Regular Athlettuce readers will know that I have been spending part of each week in beautiful Colorado for work. I have been packing my mornings and evenings with amazing group runs. But Colorado offers another perk that I can’t find in DC: indoor skiing. That’s right, folks. I introduce SNOBAHN!
What is SNOBAHN?
SNOBAHN is an indoor ski and snowboarding facility in Centennial, Colorado, just a few minutes south of Denver. It offers lessons for groups and individuals, and it also hosts parties. The facility also sells food and beverages (including beer) and some cool SNOBAHN swag. Investors in SNOBAHN include Eric Shlopy and some guy you might have heard of — Bode Miller. The instructors are very experienced skiers and ski instructors — many folks who teach out at the resorts (at a much higher price point!) during the winter.
But, wait, it’s skiing … inside?
All of the lessons take place on one of the three slopes at the SNOBAHN facility. No, these aren’t full mountains, even indoor ones like they have in Dubai. Think of them as giant downhill treadmills. The angle of the slope and the speed of the “treadmill” are adjustable. The surface is a white astroturf-style carpet, which instructors spray down with a hose to keep slick (although it does have a tiny bit more drag/stickiness than most real snow). There is an adjustable bar across the bottom of the slope, so you can hold on and practice doing turns or edging as the carpet moves below you. And a mirror so you can watch your form. Check out my Instagram feed for a video!
OK, how awesome is it?
I mean, it’s pretty awesome. But remember, this is a learning experience. It’s not just jacking up the speed and cruising down the hill. So I’ve had to set aside by long-time pizza pie and actually learn how to keep my feet parallel and turn on my edges. Which is really hard! I ROCK the PIZZA. The french fries, not so much. (Until now! I feel SO much more comfortable in a parallel position than before, and I can’t wait to try it out on the slopes!)
Is it a good workout?
I think so! I get a sweat going, and my legs are usually toast by the end of the hour. Skiing also uses the core. I think of it as good cross training.
What do I wear?
It isn’t cold at SNOBAHN and, as I said above, I’ve sweat a bit during all of my lessons. That said, I recommend long pants and long sleeves in case you take a tumble. There’s nothing like carpet burn on a giant carpet treadmill! (Which, for the record, only happened to me once.) For gear, you use the shorter skis provided at SNOBAHN. You have the option of bringing your own boots and helmet, or they’ll provide those for you, too. Everything has been clean and non-janky when I’ve visited.
How much is this SNOBAHN thing going to cost me?
Compared to taking lessons at a resort plus a lift ticket, the cost of lessons at SNOBAHN is really reasonable. SNOBAHN has changed its pricing and lesson lengths at least once since I’ve been going, but expect to spend about $40 for a 30 minute group lesson. They are a bit less if you buy a class pack ($30/lesson for a 12-pack). I recommend skipping the more expensive private lessons and instead taking a chance with a group lesson — I’ve actually never had anyone else join my “group.” I have found that a 30-minute lesson goes by very quickly, so I usually book two back-to-back lessons.
Who is SNOBAHN good for?
I would recommend SNOBAHN for anyone who wants to tune up their skiing skills before a big trip or ski season. And I think it’s been very valuable for me because I’ve never taken the time to get strong skiing form and think about my skiing physics in any meaningful way. One of the best things about SNOBAHN is the ability to break down the movements into component parts and do drills for specific body parts or moments of a turn that are causing issues. My lessons were full of side slips, railroad tracks, J-turns, one-legged stork poses, skiing holding a pole horizontally in front of me, etc. etc. Definitely not stuff I usually work on when I’m with my buddies in Tahoe! SNOBAHN would also be great for kids or adults who have never skied before and want to get the basics down before heading to the hills.
Who are the best instructors?
I started out for several weeks with Sarah Thompson and she was marvelous, but then she headed to the hills to teach for the winter. I had a bunch of different instructors for the remaining six or so sessions, including Nick and Mark who were both fantastic. There was one other exceptionally good male instructor but his name is escaping me (sorry!). I’d recommend asking for someone who has been teaching at SNOBAHN for a relatively longer time, as there is an adjustment period to teaching on snow vs. teaching on the SNOBAHN slope.
Anything else to note?
I’ve gone back and forth a bit on how to express this. Here it goes. Although I’ve really enjoyed my SNOBAHN experience, and I think I learned a lot, and all of my instructors have been really nice people, there are a few kinks that the company is still ironing out. This is the first year they’ve been open so certainly some kinks are to be expected. I won’t go into details, but I’ll just say that (1) I hope SNOBAHN starts keeping profiles of repeat customers and having instructors make a few notes at the end of each session to promote continuity, in the event that the company can’t promise the same instructor each time; (2) I had a couple of miscommunications with the folks at SNOBAHN and in those cases, the manager was not willing or able to “make it right”; however, when I recently escalated an issue to Sadler, the CEO, he was extremely accommodating (and very nice/friendly); (3) the website is super wonky but they are reportedly having it re-vamped (not a big deal — just give them a call instead).
What do you think? Do you do any “unconventional” cross training? Would you try SNOBAHN?