VIDEO: Gareth takes to the piste at Snozone
SNOW ploughs are designed to be strong, sturdy and reliable.
So imagine a 27-year-old reporter performing a skiing move with the same name and making it look just the opposite.
On Thursday I got the chance to experience skiing for beginners when I visited Snozone at the Xscape - my first, visit despite living in the city when it was first constructed in November 2000.
Like any novice I took to the slopes with some trepidation finding it difficult to walk in the clumpy boots, and then even harder to stand once my skis made contact with the real snow slope, with the temperature maintained at around five degrees below freezing.
However, my cheeks were soon glowing red – not just with the exertion but embarrassment as I attempted to make my first move but ended ceremoniously on my backside. But after learning the basic moves and the mechanics of skiing we were then ready to make our way up the slope – easier said than done.
The object is to walk up sideways, with small steps, digging the side of the ski into the snow for support. Again writing about it and explaining it is much easier said than done and without pointing the ski forward I found myself sliding down the slope with zero control.
When I finally did make the painstaking five-minute journey up the 25-metre route I then had to edge myself out before turning round to face down hill without either falling over or starting to slide.
After the first few runs I struggled to keep myself still after making the turn and became really frustrated at not being able to get the hang of it. If not for the guidance of Alex Thomas, head of the snow school, and dual qualified snow sports instructor, David Lemmon, I would probably still be on the ground.
Alex who has been working at Snozone for about three years, is in charge of scheduling lessons, making sure lesson standards are kept and making sure everyone’s having a good time.
He said: “I recommend people try both. Everyone has a preferred choice and it’s only a matter of trying it to see which one you prefer, coming down, booking on to a lesson and getting a taste for it really. Once you’ve had your first lesson a lot of people get hooked and always come back for more.”
We also spoke of the fitness benefits of skiing;just one session can burn over 300 calories, giving you a full body workout and helping to develop balance, flexibility, agility and leg and core strength.
He added: “For the fitness benefits it’s great, especially when you first learn you’re using a lot more energy than you’d normally use day to day. Putting the equipment on even requires a bit of energy so you’re pretty much constantly working.
“Even though it’s cold in there, it’s about minus four, you still build up a good sweat. I’ve had times when I’ve been able to teach in a T-shirt, just because I’ve been running around the hill.”
After we’d managed to get more of a grip on the climb, in more than one sense of the word, and managed to learn the basic techniques, it was time to incorporate turns into the standard ‘snow plough’.
This involved leaning slightly over to one side to move your body weight in the opposite direction. Confused? So was I. But David was patient and helpful, even when I struggled to grasp some of the techniques.
David Lemmon, dual qualified snow sports instructor, said: “What we did today was just basic body posture for your skiing just to get your body position right to make the skis work most effectively for you.
“We started to touch on a bit of snow ploughing and some snow plough turns. That’s just at a basic level how we’re going to control our speed coming down a hill. As you found out it’s a bit trickier than it looks but as you did you progressed well, you started to get the idea, relaxing a lot more and actually getting that snow plough and feeling it’s controlling your speed and stuff like that.
“There’s quite a lot that goes on in skiing so it’s all about breaking it down here to basic levels and going up through the levels so as you get up to the higher levels you’ll have that skiing awareness of what you’ve already learnt from your basics and be able to push and develop your riding further with that.”
I left the slope feeling satisfied that I had made some progress and that I had experienced a good workout. The key thing staff are trying to promote is that fitness can be fun and after experiencing it for myself I would have to agree.
For more information on booking lessons call Snozone Milton Keynes on 0871 222 5670 or visit the website at www.snozoneuk.com.
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Weather for Milton Keynes
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 7 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North