"The VR Future Is Now" By Korea JoongAng Daily

There are now venues where people can virtually ski, bowl, play tennis and even go horseback riding.


Simulated golf has skyrocketed to more than 7,500 locations since the sport was introduced, and as virtual reality picks up steam, facilities that incorporate the technology with other sports are getting in on the game.


I jumped at the chance to try skiing and snowboarding at UrbanSlope, a virtual reality facility that opened late last year in Gangnam.


The virtual version of downhill skiing is lifelike but less risky <...>. At UrbanSlope, customers are fitted with ski boots before tackling one of five simulators for snow sports. The machines recreate realistic slope conditions with nearly every aspect of the slope available for customization. With the press of a button, users can choose settings such as the slope’s length and the softness or iciness of the snow. Once skiers get acclimated, they can increase the difficulty of the run and even try weaving around slalom gates.


Within a few minutes at an 85-mile-per-hour pace, I’m out of breath and feel the burn in my thighs. Most Urban Slope customers, Shin says, top out within 15 minutes.


An avid skier, Shin invested $500,000 to start UrbanSlope in a storefront near Hakdong Station in southern Seoul last winter. <...> Shin spent two decades in sales and marketing at Asia Brown Boveri and Samsung Electronics before becoming CEO of Korea Maritime Consultants, the owner of UrbanSlope.

“This is not something I started to make big bucks, but more to create a cultural boom,” he said. “I wanted to introduce this new culture to Korea. I enjoy watching people’s faces when they are on the machine — expressions of pure joy.”

In February, Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning opened a center for virtual and augmented reality at Sangam Digital Media City in western Seoul, with the goal of nurturing start-ups and talent as the country aims to become a global powerhouse in the burgeoning VR market. The technology has long been heralded as the future of how people will engage with content, but in Korean sports entertainment, the VR future is now.

Source: Korea JoongAng Daily http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/Article.aspx?aid=3033939

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*The materials reflect training of the U.S. Ski Team on the SkyTechSport simulator and not individual athletes