Seven Springs family among skiing pioneers

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Ski magazine identifies them as the "Five First Families of American Skiing."

They are: the Blakes of Taos, N.M.; the Cochrans of Richmond, Vt.; the Mahres of Yakima, Wash.; the Stieglers of Jackson Hole, Wyo., and the Dupres of Seven Springs, Pa.

"We're in pretty good company," said Mary "Sis" Dupre, referring to the two-page spread about the Dupre family in the November issue of the magazine.

"We're very honored to be included among those families," she said.

She was referring to herself, her husband Herman and their nine daughters -- Denise, Laura, Rosi, Anni, Janeen, Heidi, Gretl, Michele and Renee.

Edith Thys Morgan tells the story of the family and the resort from its founding by German immigrants Adolph and Helen Kress Dupre, their installation of the nation's second rope tow in 1938 and Herman Dupre's development of its extensive snowmaking system.

After experimenting with a variety of hoses and nozzles, Herman applied for his first snowmaking patent in 1973. He now owns 34 such patents.

His evolving snowmaking improvements took him from ground-based tripod snowguns to towers up to 40 feet high that propelled water molecules into the air with plenty of "hang time" for the maximum formation of snow crystals.

In 1991, Herman and Charles Santry, husband of daughter Anni, formed Snow Economics Inc. to sell HKD (Herman Kress Dupre) snowmaking equipment. Those initials are prominently placed at eye-level on each tower at more than 600 resorts worldwide.

In 2007, the Dupre family tripled the snowmaking capacity at the Dartmouth Skiway near Dartmouth College, where four of the Dupre daughters attended. Granddaughter Emily, a member of the U.S. Nordic combined team, is currently enrolled at the college.

And in 2010, Snow Economics teamed up with the U.S. Ski Team to install 87 fully-automated snowmaking towers along the 2-mile course at the Copper Mountain Speed Center. The towers help to provide the team with one of the best preseason speed training sites in the world.

Although the Dupre family sold Seven Springs to the Nutting family in 2006, Herman and Sis and other family members still live at the resort. Herman, of course, continues to improve his snowmaking equipment.

"We both still ski, but we pick our days," Sis said. "We like to go out on calm, peaceful days when it isn't too crowded."

At the Peak

Peek'n Peak opened Nov. 29, its earliest opening in six years, with a 12- to 18-inch base and three chairlifts serving seven slopes and trails and one terrain park. It has since opened five more runs.

"We're excited to [have the resort opened] almost a full month earlier than last year and are looking forward to a great season," said Nick Scott Jr., vice president and owner of Scott Enterprises, a family-owned hospitality company based in Erie that bought the resort in August 2011.

For the 2013-2014 season, the company purchased four new SMI snowmaking machines, spent $150,000 for new ski and snowboard rental equipment and more than $400,000 in technological upgrades to the ticketing and reservations systems. It is continuing to renovate the hotel's public spaces.

For information: www.pknpk.com.

Good snow

Ideal snowmaking temperatures and several inches of natural snow will enable Blue Knob, Boyce Park, Hidden Valley, Seven Springs, Mount Pleasant of Edinboro, Ski Denton, Ski Sawmill, Wisp, Kissing Bridge, Peek'n Peak, Holiday Valley, Canaan Valley, Snowshoe and Timberline to open more terrain this weekend.

Mystic Mountain at Nemacolin Woodlands continues to make snow in preparation for its Dec. 24 opening.

For websites and phone numbers, go to www.post-gazette.com and enter "Guide to region's slopes" in the search box.

Larry Walsh writes about recreational snowsports for the Post-Gazette


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