If you can’t bring the people to the mountains, bring the mountains to the people.
That’s the approach of Alpine-X and its ambitious plans to develop indoor snowsports resorts throughout North America. The company aims to provide an authentic alpine experience for beginners, competitive-level skiers, and boarders, while making participation inclusive, accessible, convenient and affordable.
The indoor snowsports concept is addressing some of the biggest hurdles impeding growth of the sport. According to Snowsports Industries of America’s “NextGen of Winter Participants Study,” the most common barriers to entry were cost and lack of skills or knowledge. The report found that nearly one out of five non-participants said they had simply never thought about snowsports, indicating that overall awareness might be an initial barrier to converting non-participants into participants.
Non-participants revealed that the more inclusive snowsports is to them, the more interested they would be in trying or participating in snowsports, because they feel it’s within their capabilities.
Alpine-X recently partnered with New England skiing legend Bode Miller, the most decorated male American alpine racer of all time, naming him chief innovation officer. Both Miller and his M Bar W Enterprises co-founder — ski industry veteran Andy Wirth — are now part of the Alpine-X team developing its “family resort” approach to indoor snowsports, not unlike how Great Wolf Lodge and TopGolf changed the game within their own unique sectors.
“Alpine-X is advancing a creative, visionary and inclusive approach to indoor snowsports, and I’m proud to have the opportunity to work with this world-class team,” said Miller, a Franconia, N.H., native. “Alpine-X will be a leader in welcoming many new people into the sport that has meant so much to me and millions of others. I’m excited to join with their management team to execute Alpine-X’s vision for indoor snowsports resorts for the entire community.”
Alpine-X is currently developing its flagship indoor resort, the $20-plus million, 200-acre Alpine-X at Fairfax Peak in Fairfax County, Va., projected to open in early 2025. When completed, it will offer a wide range of guest experiences, both within the snow dome and throughout other areas of the resort. Alpine-X plans to expand to multiple major North American markets and is evaluating other potential sites for future projects.
Indoor skiing is not a new concept. There are currently 113 indoor snowsports facilities worldwide, some of the notables being Ski Dubai (UAE), SnowWorld (Netherlands), Snowplanet (New Zealand) and Big Snow American Dream (New Jersey). Alpine-X differentiates itself by developing a fully fledged resort experience.
The Alpine-X family resort concept will feature a competitive-level indoor skiing facility with full viewing for spectators, aiming to train thousands of new skiers and boarders every month and helping them transition to great experiences outdoors, explained John Emery, Alpine-X’s CEO, who previously held the same position at Great Wolf Lodge.
“By providing convenient, affordable and accessible indoor facilities, we can greatly increase the ability of millions of people to experience snowsports,” Emery said. “We’re incredibly excited to join forces with Bode and Andy, who share our values and bring diverse experience and industry recognition to the table.”
Alpine-X facilities will couple skiing with dozens of other activities like tubing, sledding, adventure parks, ziplining and other group shared experiences. Not everyone has to do the same thing, Emery explained. People can peel off and have their own experience.
Traditional outdoor snowsports locations are expensive to visit, geographically restrictive, and dependent on unpredictable weather conditions. For many people, this means they will never have the opportunity to ski, snowboard or simply enjoy snow tubing or snow play. Alpine-X aims to solve these issues and eliminate the challenges of cost, geography and seasonality associated with traditional snowsports.
“We’ll maintain a constant temperature of 28 degrees (Fahrenheit) inside the snow dome, to ensure the best guest experience possible,” said Jim Calder, CFO of Alpine-X. “Plus, our indoor slope eliminates concerns about wind, sun glare and other potential outdoor distractions, all to provide you with a great trip down the slopes, every time.”
Calder said Alpine-X is focused on energy efficiency in all aspects of its resort design: “The snow dome and the building structure that surrounds it are engineered to be ultra-efficient in maintaining a constant temperature with the minimum amount of energy — think of it as an extremely well-insulated Thermos. We will also look to use solar energy — and potentially other renewable sources — to generate as much power onsite as possible.”
The company hopes to expand the community of snowsports participants through initiatives like “Snow Play for All,” a program that includes a minimum of 1,000 no-cost visits every year to each of its locations. If will also offer the Alpine-X Club, a membership program geared toward building a participating community of snowsports enthusiasts, and stock offerings to the general public that cost less than a day of skiing or snowboarding at most outdoor resorts.
To date, Fairfax Peak is Alpine-X’s only announced location. Serving the Washington, D.C., area, the 200-acre indoor resort complex expects to draw 750,000 annual visitors. More than 10 million people live within a two-hour drive of Fairfax Peak, and the population within 200 miles is nearly 32.5 million.
Matt Boxler can be reached at email@example.com.