By MIKE RECHT
.c The Associated Press
PLYMOUTH, N.H. (AP) – Ahhh, summertime. Warm temperatures, sunshine, baseball and … snowboarding.
Yes, snowboarding and skiing. Not the kind on water, either.
Thanks to a high-tech snowmaking machine that puts out in warm climates, Tenney Mountain is offering skiing, tubing and snowboarding in summer.
“We’re trying to utilize a resort that normally would be vacant in the summer,” said Dan Egan, general manager of the area in central New Hampshire. “There are more people up here in the summer.”
A tubing trail of about 200 feet and a snowboarding hill opened on the Fourth of July weekend, with temperature in the 90s.
“That was a blast,” said Karen Hinchee, who sped and spun down the hill moments after her 10-year-old daughter tried it. “It’s good for a hot day.”
Many areas already have equipment that can generate snow, but only in winter because the temperature typically needs to be no higher than 28 degrees.
Simply put, winter snowmaking equipment shoots out water that freezes when it hits the cold air and falls as snow. The SnowMagic system freezes the water into ice crystals and then shoots it into the air.
Albert Bronander, president of SnowMagic, the Cranford, N.J., company that owns Tenney and has a patent on the equipment, says this is the first time it’s been used in this country.
Yoshio Hirokane, a former world class skier from Japan, came up with the idea in the late 1980s. In 2000, Hirokane decided to try it in the United States and approached Bronander, and they started SnowMagic.
The units range from 50 tons to 200 tons, and sell for $400,000 to more than $1 million, Bronander said.
The snow cover at Tenney will be modest at first, but running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the area expects to have covered a slope 50-60 feet wide, more than 300 feet long and at least a foot deep, with jumps, rails and a tubing track within two weeks.
It will be open until Aug. 24, and then the area plans to begin again in September to cover a 2,800-foot-long slope with a 1,000-foot vertical drop for die-hard skiers and training for the many ski academies in northern New England.
Not far up Interstate 93, General Manager Rick Kelley at Loon Mountain, one of the biggest areas in the state, called it “something worth watching.”
“Obviously, we’ll be interested in seeing how they do with it,” he said.
Michael Berry, president of National Ski Areas Association in Denver, called it a “novel approach.”
“It definitely is a first; no doubt about it,” he said. “You’ll probably find some folks that are interested if they determine it makes financial sense.”