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Friday, 14 November 2003





Imagine being able to snowboard and ski here in, say July - when the long summer days top out in the upper 90s.

This scenario could become reality as a Colorado Springs man is proposing to build a year-round outdoor snow park in Castle Rock.

"We're looking at several locations," said developer Jeremy Slade, a graduate from the University of Colorado, "but Castle Rock is in our top three."

The proposed Arctic Summer Snow Park would be similar to a skateboard park, but with a slight twist.

There would be no shredders on the latest Bam Margera decks busting 360 kick-flips off smooth transitions, and there would be no frontside nose grinds down slick metal handrails.

There would be, however, two half-pipes for doing aerials and lip tricks, a ski run with moguls, a beginner's slope and a couple runs with jumps, all in a 40-acre package complete with parking accommodations and a lodge.

If things go as planned, Slade's park would be the first of its kind in the United States.

The element that makes this park distinct is the snow, or rather, lack thereof.

Snowboarders and skiers would slide on Snowflex, a carpet like artificial surface comprising four layers.

The top layer is a mono filament fibre sewn to a supporting carrier layer. The third layer is an impervious membrane - part of a shock layer that gives "an authentic responsive and reactive feel." These three sit on top of a bottom section called a woven controlling layer.

A mist system, underneath, would keep the surface wet.

The padded layer would absorb impacts from falls.

This technology came about some 13 years ago by Briton Engineering of the United Kingdom, the company that would design Slade's park.

Snowflex does not require grooming maintenance.

"It's the closest thing to real snow," said Slade, whose been snowboarding for around six years. "It allows you to carve and cut - it feels like the real stuff."

Slade said the idea for the park started out as a project for his masters of business administration degree.

On the local front, response has been positive.

"This project brings a lot to Castle Rock - a lot of recognition," said Meme Dunkel Martin, executive director of the Castle Rock Economic Development Council. "It would draw people from all over - good for the local economy."

Martin says she was contacted by Slade around six weeks ago. In that time, she has met with him and had several phone conversations regarding the project.

CREDCO keeps and maintains a database of all available land and space. Sites can be found based on criteria provided by a potential developer. It has a copy of zoning codes and can advise developers in a general sense. CREDCO also helps conduct meetings with town staff and works through issues.

"A typical scenario would be someone comes to us looking for sites - either land or buildings - and we help them to identify potential sites that would work for their particular use," Martin said. "Then if they decide on a particular site - or if they're strongly considering that site - they would start meeting with the town to see if that use [nontraditional] would fit in with what they're planning to do."

Slade has met with Rob Hanna of the town parks and recreation department and Mark Stevens, town manager. Martin said town staff "seemed eager to have us there.

"There are 12 [snow parks] in Europe and the United Kingdom," Martin said, "and I believe they all have been successful."

Martin is optimistic and said she thinks the town would go through a quick process getting the project through.

Slade serves on the board of directors for El Paso County Tobacco Education and Prevention Partnerships and has work experience with the Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Department.

For more information, visit www.ridearcticsummer.com.

ęDouglas County News-Press 2003

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