Skiing on grass! No, we are not talking about skiers enjoying the relaxed rules on the slopes of Colorado, Grass Skiing is actually a sport.
With Iranian skier, Seyed Morteza Jafari, taking gold in the grass skiing Giant Slalom in his home country resort of Dizin, and in doing so, giving Iran their first ever gold medal in a winter sport, I thought I would look at the little known sport of Grass Skiing.
Invented by the German Richard Martin in 1966, the sport was originally conceived as a way of practising skiing for the winter Olympics during the European summer months, but grew in popularity and is now recognised as a competitive sport in its own right. Although never really catching on in the mainstream, the sport of Grass Skiing has somewhat of a cult following and participation.
The benefits of Grass Skiing are obvious; all you need is the Skis (like normal skis but shorter and with rolling treads or wheels), plenty of padding (the ground can be very bumpy and unpredictable) and a slope. Best of all; no snow required!
Ideal for the UK environment, the momentum of popularity did not carry through after the initial surge of the sport in the 1960’s through to the 80’s. Ski Centres such as Hillend (Midlothian Ski Centre) constructed a grass ski slope to run alongside it’s conventional artificial dry ski slope. Unfortunately, the downward turn in popularity and high costs of maintaining the slope resulted in it’s closure.
The lack of popularity and of any organised structure of Grass Skiing in the UK is surprising, especially as the snowboarding equivalent of Mountainboarding is now an established sport within the UK with dedicated distributors, clubs, centres and websites.
Maybe, the latest coverage of Iran’s first gold medal will kick start the UK Grass Skiing scene into action. Time will tell!
Have you tried Grass Skiing? What are your thoughts on the sport? comment below.
Mark is also the manager of Jamie Barrow (Britain’s fastest snowboarder)