Snowflex vs. Indoor Snow

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Which is better? Which is better for you? Which would you build if you had a choice? Snowflex or indoor snow?

We got a letter through the door last week that included a survey regarding some improvements to the Stadium close to where we live. They’re thinking about building a new “Sports Village”, possibly including an indoor snow slope, and they wanted to find out what people were interested in…

My first thought was cool, that would be handy. Then I started wondering what the slope would be like, and then, would I actually prefer an indoor slope or a snowflex slope?

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Indoor Snow

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Snowflex

Which is better? I’m certain that for people learning to ski or snowboard, indoor snow is better. It’s closer to the real thing; more accurate. Easier? Probably.

But then, I’ve never learned to snowboard on snowflex before, so I wouldn’t know how different the experience is. But what about once you’ve stopped just learning? For most people, a 150m slope doesn’t really cut it for giving them a fast carving experience. It’s not steep and it’s not long. It’s nothing like the real thing.

So what about for freestyle? I know there are a couple of indoor half-pipes in Europe, which by all accounts, are pretty damn good. I don’t see anyone in the UK being forward-thinking enough to go for something like that. No, I’m thinking about our current freestyle offerings in the UK; I’m contrasting something like the Halifax slope with something like the freestyle night at Castleford.

For me, snowflex wins. The kickers are better. End of story. I’d agree that it’s easier to build a challenging and varied jib setup on an indoor snow slope, but that doesn’t mean a good jib setup for snowflex is out of the question, given the space…

And that’s my point. Those indoor snow slopes are so expensive to run. The little of what I’ve read/been told, suggests that the slopes themselves suck money out of the big centres; by themselves, they’d lose money. It’s only the shops and the cinemas and the restaurants that make the whole thing profitable.

What if you had one of these big recreational parks, like Xscape at Castleford, but instead of an indoor slope you had a really well polished snowflex slope? Aim for the best one built to date. Surely they’re much cheaper to build and maintain? You could have a slope for just riding and then a slope purely for freestyle. A kicker line; a jib park. Flood-lit. Fast.

The only snowflex slope that I’ve been to is stuck out in the fields at the top of a big hill. As far as other attractions go, there’s a soft play area for kids and a small pub. The sprinklers don’t work. If it’s a dry day you need to bring your own washing up liquid for lubrication. And it’s still great!

How much attention would a snowflex slope get if it was right in the middle of a large leisure & shopping complex? If it was marketed like the indoor snow slopes are? With a significant investment, how good could it be?

I accept that my view is heavily biased toward freestyle facilities. I also accept that I don’t really know anything about the revenue plans for these businesses, and how important the concept of real snow is to the overall picture.

But putting that to one side, if someone was going to invest a large amount of money into a slope, right on my doorstep, I’d choose a well planned, well designed snowflex slope. Wrap it up with some restaurants and bars, some decent snowboarding shops, an indoor skate park, build a scene. But definitely give me those perfect jumps, every time!

What would you pick?

7 Comments

  • Reply April 10, 2010

    Jonathan Tollefson

    I agree with you and am trying to get something like this together in the states. I think it is the best way to snowboard year round and make it fun and enjoyable for everyone who wants to come out and learn how to board. The freestyle aspect of it is unreal and you could really build anything you wanted and change it up every now and then to keep it fresh! Great article.

  • Reply April 10, 2010

    Mal

    Mate, you should send a link to this post to the council (or whoever it was sent you the survey). The money angle alone should be enough to sway them, but if they can see that Snowflex is appreciated by the target users too, that might make it irresistable. Hell, I’d even be tempted to take it up again myself! πŸ˜€

  • Reply April 10, 2010

    θ’«γƒͺンクァービス

    There’re advantages and disadvantages of both snowflex and indoor snow, so maybe we should try both of them and experience the differences.

  • Reply April 10, 2010

    Arran

    Hey Gav.

    Thats never going to happen mate.
    Snowflex just doesnt have the same appeal as indoor snow.

    I’d much rather see a snowdome than snowflex and I think you’ll find most other snowboarders would aswell.
    Halifax is always dead so its not exactly a great advertisment for snowflex.

    Your comment about the revenue is right but the snowdome is what attracts people to the other facilities.

  • Reply April 10, 2010

    Gavin Hope

    Hey Mal,

    just letting you know that I dropped the council an email with a link to the post; maybe they’ll take a quick look? Maybe they’ll consider it πŸ™‚

    Jonathan, yeah it is really good, and I agree that you pretty much can build anything and still keep things fresh. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • Reply April 10, 2010

    Gavin Hope

    Hey guys, you’re right, there are advantages to both!

    Arran, being my brother I can say with certainty that you haven’t tried snowflex πŸ™‚ I’m gonna get you on it this year, work the kickers and then see how you feel. Remember, I’ve never ridden one of the newer snowflex slopes, one where the sprinklers and lifts work! I just think they’re awesome…

  • Reply April 25, 2011

    Alex

    Any temp snow making is available.

    Everyone prefers snow to dryslope. Everyone prefers outdoors to indoors.

    Use man-made snow on snowflex dryslope in winter, let any natural snow supplement that, use slope as dryslope out of season.

    Manmade snow, once packed can last 1-2wks in even warm conditions. The last olympics were held at daytime temps around 12degrees celcius.

    Proposed set up cheaper than snowdome to run. Could charge less out of season for dryslope more for snow. Snow still tariff still significantly cheaper than snowdome tariff.

    convert / upgrade many of the current UK dryslopes / build newer better ones.

    Simple!

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