Sport In The City: Chill Factore

Originally featured on The Mancunion

There’s more to sport in Manchester than City and United: this week we highlight Chill Factore.

Over the course of the academic year, as well as paying close attention to, and prioritising the progress and successes of, our university’s very own societies, teams and campus sports, let our new Sport in the City feature tempt you into a very different sporting day out. Whether it’s a new sport, a team about whom you did not know, or just an event that interests us, we hope that we will be able to entice you to explore the wide sporting variety that the city has to offer during your time studying at the University of Manchester.

In the spotlight this week: The Chill Factore ski slope

Well… what is it?

Regardless of whether you have been skiing or snowboarding in the past, there’s no denying that, as sports, they are probably two of the cooler sports that you can master, right? And for those who have a keen interest in either activity, you will therefore be aware that we are lucky to have our own Manchester Ski and Snowboarding Club (SKUM) here at the university. However, if competing and regular training is just not your thing, or like me, you have never tried either of these wintery sports, then perhaps our penultimate Sport in the City for this semester could be for you! Founded in 2007, The Chill Factore, based in Trafford, is currently the UK’s longest indoor real snowslope, and is open to the general public, mainly for skiing and snowboarding, as well as hosting other snow activities including the Luge ice slide and tubing. People of all levels, ages and abilities are invited to try their hand at either sport with lessons available for beginners, and opportunities to practise your skills on the snow for those who are more competent at either activity. So, if you’re bored of hearing bookmakers and weather forecasters talking up the odds of a white Christmas this year, why wait any longer to go and play in the snow?

How do I get there?

The Chill Factore is situated on Trafford Quays Leisure Village and is less than four miles from Manchester city centre, meaning it is fully accessible by public transport. The building itself is opposite The Trafford Centre and conveniently located just off the M60 motorway, but if you’re not lucky enough to have a car, please be reassured, it is just as easy to get to the Chill Factore by bus or tram. If you wish to travel by bus, I would personally recommend the 250 service operated by Stagecoach. This high frequency bus-link runs directly to and from Manchester City Centre, normally operating from early until late every 10-15 minutes. In terms of where to get off the bus, the nearest bus stop is at the Trafford Centre bus station, which is opposite Chill Factore. Once you arrive at the Trafford Centre, head towards the Trafford Quays Leisure Village, and then follow the signs to Chill Factore. Meanwhile, if you fancy travelling by Metrolink, your best bet would be to catch a tram from the City Centre to Stretford. From here you can then catch the ML1 shuttle bus service, which travels directly to The Trafford Centre.

But how much does it cost to get in?

With regards to how much an afternoon out at The Chill Factore will cost you, it fully depends on what it is that you wish to do and at what level. Their official website offers several options for online purchase, ranging from beginners lessons in either snowboarding or skiing to recreational lift passes, which might perhaps suit you if you’re already confident enough on the snow. In this case it is difficult to quote prices specifically. However, I would strongly recommend that you take the time to give the website below a good read, not only just to find the activity that suits you the most, but also to monitor the offers, which are regularly updated online.

What are the facilities like?

In order to maintain the authenticity of a life-like snowslope at the Chill Factore, the staff at the venue ensure that it snows every night in Manchester. Yes that is right, you are not mistaken; every bit of snow you see in the Chill Factore is real snow. But how is that even possible? Well, workers at the Chill Factore make snow every single night by means of compressed air and water, which are then blasted into a chilled atmosphere. On hitting the freezing air temperature, fresh snowflakes are formed, and this daily process helps the snow match the composition of real and artificially produced snowflakes; the only physical difference is visible under a microscope. The snow slope itself is modelled to cater for all ages and abilities with a main slope on offer measuring at 180m long x 40m wide for confident skiers and snowboarders as well as a beginner slope at a much more manageable 40m long x 40m wide. Away from the freezing conditions on the snow slope, there are plenty of opportunities to warm up, with a number of bars, cafes and restaurants on site alongside some of the UK’s leading outdoor clothing shops offering big brand names, all along Alpine Street.

Tell me something I didn’t already know…

The entire sloped building measures at 45m high, with the main snowslope starting five metres less at 40m. The area covered by snow is 10,200 sq m, which equates to around 1,632 tonnes of snow based on a snow depth of 40cm. The compacted snow density is 0.4 tonnes per cubic metre, and an average of 16 tonnes of snow are produced per day. Make sure to wrap up warm, too, since the indoor temperature is a cool -1.5 degrees C. Also, since the venue opened its doors in November 2007, the complex has welcomed over three million visitors, and in 2011, the Guinness world record for longest chain of skiers to travel 100m without breaking was recorded at Chill Factore.

Finally, when can I see this in action?

The main slope at the Chill Factore is open from early morning and is available everyday to use until 11pm. Meanwhile, lessons take place from 9am every weekday and 8.30am at weekends up until 10pm every day of the week. It is, however, advisable to research the activity that you wish to undertake, and maybe even book online, since all places are subject to availability. For the latest news and to find the answers to any questions you might, have please visit: http://www.chillfactore.com/

If you have any requests for local teams, sports or events taking place in Manchester, or if you wish to be involved, please contact: sports@mancunion.com.

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