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Sydney's winter sports centre wins gold for timing

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Summer skiing in Sydney

Fairfax writer Daisy Dumas tests Sydney's first indoors ski facilities.

PT0M0S 620 349

Sochi may be 13,874 kilometres away, but the Winter Olympics has reached midsummer Sydney.

The city's first indoor ski and snowboard centre, In2ski, opened last month and has received 50 per cent more inquiries since the start of the Games. For Matthew McMeekin, who co-founded the training centre with five-time world aerial skiing champion Jacqui Cooper and two others, hype surrounding Torah Bright and her teammates could not have come at a better time.

''It's definitely had an effect,'' the former corporate manager, who has helped to privately finance the centre, says. ''We had three or four weeks leading into it. When the Olympics hit and the momentum increased, we were ready for it.''

Indoor alpine: Daisy Dumas takes to the ''slopes'' at Alexandria's snow sports centre, which has had a Winter Olympics rush.

Indoor alpine: Daisy Dumas takes to the ''slopes'' at Alexandria's snow sports centre, which has had a Winter Olympics rush. Photo: Ben Rushton

Three slope simulators operate in the hangar-like space, with coaches teaching all ages and levels. Made by Dutch company Maxxtracks, the five-by-nine-metre surfaces act as giant treadmills, allowing skiers and boarders to practise on a potentially endless descent. Vast mirrors sit at the bottom of the conveyor belt surfaces, giving learners instant visual feedback.

''We've taken quite a big bet but it's a very acceptable risk,'' McMeekin says. The centre aims to teach 100 people a day, with private one-hour lessons costing $265.

A mini-terrain park, complete with a quarterpipe, rails and boxes, will open in two months.

Shane Moynagh from Tuggerah travelled to Alexandria for a snowboarding lesson. ''I love the Olympics, I've been watching the whole thing,'' the 29-year-old barman says. He hopes that indoor coaching will help him qualify to become a snowboard instructor at Selwyn Snowfields this year.

''I can't wait. I think I was excited about the winter from the end of last winter,'' he said of the season ahead. ''Snowboarding makes you feel free. I love it, just love it.''

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