Outdoors

Is this plastic ski hill the future of skiing?

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Image: Buck Hill

Image: Buck Hill

The much-anticipated Buck Hill Ski and Snowboard area of Burnsville, Minnesota offers three artificial slopes for skiers and snowboarders to swish down any time of year without a single flake of snow necessary. The plastic ski hill officially opened for guests on September 10. The Neveplast slopes of the resort invite beginners and advanced users alike to try out the plastic-bristled terrain, found to be an excellent replacement for the properties of snow. On the hills where world-renowned Lindsey Vonn trained early on in her career, the now extended-season resort looks forward to increased popularity due to the new Italian-made runs.

Buck Hill’s owner, David Solner, is excited about the updates and foresees a remarkable new draw to the formerly snow-dependent sports from having year-round availability. Although the plastic ski hill venue is considered quite small in comparison to others, with the sixteen trails and 260 feet of vertical drop it provides, Solner feels it could still become a trend-setter nationally since gaining control over the previously uncontrollable open season. The change from a four-month seasonal to a fully year-round facility makes Buck Hill the second location in the country to offer outdoor artificial slopes, after the first, Liberty Mountain Snowplex Centre opened its gates in Lynchberg, Virginia. Liberty Mountain has been in operation since 2005, and offers guests Snowflex slopes, another artificial terrain which requires water to develop the “snow,” located on the Liberty University campus. Buck Hill’s slopes use Neveplast instead of Snowflex, which does not require water.

According to Solner, the plastic ski hill is superior in being low cost and low maintenance primarily due to its not needing water. The Buck Hill website explains, “Neveplast revolutionized the dry ski slope sector with a synthetic mat that perfectly simulates real snow conditions. Novices can easily snow plow, enthusiasts can practice their favorite discipline at any time of the day, and competitive athletes can train exactly like they do on snow.” Neveplast also makes surfaces for go-karting, summer tubing tracks and “snow” tubes. Passes for the Neveplast slopes at Buck Hill are on sale now and will continue through the fall season, with artificial slopes likely to be available through mid-November depending on weather. Prices can be found on their website, and adult passes start at $225 for the fall season while winter snow skiing passes begin at $405.

So, let us know, would you try the plastic ski hill? Or are you sticking to snow-covered slopes? Let us know in the comments!

Kristen lives in the Michiana area, where she enjoys lake-effect weather, apple orchards and occasional South Shore rides into Chicago. She can probably tell you more about apple cider vinegar than you'd ever want to know. You can reach her at: http://lakesedge.wix.com/lakesidewriting