Benelux indoor winter resort plays host to athletes with disabilities

Disabled athletes from all over the world will converge on Europe’s biggest biggest indoor winter sports centre this month for an event known as the “ski-ing Olympics.”

The World Cup this year is being hosted  from 13 to 15  November  by Snowworld, situated at Landgraaf which is just over the Belgian/Dutch border. A day before the World Para Snowboard event takes place at the same venue.

Snowworld, which also has a 4 star hotel and fitness centre, is also a regular host of the annual Europa Cup contest and has been awarded  the best indoor slope in the Netherlands.

Paralympic alpine skiing is an adaptation of alpine skiing for athletes with a disability. The sport evolved from the efforts of disabled veterans in Germany and Austria during and after the Second World War.

During the Paralympics, the longest of the five slopes will be closed to the public but people will still be able to watch the athletes go through their paces and the other slopes will remain open.

Among those taking part in the Paralympics at Landgraaf will be amputee skiers and those with other forms of disabilities, some sustained during military combat.

UK-based Paralympic skiing coach Terry Large, who will be involved next week, says Snowworld is an appropriate venue for such a prestigious event.

He told this website: “It really is a unique skiing facility in Europe, if not the world. The slopes, for example, are more than double the length of anything you can find in the UK.”

He added “Those taking part in the paralympics are immensely courageous and talented sports men and women. Some are visually impaired, some have artificial legs or arms missing while others may have bad spinal injuries.”

Terry, an experienced skiing instructor, was at Snowworld this week with a group of young British army personnel from the Adjutant General's Corps (AGC) who were using the facilities at Landgraaf just north of Maastricht, for training purposes.

The team should have been in Austria but Terry said the conditions there were unsuitable – there was insufficient snow – so they decided to train at Snowworld instead.

“The facilities here are brilliant. There is nothing else like it in Europe and the only one I know of with such long slopes is in Dubai. It is a great venue for the Paralympics which promises to be a great event.”

The five indoor slopes of SnowWorld include the longest in the Netherlands.

The venue is the world’s largest indoor ski resort, and regularly hosts training sessions for the Dutch national team.

With a temperature of about zero degrees, a chalet in the middle of the pistes, the venue is also a great venue to prepare for a winter skiing vacation.

Open 365 days a year, visitors can book as little as 1 hour of skiing or snowboarding and,with 5 restaurants in an Austrian atmosphere, there is something for everyone including Europe's largest climbing park with 1,000m ziplines, an Alpine Coaster and 6 climbing routes.

Located a few kilometres from the Dutch border and less than two hours’ drive from Brussels,the venue has five slopes with the longest up to 520metres, a 6 person chair lift and an original Austrian Almhutte on the snow.

Apres ski is a well known part of winter sports and the bars are a great way to end a day on the slopes.

Its restaurants and bars have a view on the slopes and, since opening, the hotel with 100 rooms and 400 guest beds, has proved a big success. The hotel is part of the world’s biggest indoor winter sports resort and located adjacent to the slopes. The fitness and wellness centre is the most modern in the region and also comprises a sauna, solarium, beauty centre and relaxing room

An upcoming big attraction are the restaurant Christmas menus which are available for three days over the festive period. They are differently priced but always very popular (booking is essential and further details on these are available via the Snowworld website along with the brand new brochure for 2019 which is just out).

Looking ahead to Christmas, a Snowworld spokesman said, “Everything is decorated with a festive Christmas theme.We try to do it around a typical Austrian-Tyrol style and it all makes for a great atmosphere over the holiday season.”

The resort is easy to reach from Brussels: you take the E40 motorway to Louvain, then the E314 to Aachen. After the border take the A76 towards Heerlen/Aachen. The journey time is around  90 minutes. A sign of its continuing success has come with its nomination for the best indoor ski slope of 2019.

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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