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Skiplex going into liquidation

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Poster: A snowHead
According to inthesnow, the UK’s three Skiplex indoor ski centres are in the process of going into liquidation. Sad
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
...turning them into indoor surfing centres?
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Turn the conveyor belts vertical and plaster them with climbing holds
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That's a bit of a shame. I would have thought they would be much cheaper to learn on than a fridge - though perhaps even duller.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Much better for teaching too as the instructor can just stand at the bottom and talk to the client while they are moving - not to mention easy change of gradient and speed.
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Have you actually tried to teach or learn on something like that? Just curious, as I'd say they'd be really hard to work with, but I have not tried them. Like everyone else, I stayed away.

On the plus side I suppose I could pick up a machine for my back garden to go next to my climbing wall, but somehow the idea doesn't really appeal.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Sadly I'd have quite liked to have had a go... the first time I heard about Skiplex was them going bust!

I wonder how much they'd sell me one of the machines for, to put in my garage.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@dp, Ask steve.jordan@eddisons.com - he is handling the sale.
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@philwig, no but my nephew learned on the one in Reading. His reports were good.
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@philwig, I hated it
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philwig wrote:
Have you actually tried to teach or learn on something like that? Just curious, as I'd say they'd be really hard to work with, but I have not tried them. Like everyone else, I stayed away.

On the plus side I suppose I could pick up a machine for my back garden to go next to my climbing wall, but somehow the idea doesn't really appeal.

I don't use fridges, dry slopes or this. But if I was learning to ski, trying to improve my technique, wanted to improve my fitness, rehabiltate, etc. I would consider this as a good option depending on location, cost, etc. It takes up far less space and as pointed out a degree of flexibility with the speed, steepness so would have thought it was a competitive option. I only think it's a shame from the aspect others not myself. But clearly if it's not viable....
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@holidayloverxx, me too. I tried the one in Basingstoke, couldn't get out of a snowplough! It was just too unnatural - normal dry slopes are much better.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@Gordyjh, thanks for the link but whatever it is it'll be more than I can afford
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Layne, I think the thing about one of these which makes more sense than a fridge or dryslope, is that if you spend half an hour on one you spend half an hour actually skiing. If you spend half an hour in a fridge, you get 5 minutes of skiing and 25 minutes on a button lift.

It's a shame the brand didn't hit it off. I think if you could get used to the sensation, it could become a good way just to keep your technique honed over the summer. The ideal would be that more people using it could bring the price down, and it could become a viable weekly activity at your local gym.

On the EoSB, there were some skydivers (forgotten their usernames) who said the same about indoor skydiving. It's not a real skydive, and it's very expensive. But in 15 minutes you can do more technique than in an hour of conventional skydiving... just due to the time wastage messing around in the plane, packing parachutes, etc etc.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Had a trial go once at similar thing and school organised cheap sessions at Chiswick skiplex. But they were mucked around by new mgt there so probably wouldnt go back.

Pity as while not cheap it was more convenient than the dry slopes nr London.

Chelski might benefit if the Chiswick one doesnt continue.
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I think we largely doubted the physics of it as being realistic and suspected accordingly it was a limited novelty/never ever market. I must admit I couldn't see how the economics would work - fine if your ground rent is really cheap like on a fairground, not great if you're paying a lot for your space and need high utilisation or to charge a high price.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
dp wrote:
@Layne, I think the thing about one of these which makes more sense than a fridge or dryslope, is that if you spend half an hour on one you spend half an hour actually skiing. If you spend half an hour in a fridge, you get 5 minutes of skiing and 25 minutes on a button lift.

That's a very good point.

Maybe the marketing, customer service, etc wasn't very good. It's not always the product or service that is the problem.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I'm sorry to hear that, I learned initially at Skiplex in Chiswick, and have been back occasionally, as recently as last winter. Sure it has limitations because you are constantly skiing in a narrow corridor, and because you don't get to learn to move around on the flat etc. But to be able to ski constantly for 10/15 minutes in a block, whilst watching yourself in a mirror, with an instructor giving you their full focus and real-time feedback can be really helpful to fix and consolidate specific things. The adjustable angle and speed of the slope means you can ski steeper - and probably faster - that you realistically could ski in a busy fridge. Apart from the fact the surface feels more grippy I don't buy the arguments about the physics of the thing.

The problem isn't the technology as such, but the business model.

They are limited to 2 people on the slope at a time - (3 in Reading and Basingstoke), taking 50% of the hour session. So the slope can achieve 4 customers per hour. That needs 1 member of staff. At busy times they operate with 2 members of staff to a slope to allow the slope to run constantly with the other member of staff dealing with customers arriving, boot hire etc and having breaks. And when it's quiet that can mean they have two members of staff with just 1 customer on the premises (it has happened to me!)
This means the minimum they need to charge to be viable is relatively high. Even their summer passes, whilst good Skiplex value don't compare well to, say, Hemel. I hammered the Skiplex summer pass during my first year skiing and ended up paying about 10 pounds per hour (there are restrictions on the number of sessions you can book, and limited availability at times). My second summer I hammered the Hemel monthly passes and ended up paying about 2 pounds per hour, with free coffee! (and few restrictions on use).
They do have some good instructors, and some less experienced instructors, but you never know who you are going to get - so you can't choose your instructor. Perhaps more significantly the instructors dual skill skiing and snowboarding, but (as I understand) only need an external qualification in one - and teach the other based on in-house training. That doesn't work well if you're an intermediate in your chosen discipline going to work on an issue and get an instructor from the other discipline. This lends itself to a variable user experience.
They mainly attract beginners, and although they try and get people to classify themselves when they book in so they don't have mixed abilities on the slope at the same time they don't always succeed, because people don't self-categorize well. That means you can be on the slope with someone of a very different standard, which isn't good it you were looking for fast and steep and they need to snowplough slowly. Again, that makes the user experience variable.
They didn't seem to invest enough in maintenance, Chiswick was looking pretty shabby last time I was there. They went for a long time with skis that were absolutely knackered, and at one time were missing the most useful lengths because they had broken and had not been replaced. The mat at Chiswick was coming unstuck at the seam for several months - not a major problem as it was the loose flap was hanging downhill so always lay flat to ski over - but disconcerting when it was running at top speed and you hear it smack against the back of the slope as it goes over the top. All of which doesn't really create a great impression.
So the user experience could be hit and miss, especially if you were not an absolute beginner, which probably didn't help to generate return business. By the time I got semi-proficient I was going regularly enough to have worked out the quiet times and to target my sessions at the rotas of the instructors I wanted - so my experience as a regular customer at the time was probably better than the average.

I hope they do manage to save them in some form, I think there is a place for it, and obviously people's jobs are on the line.

Chel-ski seem to have a better model (I haven't been, but from what I've seen / heard) - having multiple activities (climbing wall on site etc), opportunities to sell refreshments etc, creating a more 'fun' environment through music and lighting (perhaps not everyone's taste admittedly). Perhaps they are one of the 'interested parties'...
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More info in another article here: http://www.planetski.eu/news/9292
I hadn't realised that the centres already ceased operating. Sorry for the staff, and suspect that anyone who had shelled out for a summer pass is out of pocket.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I'd of used my local one but it's simply too expensive.
£30 for half an hour.
Regardless of how good they are or the quality of instruction I'm not paying £30.
Compare that to a days lift pass?
Doesn't add up
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@Layne, I only went to the Chiswick one and I think whilst the idea is good, the location was probably a factor, the service and staff seemed good, but it was a complete pain to get to by public transport.

That may not be an issue outside London, but in London this sort of business needs to be near a tube line and have the ability to cater for people after work, otherwise you lose out on a huge customer base.

Chel-ski is much better positioned, although I haven't been yet.
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Took the kids to Chel-Ski (3x advanced ) . Utterly joyless experience. c. 5 minute from my front door, but would (and have) taken them to Hemel over this. Physics are entirely different. Miserable staff not helping the mood either!
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mishmash wrote:
Miserable staff not helping the mood either!


To be fair they probably thought they'd struck gold landing their first ski instruction gig. Then they basically ended up operating a glorified supermarket checkout with white carpet stuck on. You'd be miserable too.
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@hawkwind, gotta be honest, £60/hour is a pretty compelling reason not to go. You can do go-karting or paintball for that kind of money. Both are definitely better sports than skiing on a rolling carpet.

I'd like to think, as per my post above, that if it could catch on then you know, maybe you could get 4 machines in the same room being supervised by 1 or 2 people, and they could run late at night etc and be a practical place for everyone to keep their skills in check and do some exercise.

The trouble is catching on I think. There are a limited number of people who can afford those kinds of prices, you'll never grow a business to mass customer base if your product is too expensive for the average person.
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dp wrote:
@hawkwind, gotta be honest, £60/hour is a pretty compelling reason not to go. You can do go-karting or paintball for that kind of money. Both are definitely better sports than skiing on a rolling carpet.

I'd like to think, as per my post above, that if it could catch on then you know, maybe you could get 4 machines in the same room being supervised by 1 or 2 people, and they could run late at night etc and be a practical place for everyone to keep their skills in check and do some exercise.

The trouble is catching on I think. There are a limited number of people who can afford those kinds of prices, you'll never grow a business to mass customer base if your product is too expensive for the average person.


I think the other major problem is that it just isn't like skiing. I mean , it's close , but like rollerblading is close, or waterskiing. But ultimately the muscle memory is not the same. You are better off buying a bosu ball and standing on it balancing a tray of drinks.
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I was invited along to give it a try.
Now I've skied quite a lot, and these days I can handle most of what I find on the mountain without too much fuss - ice, powder, crud, crust, it's all manageable with a little thought but... could I get out of a damn snowplough on this thing? No! Evil or Very Mad And I tried for a long time - I mean, my calf muscles hurt for a week!

I wanted to like it - and they wanted me to bring groups of snowHeads but I'm afraid I just couldn't get enthusiastic about it.

I know a fridge has limits but 4hrs at Hemel with a bunch of snowHeads is actually fun snowHead Throw in a few test skis and it's something people find worth travelling for.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
admin wrote:
I was invited along to give it a try.
Now I've skied quite a lot, and these days I can handle most of what I find on the mountain without too much fuss - ice, powder, crud, crust, it's all manageable with a little thought but... could I get out of a damn snowplough on this thing?


Havent done as much skiing as admin but glad it wasn't just me when I tried the conveyor belt.
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