SNOW: South Downs boarding

WHILE diligent workers attempted a perilous commute and retailers fretted over a slow day’s business there was one group who were certainly glad to see Sussex adorned with a liberal powdering snow.

Friday, 3rd December 2010, 11:03 am

Skiers and snowboarders were out in their droves on Thursday (December 2) taking advantage of the fresh, remarkably decent conditions.

The rolling gateway to the South Downs was an overnight haven for the opportunistic adrenaline seekers, with ski lifts the only thing notable for their absence.

Devil’s Dyke, Mount Caburn, Wild Park and beyond – anywhere with a sufficient decline there were snow addicts making the most of the conditions.

The scene from the top of Wild Park was spectacular, the vantage of Sussex’s idyllic landscape as breathtaking as many a European view. And that was just the backdrop – the steep run was challenging enough for a seasoned rider, and save for its brevity it was roughly the equivalent of a red slope.

Some industrious riders had even trooped up the slopes with fold-up spades to prepare nippy ramps, or ‘kickers’ as they are known in the business.

Stephen Jeffs, a PhD student at Sussex University and avid snowboarder was more than impressed by the conditions. He said: “I go every year and while this obviously isn’t European quality it’s definitely a nice refresher. I’ve been here since midday and I’ve had a brilliant day. It’s great to have this on your doorstep because travelling abroad is hard-work and pretty expensive.”

Snow sports hardly seem to have been affected by the recession, but there is no doubt a core of teenage and young adult enthusiasts who have had to forgo their cherished winter getaway this time round.

Would-be students facing the prospect of spiraling university fees would be far better advised to save up rather than set off on a pricey Alpine adventure. And with snow this good there was a sigh of relief that those unable to afford a trip this year could at least have a brief taste.

There wasn’t a soul out and about that didn’t appear to having a fantastic day and everywhere there was a sense of disbelief that we were in fact in Sussex.

Best to maintain some perspective – The Downs are hardly likely to rival the Port du Soleil or Aspen as premier snow sports destinations. Yet that shouldn’t stop us embracing these unusual conditions or experiencing all the glory of the Sussex countryside from a wonderfully different perspective.