Lifestyle

Mercer Island to become posh destination ski resort in future

In the year 2025 ... Bellevue Square had long since been closed; all shopping was now done over the Internet by e-mailed orders. The Bellevue City Council was thinking of turning the property into an alpine educational center, to complement the fantastic response to Mercer Island’s innovative new snowsport resort.

Shortly after the old North-end QFC, Albertsons and Walgreen’s locations had been demolished for lack of customers, Paul Allen had given himself a retirement legacy by building Skihaven, the biggest, best and most modern destination resort west of the Alps. Yes, Mercer Island had become the focal point of a growing dynamic snowsport industry.

Two things had made this possible. First, the U.S. Forest Service was steadfast in its refusal to allow people to use any National Forests or Parks, an outgrowth of the scandalous years when the Federal government finally balanced the budget by closing all interstate highways and parks. That made it impossible for Boyne Resorts to continue to operate any of the Snoqualmie Pass lifts.

Second, borrowing from the technology of wave-making machines long used in Arizona to simulate surfing, the Microsoft Research and Development department invented a snow wave machine for its retired chairman Bill Gates, who in turn sold its license to Allen. The perpetual, undulating snow slope could be placed anywhere for any distance, and in any weather.

A skier could dial up his degree of slope (70 degrees was very popular) for his ride down, and what a ride it was, all the way from Snoqualmie Summit to the base facilities in Skihaven. Yes, imaginative highway officials had offered Allen the exclusive use of Interstate 90 and 405 from September through May, which eliminated the need for all snow removal equipment and personnel.

It became obvious to the progressive people of the Northwest that snowsport resorts no longer needed to be in the mountains, so Skihaven was conveniently located alongside a coastal lake. The design of Skihaven bore some resemblance to the new Disneyland in Factoria, but it had a retractable roof originally designed for the departed Mariners baseball team, which had moved to Japan to play in the newly formed World Nintendo League. Skihaven itself was usually full to its 7,000-bed capacity during the long snowsport season, and Mercer Island was voted the “No. 1” destination resort in the world by Conde Naste magazine.

Let’s follow a typical visitor, Ross Noll, here with his family on a charter from France for a few days of bargain skiing in late March 2025. His two-hour flight touched down just off of Port Quendall and water-taxied to the indoor dock. The only business to take care of was the selection of skis, snowboards and boots, supplied to the guests of the resort by the many manufacturers now located on the Island. Ross picked the reverse camber K3 600’s for the 50-mile Snowave ride, but his wife and kids opted for the bubble-enclosed, three-passenger snowboard.

The next morning, MIRT (Mercer Island Rapid Transit) took the Noll family to the slopes in about five minutes; the weather was good and they eagerly awaited their reserved space on the Snowave. They dialed up a 45-degree slope so they could ski together.

Snowboarders, with techniques known only to themselves, had mastered the trick of jumping snow waves. Some got enough air to pass skiers ahead of them. The record for an 80-degree ride was 17 minutes for the 50 miles from the summit to the lakeside base facilities. This required some serious quads, and Noll was up to the challenge — he had trained with fitness guru Oprah Winfrey and could do 30-minute wall squats on each leg.

No one passed him this morning; in fact, he got to the base area eight waves ahead of his family. He didn’t even remember crossing the Snoqualmie River near North Bend, a popular rest area. When his wife arrived with the kids, she was so angry at being left behind, that he needed to treat them all to a quick Oyster Jelly concert in Seattle before their next Snowave ride. Because rock music could now be ingested by a pill, 10 minutes later, they were ready to go.

Once back at the Summit, the Nolls adjusted their laser buckles while enjoying the view at the Gates scenic overlook, anticipating the joys to follow. The kids headed down the western ridge and spent the rest of the morning practicing for tomorrow’s Junior Olympiad. Noll and his wife tried the virtual hot springs, after which they returned via the Snowave to Skihaven and rejoined the kids.

They wanted to be back in time to watch Boeing’s 797-member Synchronized Snowave Riding team perform a live demonstration at the inauguration for new state governor Matt Hasselbeck. Getting hungry, the Nolls set some guest gill nets for sockeye before a short walk throughout the village. With no cars in the core, it was a pleasant stroll, and they were surprised to see that most shopkeepers spoke Chinese, and the Roanoke featured Arabian beer.

They watched the demonstration from the glass-bottomed restaurant at the end of Citizens Pier, while resting their legs for some really serious skiing tomorrow, April Fool’s Day.

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