Marie grabs her poles, clicks the clips and puts on her helmet, ready to hit the ski slope. Shocking detail: the young woman is wearing short pants and a summer sweater. Not cold in the eyes? No, cold nowhere, because it is under a beautiful 23 degrees that the skier sets off on the brand new synthetic slope at the Mont-Tremblant resort.
Funny scenes at Tremblant, with a huge green carpet on a slope some 220 meters long and about twenty wide. It is not the giant poker table of the local casino, but an initiation and practice track with a stunning effect, allowing winter snow sports enthusiasts and neophytes to indulge in skiing or snowboarding during the summer.
This unusual bet was taken by the famous Laurentides resort, which wishes to demonstrate that skiing is an integral part of its identity, all year round; and, through the gang, attempt to convert certain summer vacationers into winter guests.
We would also be inclined to think that this is the first, somewhat depressing, stone of future ski slopes, faced with climatic upheavals; but the station is not at all in this perspective, assures its spokesperson.
The wide slope, usually used as an initiation track during the high season of snow sports, was covered with a synthetic surface, sprinkled sporadically with jets of water to ensure lubrication. Up close, we can see the thousands of vertical strands making up the carpet, which are quite rigid. The slope is divided into two sections, the one upstream being intended for turns, with higher fibers, the other more focused on braking and balance, topped with shorter strands. To go back up, two conveyor belt mechanisms adjoin each portion. Tremblant went shopping for its new module in Europe, opting for this covering developed in Italy from recycled and recyclable plastic. So much for the decor; Now all that remains is to put on your skis to go beyond theory.
In the small preparation area set up at the top of the slope, a quartet of friends don their equipment – skis, poles and boots similar to those used in winter. Marie, Julia, Claire and Quentin, all Fairmont Tremblant employees, came to test the new attraction for an hour. And haven’t really had the same experience!
“It’s really good, but I feel like it’s more slippery than snow, like there’s a thin layer of ice. As it’s a little faster, I was a little less comfortable at the beginning, for example for the turns, but it got better after a few descents”, says Marie, originally from Jura and having a strong background in winter sports.
For Julia, who was putting on skis for the first time in her life, the inaugural descent was a little painful, after a fall which caused her to have slight injuries to her hands. Leaving a bitter taste? “No, I got a little injured, but it was cool”, considers the one who does not rule out testing the activity again… but rather on snow, reassuring shock-absorbing mattress. Indeed, the synthetic surface has nothing to do with the flexibility of artificial soccer turf, proving to be much more rigid. We also recommend wearing long sleeves and pants. The loan of elbow pads and knee pads might be considered by the organizers.
As for Claire and Quentin, who had not returned to the slopes for ages, they were pleasantly surprised by the sensations of rapid sliding provided by the new installation. “What’s kind of funny is skiing while you’re dressed like you’re going to the beach!” “says the young man, actually dressed in a shirt and shorts with flowers.
Even if the synthetic slope is rather calibrated for neophytes, snowboarders and initiated skiers seemed to have a great time there during our visit, with reinforcement of turns and small basic figures. Not to spoil anything, during their descent they enjoy a bird’s eye view of the village below. We also made two descents and, despite a very modest level, the skis are controlled rather well, and small peaks of adrenaline are felt thanks to the speed of the slope. Will other Quebec resorts take the same turn by following these pioneering footsteps of summer skiing? Answer in the years to come.
The activity is offered from mid-May to mid-October, daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. during high season, rain or shine. Outside the summer peak, access will be possible on weekends only, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (September 5 to October 15 for the current season). Prices range from $23 for young children to $37 for teenagers and adults (from 13 years old), for a duration of one hour. Equipment rental is included, but it is possible to bring your own equipment (the price remains the same).