ISTANBUL - With the blistering cold has come large snowfalls to the country’s ski fields making conditions for snowboarding perfect. But for those unable to leave Istanbul, there are still a couple options to get your fix here in the city.
The sliding slope, which has an inclination of about 15 degrees, works on the same principle used in a treadmill. It is covered with synthetic grass and reaches a speed of 20 kilometers per hour. Kanyon’s artificial slope is seven meters long while one in the Dome is 11.25 meters.
Initially designed for professional snowboarders who wanted to maintain their form throughout the spring and summer seasons with indoor practice, the artificial slopes were developed as an opportunity for amateurs wanting to learn how to snowboard in relatively easy conditions. The risk of injury is a minimum as there are no surprises. Nevertheless, it is still not the easiest of sports.
According to one of the pioneers of snowboarding in Turkey, Tuğhan Kırbaç, who teaches snowboarding at Mars Athletic Club, the artificial slope may be preferred for its lengthy experience.
"It can be better than the real thing," said Kırbaç to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, "because in the mountain, there is an end, but the slope keeps sliding, it has no end."
The slope may also be preferred by children, starting at the age of six or seven, as it would be fun and safer than a real snowboarding track due to the clear path and temperature. It also provides the chance to correct fundamental mistakes without causing any damage.
The Dome’s manager, Haluk Ege, underlines that safety comes first on the artificial slope.
"It is extremely safe for beginners or people who are intimidated by snowboarding," Ege told the Anatolia News Agency. "In case of an emergency it can be immediately stopped, though."
Half an hour on the artificial slope costs 70 Turkish lira and Ege believes that after four sessions, people can start to snowboard by themselves. However, Ozan Yılmaz, a former member of the Boğaziçi University's snowboarding club, Buboarders is not holding his breath for the artificial slopes. Yılmaz admits that it would be good for boosting the interest. "It can attract more people to snowboarding," Yılmaz stated to the Daily News. "I want to try that, it looks fun. But it is not an artificial slope, it is a treadmill which you can snowboard on."
"There are those slopes in Dubai and Spain, which are set on thousands of meters squared," Yılmaz added. "Of course it is not likely such facilities would be built that costs some astronomical figure."
However, global warming may make artificial slopes inevitable in the future. "I don’t think they will be that widespread in the short term," he said. "But maybe we will be only able to snowboard on artificial slopes in 30 or 40 years."