Manchester's Motorway Mountain Brings Year Round Skiing
By Ian Harford, SCoM Chair, and Alan Brown, SCoM Secretary
Travel clockwise on the M60 south of Manchester and - just short of the bridge over the Ship Canal - you can't miss the huge 200 metre long structure adjoining the Trafford Park shopping centre. The Chill Factore, a covered real snow slope is the latest addition to the region's sporting facilities and it looks set to be a mecca for skiing enthusiasts.
The Committee has been monitoring developments since last summer as part of SCoM's Building for the future plan. Details have been a bit sketchy, but a briefing event given by two Chill Factore directors, Andrew Lockerbie and Peter Hinde, at the NWSF's 2nd May meeting for Ski Clubs' representatives has now given us a much clearer picture of what will be on offer at this new high quality skiing and leisure facility, the biggest of its kind in the UK.
Due to open in early November 2007, the Chill Factore will be available 8 am to 11 pm daily. It will have a main slope of 180 x 40 metres, a toboggan and barrel zone (60 metres wide) and a fun area for children together with sports shops, restaurants, cafes and four function rooms for groups, dinners, films and lectures.
Fourteen snow cannons (working at night) will ensure a year round 40 cms of snow on the slope. Technology will play its part too in booking your time there. Slope fees, tuition, customized equipment and boots (included in the full fee), and meals will all be bookable online to minimize delays and queues.
Slope fees will be of key interest and are provisionally fixed at £23 per 11/2 hours (weekends and evenings) and £17 for off peak periods. To reach their Business Plan target of 500,000 visits pa, Chill Factore needs not just one-offs at Christmas and birthdays but regulars, for whom an annual membership fee of £65 will provide a 30% reduction on all slope fees. This will mean £12 for 11/2 hours off-peak skiing and savings provided you go more than once a month.
Chill Factore is reckoned to be within 45 minutes' drive of 31/2 million people, all of whom could potentially be interested in SCoM activities.
Other groups like the British national and youth squads, Disability Sports, Snowsport England, SCGB, local schools and the Police Federation are involved in discussions with Chill Factore about use of the facilities but for the keen adult recreational skier interested in developing their skills, knowledge and contacts in the sport, SCoM should be the natural home. We have to make sure there is clear signposting to our door!
The committee has had discussions about how SCoM can best relate to the centre and plans to put forward a number of proposals. These include:
Agree reciprocal links on the SCOM and Chill Factore websites
Ensure SCoM is represented on 15 Nov at the formal launch of the centre
Request the display of SCoM promotional cards at the Chill Factore
Hold the SCoM Christmas meal at Chill Factore on 7 December
Propose a reduced rate slope taster for SCoM members before the meal
Request use of a function room for regular SCoM monthly meetings in 2008
Plan a series of training events at Chill Factore for 2008
Andrew and Peter are keen skiers and enthusiastic about the project and have invited us to send them proposals about developing a relationship between the two organisations and about making best use by SCoM members of the facilities on offer at Chill Factore.