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Thornton Business News

Thornton Business News

Transforming Former Department Stores into Indoor Ski Havens: Snobahn’s Expansion Journey

Indoor skiing at Snobahn indoor training center

Originally published in (no longer online)
Author: David Fraser
November 29, 2023

Snobahn, a renowned indoor ski and snowboarding training center established in Centennial back in 2016, is expanding its horizons. The exciting news comes as Snobahn prepares to breathe life into a former department store in Thornton, slated to become its second location. 

Founder Sadler Merrill envisions the 36,000 square feet at 14200 Lincoln St. transforming into a haven for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts, more than doubling the space compared to its Centennial counterpart. Merrill’s goal with Snobahn was to create an accessible, affordable, and efficient environment for individuals to learn skiing and snowboarding basics before hitting the slopes.

The center isn’t limited to just skiing and snowboarding; it also offers other recreational activities such as skateboarding and trampolining, aiming to reduce its seasonality. However, its primary focus remains on teaching skiing, utilizing 30-by-20-feet slopes made with specialized soft carpet resembling a treadmill. Instructors have precise control over slope height, speed, and difficulty, allowing for approximately 21,000 vertical feet of skiing in an hour.

One significant aspect is its convenience – no gear requirements, a comfortable setting, and a steppingstone towards outdoor skiing adventures. Snobahn aims for around eight lessons before venturing onto the mountains, offering both private adult lessons at $120 and group sessions at $60 in Centennial, gear inclusive.

Merrill emphasizes that Snobahn caters not only to beginners but also assists experienced skiers in refining their techniques, as the surface’s nature accentuates flaws and habits. The center even hosts ski teams like the University of Denver and Team Summit for training purposes.

The expansion to Thornton, strategically located in The Grove shopping center, signifies Snobahn’s growth trajectory after meticulous planning for nearly two years. The site, previously occupied by Stein Mart, has been reimagined through the collaborative efforts of Snobahn and The Staenberg Group (TSG).

Snobahn’s success story, despite a brief closure in 2020 due to COVID, highlights its profitability since 2019 and continuous revenue growth. The model’s portability, combined with its unique offering, has positioned it as a game-changer in ski training, fostering enthusiasm and skill enhancement among enthusiasts of all levels