We tried: Skiing in Fyshwick . . . yes, Fyshwick
Advertisement

We tried: Skiing in Fyshwick . . . yes, Fyshwick

Go on, ask me what I did on my lunch break yesterday.

I scoffed a bowl of leftover spaghetti bolognese. And then I went skiing. With my kids. IN FYSHWICK.

Canberra's brand new indoor snow sports centre, Vertikal, opens to the public this weekend - just in time for the school holidays - and, no offense Phillip Ice Skating Rink, but it's kind of the best.

Riley and Jessica Element give the brand new slopes in Fyshwick a run ... at 5km/h.

Riley and Jessica Element give the brand new slopes in Fyshwick a run ... at 5km/h.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

Located in a huge warehouse on Dairy Road, in the same complex as Capital Brewing Co. and BlocHaus, the Vertikal fit-out is, in the words of my 11-year-old son Riley, "sick".

Advertisement

Three 12-metre hydraulic ski "mats" line the back wall of the warehouse, while a cosy fireplace, in a column of stone, lights up the middle of the room. A ski-lodge style bar at the front of the building serves huge cups of hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Wooden racks filled with hundreds of pairs of skis line the walls, and bench seats from some long-abandoned chair lift hang from the roof. It's like a tiny piece of Aspen, Colorado, transplanted on the outskirts of Fyshwick.

My kids and I are invited to Vertikal for a special sneak preview ahead of the official opening on Friday night. We're told to wear "lots of layers" as it's cold in the warehouse.

Ski instructors Claire Armit and Paolo Bellini greet us at the door and immediately get the kids fitted into skis. (My 11-year-old looks longingly at the Minion skies but knows he's a little old for those now).

From the Rocky Mountains to south Canberra: ski instructor Claire Armit gets the kids fitted in their skis.

From the Rocky Mountains to south Canberra: ski instructor Claire Armit gets the kids fitted in their skis.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

Claire grew up skiiing the powdery slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and Utah, and has been skiing since she was three.

Paolo, an Italian native with Tom Cruise-style hair and looks, grew up skiiing and then instructing in Austria, Italy and the US. He's part owner of Vertikal along with close friend and former ski student Charlotte Ostor.

The kids hit the training bar at the bottom one of the ski mats (the mats have been imported from The Netherlands and are like giant treadmills, with soaking wet white synthetic turf) for a beginner's lesson.

They've never skied in their lives (truth be told, their mother hates the snow) and need to learn the basics.

Riley and Jessica learn to snow plough at the ski bar. 'Make your skis like a big piece of pizza!' instructor Paolo Bellini yells.

Riley and Jessica learn to snow plough at the ski bar. 'Make your skis like a big piece of pizza!' instructor Paolo Bellini yells.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

They're facing a six metre wide mirror at the bottom of the mat, a bit like standing at a ballet barre, but instead of learning pointe technique they're practising snow ploughing and balance. The mirror helps them to see and understand Paolo's instructions.

After a 20-minute lesson, the kids are ready to ski. Well, if you call snow ploughing skiing.

The ski mat is turned on to 5km/h (it can go up to 100km/h) and the mat stays at the lowest possible angle (10 degrees, but it can go be tilted as far as 50 degrees, about the same slant as Mount Kosciusko). The kids spend the next 20 minutes snow ploughing and getting more and more brave with their skiing. Their cheeks are rosey and they're laughing at themselves and each other.

I'm scared they'll fall over but an instructor is watching them every second they're on the mat and if they do fall, the mat is quickly switched off. Vertikal owner Charlotte Ostor tells me falling on the synthetic mat "is nothing like falling on real snow" as the velocity is different. At Vertikal "you just kind of sag down to the ground", Charlotte says, but they make kids wear helmets regardless.

The kids eventually slide off the mat, remove their skis and head over the fireplace for a hot chocolate almost as big as their heads.

Paolo then provides a demonstration of what it's like for seasoned skiers to ski at Vertikal. He turns the speed of the mat up to 60km/h and glides effortlessly from side to side along the wet turf. If I close my eyes for a second the combination of the cold and the sound of the sluicing takes me far away from Fyshwick to a cold mountaintop somewhere in the Snowies.

The interior of Vertikal.

The interior of Vertikal.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

We wave our goodbyes to the Vertikal team but there's no need to put snow chains on the family X-trail to head home. We drive eight minutes to Queanbeyan.

The verdict: Just when you thought Canberra couldn't get any better, we now have a snow experience right here on our doorstep with friendly instructors and a brewery next door. Winning.

Details: Vertikal Indoor Snow Sports Australia is located at Unit 11, Building 3, 1 Dairy Road, Fyshwick. A 60-minute one-off lesson and ski experience for children aged 4-17 is $117. A school holiday program, which runs Wednesday to Friday across both weeks of the school holidays, is available for $320. Further information at www.vertikalsnowsports.com

Follow Bree Winchester on Instagram and Facebook.

Bree Element is the life and entertainment editor at The Canberra Times

Most Viewed in National

Loading
Advertisement