PLYMOUTH, N.H. (AP) – Though autumn’s colors have yet to hit their full stride and temperatures continue to hover in the 60s, ski season is set to begin at New Hampshire’s Tenney Mountain.

Tenney will launch its winter ski season on Wednesday, and the Oct. 1 start could mean it is the first ski resort open for the year nationwide.

In the Northeast, even its biggest competitors won’t open for another few weeks. Sugarloaf USA’s tentative opening date isn’t until Nov. 21, according to the Ski Maine Association.

The small Tenney resort plans to pull together enough snow for limited skiing using Infinite Crystal Snowmaking, which makes snow at any temperature. Similar systems have been used in Japan for a decade, but Tenney is the first U.S. ski resort to use the system.

SnowMagic Entertainment Industries bought Tenney last year.

The company holds the patent for the Infinite Crystal Snowmaking in the United States and Europe, and it wanted a place to showcase its technology.

Tenney will open a 370-by-75 foot patch on Oct. 1. But SnowMagic’s president, Albert Bronander, has bigger plans for the technology in the future.

He hopes Instant Crystal Snowmaking will be used to bring skiing to areas where the sport has never taken hold before, such as small mountains just outside cities, mountains in the South and outdoor attractions like city parks or baseball parks during the off-season.

“We want to bring snow to places that have never seen it before,” he said. “I truly feel that we have the ability and opportunity to enhance the industry’s hold on sports, to get more people to the mountains.”

But Infinite Crystal Snowmaking doesn’t come cheap. The machines cost between $400,000 and $1 million. And because they must constantly generate snow to replace what melts, they’re expensive to run.

To keep a 370-by-75 foot patch covered on a mild day, as Tenney does, costs about $1,000 a week.

For Tenney, the technology already is having big results. In past years, the small mountain struggled to stay open amid the White Mountain’s bigger peaks.

It was closed two winters ago, before SnowMagic bought it. But when Tenney opened a slushy slope this summer, it drew 4,000 tubers, enough to recoup the cost of installing and running the snowmaking system.

By opening on Oct. 1, Tenney will almost double the length of its winter season, general manager Dan Egan said.

“The buzz in the ski world is that this is going to be an awesome thing for Tenney Mountain,” Bradford said.

AP-ES-09-28-03 1508EDT

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