Japanese Snow Magic - Ski Mag

Japanese Snow Magic

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Japanese Snow Magic

As you speed north on "Ski 93" in New Hampshire this winter, look for a sign of life on Tenney Mountain, the 1,400-vertical-foot hill that's a favorite of impoverished Plymouth State College students. Closed from 1992 to 1996 and again in '01-'02, Tenney has (once more) risen from the dead, this time as more than just a twitching corpse with sketchy snow cover and an antique double chair.

This fall, the area was purchased by Snow Magic Entertainment Systems to showcase the "revolutionary temperature-independent ICS snowmaking system," which the company developed and used successfully in Japan.

Snow Magic's giant ice makers freeze water inside a closed system, then blow tiny (0.3-millimeter) ice crystals onto the slope at the rate of 10,600 cubic feet every 24 hours. That means coverage on a Tenney trail in 10 days or less. Best of all? It doesn't even have to get cold out to do it: Temps in the forties are optimal, but 60 degrees is still snowmaking weather.

For the American debut of the system, general manager and ski-film legend Dan Egan promises three new lifts and an October 1 opening in 2003 (which will beat Killington's earliest-ever opening day in 1992 by two days). "We'll have fall foliage and top-to-bottom skiing on great snow while other mountains are still waiting for cold weather," says Egan.

This season it's still "Old Tenney"-wonderfully twisting trails, funky lifts, mini terrain park, $20 midweek tickets, and $199 season passes. But next season, plan on a "New Tenney," and deep snow by Columbus Day.

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Magic Mountain

Magic Mountain

Quick Tip: Magic Mountain now embraces uphill traffic. If you want to hike and ski for free, stick to the side of the trail on your ascent during peak hours.

What a great way to open the season!! Magic Mountain got 14 inches of new snow this week. magicmtn.com

Inside Line: Magic Mountain, VT

Some folks in southern Vermont have a “tragic” nickname for Magic Mountain because they think the 135-acre ski area—which has suffered closures and sketchy management in the past—deserves better. But last summer, loyalists came together to buy the mountain and run it as a cooperative, similar to Mad River Glen. Their intent: to keep the legitimate steeps and trees open and spruce up the ski area’s infrastructure and snowmaking. Now the only thing tragic about this mountain, located in Londonderry, would be passing by it on a powder day.