The Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre, Liberty University's newest recreational attraction, is gaining more media attention nationwide, so it wasn't surprising for the staff to welcome its first paying customers on Aug. 3 -- three females who drove 7 1/2 hours from Knoxville, Tenn., to try out the snowless ski slope. More than 100 visitors also showed up the first evening the slope was open to the public.
Through Aug. 28, the slope will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. daily.
The slope first opened Aug. 1 to Lynchburg area alumni at a free event and, after seeing its success, Snowflex staff are anticipating even more visitors as the grand opening approaches on Aug. 29. But they want everyone to come prepared.
Although the synthetic ski slope — the first of its kind in the U.S. — allows anyone to ski, snowboard or tube in the summer, staff are reminding visitors that that doesn’t mean the average summer attire is appropriate.
“You need your skin covered. That means long pants, wind pants, or skiing shells … long-sleeve shirts, and gloves. This is needed year-round due to the rigidity of the synthetic surface,” said Lee Beaumont, director of auxiliary services for Liberty University. “When people ski on real snow or ice, they are covered and do not realize you can get skin burn on hard-packed snow and ice.”
Even in warmer clothing, the Snowflex misting system will help keep visitors cool, especially at night, he said. But he said visitors should expect their clothing below the knees to get wet from the mist.
Beaumont also said some training is required to ride the intermediate slope, and only highly trained skiers and snowboarders should use the advanced features on the main slope. (Unexperienced skiers should take lessons on the beginner slope before trying the larger slopes.)
“This is done for both the protection of the skier and to help them enjoy this facility,” he said.