Burnsville, MN – Making turns all year is typically the wheelhouse of high-altitude mountain ranges with semi-permanent snowfields or glaciers, not a diminutive hillside on the side of an Interstate highway in suburban Minneapolis.
But the new owners of Buck Hill, who acquired the Minnesota ski area a year ago, have other ideas. They’ve now opened the first phase of a new dry slope experience for ski racers, “snow” tubers, terrain park jibbers, and the general skiing public.
In July, workers at Buck Hill began installing Neveplast, an Italian manufacturer’s silicon-based matting that’s intended to provide the same gliding sensation as snow, without the need to add water. Buck Hill is now the world’s largest installation of the product.
“Novices can easily snow plow, enthusiasts can practice their favorite discipline at any time of the day, and competitive athletes can train exactly like they do on snow,” Buck Hill officials indicate.
Buck Hill’s dry slope is now open on the top-to-bottom Milk Run, lower Redtail served by a rope tow, the Teachers Pet learning area, and in a couple of snow tubing lanes. Hours are from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays ($26), and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends ($32). Rentals are also available, as is a fall season pass covering the 10-week dry slope season before snow covers Buck Hill’s trails.
Ski area officials indicate that they’ll begin selling a year-long pass this spring, and it is expected that Neveplast will be expanded to additional terrain at Buck Hill in coming years. They caution to use skis or a snowboard with a sintered base on Neveplast, as irreparable damage to extruded bases may result.