Oct 10, 2006

Christmas in July: Ski slope in the works

by Joshua King

You may not have to wait until the first snowfall to strap on some skis or a snowboard and head for the slopes. In fact, those slopes may soon be enjoyed right in the backyard of Liberty University.

Students can soon have their skis strapped on tight, traveling at breakneck speed with the frosty wind blasting as it rushes past. 

The best part is, you will not even have to be a skier or snowboarder to take advantage of Liberty’s newest proposed amenity.

University officials are in the process of finalizing plans to build what they are calling a “gravity park” on Candler’s Mountain.

Those plans consist of many possibilities including a zip line, alpine slide, mountain coaster, tubing course and a gondola-style ski lift.

Lee Beaumont, director of Auxiliary Services, is one of the contributors to the planning process. He sees a great deal of potential in a Liberty gravity park.

“It is a very exciting and fun project to work on,” he said. “I think it’s going to be very appealing, because it gives students one more thing to do here.”

The most attractive aspect of the park is the material that will mimic snow on the slopes.

At first, planners looked at the option of artificially producing the snow, similar to what other parks in the area do during the year.

 However, this would have been unnecessarily expensive, as it would not have allowed the park to run all year round, which was a condition the planners required.

They instead chose a material called Snowflex, which is a white, foamy material that is cushioned and similar to carpet in terms of structure. Snowflex utilizes a misting system that keeps the material slick for optimum performance.

It also allows skis to bite in to a certain degree, allowing the skier or snowboarder to carve the turns and grip the surface just like he or she would on real snow.

“You strap on the ski boots and skis just like you would if you were up in the Rockies,” said Beaumont. 

Another interesting factor is that, currently, the only parks using the Snowflex system are located in Europe – specifically, and . The proposed park at Liberty University would be the first place in the to make use of Snowflex.

 

 

“We have a feeling that when one person steps in, a lot of people are going to follow, because it really is a unique concept,” said Beaumont.

Beaumont believes that a quality park will open doors for additional intramural sports and activities on campus. He also mentioned that Liberty might even attract professional athletes.

“There is even the possibility that Olympic athletes would want to come here and train,” he said. 

Overall, university officials like Beaumont are confident that a gravity park will not only boost recruitment but will also help to maintain retention rates at Liberty.

“Once it gets off the ground, I think students are really going to enjoy it,” said Beaumont. “It definitely brings a smile to my face.”

 

Contact Joshua King at jlking@liberty.edu.


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