Ski and snowboard club gets a makeover with £260k slope refurbishment

Norfolk Snowsports Club open day. Picture: Ian Burt

Norfolk Snowsports Club open day. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Norfolk Snowsports Club, only a few miles outside of Norwich, is doing its best to make skiers forget that they're skiing down plastic matting, not powdery snow.

Norfolk Snowsports Club open day. Picture: Ian Burt

Norfolk Snowsports Club open day. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The club recently invested £260K in a brand-new slope refurbishment, just in time for the sure-to-be busy Christmas season.

A portion of the funds went towards synthetic 'Snowflex' matting for the four nursery slopes and another chunk paid for diamond-shaped matting for the main slope, a material that skis can move faster on.

Although thousands of skiers will flock to the slopes in the next few months, the dry ski slopes allow for year-round skiing.

Norfolk Snowsports is one of the largest member-run ski and snowboard clubs in the country and club members raised all the money for the refurbishments.

One club member, Marcia Lee, said: 'The slope has really been improved by the new matting. It is a lot quicker and I'm looking forward to attending my usual improver lessons and Ladies Club.'

Chris Pratt, snowboard instructor and maintenance manager at the Club said: 'We are delighted to be able to do all this work and maintain our position as one of the best slopes in the country.

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'We have a continual commitment to maintain a quality experience for our customers and the new nursery slope matt is designed to give a softer landing for those who fall when getting to grips with their balance while having one plank or two strapped to their feet!'

How do the new refurbishments stack up?

Last week, I strapped on a pair of unwieldy skis and took to the slopes with a group of mostly seven to 10-year-olds to see if it was possible to 'ski' on inches of thick, synthetic matting.

The club has a deceiving name, perhaps for obvious reasons: there's a glaring lack of snow on the slopes.

That pesky fact, it turned out, has relatively little impact on the enjoyment factor.

I signed up for a taster lesson, which involves a guide wrangling an uncoordinated group up and down the bunny hill as others whizz by and make the most of ramps and jumps.

For background, it's important to note that I have a particularly bad memory of accidentally going down a black run as a kid, taking my skis off half way down the hill and having teenagers on the chair lift above throw snow balls at me. Needless to say, skiing hasn't always been my favourite activity.

Having also never dry skied before, stepping onto the springy mats for the first time was strange. Quickly, though - perhaps thanks to cold temperatures and torrential rain - it felt extremely similar to being on snow-covered slopes.

I've been skiing many times before, but it turns out getting a beginner's lesson is what I always needed. Rather than just tipping off the edge of a mountain and hoping for the best, the taster taught us how to properly slow down, stay balanced and manage not to hit anyone.

After an hour of encouraging drills and plenty of successful runs, I can confidently say I have a whole new appreciation of skiing - with or without snow.

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