Shooping down pristine white slopes has been a recreational option for Shanghai residents since the Yinqixing Indoor Skiing Resort opened back in 2002, but it has taken all that time for Shanghaiist to actually get its all-weather, gore-tex gloves on (Xiangyang Market – 50 kuai) and hit the 45m-high slopes that are apparently “covered in snow of a depth up to 50cm”. Well Shanghaiist got a very close look at those slopes, and they are indeed covered in a whole mound of sugary, quicksand-esque snow the likes of which we have never seen in our lives before. It quickly became apparent that one’s board or skis served as the proverbial ladder across a thinly-iced pond, but no need to panic, so long as you’re over one and a half feet tall.
Getting out to Yinqixing itself is very straightforward -– take the Metro Line 1 to the southern end of the line (Xinzhuang), and then flag a taxi for the ten minute ride to the complex. RMB125 buys you an unlimited pass for the day (you can avoid the crowds by going at night –- depending on the day of the week, it closes anytime between 11.30pm and 1am), which includes the loan of a ski jacket, trousers, gloves, socks, boots and either skis or board. Now as with pretty much any recreational activity for which “equipment” of some sort of another is required — bowling, ice-skating etc. — there is a certain thousands-of-previous-sweaty-users element to which one is obliged to steel oneself, but if you feel yourself paling at the thought, bring your own socks and gloves and you’ll be fine. The hardwear — skis, boards and boots — is pretty reasonable. You at least get the choice of hard boots or soft boots if you’re a boarder (which Shanghaiist is not, but more on that later). Most of the equipment has come from Japan, as some of the fabulously 80s motifs emblazoned across the back of your jacket will testify. The ski slope itself boasts three levels — not quite so flat, quite flat and flat — in order from top to bottom. But do not be deceived — boy racers with their go-faster stripes can get up enough speed to deliver a healthy concussion.
The fun lies in using the slope to try something you’ve never tried before — skiing if you’re a boarder, boarding if you’re a skier, anything if you’re a first-timer. A long-time skier, Shanghaiist was delighted to spend the evening face down with a board attached to our feet in the midst of a cheery Chinese crowd rather than face the humiliation of adopting a similar posture on the nursery slopes before the odd smirking Alpine ski-guide. And it also lies in the extremely surreal — bordering on comic — feeling of clicking into your bindings and setting off up the slope at snail’s pace on a button lift, in Shanghai. No one’s opened up a little ski-hut serving deceptively alcoholic hot drinks just yet, but we imagine it’s only a matter of time. Should that happen, you might want to think about the insurance you’ll be offered at the front desk. Two kuai and you’re covered to the hilt.
Our buddy Wang Jianshuo was of course there at the start, and from a look at his photos, well ahead of the crowds. Bizarrely, the Christian Science Monitor had a good piece on China’s indoor skiing options back at the beginning of January: “A Skiing Trip to the Great Indoors.” Some other guy took some photos back in 2002, as well.
Yinqixing Indoor Skiing Site, 1835 Qixin Lu, Minhang District. Tel: 800-820-7910, 6272-7910, 62727912.
Photo from Shanghai Diaries.