GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Ober Gatlinburg has opened snow tubing, which is the earliest the ski resort has ever offered tubing. Ober Gatlinburg says this will be the earliest tubing in the Southeast.
For many who visited Ober Galtinburg on Friday, they got a special treat. Chris Hicks and his friends are visiting Gatlinburg from Alabama, and decided to try out tubing.
"Tubing was open. So it being 60 degrees outside with snow on the ground, we decided it would be a good thing to come and take part in," said Hicks. "It looks like it's been snowing for two months."
Tubing opened early because of new snow making technology called SnowMagic. Ober Gatlinburg has been pumping snow onto the tubing area for 2 months.
The SnowMagic Infinite Crystals Snow making (ICS) system is revolutionary and completely different from other snow making systems that require temperatures below freezing. The ICS system freezes water to create tiny snow crystals. Using its controlled and cooled forced-air technology, the snow crystals are blown out with explosive force, creating snow with a natural feel and texture at an average micron size of 0.3 millimeters in diameter.
“We are excited about the prospects of a great season.” said Bruce Anders, president of Ober Gatlinburg, Inc., “The SnowMagic system allows us to offer snow tubing to our guests much earlier and gives us the capability to maintain the quality of the tubing surface in the event we experience another unusually mild winter.”
Ober Gatlinburg is hoping for a big winter to keep all 300 winter employees working. Last winter the ski resort struggled to keep snow on the ground in the warm temperatures.
"It was a very challenging winter for us," said John Cossaboom, Winter Sports Director for Ober Gatlinburg. "Happy to see the fruits of all that fruition coming through for us."
"I think it's amazing. because if you can get out here in beautiful weather and have snow, you can't beat it," said Hicks.
Ober Galtinburg says it is working toward opening skiing on December 7th.