Mar 27, 2024 - Business

How Snöbahn wants to make action sports like skiing and skateboarding more accessible

Maya Delatorre, 6, uses a bar to balance herself during a ski lesson at Snöbahn. Photo: Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Maya Delatorre, 6, uses a bar to balance herself during a ski lesson at Snöbahn. Photo: Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Inside a retired Thornton big box store, riders of all ages kickflip skateboards, launch a bike ramp, sky into the air on trampolines and ski down a simulated carpeted slope — all at the same time.

State of play: It's extreme chaos, but it's just what Sadler Merrill imagined when he put together a plan for Snöbahn, an indoor action sports training facility.

  • "Our mission is simple: Inspire a life of adventure," he told us. "We believe everyone deserves the opportunity to experience the thrill of action sports regardless of age or skill level."

Why it matters: The newest location in Thornton is the first to realize the full vision for the company's plan to make action sports — such as skateboarding, parkour and biking — more accessible to the masses by allowing people to develop skills closer to home, rather than needing to travel to the mountains.

  • Whether it is successful holds major implications for the future of sports like skiing, which are struggling to recruit new fans given the cost and skill barrier to entry.

What they're saying: "I saw right away the impact, the potential, that it could have, not just on the ski sport and getting people involved in skiing but in getting people able to do something that is hard and inaccessible in a lot of different ways," Olympic medalist Bode Miller, an investor and ambassador, said in an interview.

Zoom in: The 38,000-square-foot facility is equal parts play and training, with kids burning energy on trampolines and amateur athletes practicing tricks on ramps.

  • It will offer reservations for lessons, camps and birthday parties.

The intrigue: The company's first location in Centennial opened in 2016 and features simulated skiing and snowboarding slopes to help people learn and train.

  • The Thornton facility is designed as a year-round sports hub with plans to expand across the country to locations far from the mountains.
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