Despite the growing decline in UK dryslopes and lack of membership, these once thriving places appear to be primarily responsible for the growth of slopestyle riders all across the UK.
For many British riders, the only way they could seriously pursue their hobbies was to practise on their local dryslope, such as Halifax, Sheffield, Rossendale and Kendal to name but a few.
From these dryslopes has arisen some of the biggest names in British snowboarding, as each generation inspired the next as they pushed their own personal limits to represent their country in European and World competitions.
For each of our current GB Slopestyle riders, their roots as snowboarders and skiers have been an incredible part of making it as a professional. All those ‘one more run’ and weekend dedications have helped them make it to where they are now, and to see these dry slopes in such rough shape really questions whether we are headed into a new era, one dominated by indoor snow domes.
There is no dispute that these snow domes can provide riders with a real experience of what it’s like to ride on snow and help build their confidence before hitting the mountings.
However, those who learnt on a dryslope would argue that by riding on ‘dendex’ and ‘snoflex’ they have actually become better riders, technically. Allowing them to master the art of riding on such difficult foundations before trying their tricks and skills on the real stuff.
The social aspect and camaraderie of a dry slope is what makes riders and builds their confidence as they get to see older and more technical riders and how they approach a slopestyle course. The tight-knit community allows them to learn from others and build on their own skills.
This is something which these large commercial snowdomes may lack, with such a huge volume of riders with lots of smaller individual groups attending at different time. This makes it difficult for a new rider to break into the snowboarding scene.
Olympic hopeful Jamie Nicholls stated he wouldn’t be where he is today without his local dryslope at Halifax and sites one of the older riders, Wayne Taylor as one of his main inspiration to achieve success.
Others such as Katie Ormerod and Em Lonsdale have similar stories of these small, close-knit ‘scenes’ at the local dryslopes, which helped to nurture their talents and maintain their interest.
It’s not to say that the large indoor snow domes don’t or won’t foster similar ‘scenes’ but it may be difficult to see how a young seven year old such as Jamie Nicholls, just starting out in snowboarding maybe afforded the time from the older riders when slope time at the Domes comes at such a premium.
Let’s hope they do and with the increase in these indoor snow domes we can hopefully expect a new breed of boarders and skiers.