Kopaonik resort might have taken the lead recently as the most exotic ski station in the world.
Already a candidate to qualify for off-beat resort status simply because of its locale — southwestern Serbia — Kopaonik now has another attribute in its uniqueness file: Establishing itself as a year-round skiing and snowboarding center.
And setting a world record in the process.
While many resorts world-wide have their lifts spinning nearly 365 days a year, those ski runs are usually located on high-altitude glaciers of the Alps and the Cascades or in high-latitude areas such as Alaska. Kopaonik resort is located in the decidedly low-altitude Kopaonik mountain range (whose high point is barely above 2,000 meters) in mid-latitude southern Europe but got around those small incidentals by constructing the world’s longest outdoor synthetic snow, or dry ski, run.
‘A true skiing experience’
Over the summer, the resort covered its existing 3a piste — a 900-meter long beginners’ squiggle through the woods — with 10,000 square meters of Neveplast, an Italian-made plastic surface that mimics snow conditions you might find on a groomed run in January.
“This plastic layer allows for a true and safe skiing experience,” said Dejan Cika, the director of the Ski Resorts of Serbia.
And on August 25, Kopaonik’s newest attraction made its debut.
“Skiers and snowboarders are now able to enjoy their favorite sport throughout the year,” Cika said with no little pride.
Records by the wayside
Kopaonik’s latest claim to fame surpasses by 500 meters the previous record-holder for longest outdoor synthetic snow ski run, which was held by the Midlothian SnowSports Centre outside of Edinburgh, Scotland. It is also the longest artificial ski run anywhere, having surpassed the 640-meter long slope at the indoor Alpin Center in Bottrop, Germany.
Nothing in North America comes close. The three resorts on the continent that have dry ski runs on their properties — Buck Hill in Minnesota, Liberty Mountain in Virginia and Powder Ridge in Connecticut — can claim, at most, runs of around 300 meters.