Indoor skiing--a popular phenomenon that has taken off across the world in the last decade--will soon make its debut in the States. Located in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Big SNOW America plans to open its slopes in March of 2019.
With massive and successful snow-filled indoor skiing facilities calling countries like China, The Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia home, it was only time before one came to North America.
Although indoor skiing centers like Snobahn in Colorado and The Alpine Factory in Minnesota are already in existence in the U.S., the primary difference between those locations and Big SNOW America is, well, snow.
Open 365 days a year, Big SNOW America will stand at an impressive 16-stories tall, complete with an 800-foot slope, a chairlift, small terrain park, and ski school area. The 180,000-square-foot facility will also be home to everything else you'll find at your typical resort, like a chalet, various shops, restaurants, and an après lounge. A not-so-typical, but winter-related nonetheless, ice climbing wall will even be constructed inside.
The facility that will house Big SNOW America, dubbed American Dream, is centrally located in the Tri-State area and is only a 4.5-mile drive from Manhattan. Developed by the Triple Five Group, the company behind Minnesota's Mall of America, the over 1-million-square-foot American Dream center will also boast a theme park, water park, high-end shopping and dining, and a hotel, among other features.
The American Dream project has been in the works for over a decade, where it even sat dormant due to bankruptcy in 2009. However, when Triple Five purchased the project in 2011, they had clear intentions to finish and open America's first indoor ski hill.
"Everyone felt like it was a great idea. It has been something that a lot of people have wanted to see happen," says Hugh Reynolds, VP of Marketing for SNOW Operating.
Big SNOW America will operate with all of the same snowmaking equipment you'll find at your local resort, but since inside, the facility will be able to recycle melted snow. This allows the water to be reused multiple times during the snowmaking process. Having full control of the "weather," Big SNOW America will also have a consistent and comfortable air temperature, which will keep the humidity level inside perfect for fresh, soft snow.
Local and national ski racing teams have already reached out in regards to training at the facility during the summer months, which is something Reynolds hopes to see happen alongside the everyday usage of the slope by Tri-State residents and American Dream visitors.
"I think we are going to get a mix of clientele. We plan to have a lot of existing skiers and snowboarders who want to come for the novelty of it, especially during the summer when there aren’t any other opportunities to get on snow," says Reynolds.
However, attracting current skiers and riders is not Big SNOW America's primary focus.
"Our goal is to introduce people who might not make it to the mountains otherwise to the fun of skiing and snowboarding. We want to increase participation in the sport locally and globally," says Reynolds. "We love the sport. We love the industry and we want to see it continue to grow and flourish. We think Big SNOW America will hold a big role in doing so."
Since Big SNOW America anticipates most guests to be new to the sport, the facility will feature a Terrain Based Learning Program ski school. Many ski instructors at nearby Mountain Creek Resort, which operates their ski school as a Terrain Based Learning center, plan to work at Big SNOW America during the off-season.
"We want everyone to feel comfortable and excited about skiing," says Reynolds.
Since newcomers will learn via the Terrain Based Learning Program style, which uses a specifically shaped slope to promote quick and safe learning, Reynolds says that guests will then be encouraged to take their skiing and riding to mountains that boast the same program in the winter. Currently, 27 resorts worldwide, including mountains like Killington, Aspen, and Whistler, use Terrain Based Learning within their ski schools.
With 20.3 million people calling the Tri-State area home, Reynolds has no doubt that skiing will see an increase in participation thanks to the introduction provided by Big SNOW America. In fact, the center predicts that skiing and snowboarding participation in the U.S. could increase by up to 10 percent, all thanks to the Big SNOW America facility.
"We want to connect people with the fun of the sport and then send them off to the real mountains," says Reynolds. "We want to convert people who have never skied into skiers."