For years, colorado’s arapahoe Basin resort (base elevation: 10,780 feet) has held bragging rights to the U.S.’s longest average ski season—230 days. But if things go as planned, by the summer of 2006, Rutherford, New Jersey (elevation: 100 feet), will upstage A-Basin, and virtually every other mountain resort on the planet. The trick? Year-round, indoor skiing in a giant “snow dome.
Currently dubbed “Xanadu, the Garden State’s dome-in-the-works will feel like an empty shopping mall—just colder. Which makes sense, since it’s attached to one. Xanadu blueprints aren’t yet complete, but, if modeled after its namesake dome in Madrid, Spain, it’ll feature four and a half acres of “real snow and two runs—one beginner, one advanced. Snow domes have become increasingly popular over the last decade in places like Thailand, Japan (they have nine), Germany, and Holland (where skier visits near 1,000,000). While some domes promise “digitally enhanced environments, complete with “pine scent and the sound of “crispy snow underfoot, we can’t help but wonder how they expect to compete with North America’s real mountains (featuring real snow, real runs, and real pine scent). According to David Ster-land, whose Sterland Leisure Limited worked on Madrid’s Xanadu, they won’t: “The parks are designed for beginners and park rats. I wouldn’t go to one unless it was for work.