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PALM LATITUDES

SPORT REPORT : Hitting the Deck

February 07, 1993|Sheldon Teitelbaum

Southern Californians who want to learn how to schuss and slalom without missing dinner at home have two options. They can rise at ungodly hours, pack their cars, put chains on their tires and brave stultifying lines and bloodcurdling prices at local ski areas. Or they can take a brief, leisurely cruise to one of the area's four indoor ski emporiums boasting a contraption called a ski deck.

Originally designed to help skiers train during the summer months, the ski deck is little more than a carpet-covered conveyor belt. It isn't much for scenery and its gentle 13-degree incline makes a speed-generated endorphin rush unlikely. But if the bookings at ski deck sites in Granada Hills, Anaheim, San Diego and Encinitas are any indication, resort and ski school operators may wish to consider switching from powder to plush.

For a novice, a $40 private lesson on the ski deck can be worth a full day on the slopes, says Craig Reynolds, owner of Ski & Sports West in Granada Hills. "A single lesson gives you the equivalent of a full five to seven miles of skiing," he says. "You're taught by a qualified instructor. You learn proper technique because the carpet is completely unforgiving to bad technique. And when you fall, you don't get wet." But you might get rug burns.

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