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First Indoor Ski Slope in America Set to Open This Fall

#41
Finally found a "trip report" video that wasn't taken on Opening Day. A father and son who went when the slope was pretty empty. I think it's from 12/7/19. The other ski videos by the pair from the past year were done during trips to Colorado, including Memorial Weekend. Certainly seems like a couple hours on snow at Big SNOW for $30 would beat driving a couple hours from NYC to ski in the rain during early season.

 
#42
Picked up a few more tidbits of info from this 12/12 article. The lift ride is about 3.5 minutes and a run by someone who knows how to make turns takes about 30 seconds. The idea is that having a relatively slow chair helps keep the number of folks on the slope manageable. The writer rented gear and seemed impressed with the rental process. Apparently there are 60 slots for each starting time every 15 minutes, starting on the hour, adding up to a max of 500.

Nov. 12, 2019, Bloomberg
North America’s First Indoor Ski Slope Feels a Lot Like the Real Thing

I've noticed that the impression given by all the articles I've read so far is that only snowboarders make use of terrain parks. Guess the writers don't watch X-Games and have never seen what tricks can be done by skiers. During the opening day for the media, the invited athletes who were in the terrain park were all boarders.
 
#43
Another trip report video by a young couple posted on Dec. 9. It starts and ends in the parking lot. The man likes to play in the terrain park on skis. At speed, they thought the a run took about 20 seconds to finish going thru the park. Their general reaction is that it's pretty fun for a couple hours.

 
#45
The fact that Snow Operating has strong partnerships with industry leaders is paying off for Big SNOW. Burton recently used the indoor slope to bring together a bunch of snowboarders to test out a new strapless binding. Certainly better conditions than would've been possible in the northeast given the rain. Was already scheduled when Jack Burton, the founder of Burton, passed away a few weeks ago from cancer.

Dec. 16, 2019, Inside Hook
Burton's Step On Bindings Are a Worthy Testament to Snowboarding's Greatest Pioneer

Many of the posts on the Snow Operating Facebook page seem to be from boarders who enjoy the terrain park. That makes sense to me given the percentage of boarders at small hills in the southeast and mid-Atlantic. I know adult skiers who switched to boarding to do something new for local trips to the slopes with their kids, who often switch to boarding after starting out on skis.
 
#46
We have our first report from a Diva about Big SNOW. @sk8ski found it a good place to get her 6yo daughter started on skis. Kids 6 and under are free with an adult admission. There is now a 6-pack for 2-hour Slope Access for $99. The 3-pack SNOW Day that includes rental gear and outerwear is $129.

https://www.theskidiva.com/forums/index.php?threads/im-so-excited-and-proud-today.24425/#post-399688
Not the same as outdoors obviously, and it was a bit of a madhouse Saturday evening, but I think it is not a bad place to take never-evers or very beginners to. The consistent feel of snow with no surprises (other than people falling over lol) and no wind is nice in a way. Beginners of every age - made our shy-ish daughter feel less intimidated and self-conscious.

Free lockers much appreciated.

There are several instructors hanging out all the time in the flat and mini pipe progression area, teaching people the side-stepping up, "french fries", "pizza slice" and their first turns, as well as working with all the boarders. No extra charge for that.

The banked turns in the progression learning area were almost impossible to take daughter to - the first-timers boarders were all congregating in one spot 1/3 down, forming a wall, and if one managed to get through them, 2nd wall was a couple of yards down where they were all falling over.

The little park looked to be fun.

Chair lift slooow. Some first-timers were taking the lift and practicing all sorts of rolls up there :tongue: but not impossible to pick a safe moment to drop in.

I would think on a weekday it is definitely an option to pop in to work on some technical drills that one doesn't need a longer slope for. 6-pack slope access for those who have their own stuff (2 hours, starts counting when one enters "outdoors" err "indoors" err... snow?) is currently $99 if bought online. For us, daughter being 6, no fee for her with my admission. Maybe best $16.66 total spent so far :becky:
 

sk8ski

Certified Ski Diva
#47
Some more practical info: get your tickets online, whether it is single visit or multi-pass - it is cheaper.

Travelling by car, approach to American Dream and parking can be very confusing. Exiting off Rt 3W, follow sign to American Dream - first parking entrance on the right (parking A), 2nd level parking by the mall door is a quick walk in and up the escalator to the Big Snow.

Coming off Rt 3E, signs to 120N and American Dream. Will take you around the mall. Careful not to accidentally exit to NJ Turnpike/95 (no way back), 2 right lanes for that on the "construction" side of the mall. Keep mostly towards the left, signs for "A" parking lot.
 

sk8ski

Certified Ski Diva
#48
Daughter wanted to go to Big Snow again today.
I met a Diva! There was a woman instructor there, and so I went over and asked if she hangs out here :becky:

IMG_20200105_180856_01.jpg
 

RachelV

Administrator
Staff member
#51
Incredibly interesting article about Big Snow in the Colorado Sun recently:
https://coloradosun.com/2020/01/09/big-snow-new-jersey-ski-industry-indoor/

Some of the most interesting quotes from my perspective. Strongly recommend the whole article.

Talking about how hard it usually is to learn to ski:

“Those hardcore skiers are who make our industry our industry, but the newbies, it’s like everyone forgot about them,” he says. “We are lucky that standing up on the top of a mountain is such a spiritual experience because if it wasn’t, people would never come back.”

Snow that's always inside stays pretty good!

"From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., there are hundreds of skiers on the snow. Snow guns in the rafters blow a fresh layer of snow every night but the snow, which has never been frozen or seen a ray of sunshine or baked in warm temperatures, is carvable and not icy."

In a way it's more energy efficient that a traditional ski resort (also way smaller, but still interesting):

"Hession only opened a month ago, so he’s not weathered a swampy New Jersey summer, but at Mountain Creek, he pays about $3.5 million for electricity every year. Big Snow’s annual electric bill will be about $1 million, Hession says.
“And we are doing more skier visits here. So our kilowatt per skier visit is way lower than at a typical ski resort,” he says."

Super geared towards newbies:

“We are not running a ski resort. We are operating this like an amusement park,” he says, clicking his radio on and telling staff at the front that the station for bootfitting is no longer full and they can release the next surge of guests through the system. “Every way we operate is different than a normal ski resort.”
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#53
Incredibly interesting article about Big Snow in the Colorado Sun recently:
https://coloradosun.com/2020/01/09/big-snow-new-jersey-ski-industry-indoor/
Always good to get Jason Blevin's report on a topic. Learned about one reason that Halley O'Brien has done videos for Snow Operating from the start. She's married to Joe Hession, co-founder of Snow Operating.

What I noticed was the numbers. Also the comments that make it clear that Snow Operating knows exactly how Big SNOW differs from even a small ski hill (under 100 acres and/or under 500 ft vertical). Blevins found out that Rusty Gregory of Alterra is paying attention to Big Snow. I'd discovered recently that Triple Five is close to starting construction on another American Dream mega-mall in Miami. Now it's clear that another Big SNOW is part of that plan.

"Hession opened the Big Snow ski complex at New Jersey’s American Dream mall in early December. He’s been hosting about 2,000 skiers a day since. If the pace continues, Hession expects he will log more than 500,000 skier visits in his first year. Most of them will pay $70, which includes all ski clothing and equipment, time with instructors and two hours on the slope."

". . . at Mountain Creek, he pays about $3.5 million for electricity every year. Big Snow’s annual electric bill will be about $1 million, Hession says.

“And we are doing more skier visits here. So our kilowatt per skier visit is way lower than at a typical ski resort,” he says.

He’s got 180 employees working at Big Snow and 100 of them are year-round, full-time workers with benefits. Almost all his employees have never worked in skiing. That’s by design.

“The bias of someone who has worked at a ski resort might confuse them about how this place operates. We are not running a ski resort. We are operating this like an amusement park,” he says, clicking his radio on and telling staff at the front that the station for bootfitting is no longer full and they can release the next surge of guests through the system. “Every way we operate is different than a normal ski resort.”"
 
#54
Found a video from mid-Dec that shows how the lockers work. The group of young men who went together stayed from 3:00 until closing at 10:00. Never looked too crowded. Seemed to be the first time on snow for them. Overall they had a good time, better than they expected.

 

Randi M.

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#56
I’m having a hard time with this indoor ski thing.

Skiing is not just about whizzing down a hill, though of course it includes that. It’s the bitter cold, the quiet on the chairlift, the warmth of coming inside, the double-clop ski boots make in the lodge, the feeling of being so far away from city life, and of course the sublime beauty of the mountains .

And I feel so sad thinking about climate change, and how indoor skiing — which is just a poor facsimile of skiing — may someday replace the thing I love so dearly.
 
#57
I’m having a hard time with this indoor ski thing.

Skiing is not just about whizzing down a hill, though of course it includes that. It’s the bitter cold, the quiet on the chairlift, the warmth of coming inside, the double-clop ski boots make in the lodge, the feeling of being so far away from city life, and of course the sublime beauty of the mountains .

And I feel so sad thinking about climate change, and how indoor skiing — which is just a poor facsimile of skiing — may someday replace the thing I love so dearly.
Indoor skiing or skiing on plastic has been common in Europe for quite a while. That's how some people get interested and good enough for it to make sense to take ski vacations in the Alps. I don't think anyone would consider indoor skiing as a replacement for skiing on a mountainside.

Snow Operating is not trying to replace skiing in the mountains. They freely state that Big SNOW is being run like an amusement park activity. What they are trying to do is help keep the ski industry a viable business. That means finding new passionate skiers and boarders in an era where there are lots of other ways to play outdoors in the winter time, or simply stay indoors and be warm.

There are plenty of stories about first-timers that have a terrible experience . . . too cold, too long a drive, too rainy because the ski trip was on a fixed schedule, too scary because their friend took them up the chairlift on the first run . . . the list goes on. A beginner who suffers an injury is far less likely to want to continue as a skier or boarder. As a first experience, Big SNOW is beginner friendly and close by a large population. Hopefully people who are beginners leave very curious about what it's like to slide on snow at a mountain.
 

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