Reported by Matthew Thomas
During the long Dubai summer there are very few escapes from the searing heat. With temperatures pushing 50 degrees, outdoor sports and leisure activities are well and truly off the cards, at least for another month.
What better opportunity then to explore the largest indoor ski slope in the world. Ski Dubai has a fantastic team of in-house ski instructors on hand to provide group or individual lessons. From children taking their first lesson to experienced adults, Ski Dubai has it all covered. Considering myself an ‘intermediate’ skier, I was paired with experienced Moroccan instructor Mohammad.
Upon arriving at Ski Dubai I was quickly whisked to the ski lesson meeting point where the friendly Ski Dubai staff were on hand to advise me on the best boots and skis for my size and skiing experience, something that is often overlooked but absolutely crucial, for the wrong size equipment can mean you won’t be progressing anytime soon. The efficient electronic weighing system even remembers your previous visits so the team can get your bindings just right.
The changing and equipment village is such a large area even when the centre gets busy there are always lockers to be found and somewhere to put on your ski gear in private. Having not skied for a long time I was a little nervous heading out onto the nursery slopes but Mohammad, my instructor for the day, was great at putting me at ease and building my confidence quickly. Confidence is the key to being a good skier, you can’t be afraid to fall or to fail.
Once he had assessed that I wasn’t going to end up in a crumbled mess at the bottom, we took the chair lift up to the top of the slopes so we could get started with the lesson proper. Whilst the red run to the right hand side of the dog legged slope looked a little daunting at first, with a few runs I was starting to find my ski feet again. It’s important to communicate with your instructor if you’re nervous at any time so you can things slowly, if you’re rushed, you will panic. Skiing is meant to be fun!
Mohammad was patient and informative throughout our lesson without overwhelming me with too many things to think about. He gave me some excellent drills to work on myself in regards to a couple of key areas of my technique that needed improvement. He set about teaching me the difference between short turns and carving as well as when to use the different styles. Using your edge to carry speed from one turn to the next is something I found easier to get to grips with once my confidence grew through the lesson. One of the first things Mo noticed on the nursery slopes was my stance. He encouraged me to stand more upright and keeping my chest facing down the slope. From this position I had to pivot from the hips to turn rather than using my whole body which certainly started to make a big difference to my speed. You certainly need nerves of steel not to put the pressure on the skis too early in the corner and with the excellent snow quality at Ski Dubai you have the perfect conditions to experiment without any treacherous ice patches that you might encounter out on the real slopes.
With the help of the button lift we were able to get almost straight back to the top without queueing which really helped to maximise the ski time within the session which was one hour. I would definitely advise booking an early morning slot if you intend to go at the weekends as the slopes were exceptionally quiet given its popularity. It’s a lot easier to ski when you feel you have the space necessary for trial and error.
Ski vocab you will learn
Aerials*: Freestyle ski jumping involving flipping in the air. * Don’t worry this is not a part of the lesson!
Artificial Snow: Man-made snow. Not as fine as real snow.
Binding: The thing that connects your boot to your ski or snowboard. The bindings on skis are designed to release the boot in the case of a fall. Snowboard bindings don’t auto release.
Black Run: Advanced level ski slope for good skiers and snowboarders.
Blue Run: A gentle slope suitable for beginner skiers and snowboarders.
Button Lift: A ski lift with a round plastic disc at the end of a long pole. The disc is placed between the legs and gently pulls skiers and boarders up the slopes.
Cable Car: A large aerial lift that transports skiers and snowboarders up the slopes.
Carving: Turns where the edges of the skis or snowboard are used.
Chair Lift: An aerial ski lift that you sit on and rest your skis or snowboard on a bar.
Drag Lift: A lift that simply pulls you up the slope as you stand on your skis or snowboard.
Downhill Edge: The edge of the ski that is on the downhill side as your are traverseing the mountain.
Downhill Ski: The ski that is on the downhill side as you traverse the slope.
Edge: Used for control whilst turning, this is the metal strip on the edge of the ski or snowboard.
Lift Pass: A lift pass is a ticket that allows you to use the ski lifts.
Off-Piste: A snowy area away from the marked ski slopes.
Outside Ski: The ski on the outside of a turn.
Red Run: Intermediate level slope.
Salopettes/Ski Pants: Warm, waterproof trousers designed for snow sports.
Schussing: Skiing straight downhill without turning.
Slope: A slope is an area of snowy hill that is designated for skiers/snowboarders.
Snowplough: A beginners technique where the skis are held in a ‘V’ formation with the tips almost touching. It allows for slowing down and turning.
Tips: The front end of the skis.
Traverse: Skiing across a slope in a zigzag pattern rather than straight down.
Uphill Edge: The edge of the ski that is on the uphill side when traversing the slope.