Is Indoor the Future of Skiing?

Thomas Coder, Staff Writer

Pictured above is Big Snow American Dream, an indoor ski facility just about 20 miles northeast of Oratory. This facility had its grand opening this winter and was pretty successful until it was forced to temporarily close due to Covid-19 safety measures. To many, this facility seems novel and something totally futuristic. Though skiing is accessible in New Jersey, quality skiing isn’t so accessible, and Big Snow is attempting to change that by constantly providing reliant and ideal conditions. The question, however, is whether or not Big Snow was actually built too early and if it can out-compete nearby New Jersey mountains like Mountain Creek. 

The occurrence of climate change is inevitable. Sure, humans can limit the rate at which it occurs, but ski resorts can essentially be seen as doomed businesses, since one day, snow will cease to fall, or temperature will cease to sustain artificially blown snow. The question that must be asked, however, is how much ski resorts are currently affected by it. Currently, some ski resorts have actually had a boost in snowfall from heightened temperatures. Climate change can bring temperature closer to 32 degrees, which is the perfect temperature for snowfall. This year was one of Mountain Creek’s worst seasons in history. Extremely mild temperatures this winter are certainly to blame, but there is no guarantee that the same will occur next season. Regardless, this season I can say I found myself and many others I ski with choosing to go to Big Snow instead of Mountain Creek, simply in search of the better skiing conditions that Big Snow offered. Another thing indoor skiing has on outdoor resorts is that they are a year-round business. Even if ski resorts out compete indoor facilities during the winter, those facilities may be able to rely on profits made during the summer, spring, and early fall to make up for slow business during the winter days. 

A huge part about indoor skiing is location, and this is something meticulously chosen by any company that builds an indoor facility. As far as Big Snow, I think they absolutely nailed location. Close to the city, Big Snow can attract a large and geographically diverse group of people, all in an area of the country not so big on ski mountains, because there really aren’t any within a reasonable distance. If someone chooses to build an indoor facility ten miles away from Vail Mountain Colorado, they shouldn’t expect to have much success, since Vail’s season is incredibly long and Vail can also always offer better quality skiing than an indoor facility. 

Big Snow may be seen as a novelty, but it really isn’t. Indoor skiing has already impacted multiple parts of the world and been pretty popular. While indoor skiing does bring slopes to places where skiing would never be thought of, I would not consider it to be the future of skiing for that reason. Once indoor facilities start to replace behemoths of ski resorts like Killington and Beaver Creek, I will acknowledge it as what skiing is, not skiing’s future.