London Gets Cooler – Stratford Building Giant Indoor Ski Center

Posted by Rachel S on Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Indoor ski center

The expansion of London’s Olympic Park – first built for last summer’s Olympics – has included converting event space to green space and sports/recreation areas for non-Olympians. The next “cool” project continues in that athletic vein: shopping center developer Westfield is splashing out over $307 million on London’s first indoor ski center that it says will rival Ski Dubai in scope and intensity. The facility will be nestled close to the Olympic park in Stratford near an existing Westfield shopping mall.

The longest run will be roughly 300 meters long in a space that will top out at around 215,000 square feet. Did the designers of the United Arab Emirates center just feel the chill of competition? This experience offers a larger option for UK shredders than tromping to Milton Keynes or Hemel Hempstead and promises long runs, steep slopes and rails galore.

The ski project was trumpeted by London’s ever-eccentric Mayor Boris Johnson who stunned the public consistently with his Olympic season antics. Johnson tweeted (and shouldn’t all mayors tweet?): “Announcing amazing new Westfield Snow Dome project for Stratford as part of incredible London 2012 legacy.” It wasn’t only the uber-energetic Johnson that’s looking forward to the indoor snow center – UK snowboarders are psyched for a larger space to play in as well.

Dubbed the Stratford Dome by the press (no actual name revealed as yet) there are also mentions that the facility will offer “real snow.” By “real,” are they implying that other indoor ski centers are filled with marshmallow fluff or the innards of bean bag chairs? In actuality, they are distinguishing it from a “dry slope” which is usually made of a molded tile with a lubricant to prevent damage to equipment. Compared to skiing on tile, artificially blown snow would seem a treat and quite real by comparison.

Extreme indoor skiing

If skiing isn’t your thing and snowboarding is out of your coordination comfort zone, there will be toboggan runs (Cool Runnings, anyone?), a skating rink, snowy play zones for the little ones and beginner runs. Official development plans have not been submitted yet but will be by summer’s end with a projected opening date in 2015.

If you live in an area where skiing is not organically available, this could be a huge boon. Having sledded on artificially blown snow slopes at a local state parks, I feel like this could be great fun, but is it entertainment, sport or a hybrid of the two? If you learn to ski in an insulated and artificial snow dome, will skills learned translate to actual outdoor slopes?

Ski Dubai

It would no doubt be a thrill to take on a 300 meter run with the caveat of knowing that it’s virtually risk-free unless you collide with another faux thrill seeker. There are no trees, rocks or cliffs to avoid, so it seems like this venue, while safer, wouldn’t hone outdoor skiing skills. But for those who might not otherwise be able to afford or try their hand (or more aptly, their feet) at the sport, it could be a boon.

For serious ski enthusiasts, it seems like it would pale in comparison to the real deal. Better to consider it as a venue for fun that will no doubt be a cool addition to the Stratford area that could very well attract the three million visitors per year the developer projects.

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One response to “London Gets Cooler – Stratford Building Giant Indoor Ski Center”

  1. Elana Maya says:

    This is great. It gives people the chance to explore the cool weather and winter sports in a region that doesn’t normal have these things. I live in Miami, FL. and the location I visit the most is Israel. I only visit Israel during the summer, though so I have never seen snow. I am used to the hot weather of both locations. Seeing snow would be a dream for me.

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