Ever wanted to experience skiing or snowboarding without the hassle of hiring gear, freezing cold snow, lines or lifts? Off-Piste, Sydney’s first ski and snowboard virtual reality experience, can answer your prayers.
Off-Piste Ski and Snowboard Simulators is Sydney’s answer to snow sport lovers who can’t experience year-long snow.
Since opening in December 2017, Off-Piste has been attracting skiing and snowboarding fanatics anxious to hit the slopes as well as curious passerby’s in the heart of Moore Park’s Entertainment Quarter.
Pascal and Chadia, Off-Piste’s owners, have cleverly transformed their space in the Entertainment Quarter to resemble a picturesque European alpine resort with carpeted floors throughout, faux cowhide rugs, sprawling lounges and wooden bars fitted with free bottled water.
To test out this unique experience which is undeniably becoming a trend amongst adventure-lovers, I took to the virtual reality slopes with a helping hand from Pascal.
Upon entry I was warmly welcomed to the “lodge” and taken to the fitting area where brand new ski boots and socks were provided free of charge. After a quick query on my previous experience with snow-sports, Pascal guided me to Off-Piste’s most advanced simulator, The Avalanche.
Besides the fact that visiting Off-Piste is one-of-a-kind experience, the lodge is also the first in the country to have SkyTechSport’s world-class equipment. Based in California, SkyTechSport specialises in providing technology to assist professional athletes in their training by relying on the verisimilitude of high-definition virtual reality. However, as our obsession with virtual and augmented reality grows, the Californian company is gradually expanding to all corners of the globe, offering a one-of-a-kind physical and mental experience.
With three active VR simulators, Off-Piste was brimming with curious families trying out the brand-new equipment or just watching on as others trialled out the technology – and this was on a Tuesday.
With some clunky ski boots strapped on, I prepared for their most impressive simulator: imagine a six-metre conveyor belt with railings and safety nets at each end and a seven-metre panoramic screen looming ahead of you. Hopping onto the belt, I felt like I was stepping onto a giant’s treadmill. After strapping me in to the skis which sit just above the belt, Pascal told me to hold on to the bar, and to be honest I felt like I was holding on for dear life.
It is undeniably daunting trying out anything active or foreign for the first time, and this was no exception. The most unusual and confronting part of trying this out was knowing that you are in charge of your balance: if you move your feet too quickly and you’re not familiar with the technology, it could spell disaster.
But, like any first experience, you begin to feel comfortable within minutes – and really start to enjoy it.
We began with baby steps: moving a few centimetres side to side with hands on the bar, and then progressing to no hands and traversing the full six metres.
Then came the virtual reality.
With the panoramic screen coming to life, I began navigating an endless ski slope, navigating around gates and increasing my speed each time I made it past checkpoints. For someone who only had negative experiences when skiing in the Snowy Mountains, I was flying down these slopes like a professional – and I was drawing a crowd. The simulation was beginning to feel like SSX on steroids and I was sure I was impressing people with the amazing skills I’d learnt in just 20 minutes of practice.
Until I looked at my phone afterwards and realised I looked like this:
Even so, the simulator was probably the most fun I’ve had exerting my body and controlling my balance in a long, long time. Pascal tried hard to push me further and get me navigating at speeds of 100 kilometres per hour on the big screen but my body was telling me: not today.
After half an hour of carving up the slopes, my time was up, and my calves were not happy, but I was honestly surprised at how much I loved the ski simulator and how quickly I adapted to it. As well as being ridiculously fun, using the equipment is quite a workout – especially if your whole body is constantly tense from the new sensation. Seriously, if I can do it, anyone can, and with the assistance of friendly staff like Pascal, the experience is all the more enjoyable.
Off-Piste is truly a one-of-a-kind business that attracts virtual reality lovers, athletes and adventure-goers alike, and with hundreds of people using the equipment each day, it looks as though Pascal and Chadia will be expanding to different states very, very soon.
Whether you’re a professional, amateur or beginner, Off-Piste will show you a seriously fun and exhilarating time on their state-of-the-art ski and snowboard simulators.
Book your session on The Avalanche or The Summit here.
Off-Piste Ski & Snowboard Simulators
Where: Entertainment Quarter, 122 Lang Road, Moore Park, Sydney
When: open 7 days, 10am – 6pm
Visit their website