Following on from the post last week (Snowboarding vs Skiing | The Ultimate Showdown) in which I suggested that it’s the freestyle snowboarders who can consistently get the most benefit from our indoor slopes, I’d like to ask the question: just how good can you get, indoors?
When it comes to an indoor slope, there are a few limitations that spring to mind:
- Size: in comparison to a resort park, the amount of slope available is restricted – it’s a small slope. This reduces the number of features in the park, and also the size of those features. In this regard, it’s the kickers that suffer the most. Naturally it’s also hard to build hips, quarter pipes, half pipes etc.
- Frequency and availability: most indoor snow slopes offer one or two freestyle sessions each week. You can only ride the park so often, and on that day, it’s a park session – it’s not available all day long.
- Price: the previous article was about annual membership. With the example of The Snow Centre, that membership helps a lot for repeated use. But to my knowledge, there aren’t any season pass deals – providing unlimited access, the type of thing available in a regular resort…
However, there are some key strengths to the indoor slope setup:
- Lots of hits: the slope is short but so is the lift. You’re up and down, quick. Lap after lap, riders repeatedly hit features, first getting used to them and then trying new things on them. Rinse and repeat – it’s a great way to get tricks on lock.
- Continued attention: with a weekly session-based timetable, the parks, albeit small, get continual attention from the shapers/designers/organisers. Good park features and decent park layouts.
- Great scene: perhaps the trump card is the vibe that comes with the UK indoor slope scene. A fun attitude: let’s just snowboard. There are a lot of good snowboarders, riding week-in, week-out. The slope organisers and industry people put on good competitions. It’s well suited to progression…
As such, an indoor snow slope is actually a great place to be introduced to freestyle. If you’re totally new to snowboarding, it’s a good place to learn your first turns. Once you’re ready for freestyle the park will offer you some small, consistent features, which is just what you need for early progression. The parks always cater for beginners.
Part of the encouraging, friendly scene is the instruction – and the freestyle coaches here in the UK are good at what they do. Places like The Snow Centre have freestyle coaching sessions targeted specifically at beginners – in this case, the Rookie Freestyle Clinic. These sessions get great feedback because they offer snowboarders a good environment in which to progress…
So just how good can you get?
In my mind, there’s no doubt that the indoor snow slopes make for a decent snowboard park, they’re a great place to get started and develop, and beyond that you can progress to serious riding skills, particularly with rails and boxes. Just how far can you take your riding here? What are the limitations, what holes need filling and what are the potential remedies?