New sport: your chance to experience near death


Click to follow
The Independent Online

It would be a "true global first" and a "game-changer in every sense". Journalists had been invited to the launch of "the most talked about new attraction in the UK in 2012". But Chill Factore (that "e" – why?), an indoor ski slope in Manchester, would not reveal what its new attraction was, hiding it behind the kind of secrecy usually reserved for presidential visits to war zones.

The Independent politely declined the offer but was intrigued to read the press release when it arrived yesterday. "RIDE THE AVALANCHE," it shouted. The game-changing attraction turns out to be a sort of zorbing on ice, or "snowsphering", in which participants are strapped inside an inflatable ball in the dark and pushed downhill. "It is the world's first opportunity to ride an avalanche," the attraction's chief executive, Morwenna Angove, said.

Is a ride that offers to simulate an experience generally associated with a fairly miserable death, in a winter that has seen a rise in the number of avalanche victims, a bit, well, tasteless? Perhaps I'm sensitive (I'm a skier and know people who've been killed in avalanches).

Ms Angove says: "There are a number of rides and attractions around the world that are named after natural disasters... like Avalanche, these names are not meant to offend."

She cites "Volcano in the USA" and "Cyclone in Japan". But do these rides simulate what it's like to get smothered in ash or drowned?

Next week: Car crash! The world's first opportunity to rear-end a truck.