The slalom in Moscow might only conjure up images of weaving in and out of the overcrowded metro, but as the snow settles the capital offers plenty in the form of downhill skiing.
And while the facilities may not live up to people's alpine experiences, thanks in part to the conspicuous absence of mountains, some of them are rather conveniently located within an Eddie the Eagle-sized jump from the metro.
A short hop from Nagornaya metro station is the Kant sports complex with 13 slopes and a host of other sporting facilities, shops and cafes. The winter season started in December when temperatures plunged but only a few of the slopes, including the nursery hill, have been open lately. As long as you've got your own equipment there are no charges other than using the ski-lifts, which starts at 23 roubles a ride, though it is more expensive at peak times. The centre's ski-lift prices go downhill if the tickets are bought in bulk, though renting a board or skis could send chills through your wallet, setting customers back at least 450 roubles an hour or 1,125 roubles for the day - and this is one of the cheaper options.
Despite its location in Bittsevsky Park, the closest metro station is Konkovo. It is a bit of a hike, but the scenic views when entering the forest more than make up for it.The complex has a ski service centre as well as rental of skis or snowboards from 500 roubles an hour, while lessons start at 600 roubles an hour. There are four slopes, including one for beginners and though entrance is free there is a small charge for each ride on the ski lifts.
This is the only slope in Moscow that charges an entry fee and with good reason - to keep the snow fresh all year round. The centre out in Krasnogorsk, which can be reached by bus from Planernaya metro station, is completely enclosed and has artificial snow 365 days a year.Entry is 700 roubles for adults at weekends but there are discounts for families and on weekdays. Over a six month period 20 trips can be bought for 14,000 roubles or 23,800 with equipment rental included.
Volen and Stepanovo
There are also various options more off-piste in the Moscow region that tend to be favoured by winter enthusiasts with a bit more experience. Two of these are Volen and Stepanovo less than 5 kilometres apart on Dmitrovskoye Shosse.
Car is the best way to get there, particularly if you don't want to lug your stuff on public transport, but bus No. 401 from Altufyevo and a train from Savyolovsky Station to Yakhroma both take slightly over an hour. From the station it is best to get a taxi to the complex.
At a height of 90 metres, the bigger slopes are at Stepanovo where the longest stretches for almost a kilometre. Volen, meanwhile, has a further 15 routes, including one for beginners, plus moguls, tubing and boardercross.
The two resorts operate a ski pass system where users put money on a card, which is used for the lift fares, which start at 20 roubles. A seasonal pass will set skiers back 17,000 roubles but for that they would get a mountainous 40,000 roubles' worth in trips back to the top of the hill.
A full set of equipment, either skiing or snowboarding, can be rented from 800 roubles an hour. There is also a hotel, as well as cafes, restaurants and bars for après ski.
Another on Dmitrovskoye Shosse that can be reached by elektrichka from Savyolovsky Station to the stop Turist or by bus from Altufyevo is Shukolovo. With eight slopes and a snowboarding park it is popular with boarders and skiers alike.Different passes can be bought and these affect the price of rides on the ski lift. The most expensive seasonal pass will set riders back 17,000 roubles. Equipment rental starts at 600 roubles for 60 minutes for the full package with a further 400 roubles for each additional hour.
Like Volen, Shukolovo functions as a resort with a hotel and cottages for rent, though all of them are easily accessible for a day trip. After a day on the snow guests can visit various cafes, restaurants or a sports bar with bowling.