Most of us love a spectacle: there’s something addictive about watching an expert or daring novice do things that make you gasp in awe. Others just enjoy stuffing their fists into their mouths to stem the flow of giggles as said novices mess it up, ending up a red-faced human pretzel (unharmed, of course). Whichever category you fall into, Ski Dubai’s monthly freestyle night, which takes place on the last Thursday of every month, is bound to accommodate.
The initiative has been running for a couple of years now, but the freestyle nights are now bigger and better than ever, with the next big event taking place on Thursday May 31. Of course, the people at Ski Dubai want to keep visitors curious, excited and determined to head down to find out what to expect, which means they’re reluctant to reveal too much about what will make the next event shine. Tom Scheffer, the venue’s operations manager, does let on that they’ll be installing the Chevy again (pictured above), providing some excellent ramp material on which freestylers can show off their skills, as well as giving us a run-down of the usual format for anyone who might have missed it so far.
‘We normally have one or two features on the slope that remain there throughout the week, but on freestyle night we bring everything out,’ he explains. ‘One of the main attractions is the big airbag, which is literally that – it’s about 20 metres long and 10 metres wide, and it allows people who want to learn how to jump to land safely.’ Courtesy of this giant cushion, guests who want to learn flips and tricks can do so without worrying about landing awkwardly and injuring themselves as a result. ‘Anyone who knows how to ski at a decent level would be able to use the jump for that and land on the bag.’
As well as more practical elements for those who want to improve or try a new technique, Tom explains that the team at Ski Dubai also comes up with ‘some silly things’ and crazy ideas – such as building a car into the slope – to keep people interested. ‘We attack it in a much bigger way now. We give away goodies on the night, so if you do a great jump or something spectacular, one of the staff will walk up to you and give you a new hat, or backpack, or camera – it could be anything.’
They’ve also reintroduced a DJ in a bid to ramp up the party atmosphere, creating an environment where people will want to hang out, even if they aren’t actively participating on the slopes. ‘A lot of the guests like having music on the slopes, and it gives Ski Dubai a completely different atmosphere. Many people just come to ski, hang out and listen to the music,’ he explains, noting that though they close the black run to make room for the air bag, the rest of the venue is open as normal, and people who aren’t keen to freestyle can still just come along to ski and make the most of a more jubilant atmosphere.
‘The format is very simple: come on down and have fun!’ says Tom. ‘There are rules, obviously – we look at guests’ level of skiing, so first-timers who have never skied before are discouraged from trying these jumps for obvious reasons. But apart from that, it’s all about enjoying yourself with friends, enjoying the music and, if you’re not taking part, just seeing these guys fly.’
Reiterating Ski Dubai’s motto, he encourages Dubai’s snow-sports enthusiasts to ‘try something different’. We might just take him up on that, providing we can extract our fist from our mouth long enough to strap into a snowboard.