climbing to ski training: Refine your outdoor skills at inside venues
Barton -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PST Thursday, January 20, 2005
Lots of snow means
skiers and boarders are having fun and working on their skills at Sugar
Bowl, Heavenly and Squaw. And in Curtis Park.
It's there, in that
completely snow-free - indeed, hill-free - Sacramento neighborhood, that
novices and experts alike can develop their ski legs on a rolling length
of carpet that serves as a passable ski slope.
The contraption, run by
ski instructor Sam Morishima out of his tiny garage, manages to emulate
a snowy slope well enough for students to improve their skiing while 90
minutes away from the nearest decent snow.
Sam Morishima runs his SnoZone
Ski and Snowboard School out of his garage in Curtis Park, using a
machine that simulates a snowy slope. Above, Morishima works with Jim
Gholson on improving his form. Sacramento Bee / Bryan Patrick
slope isn't the only indoor version of an essentially outdoor sport
available to Sacramento area residents. For skiing, rock climbing or
playing soccer, tennis or hockey, Sacramento has a number of sheltered
venues for people who are, at least for the rainy season, willing to
settle for being inside.
That can become
necessary because, while Sacramento isn't hit by winter nearly as hard
as much of the nation, rock climbing and mountain biking are among the
sports that can become problematic when it gets wet or cold outside. Or,
as in recent weeks, both.
Even in good weather,
the best places to engage in those sports can be at least an hour's
So a number of
entrepreneurs have tried indoor alternatives to outdoor sports. Many
have come and gone over the past 10 years, notably indoor golf
simulators. Some are doing well and others are still being planned.
"endless slope" at his Curtis Park SnoZone Ski and Snowboard
School is doing very well, according to its owner.
Using a remarkable
contraption that gives him a terrific opportunity to observe his
students, Morishima is able to correct their form as they're actually
"By seeing up close
what the student is doing, I can help them correct it right away,"
says Morishima, who has trained professional skiers at his schools in
Sacramento and San Francisco.
He even trained the
chimp who performed snowboard stunts in the 2003 film "MXP: Most
"It's much more
difficult and inefficient to do it watching them ski by, or even skiing
with them," he says. "Students learn much faster this way, at
Sam Morishima can give ski and
snowboard lessons indoors with the help of a slope simulator he has set
up in his garage. Sacramento Bee/Bryan Patrick
If there's a sport even
less likely than downhill skiing to be transferable indoors, it's
But that is the dream of
Mike Upchurch, who says he is just weeks - and a rented building - away
from opening Skills Factory (www.indoormtb.com), which he hopes will
offer year round access to technical tracks that will help mountain
bikers hone their skills.
"What we're looking
to do is provide the obstacles at stations for various skills," he
says. "It'll be like circuit training for cyclists."
Skills Factory also will
feature about a mile of trails so flatlanders who don't have time for a
trip to the foothills can get in a good workout.
But Skills Factory still
exists only on paper, and judging from conversations with operators -
and the number of disconnected phones - indoor sports venues are iffy
While climbing walls
tend to do well, at least a couple of indoor golf businesses have failed
in the Sacramento area, and no one appears to be pursuing that option at
Tim Hovanscek is a local
golf instructor who tried operating a golf simulator out of a friend's
plumbing business in Roseville a couple of years ago. He lasted more
than a year, but, as he says, "It was really hard to justify the
cost of the machine ($50,000) - people weren't going to pay a $50 greens
fee to play with it."
The problem, he says, is
that the weather never gets too bad in the Sacramento area to drive
enough duffers indoors.
"What I found in
Sacramento," he says, "is that if it's a bad day, you just
wait until tomorrow. You're not getting socked in with three months of
snow. The weather will be better tomorrow."
By contrast, he says,
"There are six (simulator) units up at the Hilton in Reno, and
they're pretty busy. But that's in Reno."
Still, he says, the
basic benefit of an indoor simulator, whether for golf or any other
sport, is that it's a good teaching tool, and he hopes to get another
"The simulator is a
godsend for teaching," he says. "People love to be able to see
their swing (and) get a good analysis. Golfers want to be ready to go
(play outdoors) in March, and you can get a real head start with the
Learning is still the
focus of most indoor sports venues in Sacramento. Pools at local scuba
dive shops such as Dolphin Scuba Diving Center and the new Sports Chalet
in Sacramento's north area are short on coral reefs and sunken boats,
but they will give students the skills needed to head for dive spots on
the coast. Such places offer a chance to prepare athletes for the real
And some sports have
moved indoors permanently. Basketball and swimming have long been common
indoor activities. There are also places to practice or to play in-line
hockey, baseball (with batting cages and pitching "tunnels"),
archery and soccer.
And there are some
relatively new sports that have arisen at some indoor venues, one being
"broomball," a form of ice hockey played with an air-filled
ball and a plastic "broom" or paddle. Players wear shoes
instead of skates.
What follows is a list
of some of the places where you can enjoy indoor versions of outdoor
sports, if even just for training.
These are not the only
places offering indoor activities - particularly for tennis, swimming
and basketball - but they are good places to start.
Location: 4870 Pacific St., Rocklin Information: (916) 630-8700
Features: Lessons and full indoor range. A round of the California
indoor championships was held there last weekend. Cost: $5 per visit;
bows can be rented
Location: 9660 Elk Grove Florin Road, Elk Grove Information: (916)
685-7977 Features: Pitching tunnel rentals, lessons, batting cages Cost:
$1.50 a token (18 pitches), $28 for a 30-minute lesson
Location: 1403 Del Paso Blvd., North Sacramento Information: (916)
925-3121 Features: Ice skating and broomball Cost: For groups only: $240
to rent the entire rink for 30 people for two hours
Skatetown Ice Arena
Location: 1009 Orlando Ave., Roseville Information: (916) 783-8550
Features: Public skating, hockey and broomball, field trips Cost: Public
skating $10 or less per person, including skate rental; $250 per hour
for first 30 players
Location: 1960 Railroad Drive, Sacramento Information: (916) 641-0321
Features: In-line hockey, indoor soccer, lacrosse and volleyball Cost:
Approximately $100 per player for 12 games
Location: 11335 Folsom Blvd., Rancho Cordova Information: (916) 638-4605
Features: Climbing walls, bouldering, equipment rentals Cost: Varies
with age, $9-$12 for a day pass without gear rental
Location: 116 N. 16th St., Sacramento Information: (916) 341-0100
Features: Climbing walls, bouldering, weights and cardio gym Cost:
Memberships variable; day use: $7 before 3 p.m., $14 after 3 p.m.
Location: 720 Olive Drive, Davis Information: (530) 757-2902 Features:
Wall climbing, bouldering, gear rental Cost: Memberships vary; day use:
$12 a day general, $10 students
Location: 8569 Bond Road, Elk Grove Information: (916) 685-5555
Features: Climbing walls and gym Cost: Memberships available; day fees
$10 general, $5 for ages under 12
Location: 1790 Exposition Parkway, Sacramento Information: (916)
924-8900 Features: Climbing wall in the store Cost: Free; available
Saturdays 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Tuesdays 6:30-8:30 p.m.; informal instruction
and tips provided (not lessons)
Scuba Diving Center
Location: 1530 El Camino Ave., Sacramento Information: (916) 929-8188
Features: Scuba diving school up to instructor certification; dive club;
other water and travel programs Cost: Varies; entry-level classes as low
Location: 2401 Butano Drive, Sacramento Information: (916) 977-1730
Features: Diving pool for lessons Cost: Varies
Ski and Snowboard School
Location: Private residence Information: (916) 736-0432 or e-mail
incoming@ endlesslope.com Features: Endless Slope ski simulator for ski
and snowboard lessons at all levels Cost: Single one-on-one lessons $65;
the Wall Indoor Soccer
Location: 5 Wayne Court, Sacramento Information: (916) 383-4200
Features: Youth and adult soccer leagues Cost: $100 per hour for up to
20 players; $5 each additional player
The Bee's David Barton
can be reached at (916) 321-1075 or email@example.com
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