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McLean company has high hopes for Fairfax Peak indoor snow slope project

A vision that began snowballing with two Fairfax County residents — Niels ten Berge of Vienna and Jeff Hokenson of McLean — is closer to becoming a reality.

Based in McLean, their company Alpine-X is behind the Fairfax Peak indoor winter slope facility that will turn a landfill by I-95 in Lorton into what Fairfax County hopes will be a prime tourist destination for skiing, snowboarding, and more.

Hokenson says the idea for Alpine-X came from ten Berge, who was inspired by his experience with indoor snow sports venues in Europe.

“Niels had a simple but powerful premise: These venues are popular in many parts of the world — why shouldn’t they also be successful here in the U.S.?” Hokenson said by email. “Also, there’s a vibrant skiing, snowboarding and active-lifestyle culture here in the Washington, D.C. area, so this market seemed like a logical place for the first project.”

With Fairfax Peak as the flagship site, Alpine-X announced on May 25 that it hopes to bring more than 20 facilities to North America. Previously, the company stated that it envisioned 10 destinations in America.

The company told Tysons Reporter that the new number includes locations in the U.S. and Canada.

For Fairfax Peak, Alpine-X has proposed leasing land from the county, which would still keep parts of the landfill in operation.

Plans presented to the county called for several other elements, including an alpine coaster and a wave pool with surfing possibilities that could come with a second phase of the project. The indoor slope would have an approximately 20-degree angle.

“The proposed Snow Sports facility is expected to be approximately 450,000 sq. ft., with multiple slopes, the longest of which should be 1,700 ft. in length,” the company said in its proposal. “Additionally, the facility will have a terrain/fun park, snow tubing runs, a ‘bunny slope’ for new skiers, or for training, a ski shop, multiple restaurants and bars, a sky-bar and event space, an outdoor courtyard…and more.”

Alpine-X is the developer of the recreational project and has partnered with SnowWorld International B.V., a consulting subsidiary of SnowWorld N.V., which has indoor snow resorts in the Netherlands and has worked on other projects across the globe.

Alpine-X has a 50% ownership stake in SnowWorld USA, which will be the owner and operator of the snow sports facility and other elements, such as a 100-plus-room hotel.

Fairfax County supervisors approved an interim agreement for the project in November, extending a previous approval. It allows the company to explore the potential of the site and continue negotiations with the county. The interim agreement lasts until Dec. 31, 2021 and could be extended for another year.

The company initially suggested a 99-year lease with a potential buyout option for the property. The county’s public affairs office said it’s county policy to not comment on ongoing negotiations.

Proposed pricing for Fairfax Peak is not yet available, but the facility is expected to be more cost-effective than traditional slopes that have seasonal windows.

“The Alpine-X experience aims to complement established ski resorts — not compete — as we will have the opportunity to introduce new demographics to snowsports at large, ideally inspiring passion and potential interest in hitting the outdoor mountains down the road,” Hokenson said, noting that the company plans to partner with established winter resorts nationwide.

The new facility could also be a boon for local businesses like Alpine Ski Shop, which has a store at 9629 Fairfax Boulevard in Fairfax as well as a location in Sterling (21999 Shaw Rd.).

“We love the prospect of introducing the sport of skiing and snowboarding in a fun, controlled environment and bringing it to a wider audience,” owner Chris Bunch said in an email. “The proximity is an added bonus!”

Bunch also said the slope will “provide experienced skiers and snowboarders the opportunity to get a quick ride in during the work day or head over and ‘run laps’ to keep the legs in shape.”

Alpine-X believes Fairfax Peak could be in operation in late 2024 or early 2025.

Photo courtesy Alpine-X

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