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A new type of synthetic ski slope, which has taken thousands of pounds and 5 years to create, has opened in Dorset.
Snowtrax in Christchurch is now being used as the European test centre for the material, which is supposed to feel just like snow under ski's and snowboards.
It's been developed by Proslope along with Managing directors at Snowtrax -Colin and Trevor Iseard and Barry Smith.
Colin, who's been a ski instructor for around 10 years, says he knew there was a gap in the market and a real need for a good artificial surface.
"It's taken more than 5 years but we've come up with a material which really does react just the same as snow. It's remarkable and a world-first.
"We basically took all the positive aspects of other materials and combined them all to create this material. We really think it could be the future for snow sports and I think it could see the end of snow domes.
"Being outside its environmentally friendly, it's also a type of plastic which is recyclable. The costs are also a lot less than snow domes, which are basically giant freezers. In terms of how it feels when you're skiing, it's still got a good edge hole but is soft to fall on and we've had fantastic feedback from people.
"Anyone can use it and we hope to recover all the slopes here at Snowtrax with the material. So far we've re-done the main slope but we're still working on the freestyle area, which will have two kickers - hills to do tricks and jumps on. That should be completed by mid-January. The rest is ongoing, but people can come and use the main slop now and its actually
being used as the European test slope."
GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY
"We've already had lots of people coming from other countries to try it and we feel its going to generate a lot of business here. In terms of the tourist and leisure industries, we feel it could see a boost in figures for the local area. When looking at local leisure we have had a few disappointments -like the Boscombe Surf Reef, which didn't work how people hoped it would. But our slope is a real success and many surfers are also snowboarders so we think they can get some use out of it too.
"When looking to the future we're considering using a local warehouse to store and manufacture this material so we could one day export it all over the world. But lets not run before we can walk! I'd just like people to come and try it out."
GREAT FOR CHILDREN
When talking about the safety aspects, Colin says it's a huge improvement: "I think parents will feel more relaxed about letting their kids on this surface as it's so much softer than the material we had previously and it's a realistic environment for beginners to really get to grips with how it feels to ski on snow.
"We're really proud of what we've developed here and I'd like to invite people of all ages and experience levels to come and try it."
Find out more about Snowtrax and the new slope at http://www.snowtrax.eu/