Sleepy Hollow Becomes Midwest Summer Skiing Capital?!?

installation of Snowflex at Sleepy Hollow Photo by: Matt Zabransky -

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Midwest skiers and snowboarders are a passionate bunch. Rain, sleet, or snow—nothing will stop them from hitting the slopes. A small ski area just outside Des Moines, Iowa, is doubling down on this enthusiasm by offering year-round skiing starting this year. This makes Sleepy Hollow one of only a handful of destinations in North America to offer summer skiing.

Largest Install of Snowflex

There are a few ways to offer summer skiing. You can ski on a glacier. Pile up the snow from the end of the season like Hyland Hills and Tyrol Basin for a one-time event. Or, install what’re called dry slopes. Sleepy Hollow has chosen the latter and is installing a product called Snowflex. This product has been used for over a decade in Virginia at Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre, but Iowa’s will become the largest in North America.

What’s Snowflex and How Does it Ski?

installation of Snowflex at Sleepy Hollow
Photo by: Matt Zabransky –

The company works closely with the client to design and shape the terrain according to their needs and requirements. Once the terrain is prepared, they pour a layer of concrete and then roll out a bit of foam for shock absorption. Finally, a layer of bristle-like material is applied for sliding.

The main difference between Snowflex and its competitor Neveplast is that Snowflex uses sprinklers to keep the surface lubricated. Based on conversations Matt Zabransky of had with people who tried it, “Snowflex doesn’t feel like fresh snow but more like dust on crust.” However, it still offers you the chance to make turns in summer!

What About Buck Hill’s Neveplast Install?

For those unaware, there’s a small ski area just outside of Minneapolis-St. Paul that’s like the farm team for the US Ski Team. The primary reason for this is Erich Sailer, who has trained 25,000 young ski racers, including the legendary Lindsey Vonn. Therefore, it’s no surprise they also wanted to introduce year-round skiing. In the summer of 2018, they took the plunge and installed Neveplast.

Not As Advertised

They quickly realized it wasn’t performing as advertised. The claim was that it would be nearly maintenance-free without any irrigation required once installed. This wasn’t the case. They had to water constantly. Snowboard bases began to overheat. They tried to add lubricants and more water but to no avail. The product didn’t perform as it did when they saw it in Europe, which has a higher and cooler climate than Minnesota in the summer.

Not Just for Skiers and Snowboarders

This year, Sleepy Hollow’s slopes will open first as a tubing hill and have one dedicated ski and snowboard day each week. Based on demand, they plan to gradually expand the skiing and snowboarding offerings.

Is there demand for off-season skiing? Will they succeed? Will this trend become prevalent throughout the United States? Only time will tell.

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