Synthetic snow slope opening Saturday at Powder Ridge in Middlefield

Synthetic snow slope opening Saturday at Powder Ridge in Middlefield

Record-Journal


MIDDLEFIELD — Winter sports enthusiasts from around New England can start hitting the slopes early thanks to a synthetic snow park at Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort.

The park will debut the 365 Synthetic Snow Park at noon Saturday after months of work and years of planning. The synthetic surface is located on the part of the mountain where tubing is allowed.

“We’ve been thinking about it ever since we purchased the property over four years ago,” said Sean Hayes, CEO of the Middlefield ski area. “In our original business plan we knew we had to make this facility a year-round facility and skiing was the major component. We looked at it as synthetic snow had to be a part of it.”

Hayes and his team researched different types of synthetic surfaces until they found what they were looking for through 365 Artificial Snow Systems based in Switzerland and Germany.

“We’ve been trying to implement it for the last 12 months, working with various vendors, doing the due diligence on which product is the best,” he said. “We ended with the 365 product which is out of Switzerland and Germany and the product is being used all over Europe.”

There are other resorts in the country utilizing synthetic snow, but Hayes said he doesn’t think any in New England have opened a year-round operation.

The synthetic snow is made for multiple activities, including skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing and tubing. According to company’s website, the product provides the “ultimate ski surface” ideal for straight skiing, carving, travel speed and edge control.

The product comes in squares of different sizes and is pieced together like a puzzle. The surface doesn’t damage equipment, though a layer of film may develop on skis and snowboards after a couple runs that can be peeled off. The film is from the synthetic surface.

“It feels and skis like a hard packed freshly groomed snow in New England,” Hayes said.

A carpet lift has been installed to take riders to the top of the hill.

The synthetic surface will remain on the mountain year round. When it snows, it will become just like any other slope in the park.

Chad Snyder, the terrain park manager at Powder Ridge, took a couple of test runs on the 900-foot-long, 50-foot-wide synthetic surface.

“It’s really fun, a lot easier to carve down than I thought it was going to be,” he said.

Snyder, of Meriden, said as an avid skier being able to ski year-round is all he has ever wanted.

“A lot of serious skiers, it’s all they think about, all they want to do is ski in the summer time,” he said. “When I was a kid I would build stuff in my backyard and get turf, so I have been trying to do this my whole life and now we can actually do it.”

The mountain will have two features, a flat box and a 20-foot down rail. Within the next two years, the park plans on extending the synthetic surface to the top of the mountain, which is about 2,500 feet high, and create two tubing lanes.

“The park has both the features for the park riders and will set gates for the racers,” Hayes said. “So, we hope that this facility will give people the ability to in the summer and fall to warm up, learn how to ski or perfect their skills for the coming winter.”

There are a couple of different offers for Saturday’s opening. For $39 you can get a pass that will give you accesses to ski, snowboard and tube along with a lunch, and a t-shirt. For all Fall pricing you can go to www.powderridgepark.com.

ppaguaga@record-journal.com 203-317-2235 Twitter: @PetePaguaga


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