Saturday, October 1, 2011

Peer Review

This is the second day of my ski season and I am at Peer, Belgium. My plan is to ski at the Snow Valley, a small indoor ski hall. Yesterday I was skiing in Beijing, and today I will try to do so in Belgium. The next days would be spent in meetings in the European commission, but I was not about let that prevent me from having some fun exercise this evening. My travel through the airport and on the road went smoothly, and was quickly at Peer.

Snowboard park from the outside

But Snow Valley's ticket office wanted to prevent me from skiing there. They had forbidden bringing backpacks to the ski area, and they seemed adamant to hold on to their policy. After some negotiations with the manager in charge I was allowed to pass the gates. They did ask me to put the pack in the ground and not ski with it, a request that I had to disobey if I wanted to take pictures. Luckily, at this late hour the area was practically empty from both other customers and management, so I got to carry my pack undisturbed.

The Grote Skipiste

I understand that it can be dangerous to use a backpack in the ski slopes, except when the pack has padding that prevents the contents from hurting your back if you fall on it. If you ski with something else than clothing in your pack, please make sure that you have a suitable pack! In particular, carrying heavy SLRs on your unprotected pack is dangerous - not recommended.

Snowboard park from the top

Snowboard park from the outside

When I arrived at the slope, two dozen kids were busy using a race track built by the local ski club. These indoor ski halls are excellent for training racing. They are easily accessible, open long into the night, and at least here in Peer steep enough to build a race track. Short, and not overly challenging, but still good practice. The ice surface on on the slope is adding to the difficulty of the race track. My skis are still in bad shape from our off-piste tours in Africa, and I have trouble edging my skis.

Racer's platform

The layout of the Snow Valley slopes is that the main ski slope is to the left, a beginner's slope is next to it, and on the far right there is a separately housed snowboard park. The snowboard park looked fun, having several jumps and rails.

Snowboard park from the bottom

Important Parameters

Snow Valley is a few kilometers from the center of Peer, a small village 100 kilometers from Brussels.  A one hour lift ticket costs 15€, for 19€ rental skis are also included. I did not have time to test their restaurant, so I can not say what the Goulash index is here. But Belgium is a very expensive country in general.

Grote Skipiste from the outside

Their "Grote Skipiste" (large ski run) is 235 meters long and 42 meters high. You know that this is a small hill when they have to count the height at 1 meter accuracy. Skiing down the large ski run took about 20 seconds for me.

I'm on a magic carpet!

The ski lifts were a positive surprise here. All the lifts are of the magic carpet type, but there is enough of them, on both sides of the large ski run. And they are fast for this type of a lift.

Signs leading to the area

Snow Valley is not the only indoor ski arena in Belgium, there are two others. I have been to another one as well, Ice Mountain in Comines. This is a 210 meters long ski area that likes to keep their snow cannons on during the day, making the experience feel more natural. Comines is 114 kilometers from Brussels.

Ice Mountain, Comines, Belgium 
Snowstorm, inside

Next Steps

I also had the intent to pick an indoor ski area in one of the neighboring countries (probably France) and spend a third consecutive day skiing. That plan failed when it turned out that I needed to find a dentist to fix a filling that had come out, and searching for the dentist took all my free time the next day. Maybe on the next visit...

Returning home from Brussels

Grote Skipiste from the outside
Photo credits (c) 2010-2011 by Jari Arkko

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