I have never been a fan of winter. I’ll often hear people talk about planning trips to the snow and my mind is already halfway to the nearest tropical island with a coconut in hand! My lack of enthusiasm for the cold and snow has cost me one thing however: I’ve never been skiing. Yep, I have never gone skiing and I’ve always wanted to try it. So when I found out that Off-Piste, Australia’s first ski and snowboard simulation experience had landed a mere ten minutes away from my place (no snow required, yay!), I decided I had to give it a shot:
What exactly does Off-Piste mean, you ask? In the literal sense, off-piste refers to the parts of the slopes that haven’t been prepped for skiing (a.k.a. off the beaten track). There is zero chance I would attempt this in real life, especially as a beginner, but I was more than ready to try it out virtual reality style!
Off-Piste’s ski and snowboard simulators utilise the latest in virtual reality technology, precision motion sensors and powerful motors to recreate the G-force effect of skiing downhills. Giant screens are placed in front of the simiulators, depicting real life ski destinations (Sochi Winter Olympics, anyone? Pyeong Chang, perhaps?) in HD graphics.
There are two simulators available and both are designed by leading simulation creator, SkyTech Sports. There’s ‘The Summit’, which is the more compact option and perfect for beginners, and ‘The Avalanche’ which offers a larger and more powerful simulator for advanced and professional skiers.
Beginner that I am, I was keen to learn how to ski without actually having to set foot in the snow, so I was curious to see what the set-up would actually be like on arrival. I rocked up to what Off-Piste calls their “lodge” in Moore Park’s Entertainment Quarters, and was surprised to see it was quite literally done up like a classic ski lodge! White synthetic grass covered the ground, creating the illusion of snow, while exposed timber, stone walls and faux bearskin rugs draped over lounges completed the ambience.
I was then greeted by the lovely Susie and and got measured and fitted for my ski boots, which were the same as the boots used in real snow. Once I had adapted the weird stiffness of the boots, I was ready to hop on a simulator!
Having never skied before, I had nothing to compare the sensation with. I told Susie, who then explained that the simulators are a great way to learn before even hitting the real slopes. Why? Your muscles actually have to work harder to drive the motion as they aren’t assisted by the downhill momentum of real slopes.
Once strapped onto the simulator, I was encouraged to hold onto the parallel bar in front of me until I could control my edging from side to side. Thankfully, there are safety nets either side of the simulator to catch you if you veer too hard to one side! Once I had picked up the motion, it was time to hit the virtual slopes.
The screen then displayed the same track as the Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics and I began doing runs I would never imagine doing in real life! Rapidly moving (and frequently crashing) between the virtual flags, I soon found that I was picking up speed. I was also no longer cowering in a semi-squat position and my leg muscles were getting a solid workout. Honestly, I was sad to stop – I really felt like I was finally getting the hang of it! Now that I’ve had a taste, I would love to eventually work my way up to same level as this guy on The Avalanche:
Do you have the Need for Speed 🚀 Launch off into Race Mode & track your time, Can you make the top of the score board 🏅 #offpistesss #seeyouontheslopes #bookyoursession #welcometoourlodge #urbanslopes #virtualreality #ski #snowboard #simulator #indoor #offsnow #365ski #wintersport #snowsport #skilodge #endlesswinter #snowsbest #sydney #eqmoorepark
Would I do it again? Hells to the YES! I loved this experience. I know I don’t have real skiing to the compare it to, but it certainly gave me a taste of the fun I’ve been missing out on. Besides motivating me to actually plan a snow trip, it was was a great workout and such different thing to try. Side note? It would make for an AWESOME date idea (you can do dinner and movie any ol’ time).