Indoor skiing is done in a climate-controlled environment with snowmaking
. This enables skiing
to take place regardless of outdoor temperatures. Facilities for both alpine skiing
and nordic skiing
Since the early 20th century, there have been four major stages in the evolution of indoor snow centres.
Firstly, centres that had no refrigeration and used an artificial mixture of materials to create a surface substance something like snow, the first of these opened in Austria and Germany in the 1920s. The first recorded indoor snow slope was created at Berlin’s Automobilhalle
in the summer of 1926 gaining worldwide attention. According to contemporary reports a wooden slope was created about a thousand feet long and sixty feet wide.
The “snow” substitute used was invented and later patented by a British diplomat, L. C. Ayscough, and involved a mixture of powdered mica, soda crystals and sawdust spread on a brush matting surface. The Berlin government were concerned about health risks from the mixture and commissioned the then head of its Municipal Health Bureau, Dr. Wilhelm von Drigalkski
, to check it was safe for public use. He confirmed that it was and an order for 200 tons of the material to be delivered by train was placed.
The slope was initially popular and a company was founded to build more slopes in Dresden, Munich, and Frankfurt. It is not known if these were ever created.
A second indoor centre using "Ayscough snow", planned to be a more permanent facility, opened in Austria the following year later, 1927. Known as ''Schneepalast'' (German: Snow Palace), it was opened in the Austria
n capital Vienna
in 1927 in the abandoned Vienna Northwest Railway Station
established by the Norwegian ski jumper
Dagfinn Carlsen. The track in the ski area was built on a wooden ramp. A ski jump made it possible to jump up to . Skiers had to walk up the artificial mountain, because there was no ski lift. However, sledges could be pulled up with an electrically-operated system. The artificial snow had been made by the English experimenter James Ayscough
After the initial excitement enthusiasm for "Ayscough snow" rapidly waned however as users decided it was not particularly slippery and the initial whiteness rapidly discoloured. The Vienna facility closed in May 1928.
The second attempt at indoor snow centres came three decades later with the first centre that used real snow or crushed ice which was transported inside to a slope covered by a roof and open to urban skiers during cold months of the year in the city of Sayama, Japan.
This centre opened in 1959 and continues to operate, although now with on-site snowmaking rather than bringing in snow by lorry.
Thirdly came the first generation of refrigerated indoor centres which used either a chemical mixture to simulate snow or scraped ice. The first three of these opened in 1988, each claiming to be the first in the world. These were MtTheBarton
in Adelaide, Australia, Casablanca in Belgium, and Ski in Tsudanuma in Japan.
The fourth and current stage of indoor snow centre development came when centres which used ‘real snow’, made by snow-making machines, with no chemical additives, began to appear. These are now the norm for most of the 140 centres that have been built since the first. which was The Snowdome at Tamworth in the UK which opened in May 1994.
Since the first indoor snow centre was built in Berlin in 1926, 149 indoor snow centres have been, most of them since 1990. 113 are currently operational in 35 countries on 6 continents.
Most offer skiing and snowboarding but some, primarily in sub-tropical areas in southeast Asia that do not normally see natural snowfall, exist as snow experience centres offering activities like sledging, snowman building and snowball fights.
The number of centres being built continues to grow and 2019 saw more indoor snow centres open worldwide than any other year. Analysis of the last three decades of indoor snow centre construction saw 2010-19 had the most indoor snow centres built (60), up from 43 between 2000 and 2009 and 34 built in the 1990s.
Asia (especially China) saw the most-new indoor snow centres built since 2010, as it did in the 1990s (back then most were built in Japan). Between those two decades Europe built the most facilities in the first decade of this century. The past decade saw the first indoor snow centres open in Africa (Egypt), North America (USA) and South America (Brazil).
Three of the five-biggest indoor snow centres in the world, including two with 50,000sqm+ (500,000+ square feet) indoor snow space, opened in a 12 month period from March 2019 to March 2020.
Many of the indoor snow centres built in recent years are in China which has 34 centres, more than three times the next closest country (The Netherlands, with seven). China’s SUNAC group has become the world’s largest operator of indoor snow centres, operating seven centres, including the world’s three largest. Two more are under construction, most of these opened in 2019-20.
List of Alpine ski halls by country
* Mt Thebarton Snow and Ice
. Operated 1987 - 2005. Built in a state without any ski resorts, it was probably the world's first indoor ski slope on artificial snow.
* Swiss Pavilion at World Expo 88
, Brisbane. Two lifts operated for six months. Included a ski slope on artificial snow serviced by a handle tow and a double chairlift operating on a rectangular route.
* Snow Valley, Peer http://www.snowvalley.be
* Ice Mountain, Comines
* Harbin Wanda Indoor Ski and Winter Sports Resort located in Harbin
, world's largest indoor ski resort with of indoor snow.
* Yinqixing indoor skiing, Shanghai
* Sunac Snow Park, Guangzhou
* Sunac Snow Park, Wuxi
* Sunac Snow Park, Kunming
* Sunac Snow Park, Chengdu
* Sunac Snow Park, Chongqing
* SnowHall, SnowHall Amnéville, France
* alpinCenter Bottrop in the SnowFunPark in Wittenburg with a slope and a 31 percent grade.
* SnowDome Bispingen, Bispingen.
* Alpenpark Neuss, 300m slope.
* Trans Snow World in Bekasi
, first of a series of snow parks that are opening across Indonesia, which includes also a ski slope and ski lifts. It is possible to ski and learn skiing by Ski Club Indonesia, first Ski operator and association in Indonesia
* Sayama ski resort, Tokorozawa
* Snow Arena
* SnowWorld, Landgraaf
with a total of of snow. In 2003, the first indoor snowboard FIS
WorldCup contest was held here.
* SnowWorld, Zoetermeer
* SnowWorld, Rucphen
* SnowWorld, Terneuzen
* De Uithof, Den Haag
* SnowWorld, Amsterdam
* Montana Snowcenter, Westerhoven
* SNØ, Lørenskog
with a total of . Has a alpine ski track and a cross-country skiing track suspended from the roof. One-of-a-kind combination of these winter sports. Opened January 2020. https://snooslo.no
* Snejcom, Moscow. http://www.snej.com
* SnowZone, in Madrid
, has of snow areas, including a slope (over 25% grade), a slope, chairlifts, and other winter sports facilities.
United Arab Emirates
, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai.
, Mall of Egypt, 6th of October City
. It has the only indoor ski slope in Africa with the main slope being long.
* Chill Factore, outside Manchester
, with a main slope.
* Snowzone Castleford, near Leeds
with a main slope.
* Snowzone, near Milton Keynes
with a main slope.
* Snowdome at Tamworth
, near Birmingham
with a slope and two smaller beginner areas long.
*Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead
*Snow Factor at Braehead Soar
United States of America
* Big SNOW American Dream
, American Dream Meadowlands
, (Meadowlands Sports Complex
), East Rutherford, New Jersey (Opened on December 5 2019)
Nordic ski tunnels (Cross-country skiing )
Indoor Snow News
Category:Ski areas and resorts
Category:Artificial ski resorts