Learn to Ski…..in Africa!

At The Skiing Department we love to talk about some of the alternative and unusual ski related businesses or activities there are around the world. When we think of Africa we don’t usually associate the continent with skiing, but down in Johannesburg there is a thriving ski school that has been operating for over 30 years. Namely, The Ski Deck in Ferndale.

The Ski Deck in Ferndale, Johannesburg

Photo: The Ski Deck in Ferndale, Johannesburg

During the early and mid-nineties I myself worked as an instructor on the ski decks in Johannesburg for various stints and I found the experience compelling and extremely educational in terms of ski teaching technique.

The ski decks have moved around a bit during the years but their latest carnation is situated in Ferndale, a northern suburb of Johannesburg. Lew Campbell has been working on the ski deck for around 30 years and now heads the operation in Ferndale and is assisted by other ski instructors with international qualifications.

For skiers based in Southern Africa the ski deck provides an amazing opportunity to learn to ski and to practice their technique before heading to the snow. At first sight you might think that a large revolving carpet where the skier remains fairly static in terms of speed could not possibly replicate the true experience of skiing. Well, maybe the feeling of speed is not there, but as far as ski technique is concerned, the fundamental elements of how to ski are exactly the same on the ski deck as they are on the snow.

One of the real benefits of the ski deck is the fact that your instructor is standing right in front of you all the time. The instructions that are provided to the pupils can be acted on in an instant so any technical corrections that are required can be dealt with and improved on immediately.

This can really build the confidence for beginners or people that have had negative skiing experiences in the past. For more experienced skiers, your technique better be up to scratch because any faults are instantly shown up on the ski deck, but again, if improving your technique is a priority then it’s certainly worth getting some lessons on the deck.

I know that for myself the ski deck gave a real and tangible improvement to my skiing ability and there has been many times in some extreme situations that the sheer precision that is required when skiing on the deck has helped me feel confident and sure about what to do next.

For anyone considering a ski holiday from Southern Africa at any level then I would recommend lessons on the ski deck. If you are a beginner then it is an absolute essential element to your holiday.

The ski deck is situated in Ferndale, Randburg, South Africa and is owned and operated by Lew Campbell, a New Zealander with over 30 years experience in the skiing industry. as well as the ski decks you can find a ski shop, a ‘Power Carver’ and options for parties and events, all inside the unique ski village environment.

Are there any other ski decks you know of?
We know of:
Ski City, Melbourne, Australia

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Robert Stewart

Ski Editor at Snow.Guide

Robert has extensive knowledge and experience of winter sports and has been qualified to instruct and teach Alpine Skiing for over 20 years. He is also an experienced off-piste and backcountry skier and has competed in freestyle and freeride events around the world. Now a full-time ski writer and Director of Ski Press, Robert is Snow.Guide’s Ski Editor and contributes to many other snowsports, national and lifestyle publications.

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