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Don’t be surprised to see a car carrying skis or a snowboard, even when it’s warm. It may be headed to Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre in Lynchburg.
The year-round snowboarding, skiing and tubing park was built by Liberty University for use by its students and the public as part of Ultimate LU, a program to make outdoor recreational opportunities more accessible for students and funded by university benefactors.
“It’s pretty good to come here during the week and shred a little bit,” said Aaron Derr, a Liberty University student. “It’s a little weird to get used to at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty fun.”
Snowflex is a synthetic material designed to simulate snow, including layers of cushioning underneath, making it softer than groomed snow.
This is the first slope in the United States to use the technology. Users of the slope must wear long-sleeved shirts and pants for protection, preferably water-resistant since the surface is misted to keep it conditioned for use.
Evan Graybill, 14, of Lynchburg summed it up: “It’s the summer, and you can ski anytime. It’s really fun, and you don’t have to go far from home just to ski.”
At exactly “lat=37.56572, lon= -79.48064,” south of Natural Bridge Station, Sam Clifford dives head-first off the high rocks into the cold waters, followed fearlessly by his 10-year-old son, Leo. Sam, on vacation from Alexandria, wanted to show Leo and his cousin Norman the place where he swam as a young boy.
“It’s one of my favorite things to do is come swimming with the boys. I take time off of work and we come out here and go camping and swimming. It’s a great family thing to do. It’s kind of like being at nature’s amusement park. This is it. This is my favorite part of summer.”