This may be the answer to global warming.
The ultimate long range solution to global warming for ski enthusiasts will probably be to move to Canada. But just as the forecasters can't predict the weather for an upcoming winter season (wasn't this past winter supposed to be cold?), I don't have confidence that predicted warm up will actually occur and that the current warming trend will continue.
The Tokyo ski dome apparently is closing. That's what I read somewhere. However, in England, they seem to be all the rage. Warren Miller profiled one of them in a segment in Freeriders. Most of the users were snowboarders practicing their moves for later use at outdoor terrain parks. That's probably the future of ski domes--an indoor version of a terrain park. They also might be useful for testing skis and snowboards or simply staving off summer ski withdrawal. The unfortunate aspect of these parks is that they require a lot of real estate and potentially scar the landscape. On the other hand, who among us would complain if several strip malls in Fairfax County were converted to a ski dome...
What is really popular is dryslope or Dendex. For those of you who have never seen it, its like a mat of plastic bristles that you can ski on. Its not bad for skis but its awful for boards. If you can ride that you can ride anything, honestly. And it hurts really badly when you fall. Purple bruises all over. They have developed a version called Snowflake that I have ridden that is really nice, it almost feels like slightly slushy snow and it is built over a layer of expanded polysterene so it has some give when you fall. It looks really ugly on the landscape though
I also recently discovered this facility, and was initially quite interested in it, for some off season training for my kid.
When I enquired, several members of their sales staff went out of their way to tell me that their (one and only) instructor is PSIA certified, and at least an L-2. Upon hearing this, I was preparing to be very impressed, and sign my kid up. They even had a big PSIA logo proudly displayed in the area of the dry deck, so everything sounded completely on the up and up.
I found their instructor, told him that I was interested in lessons for my kid, and started to have a truly pleasant conversation with him.
Thinking that it would give him some bragging rights, I asked him if he was PSIA certified. He replied, "Absolutely!". I then asked what level, but he immediately tried to dodge my question with totally incorrect comments like, "There are no levels".
I instantly went from "this is great" mode to suspicious mode. I then played a bit dumb, and commented that other instructors have always make a big deal about the three levels. His response was:
"That's only for instructors at ski areas";
"I've had 2 years teaching experience", etc. etc.
I finally got sick of his obfuscation and asked him point blank if he had to take any specific training for this particular job, participate in any more general PSIA clinics or take any PSIA exams. At this point, he realized that I clearly was suspicious and knew something about the industry, so he finally admitted that he hadn't taken any trining, clinics or exams yet, but added:
"I don't want to become certified since I do amateur racing and being a pro would disqualify me", etc, etc.
It turns out that he is probably what is called a "registered" or "affiliate" PSIA member, ie, he paid his yearly dues but has no more official PSIA qualifications than a recreational skier.
Unfortunately, from the way his qualifications were represented by the other staff and from his own statements, I would guess that >99% of people would have been given the false impression that this guy was at least a PSIA L-2 certified instructor.
Obviously, there are lots of good instructors who never went the PSIA route, and nobody's skiing career is going to get derailed if this guy doesn't give a good 15 min lesson on a ski deck, but still, I came away with the definite impression of a sleezey operation.
On subsequent visits to the mall, I hung around and watched him teach one adult and two early teen boys (brothers). I was not at all impressed. He was very personable, but technically weak, and IMHO, did not operate the machine in the most appropriate way for each skier. With respect to the latter, he effectively did the equivalent of taking them up the mountain (in angle and speed) prematurely. The bottom line is that I'm definitely not taking my kid there for off-season lessons.
Tom / PM
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