The World’s Longest Indoor Snow Slopes
Over the 30+ years that there have been indoor snow centres there has been a battle to have the country’s, continent’s or world’s longest indoor snow slope.
Some say we shouldn’t be so obsessed with the slope’s length, they say as big, sometimes a bigger concern is the width of the slope, or whether there are several slopes. They argue one long slope can get blocked by novice skiers who might otherwise learn their skills on a secondary, shorter, wider slope.
Those who want to train for freestyle sports also say the height of the roof is a consideration if they want to practice big air – they don’t want to crash into the ceiling.
But long slopes sound good for marketing and of course for experienced skiers its nice to carry on for longer before you need to get on the lift!
Some of the longest indoor slopes have also been used for World cup athlete training and even Europa and world cup competitions in some snowsports disciplines, which wouldn’t be possible on many shorter indoor slopes.
It is easy to get confused too about what is the longest slope. As with outdoor ski areas the ski slope measurement expert Christoph Schrahe has discovered many creative ways to measure indoor slope length. He disputes the claimed slope length at some places where he has made precise digital measurements.
All that being said the battle to create the new longest slope in the world continues. Projects envisaging slopes up to 2km (1.25 miles) in length have made it to the drawing board and one slope in the United Arab Emirates began construction with a claimed length of over 1km, but it seems to be quietly shrinking as it gets closer to completion. Although it may still end up the longest yet.
It’s also important to know that the centres with the longest areas may not be considered the ‘biggest’ as some centres do have multiple slopes and wider slopes meaning the snow covered area is much bigger overall than a centre with one long, narrower slope.
Here are the world’s 10 longest indoor snow slopes at present:
(1) 640m (2,100 feet) The Alpincenter Bottrop, Germany
Opened in 2001, The Alpincenter is one of two claimants to the title of ‘longest indoor ski slope in the world’ however some argue this measure includes flat sections and the downhill at Amneville (below) may be longer. In 2011 one of the world’s largest photovoltaic systems was completed covering the entire roof of the indoor ski slope and consists of 18,600 solar panels covering an area of 13,400 square meters.
(2) 620m (2,035 feet) Ski Hall, Amneville, France
Built in 2005 to be the world’s longest, and claiming to be the world’s longest, this 35 metre wide slope over 80 metres of vertical has hosted Europa Cup competitions.
(3) 520m (1,706 feet) SnowWorld Landgraaf, The Netherlands
Until 2020, thanks to having three slopes, the two longest of which are each 520 metres in length, this was Europe’s biggest centre by snow area and is largely solar powered. It also had the world’s longest ski slope when it opened at the beginning of 2002 right on the Southern Dutch/German border close to Belgium, Luxembourg and France. The centre is the only one to have hosted World Cup races.
(4) 505m (1,657 feet) SNØ, Oslo, Norway
Given all the giant centres that have opened in China in recent years, and the long slopes planned in the Middle East, it’s perhaps a little surprising that the newest entry in our top 10 longest list is also in Europe. SNØ opened in early 2020 only to spend much of its first few years in operation closed due to the pandemic. It has a slightly larger total ski area than SnowWorld Lansdgraaf and claims a slightly bigger vertical too, but it’s longest slope is slightly shorter.
(5) 500m (1,640 feet) Harbin Sunac Snow World, China
The world’s largest indoor snow centre by some distance in terms of slope area is home to Asia’s longest indoor snow slope but not the world’s longest. Opened in 2017, it is one of the few indoor snow centres that requires a piste map and to be located in an area where it is colder outdoors than inside it winter.
(6) 460m (1,510 feet) Guangzhou Sunac Snow World
Another very recent addition to the top 10 longest slopes list, and operated by the SUNAC group which also runs Harbin and half another Chinese indoor snow centres, Guangzhou opened in 2020 and was the first to feature an indoor gondola lift, also this has now been replaced by a more efficient indoor quad chairlift.
(7) 450m (1,476 feet) SNORAS Snow Arena, Lithuania
Opened in 2011 and unique in the world, the Snow Arena has a conventional indoor snow slope which at 460 metres is one of the world’s longest, but also a connected curving 654 metre outdoor run which opens when it’s cold enough outdoors.
(8) 400m (1,312 feet), Ski Dubai (UAE)
Often mistakenly claimed to be the world’s biggest, which it never was, Ski Dubai has five ski runs, the longest 400m, served by a quad chairlift, as well as a large snow play area and its own flock of indoor snow penguins.
(9) 380m (1,247 feet) Chengdu Sunac Snow World, China
China is the only country to have three centres in the world top ten for length, actually the only one to have more than one. All three come from the same Sunac company which bought them from the Wanda Group which originated them. The Chengdu Sunac Cultural Tourism City Water and Snow World in Chengdu has been built by the company behind the world’s biggest indoor snow centre in Harbin, Northeast China, and two other giant indoor snow complexes.
Chengdu is is the capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan province. Work on the massive facility, covering 367,600 square metres and reported to be the largest reinforced concrete structure to hold an indoor ski resort in China, was halted during the height of the country’s coronavirus pandemic, but has now resumed with social-distancing and other measures in place, and the centre received final official permission to open in 2020.
(10) 365m (1,198 feet) Cnej.com, Moscow, Russia
The 360m long, 21,600 square metre slope was the world’s fifth longest at the time of opening (fourth in Europe) and seventh by area (fifth in Europe) when it opened in 2008. Still bigger centres were planned in Russia back before the global economic crash but these have not materialised as yet.
FORMER BIG INDOOR SLOPES
Besides the current big centres, there are a few that had long slopes, but which have now been closed and demolished. The most noteworthy is:
500m (1,640 feet) SSAWS, Tokyo, Japan
A spectacular $300m centre built on reclaimed land in 1993 on an earthquake zone near Tokyo which was for 25 years the largest built on earth, even after it closed, until China’s Wanda slope in Harbin opened. ‘SSAWS’ stood for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Snow and had a special earthquake-proof design to prevent danger of internal avalanche. The centre ceased trading in 2002 having never been economically viable as tastes in Japanese leisure moved away from wintersports and was demolished a year later to make way for Japan’s first Ikea store.