Wednesday, May 8, 2013


There is great skiing in Ireland. Even in the summer. Really.

It is Sunday and I'm spending the afternoon with Matt Campbell from the Ski Club of Ireland. We are in the outskirts of Dublin, sampling different qualities of fake plastic snow in the club's ski hill. I like the hard, brushy surface better than the soft, white beginner's surface. The white plastic feels like packed powder, but somehow I find the surface a bit too soft. I can understand that the beginners like it though, the 40 cm of padding under the surface will ease the falls. 

The harder surface feels like a groomed, icy slope. It works best at high speed and is fun to ski, but you have to be prepared for it to be very slippery. I am particularly happy with the effect the sprinklers have on the ski slope, this is much closer to a real snow feeling than what I got in Edinburgh last year. 

I feel bad about the sprinklers though, as Matt was kind enough to open the ski area just for me. I ask if they have to pay for the water. Luckily, the answer is no. The water comes from a stream, and can be reused.

By spraying water, the ski area could be operated through the year. Not that there is usually any snow in Dublin in the winter, though on some years there may be snow for a week or two. But the customers are unlikely to come during the summer, so in practice the ski area is open only from November to March.

Skiing on the hard surface is a bit unnerving though. The large holes in the brush pattern are likely to catch your thumb if you fall. Or the surface can hurt your skin. This is why I'm skiing with gloves on, and with pants and a heavy jacket. And I'm discovering one reason why the crowds may not spend a lot of time here in the summers. These clothes are pretty warm for the weather.

The ski club has three slopes and four ski lifts on its small hill. A cafeteria, rental equipment shop, and ticket office are housed in a small building next to the slope. This is yet another community owned and volunteer-operated ski area. The club members organise races, practice on the runs, and also embark on joint trips elsewhere in the world. Wonderful!

After ski? Guinness. Enough said.

By the way, normally I love travel. But now I am exhausted. I'm on a work trip where the timezone changes every couple of days from Finland to California to DC to Dublin to Geneva. Several weeks on the road, not having enough time to fly home even for weekends... and weekends are spent in the air, not getting enough exercise that I would need. On the previous day I got literally two seconds of skiing. Don't get me wrong - this has been a very exciting trip work-wise and the people that I met were just wonderful. I just wish I'd have more time to rest between stops. And I'm flying to Geneva and not having time for skiing. Imagine that!

At the top of the ski area there are some ice-looking pieces. These are wax for the skis!

Photo and video credits (c) 2013 by Jari Arkko. Tämä blogi on olemassa myös suomeksi.

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