Now, Dartmouth College students can tuck, slalom, and frolic on man-made snow a mere dozen miles from their dorms.
The Skiway, the Dartmouth-owned mountain 20 minutes from the Hanover, N.H. campus, has received little snowfall in the past seven years, leaving skiing enthusiasts out in the cold.
But that will all change beginning this winter when the Skiway operates its snow-making equipment for the first time. On December 1 the machines will start and, if the weather is agreeable, the trails will open to the public on December 15, said a manager at the mountain.
In past years, students who wanted to go downhill skiing had to make the 20 mile trek to Whaleback, N.H. for fair slopes, and had to travel 50 miles to Killington, Vt. or Waterville Valley, N.H. for anything better.
The snow at the Skiway was simply insufficient, said Assistant Director of Athletics Ken Jones. "There was one winter when there was no snow all winter long. Rationally, the College had to make a decision: Put snow-making in or stop operation," he said.
The Dartmouth men's ski team Coach John Morton was enthusiastic about the facilities. "It's a significant contribution to our program. We're looking forward to our own place to train," he said.
The new developments will have little impact on cross-country skiing since "it takes place just off of our golf course at the edge of town," said Jones.
The Skiway is convenient and inexpensive for Dartmouth students. A 20-minute ride from campus, a season pass to the slopes costs students $85, while the general public pays $185.
The new snow-making facilities will make 40 of the 100 acres and one third of the 14 trails suitable for skiing even under adverse conditions, said Assistant Manager of the Skiway Ronnie J. Balch.
Installation of the million-dollar equipment, paid for by the College and financed, in part, by alumni donations, began in July after the College Trustees approved the the plan earlier this spring, said Balch.
Harvard's ski team could not help but be jealous.
Captain of the Harvard alpine ski team Per A. Weiner '88 said, "Of course, I'm envious, but snow-making wouldn't make our situation any easier since we don't have any mountains."
During term-time the downhill ski team travels to Nashoba Valley, Mass., thirty minutes away, to practice. "Unfortunatley it is a very small mountain," Weiner said. "They have no expert trails."
Morton offered a bit of encouragement, saying, "I would like to see a school like Harvard work out arrangements so that the Harvard ski team could come to the Skiway" to practice.
Harvard University officials said they have made no plans to take advantage of the Skiway.