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Inventor putting synthetic snow to the test

KEVIN HORAN
York Daily Record

WELLSVILLE, Pa. – A central Pennsylvania inventor plans to deploy his synthetic snow surface commercially for the first time in May for summer snow tubing at Ski Roundtop in Wellsville.

The resort plans to install the surface on its normal winter tubing hill, said Chris Dudding, Ski Roundtop’s marketing director. Two people will be able to tube down the hill at once, Dudding said.

The resort tested the surface, unGxtreme, alongside the surface it used last year, when it offered summer snow tubing for the first time, Dudding said. unGxtreme gave tubers a faster ride and carried them farther, Dudding said.



The Red Lion inventor, Kent McBrien, started working on the surface after a 1991 visit to his aunt’s plastic recycling facility in Oklahoma, where he ran and slid over the plastic chip-covered floor.

McBrien pondered the idea during the 14-hour trip home.



“We were trying to figure out how we could put these plastic chips on the side of a hill and ski on them,” McBrien said.

McBrien put together a big piece of the surface five years ago and tested it with skis, snowboards and toboggans all over the place, including at a friend’s house during a barbeque.

A city park in Puerto Rico and a small resort in Maine also expressed interest in the surface, McBrien said. He also plans to design a smaller form of the surface for individual consumers.



Three local companies plan to manufacture unGxtreme’s components, McBrien said. York Imperial Plastics in Springfield Township plans to make unGxtreme’s mat, McClarin Plastics in Hanover plans to make the surface’s curbs and barriers and Plastic Fabricators in West Manchester Township plans to make straps to hold the surface to the ground, McBrien said.

“All the resources I need are right here,” McBrien said. “No reason to go anywhere else. I can deal with any of them in 10 minutes.”

“They need the work,” McBrien added. “A lot of skilled people around here are waiting for work.”

Ski Roundtop plans to open its summer tubing hill May 29, Dudding said, the same day the resort plans to open its other “adventure package activities,” including “bumper boats,” ”the woods,” ”scenic lift ride,” ”tree house zips” and “OGO Balls,” 11-foot inflatable balls with five gallons of water that carry riders down a hill.

“We have a lot of other thrilling activities,” Dudding said, “and this is just going to bring tubing up to that level. It’s faster; it will allow runs to be longer.”

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Information from: York Daily Record, http://www.ydr.com


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