It’s happened. I’ve finally gone skiing after a whole summer without!
And where did I go? I’m sure you’re wondering, because it’s just that exciting. Les Deux Alpes? Saas Fe? Hintertux?
Hell no, I went to Calshot activities centre, which is probably the 3rd best dry slope on the south coast! It boasts such features as being indoors so you don’t get any of that pesky British weather and it feels like a spring day in the mountains (minus the sunshine and double the humidity), being so short that it’s quicker to get the drag lift than hike a feature (of which there’s only room for one before you reach the bottom) AND the staff ‘let’ you get all the features out yourself (which is a task not to be attempted in ski boots). You can choose from a selection of cheese wedge kickers or some overly kicky kickers, the biggest of which you could never even hope to get speed for. I think some poor guy had to be hospitalised once for trying to backflip it.
Anyway, so I’m sure I’ve painted a picture, but Calshot really does have a special place in my heart, because it’s where I learned to ride park! And when I rocked up the other night I felt much the same way that I did when I first turned up there as a fresher with my Scott Sheelas and boots that someone had left in the chalet where I worked on my gap yah in Canadia. So I was pretty nervous, not to mention feeling old; my knees were sore… I hadn’t ridden on snowflex for about two years and was worried I’d be shit… I didn’t know what was cool to wear at the dryslope anymore… Middle class problems – but ultimately, incredibly important.
But once I started riding, in a shirt I had borrowed from my dad, with a beanie under my helmet (massive faux pas) and after the awkward first half hour where I had to get used to skiing on carpet again, I remembered just why Calshot is so awesome, and it’s not for all the amazing reasons I’ve already mentioned.
For one, everyone is SO nice; it’s such a small place there’s no room for big egos. And there are some really good riders there as well. Everyone is just there to learn new stuff and help each other out, and I got to catch up with people I hadn’t seen for ages who still ride there every week (and they’re all better than me!)
And, forget the jumps; Calshot has an awesome selection of rails and boxes. If it’s quiet, the staff let you arrange them however you like. You can make them ride on, side on, gap to, or you can do box-zillas. The possibilities are endless, and it’s great for progression, especially if, like me, it takes you a long time to learn new things.
Also, you can get SO much done, forget waiting in massive lift lines, Calshot is waay to cool for that. I got to work on things that I’m not very good at, like spinning blind out of rails, and by the end of the session, I was still not very good at it, but a little bit better at least. And when someone wants to help me get the flat down box out, I can work on my blind switch ups too.
Screenshots from Sam McMahon, to watch it in motion (oh yes, there’s a video!) see One Man One Rail at: https://vimeo.com/76169655