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Snowflex is a snow sports surfacing product, invented and manufactured by Briton Engineering Developments Ltd of Holmfirth, West Yorkshire in the UK.
Snowflex is an artificial snow surface. The surface system is made of a polymer composite, comprising a monofilament fibre and impregnated carrier layer. This sits on top of a shock absorption layer in an attempt to give an authentic responsive and reactive feel. Other components in Snowflex include an integrated misting system, known as BritonMist, for friction reduction and an impervious membrane for recycling of water. The base is a woven controlling layer which prevents earth movement. The surface layer is manufactured in tile form and as such Snowflex forms a homogenous system which can be cut and formed into features and shapes such as those found in alpine environments.
- Slip and grip: Maximum forward speed; extra edge control for turning; realism is lost without speed and edge control
- Safety: Ultra cushioning for falls; no holes in surface layer to get caught in; no sharp edges/surface metal to cause abrasions or cuts.
- Form-ability: Ability to create adventurous and interesting terrain and stunt formations
Due to the complex nature of Snowflex, it is not possible to self-install. Instead the company which designed and manufactures it operates as installers as well. This is a first for snowsports surfaces as previous materials were able to be installed by slope operators at their own cost.
Skiing Centers Using Snowflex
Following its launch in 1996 Snowflex has been installed at over fifty full scale slope operations, including: Bearsden, near Glasgow; Noeux les Mines in northern France (pictured above); Valladolid in Spain. There are many minor training installations around the world including Olympic training centres in the USA, Switzerland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Germany, Finland etc.
Many other full scale installations can be seen around the world, including France as mentioned previously, Turkey (where the worlds largest synthetic slope is currently installedin Ankara), South Africa, and the USA. Installations in the United States can be seen at the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre near Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, the YMCA of the Rockies in Colorado and at Wolfe Mountain Snowflex slope in Branson, Missouri.
Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre in Lynchburg, Virginia, was the first Snowflex facility in the United States to open to the public. The year round outdoor ski and snowboard slope includes both a beginner slope and an intermediate slope, as well as three big air kickers with a ninety foot long landing ramp, an 11' tall quarter pipe and wall ride. It also has multiple boxes and rail features for all levels of riders. Two carpet lifts take skiers to the top; a surface cable lift also tows skiers upward.