In 2012 the Sheffield Ski Village, which produced some of the UK’s most successful winter Olympians, was destroyed by a fire that caused the artificial ski slope complex to shut down… but after six years of closure, the ski village is set to rise from its ashes.
The ski village was one of the largest artificial ski complexes in Europe, it homed nursery slopes, a toboggan run and four pistes.
The first slope at the complex was opened in October 1988 and its popularity grew so much that by the end of 1990 the ski village was home to eight individual slopes.
Between 1991 and 1994 the ski village had a significant renovation and re-design, a ski lodge, bar and shops were all added and the slopes were re-designed to add a half pipe and moguls.
The ski village was the main training ground for the Yorkshire Freestyle Squad and many professional freestyle skiers, including James Woods, who placed fifth in the men’s Ski Slopestyle at the 2014 Winter Olympics and Dronfield’s, Millie Wilkinson, 2015/16 Slopestyle British Champion.
In addition to the slopes at the village, there were many other facilities open to the public such as quad biking, laser tag and downhill biking, designed by Sheffield’s MTB World Champion, Steve Peat. There was also a state of the art ten pin bowling alley opened in 2009.
Sadly, in April 2012, the main building of the village was destroyed by fire, the flames broke through in the early hours of the morning – luckily no-one was injured.
Following the initial disaster, subsequent fires further damaged the site as a result of arson. In May 2012, a small hut at the top of the main slope which had controls for the ski lifts was destroyed and just a few weeks later a nursery slope was partially destroyed in yet another fire. Arson attacks continued as two more fires were started, along with the old pump house being set alight in an incident thought to be caused by a bonfire nearby.
The Ski village has suffered a lot of damage over the past six years, including over 50 arson attacks since its closure.
Today, with the Sheffield Ski ready to start the £22.5m redevelopment, things are looking up for skiers, snowboarders and the Sheffield community.
Last December the council asked for proposals from developers with the intention of reopening the site as a ‘nationally significant attraction’.
Extreme Destinations were the successful developer who are the brains behind the multi-million-pound project. The hope of Sheffield being able to reinforce its efforts as ‘The Outdoor City’ is now looking achievable for the not too distant future.
In addition to fantastic new ski facilities, the proposal from Extreme includes restoration of the old mountain bike tracks, shops, an indoor climbing wall, restaurants, and an indoor sky-diving facility, as well as the company contemplating 25 different activities plus the potential to host sporting competitions.
The slopes could potentially be opening by 2019, set in one of Sheffield’s natural hills just a mile from the city centre and are ideally positioned for the city and its residents, as well as visitors, whether it be to ski, climb, or bike.
The new village will bring more revenue and tourists to the already popular city of Sheffield, and it will also give nearby local communities the chance to re-visit an old hobby, or even start a new one.
“The ski village played such an import role in my career in skiing. Every week I would ski there at least 3 times, anytime I was free I got my parents to take me up.
“Now for training we have to travel to the Tamworth or Castleford slopes which costs more money for my parents and both are at least an hour or more away.
“Also the ski village had a half pipe which to my knowledge was the only one in the Uk at that time, so to have that facility so close to home it was amazing, today if people want to ski half pipe then they have to go abroad to France or Switzerland.
“It’s so cool that there is talk of bringing back the ski village I can’t wait to see what happens with it!”
Words: Abbey Harmsworth
Pictures: Millie Wilkinson