoke to said skiing on the dry slope was similar to (snow) skiing in icy conditions. A big difference I noticed was that people were not allowed to just use the main slope without having some sort of competency, as opposed to in Canada where I have never heard anybody ask if you can actually ski before hitting the slopes. Before going I had assumed this was because the dry ski slope was smaller and there would be more of a chance of a bunch of inexperienced people running into one another. But the dry ski slope we went to turned out to be not much different in size to a (smallish) hill near us in Canada. I now suspect the competency requirement may be because the material covering the hill (again according to Wikipedia) gives little or no impact protection if you fall on it.
The important thing though, was whether the kids had a good time, and they did. Our smallest and least experienced child stayed in the small lodge/ski rental/change area whilst the other two went out and enjoyed skiing in the rain. But on a dry slope, rain doesn’t matter! Except to make the surface a bit more slippery.
p.s. Now watching the Olympics coverage here in the UK, we have learned that it is common for British skiers and snowboarders to have trained in the indoor ski centres and dry ski slopes.