26 March, 2013
What's On HK

PLAY – a day out at Hong Kong’s biggest indoor ski & snowboard centre

26 March, 2013

Attention, snow bunnies! Regardless of whether you’ve got a ski trip on the horizon or have never even seen the white stuff in real life, whether you’re a skiing veteran or total newbie, we’ve discovered a place where you can hit the slopes in Hong Kong! We’re talking HK’s biggest indoor ski and snowboard centre, PLAY in Kwun Tong – and now we’ve put it to the test!

When Sarah and I arrived at the 10,000 square foot complex, we didn’t know quite what to expect – where was the fake snow?! Having met our instructor Per, he explained that there were no snow machines pumping out fluffy stuff but rather two fully automated indoor dry ski slopes. Each was 500 square foot in size, made out of a white asphalt/super turf type material, and with an adjustable gradient and revolving speed of over 20 kilometres pet hour. Ski enthusiasts know these as Maxxtrack slopes… but for novices like us, imagine a giant white treadmill! There is also a stationary slope made out of a plush carpet-like material for little ones and beginners.

Once we had our ski boots fitted and our skis clicked on, we were instructed to climb the mountain – the carpet mountain that is! This was much harder than it looks (usually a ski lift does the hard work for you!) but it’s a great way to learn how to, in true ski lingo, “dig your edge” into the side of the slope. We learnt how to correctly snow plough, turn and get up safely after those virtually guaranteed falls. FYI, the trick is to always have your feet facing towards the bottom of the mountain and your skis parallel – and remember to dig that edge in firmly!

Once we graduated from “Carpet Mountain”, it was time for us to try our luck on the big slopes! We apprehensively shuffled in our ski boots (they weigh a ton!) to one of the Maxxtrack slopes, where Per instructed us to slip under the railing, face our skis forward and most importantly, hold on with both hands. As fear and clammy hands set in, the ground beneath us began moving quickly backwards, just like a giant treadmill. Once our balance and confidence had been restored, we were told to gently push ourselves backwards and form a snow plough. Miraculously after a few attempts, we slowly but surely started to travel up (that’s right… up!) the moving slope – and once you’re at the top, the real fun begins when you make our way back down, just like real-life skiing!

We quickly realised why the Maxxtrack is the perfect way to sharpen those skiing or snowboarding skills – every move is intensified because of the small area and nature of the surface. If you are slightly off-balance or your technique is out, you’ll soon find out! On the Maxxtrack, there is literally no room to forgive loopy figure eights; it’s all about sharp neat turns. With a few coaching tips from Per, we started to get the hang of things, get up a bit of speed and always tried to remember to “dig our edge”.

Apparently, you work four times as hard on a Maxxtrack compared to skiing on the snow-covered slopes, so feel those calories burn! After 20 minutes (effectively 1 hours’ worth of skiing!), our legs were feeling a little tired so we handed over the slopes to the pro to show us how it was done. Cranking the Maxxtrack up to full speed, Per ripped up that slope – it was near impossible to catch him on camera as he was going so fast! It was amazing to see just how much technique, precision and control you need to move in such a small space, let alone stay upright.

With a few lessons at PLAY, you’ll be tackling those double black diamond slopes in no time… meaning less time and money spent on nursery runs with a ski instructor and more time making the most of your next ski trip. Preparing your muscles for the snow at PLAY should also help prevent soreness and the risk of injury.

If you don’t feel like hitting the slopes (or incredibly, still have more energy left after doing so!), how about swinging the bat instead? PLAY is also Hong Kong’s first-ever indoor softball and baseball facility, with five special ‘cages’ – from a bullpen with a laser speed gun for aspiring pitchers, to the most sophisticated virtual pitching machine around that can deliver a ball at up to 150kilometres per hour (!!!). Trust us, this is scary stuff so keep your eye on the ball – but we guarantee it’s a great stress reliever! They’ve also just introduced a rock-climbing wall, so PLAY really is the perfect destination for all you Action Jacksons out there.

After all that hard work, you can refuel and refresh at PLAY Café whilst if you want to get super organised, have decided the ski bunny life is for you or simply wish to avoid that not-so-glamorous ski hire gear, you can stock up on your après ski ensembles at the PLAY ski ‘n board shop too.

PLAY’s large warehouse space and range of sporty activities makes it the perfect location for a fun weekend out or an out-of-the-box party or special occasion; it can comfortably accommodate 100 guests and has an awesome sound system and stage set up for live music. So it’s time to take to the slopes, girls – have fun!

PLAY offers a one-hour ski/snowboarding trial session including basic coaching for $1200 or a two-hour introductory session with more detailed theory and technique for $2180, for groups of up to four people. A variety of group session or one-on-one coaching packages are also available. PLAY provides boots, skis and boards for your lessons, but you’re welcome to bring your own boots if you fancy!

Baseball & softball daily passes start at $130 per person on weekdays or $150 on weekends. One-on-one and group coaching is also available. Toboganning, rock climbing and a multi-sports simulator are also available.

PLAY, 1/F (Ski) & 2/F (Baseball), Kras Asia Industrial Building, 79 Hung To Road, Kwun Tong, Hong Kong, 2797 9323 (PLAY Ski) or 2342 9830 (PLAY Baseball)

www.321play.com.hk

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