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VIDEO: Buck Hill opens snowless slopes, we tried them out

Starting Friday you can snowboard and ski without snow.

Buck Hill in Burnsville is opening three dry runs. They’re made with an innovative synthetic surface produced by the Italian company Neveplast.

There’s a slope for ski racing or general use. There’s also a terrain park and a beginner hill.

Eventually, there will be a summer airbag jump installed, too.

This will be the only resort of its kind in North America that offers snowless skiing, snowboarding and tubing, according to David Solner – Buck Hill’s president and CEO. He says it will also be the largest one Neveplast has ever done.

This will make skiing and snowboarding year-round sports.

“I discovered it at a trade show a couple years ago,” Solner explains. “It made a lot of sense economically. Right now we run four months out of the year. With this new product on, we can add another eight months onto our season.”

As of Thursday, most of the surface has been set and is ready to use.

According to Solner, people can use it rain or shine. When it gets cold enough, snow will just fall on top of it and people can ski the traditional way.

What’s it like?

BringMeTheNews wondered how the synthetic surface compares to snow, so we tested it out. See for yourself in the video above.

We thought the surface itself kind of felt like firm comb bristles.

But going down the hill, it didn’t feel too different than regular snowboarding.

“People have compared it to skiing on kind of a fresh groomed, hard-packed corduroy.” Solner explains.
“They’ve also compared it to water skiing, believe it or not. Like a clear glassy lake.”

Even if it’s warm out, you’ll want to bring gloves. One slope uses a pull rope to get to the top. That’d be pretty painful to use with bare hands.

If you plan on falling at all, long sleeves might also be a good idea. We wiped out once and thought the surface might hurt a bit on bare skin.

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