Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Good Times in the Dot-Kom Bubble

Last week I was in Moscow to talk about the benefits of open Internet. And, of course, I wanted to check out the local skiing scene. Fortunately, as I was leaving, СНЕЖ.КОМ offered indoor skiing on the way to the airport. Country #48 is therefore Russia.

I'm sure Russia would have even more interesting things in the real mountains, but in April the local hills around Moscow no longer had snow. And I would not have had time for an excursion further away.

But no worries, СНЕЖ.КОМ gave me an opportunity to ski for two hours. Its basic design is similar to many others; an elevated tube. Or bubble :-) that gently slopes towards the sky on pillars. The vertical difference in this case was 70 meters, reaching the level of nearby 25-storey apartment buildings.

Two ski lifts serve the ski run, one chair lift and one anchor lift. The main ski run is straight, steeper in the upper parts and then levelling off. There's a nice snow park on the side with rails, jumps, and an huge air-filled pillow for landing from a crazier jump. (I wish I'd dare try to something like that, but not today at least. What scared me most was the gap between the jump and the landing site. Wouldn't want to land short.)

The main ski run is not very steep. This is typical of many indoor ski places, as they cater mostly for the beginner skiers. The upper part is decent though, you can make good turns and build up some speed. I have noticed that twisted, turning design on the indoor slopes is better for both advanced and beginner skiers, as one side of the slope can be steeper than the other one. Nevertheless, СНЕЖ.КОМ is a good place to ski at, and fares better and larger than most other indoor ski places.

The place is otherwise well run, clean, efficient, and a pleasure to visit. There are easy-to-use lockers for all visitors. There are also 3-4 gear and clothing stops, a Subway restaurant outside, and inside a full-service bar and restaurant. I stopped by for a quick lunch. All menus are in Russian, however, so I wasn't quite sure what to order. In finally got a sandwich, and a hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was really hot chocolate, by the way, in a cup. With a separate cup of water or milk to mix with chocolate. Very good.

Interestingly, as I was taking photos of the building from the outside, an uniformed security person showed up to stop me. And remove all photos from my camera. Communication was difficult, "tourist" did not seem to do the trick, nor did the deletion of the most recent photo. Fortunately, someone else showed up and started commanding the security person about tourists being able to take photos. He was headed to СНЕЖ.КОМ; perhaps a worker or manager. Anyway, my day and photos were saved by that stranger. Thank you!

And overall, with the exception of too much traffic on Moscow's roads, I had a nice visit. Politicians aside, the people are relaxed and nice. I met with many people, from Internet specialists to skiers. Friendly bunch. Good times in vodka shots evenings as well :-)

(To reach out to СНЕЖ.КОМ go to snej.com, while we await for .КОМ to appear as a new top-level domain.)

Photos and videos (c) 2015 by Jari Arkko. Tämä blogi löytyy myös suomeksi.

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