Indoor Skiing and Snowboarding – Toronto, ON

Bad timing? I beg to differ.

Sure, it might seem a bit silly to go skiing inside a little building just west of the Yorkdale Mall right after our first slew of big snowfalls, but no one claimed there was any sort of practicality in this line of work.

In preparation for this adventure, I snowboarded five times in my life, once last February and the other times were at least five years prior to that. My most recent attempt was in preparation for a trip to Whistler. I was going with three friends who were all very proficient at making it down big hills, so I wanted to make sure I still knew how to snowboard.

I did not.

I got a lot of bruises, a lot of sore muscles, and mounted more evidence on the pro-helmet argument. When it came time to go to Whistler I ended up snowblading, but that’s a story for a different day.

I’ve never downhill skied, and Paul, my regular gymineering friend who joined me again on this trip, has never gone down a snowy hill on anything he wasn’t sitting on.

So when we showed up and our coach and host for the day asked us “What do you do, ski or snowboard?” – we shrugged.

Our coach was a man named Victor who co-runs a building called Four Seasons Skiing and Snowboarding. In the heart of the building is what everybody comes to see from miles around – the first “real” ski-simulator to hit North American shores.

If you thought downhill skiing on the Wii was cool, now would be a good time to reach for the Ritalin.

Victor hooked us up with the appropriate boots and gave us a quick demonstration. Within ten minutes we were strapped into a machine that uses a series of pulleys to create tension and make it feel like your carving your way down a double black diamond on the south face of Blackcomb.

We started out slow, going through some drills to get familiar with the machine, but it wasn’t long before we were bouncing back and forth. I’d tilt to the right, raising my left edge, and the machine would respond by shooting me to the left – the harder I’d tilt, the faster it would send me flying the opposite way.

The simulator can be used for intense training, and many ski racers, including some Ontario ski team members, make regular visits to come see Victor. The machine can be set to beep when you hit certain angles, and it can simulate rough snow and the feeling of carving over ruts – giving you an even tougher workout as you fight the choppy conditions.

But where are the games? A screen can be pulled down in front of one of the simulators, instantly putting you at the top of one of many downhill slalom or super-G courses. The simulator has the entertainment you need and perhaps more importantly – the high score tracking to prove you’re better than your friends.

But most amazing of all, we finally found a sport that Paul could beat me at.

Just as he was starting to learn the side to side motion, Victor set Paul’s “beep metre” to 15 degrees, and told Paul that some of theavid ski racers get up to 55 degrees once they adjust to the machine.

About 7 minutes later, this kid who had never skied before was shooting side-to-side and hitting almost 40 degrees. Apparently he’s some kind of natural. I give Victor the credit for good coaching.

If you have a big ski trip coming up, grabbing a session or two indoors could prep your legs for a weekend on the slopes. Check out the simulator here .  Ask for Victor and tell him the gymineer sent you.