Spring: notorious for plenty of snow and some of the deepest skiing of the year. With winter storms like “Yona” still dropping inches like deejays drop beats, the season remains in full swing.
With such great conditions, you’ve booked your ski vacation and are anticipating the sunny rays that make cruising the mountain so pleasant during this time of year. You’re prepped for groomer corn one morning and pile-driving through powder the next. And you’re fully expecting to stand out once you return back home with the all-telling souvenir: the goggle tan.
Yup, this is the golden time o’ year, my snow sport friends.
Want to continue extending that spring skiing feeling? Hold on to the chairlift because it’s not some crazy future dream we’re scheming up here — both indoor and outdoor ski centers mean you can enjoy your sport year round. And while you might not find pillow lines and stashes of face shots, you can hit trails, rails and moguls, or simply keep your ski legs in shape.
Sound too good to be true? Here’s the proof:
Liberty Mountain Snowflex Center
Using “Snowflex,” a synthetic material that “simulates the slip and grip effects of snow,” Virginia’s Liberty University in Lynchburg created a ski experience that is surprisingly realistic (I tested it myself to make sure). Riders ranging from beginners through freestyle champs can find a place to practice here with the center offering instruction, different “trail” levels, kickers, rails and a quarter pipe.
Alpine Slopes and Mini Mountain
Want to improve your skill off hill or simply keep your “ski legs” in check? Mississauga, Ontario and Bellevue, Washington, respectively, are home to endless vertical offered by indoor treadmill-style ski slopes. You can grab an instructor and tune up your technique or drop in on the hill to keep in shape throughout the year. Alpine Slopes’ facilities even allow you to change slope angle (up to 20 degrees) and the speed of your run.
At 590’ (180 meters), Manchester, England boasts the UK’s longest indoor slope. This center comes complete with a freestyle park and moguls and even has its own competitive ski and boarding academies. Every type of snow sport instruction can be found here, from telemark to adaptive sports, from never-ever riders to advanced skiers. Heading there unexpectedly? They even allow you to rent snow clothes. How’s that for full service?
Gloucester Ski & Snowboard Centre
This outdoor, year-round ski facility in England also utilizes Snowflex, which continuously mists a plastic carpet with water to create similar experience to real snow skiing. Set on 12 acres, the center has the longest dry slope in England & Wales at 820’ (250 meters), the UK’s only permanent freestyle airbag, and offers both racing and recreational skiing to its guests. Members of the British ski team have even gotten their beginnings on Gloucester’s dry slopes.
The Netherlands gets the title for holding the largest indoor ski center in the world. Able to host the World Cup, the longest of its five runs is 1,706’ (520 meters) and is serviced by the Netherlands’ only six-person chairlift! Not only does this place get the honor of being the only indoor center that is approved by the International Ski Federation to host events, but the center covers over 376,736 square-feet, with 100 snow sport instructors to keep you up to par, a terrain park and a 100-room hotel. Spring and summer fun could be had for days here.
While SnowWorld might be the largest indoor ski center overall, if you’re looking for more time on the snow and less waiting on the lift, check out this ski center in Bottrop, Germany. With its longest run totaling 2,099’ (640 meters — and the longest in the world), skiers can put in time laying down tracks on its curved course. A decent 24% grade gives riders plenty of pitch to smoothly link those turns.
Midlothian Snowsports Centre
This snow sports park, just outside of Edinburgh, features the longest dry slope in either region at 1,476’ (450 meters). Along with lessons for the everyday skier and rider, freestyle and race coaching is available at the center — in fact, this facility is the training headquarters for the nation’s Olympians.