On our recent trip to Serre Chevalier, we were offered the opportunity to learn to snooc. What on earth is a snooc you may ask (as indeed did we).
Well, it turns out that the snooc is the brainchild of Cyril Colmet Daage and is the very latest Alpine sport. M. Colmet Daage invented the snooc to give snow-shoers an easier way to come back down the mountain, but the snooc is also cunningly designed so you can use the components as skis to skin up the mountain and snooc back.
If you think that sounds too much like hard work, the first piece of good news is that we simply took a cable car up the mountain requiring no effort at all. The second piece of good news is that anyone can try this new sport and it’s quick and simple to learn the basics.
So, what is it? Very simply, the snooc is a single ski with a plastic seat, which places you about 20cm above the snow. To descend, you ‘simply’ keep your weight forward and use your upper body to steer the snooc left and right. Your feet are touching the snow but not used to break or steer. What could be easier?
Having been explained this theory, we set off with Edouard from Ski Experience in Serre Chevalier full of curiosity and a little trepidation. We were a mixed group – some of us in our 50s and also a beginner skier who had the grand total of 4 hours on skis (this was the second day of our trip). Wearing ski gear and our snow boots (not ski boots but snowboard boots would be perfect) we headed up the mountain.
On the way up, Edouard explained to us just how new snoocing is. Last season saw the pilot (only in Serre Chevalier), which was only available to a small number of ski instructors. This season, snoocs have been launched to the public in 10 ski resorts in France. So although you won’t find this activity everywhere, I’m pretty sure it will catch on quickly.
At the top of the lift, Edouard set about ‘le transformation’, creating snoocs for each of us. The weather was absolutely glorious and as people were coming off the lift and lingering to take in the view, there was much curiosity about these odd-looking contraptions, as well as from ski instructors who hadn’t seen them before.
We started on an easy green run, everyone perched on their snooc and slightly wobbly. Edouard gave us a short demonstration of how to turn and stop and then encouraged us to just have a go ourselves.
Although it’s potentially daunting to learn something new, because you’re so close to the ground and initially going at very slow speeds, it felt very comfortable to simply have a go. There was much hilarity as we all made our first few turns but within a few hundred metres, we were all beginning to get the hang it and we progressed to a blue piste. The beginner skier in our group took a little longer to start linking turns but she was more confident on the snooc than she had been the day before trying skiing for the first time.
We all agreed that this is a great activity for everyone and it’s definitely worth taking time out from skiing to try it. You don’t have to be a skier or snowboarder, but complete mountain newbies might find it takes a little longer to get used to being on a piste. The more confident and athletic will master it more quickly but with all of us starting off as beginners, this was very much a great leveller – a very enjoyable shared experience and one we’d all recommend.
Kate had her lesson and snooc hire from Ski Experience .
You need to be over 12 years old to snooc. They can be hired on their own, but an initial lesson is highly recommended. Hire costs are €47 per hour with an instructor and€15 for a half day without instruction.