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KARE in the Air: Buck Hill

Our drone series continues with a bird's eye look at a small but significant ski hill with quite a history.

BURNSVILLE, Minn. — Buck Hill isn't the tallest ski hill in Minnesota, and it doesn't have the most runs, but it's metro location and teaching program has made the Burnsville slope a favorite among downhillers for decades.  

For the latest installment of KARE in the Air, our drone takes us over Buck Hill, which was formed some 10,000 years ago when the ice age receded. The Minnesota River helped drain a glacier, forming a terminal moraine which local Native Americans later named Buck Hill. 

The ski operation "officially" got on the map in 1954, when Charles Stone Jr. and his future wife Nancy obtained a lease from the landowner and set out to build a ski resort. 

Mother Nature wasn't exactly helpful: from 1954 to 1961, there was so little natural snowfall that the hill was only open a few weekends the entire year... not exactly a formula for business success. It was when the couple added snowmaking capabilities and a T-bar to get skiers back up the hill that things took off, making it possible to operate four months or so. 

In 2006, Buck Hill installed a new Quad chairlift at the south end of the ski area, and brought in over 100,000 yards of fill to raise the elevation of the top of the new chairlift. 

Still, Buck isn't quite as big as some competitors with only 15 different runs, but its ski racing program is nationally acclaimed. Legendary coach Erich Sailer, who was inducted into the US National Ski Hall of Fame in 2006, helped Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, Lindsey Kildow, Kristina Koznick, Julia Mancuso, Sarah Schleper and other ski greats get their start.

In an effort to diversify and expand business, Buck Hill has added winter tubing, and summer mountain biking and concert events to its offerings. 

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