“Oh, so you like the moguls, Mom!” my then-seven-year-old son, David, said, delighted that his Mom was off the bunny slope.

English: A snow cannon at the Canmore Nordic C...

A snow cannon at the Canmore Nordic Centre, Alberta, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Not really,” I told him, as he made his way down from the expert slope, passing me easily.

“They just happen to be in front of me and I don’t know how to ski around them.”

In November of 1946, the ski industry changed forever with the invention of artificial snow, initially frozen bits of carbon dioxide used to seed clouds and encourage the formation of snow.

Vincent Schaefer, a scientist at General Electric, conducted the first cloud seeding experiment with pellets of dry ice on November 13, 1946, over Mount Greylock in Western Massachusetts at fourteen thousand feet.

Within a few years, this had changed to making snow on the ground for skiers.

In 1950, Art Hunt, Dave Richey, and Wayne Pierce invented a snow gun, which, like all snowmaking equipment today, combines air and water at high pressure, in cold air, to freeze.

In 1952, Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel became the first ski resort to use artificial snow.

By the 1970s, snowmaking equipment was considered a required business expense for ski resorts.

It is common on the East coast, where weather is unpredictable but there are plenty of mountains. It is less common on the West coast, with its more predictable snow, and where skiing on “powder” or real snow, is a badge of honor, and provides very different ski conditions, but is used to extend the season.

Now, snow guns, snow cannons or snow fans are the favored artificial snow makers, sometimes with organic agents, like bacteria, or inorganic biodegradable agents to provide a nucleus for the ice crystals.

It still has to be cold and somewhat humid, so the ice crystals will form when the water is combined with the air. IDE dominates the snow-making machine industry.

Both sons learned how to ski. When my grandson was seven, he joined a ski team.

Grandma still takes a turn around the ice rink from time to time, but has given up on the icy, artificial snow.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers



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