Photographs by Evan Kay
Some people go to the mall to shop, others to eat, some go the movies, or to hang out with their friends. At the American Dream mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey you can ski and snowboard too at Big Snow, North America’s only indoor, year-round, real-snow ski and snowboard facility.
About 20 minutes from Penn Station without traffic, Big Snow is situated across from Met Life stadium, home of the New York Giants and New York Jets, in the middle of the mall. Just get off the escalator and there it is, alongside other stores and attractions. They make fresh snow and groom the hill every day, where the slogan goes “Every day is a Snow Day”.
With 5,500 tons of snow and an average depth of 2 feet, Big Snow is temperature-controlled at 28 degrees to maintain snow quality. Snow is scraped off as it gets dirty and recycled back into the system. Like an ice rink, the cooling system is built in underneath the snow. Similar to the glacial effect in nature, it creates a microclimate that protects the snow pack, so the energy bill is not as crazy as you might think — even in the summer.
Now before you get too excited, there are only 3 runs, the longest being 1000 ft. with a 160-ft. vertical drop, but that does include a terrain park for snowboarders. There is a beginner run with a magic carpet, making Big Snow a great place to learn, with all the equipment, gear, and apparel you need available to rent there. For experienced skiers, a high-speed quad zips you to the top, so you get in a whole lot of runs pretty fast – even if you just want to ski for an hour or two.
I took a few laps last week, courtesy of a press event with Pale Morning media for Dalbello ski boots, Marker bindings, and Völkl skis. Demoing only the latter, I can’t say the terrain put the skis to the test, but they were fun on the freshly groomed snow where I did get first tracks. I have always been a Völkl fan, and in fact owned a few pairs. They are known as a skier’s ski, recognized for their stability and grip, as well as their high performance and innovative design. I like them because they’re very responsive and snappy.
Not a bad way to spend the morning, and I was back at my desk by lunch.