Skiing on synthetic surfaces, fun or not?

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marznc marznc
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Skiing on synthetic surfaces, fun or not?

The synthetic surface at Powder Ridge in CT came up in another thread.  In 2017, I had a chance to take a took at Powder Ridge, ski at Liberty Snowflex in VA, and ski indoors at Pro-Fit near DC.  The three surfaces are quite different but all have the same purpose.  The idea is to allow skiing or boarding when there isn't any snow on the ground.

The question is whether or not sliding on a synthetic surface is enough fun for people to pay for the activity more than once.  Based on my experience so far, the answer is maybe.

Powder Ridge worked with a Swiss company called 365.  Liberty has Snowflex, which has been around for a while in the UK.  The set up at Pro-fit aka Inside Ski is a rolling carpet made in The Netherlands by Maxxtracks.
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Re: Skiing on synthetic surfaces, fun or not?

I stopped by Powder Ridge in Oct 2017 very briefly.  I think it had been open for about a month.  Didn't have enough time to get on the slope but was curious to see how the surface felt.  The stuff by 365 is very stiff.  Unlike Snowflex, no water is needed.  The initial installation cost $5 million.  If it works out, more may be installed later.

The Ski School Director, Tom Logan, happened to be around that morning.  He said that with early morning dew, the surface is very fast.  Tom was clearly very happy to have it around to help the race team get a head start.  I had a chance to watch him take a couple runs.  Carving is the appropriate technique, which is why it's good for race training.  He was moving quite fast.  The run took him just under a minute to finish.





If you want to know more, check out these links.  There is a video on the Powder Ridge webpage.

http://www.courant.com/features/hc-365-skiing-synthetic-snow-park-powder-ridge-20171026-story.html
http://www.newenglandskiindustry.com/viewstory.php?storyid=533
https://powderridgepark.com/365-synthetic-snow-park/

For Summer 2018, the price is $24 for a full day and that includes rental skis/board or tube.  Boots are another $6 and racing gear adds $5.  The pricing was a bit different in the fall.  Long sleeves, long pants, full-finger gloves are highly recommended and a helmet is required.  Falling will happen while learning.
Harvey Harvey
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Re: Skiing on synthetic surfaces, fun or not?

In reply to this post by marznc
marznc wrote
The question is whether or not sliding on a synthetic surface is enough fun for people to pay for the activity more than once.  Based on my experience so far, the answer is maybe.
If there were bumps and it wasn't too crowded I would pay.

Those sound like big IFs to me
"You just need to go at that shit wide open, hang on, and own it." —Camp
marznc marznc
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Re: Skiing on synthetic surfaces, fun or not?

Harvey wrote
marznc wrote
The question is whether or not sliding on a synthetic surface is enough fun for people to pay for the activity more than once.  Based on my experience so far, the answer is maybe.
If there were bumps and it wasn't too crowded I would pay.

Those sound like big IFs to me
You won't find bumps on synthetic surfaces.  That's more likely to happen in a set up like what's planned for Big SNOW at Meadowlands.

For something that's not just carving, Liberty Snowflex is more popular with park fans.  The downside to Snowflex is that when you fall, you get a little wet because the entire surface is misted.  That stuff really feels like astroturf.  Need a fair amount of pitch to get up any speed.  My friend who was with me last July called it a mix between sand and slush.  When the temps are in the high 80s, getting wet isn't so bad.

Overall, we had more fun with the tubing. My teen daughter who skis tele has no interest in ever going again and neither do I.

Liberty Univ. has camps for kids and also uses the slopes to teach PE classes.  Wintergreen is only about an hour from Liberty.  Snowshoe is within day trip distance too.



Brownski Brownski
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Re: Skiing on synthetic surfaces, fun or not?

I like to carve but one short run isn’t likely to keep me engaged for very long, even if it feels exactly like real snow. I’m pretty curious about both options though.
"You want your skis? Go get 'em!" -W. Miller
Sick Bird Rider Sick Bird Rider
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Re: Skiing on synthetic surfaces, fun or not?

My nephew skied on a synthetic surface in Scotland a couple of years ago. He reported that it was much more fun than he expected and worth the price of admission for the novelty of skiing in Scotland in the summer. Just don't fall.
Love Jay Peak? Hate Jay Peak? You might enjoy this: The Real Jay Peak Snow Report
marznc marznc
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Re: Skiing on synthetic surfaces, fun or not?

In reply to this post by Brownski
Brownski wrote
I like to carve but one short run isn’t likely to keep me engaged for very long, even if it feels exactly like real snow. I’m pretty curious about both options though.
The teens I saw at Powder Ridge who were lapping the slope were working on tricks.  There were a few adults with gear sitting at the top, but they weren't sliding very often.  If you look at the list of other summer activities at Powder Ridge, I can imagine a family going for the day and mixing skiing/boarding with something else.

Even for me, the time it takes to ride up the carpet and walk over to the slope for a 1 min run wouldn't be worth it.  And my home mountain runs are usually a matter of a 7 min lift ride for a 2 min run.

Liberty has a poma on one side that goes to the top.  But it needs a replacement.  Has rarely been working in the last year or two.  To get to the top on the magic carpets takes two sections.  It's a longer run than Powder Ridge but still doesn't take more than 2 min, even making slow turns.  When Liberty opened, I know a few SkiSE guys went to check it out.  For the most part, doing a day trip once or twice a summer is all that they considered.  But I have a feeling the summer camps for kids are reasonably popular because it's something different.
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Re: Skiing on synthetic surfaces, fun or not?

To get an actual workout, the rolling carpet approach is better.  The outfit in Colorado that uses the same set up as Inside Ski has done quite well.  It's been around for 3-4 years already.  Chris Anthony, Erik Scholpy, and Bodie Miller are the athletes featured on the Snöbahn website.  There is a pretty big facility in Florida using MaxxTracks too.

I did a private lesson last Dec at Inside Ski in northern VA.  It was essentially a discounted lesson for an Indiegogo campaign to raise some money towards the installation.  You use their skis.  Start with relatively short skis since the only way to learn is to begin with a wedge.  The idea is that you get a rest after 10 minutes.  Think about it, how often do you ski making short turns for 10 minutes straight without stopping?  How many minutes are you actually making turns in an hour?

Initially you hold onto the bar.  First have to learn what to do to move away up the carpet a bit in a small wedge at a slow speed.  Quite a range in speed possible.  By the middle of the hour, I got the hang of parallel turns.  Only fell a couple times.  The instructor stops the carpet movement as soon as you go down.  Took a while to get used to having a mirror to look at while making turns.  I was a bit sore the next day after making the wedge turns.

MaxxTracks comes in a couple sizes.  The one at Inside Ski can handle six people if they know the basics.  More than one bar can be set up for a group lesson for newbies to carpet skiing.

A friend of mine who is an intermediate is taking a series of lessons this summer.  She's working with a PSIA L3 instructor who she had for a multi-week program at Liberty in PA last season.  I have no doubt that her technique will be better even during early season next winter.



marznc marznc
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Re: Skiing on synthetic surfaces, fun or not?

This is a promo video by the MaxxTracks company.  (Sorry, never can remember how to embed a video.)

https://youtu.be/hwGqj4jlo_M
tjf1967 tjf1967
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Re: Skiing on synthetic surfaces, fun or not?

Yeah, no.  Fairways and Bike trail weather.  
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