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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Hitting the Slopes for the Snow-Deprived
Text Andy Potts

With winter fast approaching, it’s time to think about winter sport. As soon as the first snows appear, Moscow’s parks will fill with brightly clad cross-country skiers slicing their way across frosty paths as the sun gleams alluringly against the silver birch trees. At the same time, the winter holidays signal an exodus to the peaks of the Caucasus, Carpathians, and Alps in search of downhill action.

But warm weather of recent winters has transformed what was once a reliable entertainment into an unpredictable wait for the promised freeze to fi nally materialize. For the past two years November and December have become the annual period of waiting, like kids before Christmas, for the snow to arrive. Unless winter comes early this year, you’ll probably be reading about ski centers lamenting lost earnings while the zoo delivers heart-rending reports about its bears and their problems hibernating in a globally warmed autumn.

So it’s up to, Moscow’s newest winter sport attraction, to plug the gap. Artificial snow may seem redundant in Russia, but the success of this operation proves they are not merely taking samovars to Tula. A chance for convenient downhill skiing has proved a hit in Moscow, and the opportunity to take to the slopes all year round is welcome whether you hope to impress at Val d’Isere or merely want a local hobby for the weekend.

Snowdomes are a familiar feature in warmer countries where natural skiing is hard to come by, but in a market where everyone is familiar with the real stuff, does it meet the required standards or is it a slushy disappointment? Igor Alyenik, a keen skier, was impressed aft er his visit. “It felt a bit strange to be skiing indoors then come outside into a warm aft ernoon, but it was really good,” he said. “It wasn’t any different from skiing outdoors, and now we can go all year round.”

The center, located on the MKAD near Krasnogorsk, also offers snowboarding, ice skating, and laser paintball and can provide instructors for novice sportsmen (in Russian only). Snow-time is priced by the hour, and starts at 300 rubles per hour on weekdays, climbing to 900 rubles on weekends and holidays (kids up to 12 pay 150 / 300, respectively). Coaching ranges from 500 rubles per person per hour in a group of six to 1200 rubles an hour for one-to-one training. Boots and skis are also available to hire on site, for 150-200 rubles per hour.

Getting there is easy enough by car, and there is plenty of on-site parking. On public transport, grab the purple metro line to Tushinskaya, where a shuttle bus runs every hour, usually on the half hour. Return buses leave the center on the hour and run until just aft er midnight. Local buses 542, 549, and 568 run from the same station, while elektrichkas from Rizhsky Vokzal stop at nearby Pavshino.
Tel.: (495) 225-2233

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