A Look Forward to 2017

This New Year’s Day, I thought I’d review Lift Blog’s second year and make a few predictions for 2017.  In 2016, North American lift construction reached a post-recession high, with large new lifts debuting at Arizona Snowbowl, Big Sky and Jackson Hole.  In April, we learned Leitner-Poma acquired Skytrac, changing the manufacturer landscape in North America again.  LST built its first detachable lift in France (although it’s not quite finished yet) bringing another player to the global market.  2016 also saw number of lifts catch fire and others fall apart.  Here’s a rundown of our most-clicked-on posts of 2016:

10. Yan High Speed Quad Retrofits 20 Years Later
9. In His Own Words: Carl Skylling of Skytrac on the Leitner-Poma Acquisition
8. New Owner Plans to Reopen Stagecoach, Colorado in 2017
7. First Look at Big Sky’s Powder Seeker Six and Challenger 2.0
6. Big Sky 2025: A $150 Million Vision for the Next Decade on Lone Peak
5. Sweetwater Gondola September Update from Jackson Hole
4. Construction Underway on New Lifts at Big Sky
3. Ober Gatlinburg Survives Fire, Sky Lift Fate Unknown
2. Sunday River Lift Severely Damaged as Terminal Falls
1. Big Sky Flies Towers for America’s Most High-Tech Chairlift

Blog wise, readership increased five-fold with more than 700 reader comments in 2016. Lift Blog now has 750 Instagram followers and almost 500 likes on Facebook.  I even started Tweeting.  Now a few predictions for 2017…

nsm_swe_2017010105_national
There was a lot less purple on this map on 1/1/2016, particularly in the Northeast.
  1. North America will build more than fifty lifts for the first time since 2007.  I’ve already identified 28 likely to be built this construction season with the announcement window really just beginning. American consumer confidence is at its highest level since 2001 and the snow is deep in every major ski region of North America.
  2. An American or Canadian city will commit to building a purpose-built gondola for public transportation.  New York City, Washington, Albany and Vancouver are likely candidates but there are dozens more possibilities.
  3. Vail Resorts will go East.  Since October 2010, Vail has acquired a new ski resort every nine months on average.  That puts the next purchase approximately May 2017.  A major New England or Mid-Atlantic mountain going Epic seems only a matter of time.  Wherever it goes, Vail Resorts will invest heavily in new lifts.

Tune in over the next year to see how I do.

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14 thoughts on “A Look Forward to 2017

  1. Kyle Ward January 1, 2017 / 4:57 pm

    Happy to see that readership is increasing, you put a ton of work into this blog and we all appreciate it. I visit here on a daily basis and I love the content. Keep up the awesome work Peter!

    Like

    • Peter Landsman January 1, 2017 / 6:04 pm

      I’ve always thought Stowe would be a good fit for the Vail brand although it’s one of America’s longest continuously-owned resorts. A ski resort is not exactly a core business for an insurance company.

      Obviously Jay Peak is for sale but I’m not sure it’s as attractive as say Stowe, Killington or Stratton. Peak Resorts just got some much-needed cash but if it collapses like American Skiing Company, Mt. Snow could be a good fit.

      Then you have to look at the urban resort strategy and places like Wachusett, Windham, Camelback and Whitetail that aren’t big but would drive a bunch of guests to the Epic Pass.

      Like

      • Jerry Francus (@jfrancus) January 2, 2017 / 7:54 pm

        Thanks for your input. It would sure be interesting to see Vail operate an eastern resort. To echo others comments, great job on the website. I enjoy reading your blog on a regular basis. Thank you!

        Like

      • Mike January 3, 2017 / 2:52 pm

        Agreed with all of this. I suspect that the strategy in the East could be a “both/and” instead of “either/or”. Without any true destination options in the Midwest, the only viable route there was to pursue the “local mountain strategy” whereas that’s not the case in the East. I could see a local strategy consisting of 1-2 of Wachusett, Camelback, Butternut, Whitetail, Windham, or maybe Mtn Creek complemented with a destination resort purchase from among the candidates named above. I would be surprised if any others were considered and I suspect Stowe has to be the leader in the clubhouse.

        Like

      • kevin ratcliffe January 3, 2017 / 4:11 pm

        Kevin R Senior Doppel Dog: RE Vail coming East Please Please anybody out there that’s conected to them Suggest they buy “Intrawest Bean Counter Resorts” Great selection of 4 resorts with great population basin’s and especially us in Canada. The great synergies that Blue and us at Tremblant had with Whistler is even more attractive now with the Epic Pass. They could Hire Sky Foulkes to run the Eastern Resorts.

        Like

      • ALEX January 6, 2017 / 1:58 pm

        I think you are right, but are not thinking big enough. My prediction is that Vail Resorts will buy Intrawest in 2017 which currently has a market cap of ~$700M. That price is well within VR’s appetite given its current $6.5B market cap. I would imagine they would need to divest either Steamboat or Winter Park, but such a move would immediately make VR relevant on the east coast, provide support for the Whistler purchase as Tremblant skiers from Montreal and Toronto would get Whistler as well. Anyway interested in your thoughts.

        Like

  2. backbowlsbilly January 1, 2017 / 5:55 pm

    Thanks for all the great posts, I always enjoy reading. Happy new year!

    Like

  3. Ryan January 2, 2017 / 6:28 pm

    Hi Peter- this is Ryan from over on skilifts.org glad to be here and thanks for the invite. You have a great site and provide a great service to the industry and interested spectators alike. Happy 2017.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Doppelmayr FTW! January 2, 2017 / 7:03 pm

    I really liked the yan retrofits post! glad to see it make the top ten. What was the most clicked on photo this year? I remember that from your 2015 roundup and I am curious. Great post as always!

    Like

    • Peter Landsman January 2, 2017 / 7:57 pm

      Not surprisingly the blue bubble was the most popular photo!

      Like

      • Doppelmayr FTW! January 2, 2017 / 9:09 pm

        Thanks!

        Like

  5. Pat January 8, 2017 / 9:45 pm

    I’ll add 3 more predictions to your potential lift construction sites. Ontario: Chicopee Ski in Kitchener. Their 1968 Borvig double Sugarbowl chairlift required $500000 in repairs and upgrades to receive a one year operating certificate in 2013, so it was taken out of service. This left the south end of Chicopee not serviced by any lifts. They have been attempting to obtain funds for an LP fixed grip quad since 2013 so 2017 should be the year it’s replaced as they will be done the 5 year repayment on their LP quad on the north side.
    Mount St Louis Moonstone has a 1989 Poma Competition HSQ that will be 28 years old and has been an increasing maintenance headache. I could see it replaced by another LP HSQ or 6 pack.
    In Quebec, the 1988 Doppelmayr HSQ serving the Soleil area at Mont Tremblant is getting on in years and a new, more reliable lift will be needed. Skiresort.info has it listed for replacement in 2017 (although, the same site also had it listed for replacement in 2016).

    Like

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