Winter sports will soon be a year-round pastime at Buck Hill.
Construction on a synthetic ski slope began this month at the Burnsville ski area, and a 10-week season is expected to start in early September, according to the Buck Hill website.
The ski resort where Olympic athlete Lindsey Vonn once trained now offers mountain biking during summer and skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing during winter. Buck Hill came under new ownership last fall, and dry-slope skiing is among the additions that new owner Don McClure and investors David and Corrine Solner plan to unveil.
The new team has compared the synthetic material to a carpet. Skiers and snowboarders can use their regular winter gear on the artificial slope.
The synthetic mat is made by a company called Neveplast in Italy, where organizers traveled last fall for a test round of skiing and boarding. Skiers, snowboarders and coaches also tested the surface at Buck Hill this spring.
A mock-up shows the synthetic slopes sandwiched among winter slopes and grassy patches and divided by a row of trees. Videos of the test runs are available on the ski area’s website, where a webcam is also live-streaming construction.
Buck Hill, which opened in 1954, now has 16 runs and 10 lifts and attracts about 170,000 visitors each winter.
Sunday is the last day fall season passes are available for discounted rates: $195 for adults, $155 for kids and $135 for seniors and military. Fall hours are weekdays from 3 to 9 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Equipment will be available for rent.