We were very excited to have Tina Reed of the Washington Business Journal stop by to try out our Indoor Skiing.
Below is the article that appeared in the Fall 2017 online issue:
I only fell once.
I’ll start there since I know that’s what everyone is going to ask when I mention that I tried the Inside Ski Training Center in Leesburg this week. It opened Nov. 1.
My fall wasn’t painful, but more a slow flailing moment as I tried to recover from both skis sliding apart with my feet still attached. My legs splayed as my palms smacked the white artificial turf still moving below me. I had no prayer of getting back up gracefully.
To explain, I was standing on a giant treadmill with a massive white belt to simulate snow as you slide down the side of the mountain. The white turf belt is misted with water to make it more slippery, and the skis have smoothed edges to make them glide easier across the surface. The operator can vary the speed and pitch of the hill. A giant mirror allows skiers to watch themselves and adjust their form.
With the belt still moving while I tried to recover, I wondered momentarily how many people have shot off the back of the machine.
A half-second later, the belt stopped. Ski instructor Cindy Trochlil had pushed a red emergency stop button on a remote control in her hand. Smiling, she gave me some encouraging words as I finally got myself upright and slid back down to the base of the incline and balanced myself on a waist-height horizontal bar.
“Give it another try,” she said, supportively. “You’re doing great.”
She turned on the belt and I tried again. She coached me to practice shifting my weight to make slight turns to the left and the right. My thigh muscles burned. My calves and ankles ached. By the end of a 10-minute run, I was surprised to find I was sweating. (Pro tip: If you try this, wear a T-shirt.)
I should mention: I’m not a total rookie. While the mountain I learned on could more accurately be described as a large hill, I did go skiing quite a few times when I was growing up.
But it’s been years since I’ve tried the sport.
Quite a few people go months or years between their ski trips and end up losing time on the slopes because, like me, they forget how challenging the sport can be and need a day to recover. The center hopes to sell those ski lovers on the ability to get their muscles back into condition before their big outdoor vacations, Trochlil said. As the only such center in the Mid-Atlantic, it also hopes to attract “never evers” for lessons as well as avid athletes searching for critiques to improve their form, she said. Lessons start at $45 for groups and $89 for individual lessons. The cost of the infinite slope from a Netherlands-based Alpine Engineering, including shipping and installation, was more than $150,000.
The center is the latest to offer indoor recreation across Greater Washington, including the new iFly indoor skydiving facility in Loudoun and the ZavaZone indoor adventure park in Rockville. It is located inside the Pro Fit Ski and Mountain Sports shop, which has been owned and operated by Brian and Nancy Deely for 22 years. The Deelys boast that they have more than 70 years combined in the ski industry. Brian Deely is a master boot fitter, and the store offers high-end outdoor clothing brands and accessories, as well as equipment rentals and ski and snowboard tuning.
Still, running a brick-and-mortar business has gotten increasingly tough in retail in recent years. “How do we get people into our ski shop in the age of the Internet?” Trochlil said.
They might have just found a way.