For alpine skiers, an endless blanket of snow makes for a dream day out on the slopes. A Stillwater couple has recently opened a new training facility that will provide skiers and snowboarders an uninterrupted supply of downhill “snow” to practice on, regardless of the weather.
Dan and Jessica Parcheta, both ski instructors, were at an international ski instructor conference in Austria six years ago when they were introduced to an “infinite revolving slope” — a treadmill for skiiers.
“The conference takes place every four years,” Jessica Parcheta said. “At first I thought it was interesting but didn’t think too much about it.”
The next conference was held in Argentina four years later, and the Parchetas met a group of skilled skiiers from the Netherlands.
“There are not many mountains and snow in the Netherlands,” Jessica Parcheta said. “The Dutch team said that they practiced on the infinite revolving slopes. We decided to check it out.”
After a trip to the Netherlands to look at the facility and learn more about the technology, the Parchetas put together a business plan and purchased two infinite slopes. The equipment looks like a large treadmill covered in a carpet that mimics that actions of snow, and the slope can be tilted to increase or decrease the pitch of the run.
“The only thing that you need to get use to is not feeling gravity: the ground is moving under you but you are standing still,” Jessica Parcheta said.
The facility, called The Alpine Factory, opened in Arden Hills this year.
“This technology has been around for decades in Europe, but there are not a lot in America,” Parcheta said.
While practicing on the infinite slope doesn’t replace practice on real snow, there are benefits you won’t find on a mountain, Parchetta said.
“There is no chairlift and you could basically ski until your legs give out,” she said. “You can get a full day of regular skiing into about an hour on the infinite slope.”
The slopes are also set up in front of a mirror so skiers or snowboarders can look at their techniques and the way their bodies move on the slope.
“It is a good way to get ready for a competition or training for a test,” Parcheta said.
Another benefit is that there is “snow” all year round.
“You can come in with a T-shirt to ski — you don’t have to layer on hats and mittens,” Parcheta said.
The Alpine Factory is open seven days a week with day and evening sessions available. For more information, call 651-330-1121 or visitthealpinefactory.com.
Contact Alicia Lebens at [email protected]