Dreaming of a Snowy Winter in AugustIf you still think winter sports are for winter, you'll be surprised: Skiing, snowboarding and skating can all be enjoyed in the height of summer. If the heat's getting you down, chill out and freshen up with a day on the slopes － even if they are actually a conveyor belt rumbling beneath your feet.
If you're wondering how people can ski in summer, the answer is simple: indoor ski slopes. It may not sound as exciting as taking to a real mountain slope but it has its own merits.
At mid-morning on one recent Wednesday, about 20 people were "skiing" at the Alpine Indoor Ski Slope in Bundang, Kyonggi province. Some were sliding down a slope covered not with snow but white canvas, and some were on other slopes that are actually conveyer belts.
The moving slopes are for intermediate or advanced skiers, who that morning were polishing the more advanced skill of bending the knees for parallel turns. Some of the beginners on the canvas slope, with their arms stretched forward and fists clenched, looked quite tense. On each of the slopes was an instructor helping the skiers to correct their posture.
One skier, Lee Ju-hee, has been skiing for 15 years. "I only realized when I got here that I was skiing with the wrong posture, since I'd never had a formal lesson. I was able to fix my posture only after a month of practice here," she said.
Indoor slopes require less specialized attire than outdoor ones. There were no fancy goggles or gloves in sight, and most people were wearing casual outfits such as shorts and T-shirts.
"It is fun to enjoy winter sports in summer," a housewife at the slope said. "I like to come here because I can exercise and forget about the hot weather outside at the same time."
Other skiers agreed that the most appealing aspect of the indoor slope is that it is well-suited to instruction.
Some may wonder, however, if the skills learned indoors will stand up to the challenges of real snow and real slopes. Jeon Nam-seok, the owner of Alpine Indoor Ski Slope, is quick to reassure.
"Last winter when the members of our indoor slope visited a ski resort, even those who had only taken classes for two or three months were able to ski on slopes for advanced skiers," he said.
Three lessons a week at the Alpine Indoor Ski Slope cost 180,000 won (about $140) per month.
For more information, visit the Web site at www.goodski.co.kr or call 031-712-0140.
Unlike skiing, which often gets progressively harder the more you learn, snowboarding may seem impossible at first but is quickly learned. Most beginners spend much of the time on their bottoms until they get the hang of it, so don't be discouraged. All you need to do is master turning on the board － and, of course, stopping, and you'll find that a little practice will make you perfect.
Another Alpine Indoor Ski Resort, this one in Seocho-dong, Seoul, is a good place to learn snowboarding in addition to skiing. You don't need to bring anything since the place provides all necessary equipment. While snowboarding, you can correct your posture with the help of mirrors on wall or have fun moving along to the sounds of hip-hop rhythms coming from a large TV monitor.
"Summer is the right season to learn to snowboard," said Back Young-hee, the owner of Alpine Indoor Ski Resort. Ms. Back has been running the place for eight years.
Knowing how to ski makes learning to snowboard easier and faster. Ham Byeong-suk, a skier and member of the resort, said, "I was able to master snowboarding after only about a month of visits here."
Ms. Ham shared her secret to success on a snowboard: "To maintain a certain speed on the conveyor belt slope, your body must be in perfect posture. Posture is everything. Otherwise you will either be forced into a skid or pulled up by the rotating force of the slope."
Learning to snowboard is not the daintiest of challenges, especially in the summer heat. It takes a lot of exercise and sweat. You can expect your shirt to be wet through after five minutes on the slopes.
Snowboarding lessons three times weekly cost 220,000 won per month.
For more information, visit the Web site www.indoorski.co.kr or call 02-592-0934 (for English service, ask to speak to Song Hyun-jung).
Long for those cold winter days? They are there for the taking at Mokdong Ice Rink in Seoul. Just a few minutes after coming in from the heat you'll start to feel the chill. Skating on the 1,800 square meter rink is like having a jumbo air conditioner under your feet.
The temperature of the ice is kept at minus 5 degrees centigrade and the room at 20 degrees centigrade.
"To maintain the right temperature, we spend 30 million won per month," an employee of the ice rink said. "It is the best place to enjoy the sport in the summer."
A lot of parents skate with their children, but others relax on the benches surrounding the rink, drinking coffee, reading books or just watching other people skate. If you want to warm up a little, the snack corner sells cups of hot instant noodles.
Admission to the ice rink costs 2,500 won for children and 3,500 won for adults. You can rent a pair of skates at 3,000 won for two hours. The rink is open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
For more information, visit the Web site www.mdicerink.co.kr (English available) or call 02-2649-8454.
by Baik Sung-ho