Our reporter tests Norwich’s new ‘mobile mountainside’

Mark Shields at the ski simulator in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith Mark Shields at the ski simulator in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Monday, December 9, 2013
2:07 PM

Norwich’s latest Christmas attraction brings downhill skiing to the city. Evening News reporter Mark Shields tested it for himself.

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It’s such a simple idea, I’m surprised it wasn’t invented earlier – but Norwich’s mobile dry ski slope is a world first.

A rotating treadmill, the machine brings Alpine peaks to the city centre, and is used by top ski teams for off-season training.

John Timewell, my instructor on a chilly Sunday morning, advises I start by holding the bar until I’ve found my feet on the artificial surface, and starts me at a gentle pace.

It’s a sensation that takes getting used to: the carpet grips harder than snow, and your position remains static as it flies beneath you, so John advises me to pick a point on the horizon.

“If you look at your feet you’ll get car-sick,” he says.

He turns up the speed as I find my balance, and with slope flashing beneath me we move on to snowplough turns. Gauging speed is crucial, slow too much and the treadmill pushes you higher towards the back; too little and you run into the bar again. But getting it right is addictive.

Progressing to parallel turns proves the real test. My skills on snow don’t count for much, as the carpet bites harder against the edges of my skis, and the slope begins to feel smaller.

With less time to think, it shines an unforgiving light on a skier’s technique: it’s obvious why the machine is such a valuable training tool.

I’ve only been on the machine 10 minutes but with John offering constant feedback, it’s a quick learning curve - so beginners shouldn’t feel nervous about getting their first taste of skiing.

Despite finding it tougher than I expected, I’ll be heading back for another go.

There are other definite upsides to the mobile slope: skiing without the lugging around heavy equipment or queuing for lifts. Now if only they could do something about the weather.

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