With the skiing season cancelled for UK skiers for 2 years running and the John Nike Leisure Complex in Bracknell closing due to the financial strain over the last year, Fairmile Vineyard owner, Jan Mirkowski is looking at plans to build a dry ski-slope on the field near to his vineyard (next to the Rupert House Playing Fields) he bought in 2014.
Jan said, “We haven’t done anything with the field yet as I wanted to see how the grapes at the vineyard have harvested over a few years. I’m not sure whether the slope is as good on this land and during lockdown when it snowed I thought about people missing skiing so I started looking into the possibility of opening a dry-slope ski centre. I think it would be a great addition to Henley and bring lots of people into the town, especially during quieter times of the year. After skiing people could then visit the vineyard for some après-ski!”
Jan has sought pre-planning advice from South Oxfordshire District Council and is working with their Conservation Officer. He has had some initial plans drawn up which he has shown to local resident, Olympic Skier and Snow Sunday presenter Graham Bell.
The new ski centre will have 3 slopes, an easy, intermediate and difficult level, with 2 ski lifts. The slopes will be open to both skiers and snowboarders and hopes in the future to have snow tubes. There will also be a slope top chalet café with great views of the surrounding countryside. The skiing surface will be made from the latest technology material called Alpiloofr from Switzerland.
Graham said, “I think it would be a great investment for Henley and I would definitely get behind it and help Jan talk to the right people at Snowsport England to get some funding towards it. Alpiloofr is a new silicone material which is much closer to skiing on snow. It’s very different to the plastic bristle surfaces on dry skiing slopes currently and hopefully Henley will the first UK ski centre to have it.”