As a UK based rider for the majority of the year, alternative and artificial forms of snowboarding are often the only way you can get on the slopes. Their are many of these ski centres within the UK and even some real ski resorts up in the Scottish Highlands, as I’m currently based in Edinburgh, I’m well located to a number of centres!
Dryslopes are made of a number of different plastic mattings. These mattings are placed upon the side of the slope, and with a bit of water and lubricant riders can slide around, quite similar to the snow. The basic elements of snowboarding and skiing are kept, such as going up a lift and then going down a hill, but many believe it is not the same, you can’t carve an edge and it hurts to fall, however I would just say it’s different and if you can adapt to it, it’s brilliant, especially for freestyle. I’ve had some of my best times of dryslope, despite the infamous plastic bristle matting catching and injuring my fingers or thumbs numerous times.
There are 3 main dryslope materials/mattings:
Dendex – Diamond shaped matting with hexagonal pattern andmetal base,
I have many fond memories of dryslope competitions such as the Farmers Jam and AIM Series, I made a lot of friends and progressed myself signifcantly through it. It is a great way to keep active on your board and improve your board control, as a number of aspects are adaptable to the real snow slopes.
I currently ride at Midlothain Snowsports Centre (Hillend), Bearsden where possible, often with HWSSC and Norfolk Snowsports Club whenever I’m in Norwich.
The popularity for indoor snow centres is significant and it seems to be growing with a number of UK centres. They are like giant fridges and with this the running costs are high, so many are used as key leisure anchors for shopping centres such as Xscape to make them feasible. As it is ‘real’ snow and more user friendly in terms of injury and experience, particuarly for beginners, it can often take business from the dryslopes. Snowdomes have been genertaing a lot of good UK freestyle snowboarders, particuarly rail riders.
I personally like snowdomes and it is nice to get on ‘snow’ with the new Snow Factor slope not far away in Glasgow. It gives me a chance to practice freestyle on snow and even a bit of practice carving.
The Scottish Highlands host a number of Scottish Ski Resorts, although they aren’t the Alps, they are well run and you can have some of your best days riding with good conditions. The last few seasons being particularly good and I’ve enjoyed my times up there immensely, having bluebird days at Glenshee on nice corduroy groomed slopes, riding 2 feet deep powder in Cairngorm and riding as far into the year as June!
It’s only a 1.5-2 hour drive from Edinburgh for me, so when conditions are good I often go up with friends from HWSSC in a mini-bus to check out the slopes. Prices are great value for money and it’s great to see the beautiful Scottish countryside.
Taking part in the UK freestyle competition circuit for a number of years really ignited my passion for snowboarding. Riding with the best riders in the UK helped my progression greatly, I got to see travel around a the UK a lot and had a lot of fun. I met a lot of friends at competitions such as the old AIM Series and Farmers Jam. In terms of UK freestyle competitions I only really take part in local competitions now in the UK such as; The Farmer’s Jam and Scottish Freestyle Series.
I focus a lot of British University events now (BUSC) such as; BUD’s, BUISC and The Main Event. They are a lot of fun and I’ve done very well in these, both in Freestyle and Racing, I’ve won every discipline except Big Air, and for many of them I’ve won numerous times. The events are a lot of fun, pretty much a festival and I’ve made a lot of friends through the university scene. It’s a great way to carry on competing with snowboarding!