Copper Mountain to Build a Chondola & Bubble Six-Pack

Just four days after its bombshell announcement of $16 million worth of new lifts for Killington, Powdr Co. today unveiled an even bigger project planned for Copper Mountain in 2018.  The American Eagle high-speed quad will be replaced with a combination lift featuring six passenger chairs and eight passenger gondola cabins while the American Flyer is going to become a six-place bubble chair.  The two Poma detachables being replaced were built in 1989 and 1986, respectively, and out-of-Village capacity will increase by 35 percent.

I will miss the Flyer’s old school charm but it has reached the end of its design life.

“Replacing our most popular mountain-access lifts will significantly improve how our guests experience some of the best skiing and riding on Copper Mountain,” said Gary Rodgers, president and general manager of Copper Mountain Resort in a press release. “More guests will be able to get up the mountain quicker to enjoy a variety of easy, intermediate and advanced terrain.” The Denver Post reports the new lifts will cost a staggering $20 million.

The outgoing American Eagle lift featured a Poma terminal design found on only a few lifts in North America.

Copper Mountain operates a mixed fleet of Doppelmayr and Poma lifts and no manufacturer was identified.  Most recently, Doppelmayr built the Kokomo Express, two surface lifts in 2013 and the Union Creek Express in 2011.  Pending Forest Service approval, the two monster new additions will open in time for the 2018-19 season.

Update: According to V3 in the comments, these lifts could be built by Leitner-Poma with the first DirectDrives in the United States.  This would be great news if true amid a flurry of gearbox-related problems in North American ski country recently.

48 thoughts on “Copper Mountain to Build a Chondola & Bubble Six-Pack

  1. Ryan March 5, 2018 / 11:05 am

    Bittersweet.. I like those old lifts. But they have aged out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • John March 5, 2018 / 12:08 pm

      Definitely bittersweet. I’ve been the Flyer mechanic for half its life and I’ll miss it. But it’s reached the point where it takes a lot of attention and parts.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Ryan March 5, 2018 / 2:57 pm

        I knew you would be one of the ones to agree with my comment. Thank you for all the blood sweat and tears you’ve but into her and the other lifts there over the years. Hope to have the pleasure of meeting you sometime up there and buying you a drink.


      • Sean March 6, 2018 / 4:50 pm

        My first time to Copper Mountain in around ‘90-91 when the Flyer still had bubbles, it was a blizzard and we waited in line for 15 minutes, just as we’re about to get on, the entire chain came down along with a gear or something in the terminal and halted the lift for the rest of the day. Was glad we didn’t get on because- those people were stuck for awhile! Long live the Flyer


      • Collin March 6, 2018 / 5:00 pm

        Is there any pictures on the internet of the original bubble chairs?


  2. Collin March 5, 2018 / 11:12 am

    Another Alpha Falcon bites the dust (well actually it’s the vault drive version). And American Eagle will be the first Competition model quad to be scrapped.

    I think they’re going to end up using LP for this project, which would outseat Killington has having the biggest LP project this year. Although Copper’s other recent new lifts were Doppelmayr, LP is short projects and may bid more competitively.

    Where is Alterra’s lift announcements?

    Notice how they strategically announced this after Killington. Killington passholders were rightfully unhappy with Powdr for doing so much western investment, but not building a lift at Killington for 10 years and if they announced this first it would’ve been a disaster.


    • John March 5, 2018 / 12:05 pm

      Curiousity question, but what makes you think they’ll be LPOA? Because we’ve built four Doppelmayrs recently and it’s time for a change?

      Also, there never was a Falcon terminal. All my parts sheets say either TSD (generic French abbreviation for detachable chairlift) or ‘Performant’ (French for ‘Performance’). Not sure why everyone calls this the Falcon terminal.


      • Lucas Tokarski March 7, 2018 / 10:13 am

        I believe that the falcon type is the drive terminal where there is an attached alpha drive terminal at the end of the contour


      • John March 8, 2018 / 12:46 pm

        Nope. That’s what I’m saying, there *isn’t* any such thing. The one with the Alpha terminal is simply the Alpha Evolution, because it was designed to convert a fixed-grip Alpha-drive to a detachable. I suppose because the old F-lift (Falcon Superchair) at Breck is all that most people have seen they just call it that.


      • Max Hart May 14, 2018 / 6:29 pm

        Ok, so let’s set this straight once and for all. The Poma vault driven detachable terminal (seen on the former American Flyer) that is commonly called the Falcon terminal is officially called the Performant, and the separate drive/detachable system commonly called the Alpha-Falcon is officially called the Alpha Evolution (seen on Breck’s old Falcon Superchair).

        So that (in theory) means that the Performant was used on new installations, such as Flyer, and the Alpha Evolution was (intended to be) used on lifts like the Falcon Superchair, which were initially fixed grip installations that were quickly upgraded to detachable systems, but ended up being used on several new installations anyways.


    • Collin March 5, 2018 / 12:25 pm

      Doppelmayr has a huge number of projects so far but not LP, so my guess is later announced projects will skew towards LP with Doppelmayr slightly out-selling them in the end. Also, Powdr just announced Killington will be using LP so they might have bid these projects jointly.


  3. Ken Wiseman March 5, 2018 / 11:23 am

    I can only hope they will be Doppelmayr, just a better made lift…..They used Doppelmayr at Copper and Eldora this past Summer.


  4. V3 March 5, 2018 / 12:03 pm

    The lifts are going to be LPOA with Leitner Direct drives from what I have heard.


    • Collin March 5, 2018 / 12:06 pm

      First direct drives in North America


  5. Ryan Murphy March 5, 2018 / 12:50 pm

    I remember you talking about an arms race in an article a few years ago. It seems Powdr wants to start one. This is huge for Copper though, and seems to fit the mountain really well.


    • Peter Landsman March 5, 2018 / 1:53 pm

      Quote from Copper’s President in the Denver Post:
      “We wanted to get the news out because there is going to be a lot of noise in the marketplace here shortly.”
      Bring it on!


  6. Ryan March 5, 2018 / 3:03 pm

    While I “prefer” Doppelmayr, I am always happy when LPOA scores as well? Why? I’m a Utah native, living in Colorado, and with Doppie having presence in Salt Lake and LPOA having a presence in Grand Junction, i’m supporting my two favorite states one way or another!

    I’m also grateful for LP helping to sponsor/support this site.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mt Ski Bum March 5, 2018 / 3:08 pm

    So many resorts doing big lift projects this summer… sounds like Big Sky needs to hurry up and start acting on some of their “Big Sky 2025” lift projects..

    Liked by 3 people

    • Todd Arnold March 6, 2018 / 7:46 am

      I would not be surprised if we do not see an announcement within two weeks from Big Sky. Now whether it is the new Gondola or the new Ramcharger is the question. Anyone have any inside info?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Todd Arnold March 7, 2018 / 12:40 pm

        Can you spill the beans, I promise I won’t tell anyone.


  8. Billy B March 5, 2018 / 4:29 pm

    Colorado’s first bubble six pack on Flyer could be a game changer for the I-70 corridor, with big spenders like Vail and Alterra possibly looking to match Copper’s new flagship for advertising purposes. This will be the only bubble lift in the state (at least temporarily), since all of Steamboat and Vail’s bubble CLD-260s have been removed. Think of bubble six packs on Zephyr at WP or Born Free at Vail. Certainly will be interesting to watch what happens as the deep pockets set their sights on high-tech new lifts in Colorado!

    Also, if Eagle does indeed go LPA it will be their first detachable combination lift, and second combination lift in general after the unique installation at Anakeesta.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Boardski March 5, 2018 / 4:40 pm

    I was hoping to see a recycled K lift with updated chairs going up Tucker mountain this summer but this sounds like a pretty good plan also. Center village has been a choke point for a long time, maybe traffic will flow a little more efficiently. They could always do similar to what Snowmass has done and create a fixed grip quad to serve Tucker mountain with parts from those old lifts. ☺


    • Collin March 5, 2018 / 5:37 pm

      K was scrapped. The Snowmass style relocation would be a good idea. They don’t have an extra drive terminal to repurpose as Flyer is a vault drive rather than an Alpha-Falcon so they’d need a new one which could be a LP Alpha or Skytrac Monarch.


  10. Thomas Jett March 5, 2018 / 6:56 pm

    Interestingly, despite the fact that that there have been far fewer lifts announced this year, there are already more (19 total stages) winter-use detachables planned than were built last year (14 total stages). I think that this might point to the idea that big companies will spend even in bad years, just to keep up with the competition. We still haven’t heard anything from Alterra, and judging form comments that I’ve seen on the forums, this announcement was meant to get out in front of them. The only three sectors that seem to be down this year are six-packs (understandable, given last year’s record number), urban and summer lifts (which are still a new market) and fixed-grips. The fixed grip drop off can probably be attributed to snowfall records last year, causing many smaller resorts to by lifts that they otherwise wouldn’t have.


  11. Jonathan March 6, 2018 / 7:20 am

    What if Copper removed Excelerator, and extended the American Eagle Chondola to the top of that lift with a mid-station where the existing top terminal is.

    Then Copper could take the Exelerator chair and replace the Alpine Lift with the existing Excelerator, and moved the Alpine Lift to Copper Mountain.


    • xlr8r March 6, 2018 / 10:22 am

      No reason to change Excelerator, it serves more blacks than blues, also has a dedicated race trail served by it. Whereas the Eagle really only serves blues.


    • RaflW March 18, 2018 / 7:37 pm

      American Eagle also serves as a summer lift to the restaurant and the wedding deck (which will be nice with a chondola — I saw some pretty fancy dresses flapping on the chairlift last summer :) ).
      I suppose a mid-station could work for that, but it’d be an extra bit of work for lifties to make sure every chair and gondo was empty as it left the mid-station going up higher in the summer.


  12. Boardski March 6, 2018 / 10:19 am

    Ecellerator is a lot shorter than alpine. It would be better suited to replace Sierra as a relocation. Alpine is ok, it would be nice if they would install footrests though.


  13. Boardski March 6, 2018 / 10:25 am

    A triple chair with loading carpet running at 600fpm would be a nice Alpine lift replacement one day….


    • Ryan March 6, 2018 / 9:22 pm

      At that speed on fixed grip chairs, it is moving too fast for people to safely unload.


      • Max Hart March 7, 2018 / 5:13 am

        MRG’s Single does 600 fpm, no problems there. It even does that with a mid station, flyover unloading at the top, and no loading carpet.
        Now if you were to run a double or a triple at that speed, then there could be unloading issues. The reason MRG can do it is that there is only one person on the ramp at the time. Two or three might be more treacherous.


  14. Jonathan March 7, 2018 / 2:55 pm

    Do you know who will build the lift?


    • Collin March 7, 2018 / 3:45 pm

      New Lifts 2018 list says Leitner Poma building both.


    • John March 8, 2018 / 12:48 pm

      That’s not what we were told. We’re currently looking at where we’re going to put a 100% building for the Flyer.


  15. Mike March 17, 2018 / 6:15 am

    Having skied the flyer for years, the lift line gets a lot of wind. What’s your thoughts on how the bubble will handle that?

    I know part of why Steamboat took their bubble off Storm Peak was to reduce wind closures. (Amongst costs, etc)


    • pbropetech December 9, 2020 / 9:22 am

      Revisiting this thread a couple years later, I can tell you that the bubbles handle wind quite well as long as they’re closed. When they’re open they act as giant sails, unfortunately.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Myles Svec December 9, 2020 / 12:26 pm

        The only lifts that are really good for bubbles are eight packs because they can handle wind really well with chairs that heavy. On a bubble is weight spread thoughout the whole chair or more towards the center?


        • pbropetech December 10, 2020 / 8:18 am

          The weight is evenly distributed. I can tell you from experience how heavy even our sixpack bubble chairs are- they do fine with bubbles closed, as I mentioned.


        • Myles Svec December 10, 2020 / 8:52 am

          Can copper make the people put the bubbles down over a certain wind speed so there is not as many wind closures?


        • Chris December 10, 2020 / 9:24 am

          All the bubble chairs I rode in Japan (or hooded lifts as they call them) were closing automatically. Which is pretty annoying if you are tall, and wear a helmet and a backpack.


        • pbropetech December 10, 2020 / 11:45 am

          We’ll suggest it if it’s windy. We can switch the lift from ‘bubbles optional’ to ‘bubble will be closed automatically’ but as Chris mention it’s tough on some people.


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