PLYMOUTH, NH – Sometimes it takes a legend to build a legend. Or in the case of Tenney Mountain Ski Resort it took a legend to rebuild a legend.
Extreme skiing pioneer, Warren Miller film star, and Hall of Fame skier Dan Egan and a team from North Country Development Group led by Steven Kelly have reopened Tenney, for many decades a New Hampshire go-to ski resort for its affordability and easy access. NLE (No Longer Exist) is a murderously tough situation to bounce back from, but Kelly and Egan form a superteam fully capable of succeeding where so many before had failed.
After officially closing in 2014, prior owners tried various guerilla/gangnam arrangements for the past eight years – sometimes a lift was open taking people some distance up the mountain, sometimes it was strictly human powered to get up and down, but those owners never officially opened Tenney despite hosting some word-of-mouth get-togethers. But now with increased snowmaking, (reputedly 100% across the mountain), a solid business plan, a committed, experienced team, and a CEO whose Hall of Fame skiing talent is matched by his speaking ability, business acumen, and ability to “get to yes” at a negotiating table, Tenney is going to rise up the proverbial charts with a bullet.
Oh…and for the first time in 20 years, the mountain was open during the holidays. Big – BIG! – win.
“We’ve invested over 4 million dollars so far into infrastructure, including snowmaking upgrades, base lodge renovations and lift & trail maintenance,” said Kelly.
VIPs from across the state and indeed from across the country attended the ceremonial ribbon-cutting and day of skiing on Friday December 22 including, according to the resort, “New Hampshire Executive Councilor, Joseph D. Kenney, New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs Commissioner, Taylor Caswell, Annalisa Drew, New Hampshire Olympian, X-Games medalist, and Tenney Mountain Ambassador, and Matty Leighton, Director of Central New Hampshire Chamber of Commerce. Tenney Mountain’s owner Steven Kelly, along with Tenney Mountain’s General Manager, Dan Egan were also joined by Eric Hui, founder of New Hampshire based outdoor clothing company TERRACEA. Tenney is proud to be the only ski area exclusively outfitted by TERRACEA.”
It would be remiss not to mention one other VIP – longtime, old school Tenney employee-turned-skiing writer Joan Wallen, who back in the day named many of the trails (after flowers). She was honored by being offered the third chair; riding to the top along with mountain ops members.
The reopening of Tenney may add some gnar to New Hampshire’s ski map. A lack of true, super-tough double black diamond terrain on piste is, perhaps, the only drawback to New Hampshire skiing in general. But according to Tenney officials, several of their trails may join the short list of New Hampshire’s hardest runs.
“Forget-me-not and Snap Dragon are, perhaps, the hardest run on the mountain,” noted Tenney’s Tom Sullivan. “And our various glades are outstanding as well.” Additionally, the main lift line, Hornet, is reputed to be an excellent free fall fun a la Jay Peak’s famous “Jet” run.
“What you won’t find here are long lift lines, mediocre food at 5-star restaurant prices or an inattentive staff,” said Egan, and he’s right. The food looks to be a big plus. As we all know, chalets at eastern resorts specialize in disgusting heat lamp pizza, fried artery cloggers, coma and gas inducing chili, and junk food. (COUGH COUGH! GORE! GORE! WHITEFACE! WHITEFACE! COUGH COUGH! COUGH COUGH!) Thank Heaven, that’s not so at Tenney. Head chef Bill Gilchrist laid out a spread worthy of the grand reopening of a New Hampshire winter sports icon. Proteins include savory lamb, the freshest seafood, plump chickens, and outstanding beef. High end side after high end side accompanied the meal. For once you can ski or snowboard and get chateaubriand quality and ground round prices. Lift tickets start at $65 on weekends, a mere $45 on weekdays.
On January 5th and 6th Tenney will host the KaBOOM! X Freestyle Snowmobile & FMX Big Air Stunt Show, featuring somersaulting snowmobiles, flying ski-bikes, and various other wild contraptions that glide and soar. Should be a scream! Tickets are $20 and kids under 12 get in free. (I thought KABOOM! was a cereal? :):)
It wasn’t just a great day for Tenney. It wasn’t just a great day for New Hampshire. It was a great day for all skiers and boarders. If there is anyone who has their finger firmly on the pulse of the winter sports zeitgeist it’s Dan Egan and the North Country Team. Altruism, transparency, passion, and a work ethic: add that to the improved snowmaking and the sweat equity that it seems everyone in New Hampshire is willing to invest and Tenney will thrive, not just survive. Already, they have become a coveted spot on skiers’ and boarders bucket lists. Who wouldn’t want to meet a legend? Who wouldn’t want to be among the first to ski a once-beloved resort resurrected from the scrap heap of history? Who wouldn’t want to go skiing or boarding and return home with ten new friends, because that’s the idiom at Tenney, its communal vibe a proper rejoinder to Vermont’s equally small, but also legendary Magic Mountain in Londonderry.
Run don’t walk to Tenney. It just changed the entire game in the state of New Hampshire. And no matter where you’re from, you can’t help but feel the love at Tenney: it’s back and better than ever.