News Roundup: Wild Times

Instagram Tuesday: S2

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

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Cablebús Cdmx! #GI #Doppelmayr

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News Roundup: Working Capital

Landslide Damages Nitehawk Chairlift

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Photo credit: Johnathan Clarkson

Ground movement has impacted the only chairlift at Nitehawk Adventure Park, a community ski area located in Grande Prairie, Alberta.  Multiple lift towers were caught up when the slide occurred around 3:00 am Tuesday.

Nitehawk staff had been monitoring slow movement this spring and preemptively took chairs and sheave assemblies off the lift.  The ski area had also de-tensioned the Yan triple chair, which first opened in 1994.  The lift started servicing a downhill bike park in 2007.

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Photo credit: Johnathan Clarkson

Nitehawk is operated by the nonprofit Grande Prairie Ski Club.  “We’re thankful this event occurred when no one was on location,” said Board Vice President Whitney Wild in a statement. “Our Board of Directors and management are working with geotechnical professionals to determine next steps and possible solutions,” she continued.  “Nitehawk is no stranger to facing and overcoming adversity.  Operating a successful community ski hill in Northern Alberta is no easy feat.  Our resiliency, along with the incredibly supportive community, will help us deal with this new challenge head on.”

Instagram Tuesday: Rising Tide

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

 

News Roundup: Graduation Season

 

Instagram Tuesday: On to Summer

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

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News Roundup: More Skiing?

  • Mt. Baldy runs out of snow, ending North American lift served skiing for now.
  • Aspen Skiing Company expresses frustration with the Colorado governor’s order for ski resorts to remain closed until at least May 23rd.
  • Arapahoe Basin still wants to reopen.
  • Oregon may beat Colorado to the punch.
  • Eaglecrest, Alaska joins the Powder Alliance amid news the Freedom Pass is no more.
  • Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory says his company is well-capitalized and delayed projects should be completed next year (plus he’s still looking to buy more resorts!)
  • Skeetawk completes its chairlift, becoming the first new ski area in Alaska since 1983.
  • Mountain planner Paul Mathews of Ecosign talks about the development of Sun Peaks and future plans in the West Bowl and the Gil’s areas.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line reiterates its commitment to Alaska including the funding of two gondolas currently under construction in Hoonah.
  • As part of a land swap, the Yellowstone Club seeks to gain 500 acres of expert terrain.
  • Cuchara remains on track to reopen next year with one lift.
  • The Utah Department of Transportation will evaluate gondolas from the Salt Lake Valley and Park City as two possible options to improve mobility in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
  • Doppelmayr’s first Wir magazine of 2020 highlights new installations from around the world.

Instagram Tuesday: Pushing Past

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

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We got spring cleaning down to a T. 👌

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Following Cancellations, How Will Lift Construction Recover?

When Vail Resorts spelled out its suspension of operations in mid-March, the shutdown was hoped to last only a week.  Fifty days later, all 37 resorts remain shuttered and the company has borrowed more than a billion dollars to weather a possible extended recession.

Almost immediately, Vail Resorts postponed discretionary capital improvement projects including seven new chairlifts.  Vail is just one of numerous operators of lifts facing epic challenges due to COVID-19.  The impacts trickle down to suppliers, particularly global suppliers of large machinery like the Leitner Group and Doppelmayr.  While the two major lift manufacturers are of similar size and structure, their customers are incredibly diverse, from mom and pop outfits to governments, NGOs and Fortune 100 companies.

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As regular readers of this blog know, the lift business is not the same as the ski business.  Leitner-Poma, Skytrac and Doppelmayr USA have all completed projects for non-ski venues recently such as theme parks, zoos, stadiums and cruise ports.  Not only are these projects making up an increasing share of contracts, they tend to be large in scope and often include lucrative operation and maintenance deals.  Some of these non-traditional customers are in even worse shape than the ski business, more dependent on high guest densities and air travel.  Put another way, there is little chance the Walt Disney Company, Carnival Corporation or the Miami Dolphins would have signed to build their recent lift projects in today’s environment.  So-called “point of interest” projects may disappear entirely for a few years.

One bright spot could be urban transport.  The Portland Aerial Tram and Roosevelt Island Tramway have both remained operational throughout the pandemic, albeit at reduced capacity (the Portland Tram carries health care workers to three different hospitals and is about as essential as it gets.)  Large aerial tramways have been ceding market share to monocable, 2S and 3S gondolas, a trend which will probably accelerate with new personal space concerns.  With gondolas, each person or family can take their own cabin unlike on trains or buses.  There are lots of great concepts for urban gondolas in North America and infrastructure spending programs could finally get one or two off the ground.  Mexico already has a large urban gondola system in operation with two more under construction.

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