News Roundup: Shovel Ready

  • Lift construction resumes in New Zealand, where resorts are optimistic they can open next month with social distancing.
  • The Forest Service commences scoping for Lutsen Mountains’ big expansion, which would include seven new chairlifts.
  • You can also submit comments on Keystone’s Bergman Bowl project starting today.
  • The State of New York partners with Skytrac and Leitner-Poma for three fixed grip quads – two for Gore and one at Whiteface.
  • Vail Resorts provides last season’s Epic Pass holders with 20-80 percent credits and introduces free refund coverage for next winter.
  • Silver Mountain joins the Powder Alliance, Schweitzer exits.
  • Vail Resorts says goodbye to many Peak Resorts employees as planned before COVID-19.
  • The Burnaby Mountain Gondola project could benefit from an infrastructure push in Canada.
  • Wolf Creek planned to reopen this weekend but an executive order late last night extended the closure of Colorado ski areas through May 23rd.
  • Valemount, BC considers building a community ski hill.
  • I’m not an accountant but I think this filing reveals Vail Resorts has agreed with creditors not to make capital improvements of more than $200 million per year or undertake any mergers/acquisitions through January 2022.
  • Vail is also borrowing $600 million through the sale of bonds.

28 thoughts on “News Roundup: Shovel Ready

  1. Mr. Incredible May 1, 2020 / 7:19 am

    I wonder if we’ll be hearing about asset sales during Vail Resorts “waiver period” in order to pay off some of the new debt


    • Tom s May 1, 2020 / 7:28 am

      Who collapses first, vail or Alterra, by my figuring Alterra has twice the debt, ever look at ksl capital partners website?my guess ksl Capital partners is in trouble also.


      • skitheeast May 1, 2020 / 11:49 am

        KSL has billionaire investors who have expressed an openness to taking on short term losses if necessary. Unless this crisis continues into next ski season, which I doubt simply due to the public’s increasingly lukewarm relationship with quarantine, I think both them and Vail will be just fine.


  2. Mr. Incredible May 1, 2020 / 7:25 am

    I was also curious when watching Leitner’s video of their new gondola at Kitzbuhel if their will be a new scan required to enter the boarding area. One for lift pass and a new scan for covid 19 vaccination certificate


  3. Mason Schade May 1, 2020 / 7:37 am

    So what’s happening to Sunway, high peaks, and Bunny hutch, are they selling chairs or just scrapping the lifts whole?


  4. Meir K. May 1, 2020 / 8:49 am

    Peter! Stop making us jealous of Leitner terminals and cabins : )


    • Peter Landsman May 1, 2020 / 9:16 am

      Leitner-Poma of America would gladly import Symphony 10 or Symphony 3S cabins if the right project came along. It’s only a matter of time.


      • Meir K. May 1, 2020 / 9:39 am

        What do you think such a project would look like?


        • Peter Landsman May 1, 2020 / 3:20 pm

          I’ve been told any Symphony 10 gondola here would have LPA stations built in Grand Junction. The only way we get a Leitner station would be with a 2S or 3S.


    • Jamie B May 1, 2020 / 1:24 pm

      Bit of a coincidence, I happened to watch this video of the new Fleckalmbahn yesterday:

      What amazed me was how quiet it is inside the cabin. Compare that to a D-line gondola lift, like this one:

      You can tell it’s not just the volume of the video because background noises (footsteps and breathing) are a lot clearer on the Fleckalmbahn.

      It’s an incredible lift, Leitner have kept improving the LPA range and now they are really ahead, certainly from a passenger’s point of view.


      • John May 3, 2020 / 6:33 am

        It’s hard to believe how quiet that Leitner one is. Going over the sheaves, the D-Line has a good amount of vibration while the LPA has like no vibration.
        Going over the sheaves, the LPA on also sounded quieter. Is it really that quiet?

        I honestly think that the camera played a role in this.

        Could it be that the camera had microphones in different positions so that it picks up different sound? Maybe some cameras pick up outside noise better than others?

        If LPA is actually quieter than D-Line, Doppelmayr is in trouble.

        This is off topic but why is Leitner/Poma the only ones still using single position grips on their product lines? Even smaller manufactures like LST and Bartholet are using dual position grips. Is there some benefit about single position grips have that dual position grips don’t have? Or is it that Leitner/Poma can’t produce a dual position grip


        • Rob Withey May 3, 2020 / 10:51 am

          Doppelmayr are going to single position grips. The Agamatic and D-line are both single position. I have heard the DT grip is to be discontinued.


        • Max Hart May 3, 2020 / 1:04 pm

          Rob, the D-Line grip is a double position grip. The DT series is being phased out in favor of D-Line, and the Agamatic grip will continue to be offered as a single position option.


        • John May 3, 2020 / 5:58 pm

          Are the Leitner terminals really that quiet? I really find that hard to believe. I’ve been on a Direct drive LPA gondola and it was no where near as quiet as that.


        • Rob Withey May 3, 2020 / 7:01 pm

          Correct Max, I was sure I had seen a video of it closing after it came in a station, not locking open.


        • pbropetech May 4, 2020 / 12:54 pm

          There are advantages to both single-and dual-position grips. Single-position grips have generally fewer parts, while dual-position grips have half the opening cycles and so less wear (in theory).


        • Jamie B May 4, 2020 / 5:43 pm

          John, I’ve not been on that particular lift but my experience with other new LPA lifts (in Europe) is, yes, the sheaves and vibrations really are that quiet and smooth. They’re equally as quiet and smooth on new Bartholet chairlifts too (although Bartholet are behind in most other areas).

          That said, I doubt Doppelmayr is in trouble. What matters most to operators is maintenance/running costs and D-line must be pretty competitive or operators wouldn’t be installing them. The terminals are not much different, in terms of sound. I think drive technology is currently quite similar.

          The LPA grip was introduced in 2007 (I think) to replace both Leitner and Poma’s ageing designs, so it is much newer and more capable than the DT and Agamatic grips – that will have no doubt played a part in Doppelmayr’s decision to create the D-grip. LPA grip is very smooth when opening/closing and I’m told it’s low maintenance. It was designed to be future-proof for a while – in the last few years Leitner have kept improving and expanding their range, all using the LPA grip. There’s not any current need for Leitner to produce an alternative grip. Every new MGD and CLD they’ve produced since its introduction uses this grip, which minimises the number of production lines, and operators using the LPA grip probably aren’t too interested as they would have to retrain their maintenance staff (which is the problem Doppelmayr currently faces in discontinuing the DT grip).

          LST and Bartholet licence a 1989 grip design from Seilbahn-Landschaft-Technik GmbH (what remains of Wopfner, who stopped building lifts in 1996), which is a more complicated design (and as a side-note, is not very smooth to ride when opening/closing), although it is unique as it can be opened and closed by hand, which simplifies maintenance a lot.


  5. Billy B. May 1, 2020 / 11:16 am

    According to that document, Bergman Bowl currently averages only 500-750 skiers per week. The lift expansion will be transformative for Keystone and although I am looking forward to quicker laps in the bowls, it will be sad to see the old hike-to terrain go. There is not much in bounds terrain in Colorado with skier density levels that low, Bergman/Erickson Bowls are true hidden gems.

    It will also be interesting to see how this expansion continues with the uncertainty regarding current and proposed Vail Resorts capital projects.


    • Tom s May 1, 2020 / 11:43 am

      Based upon that document referenced above about vail and it’s 600 million capital infusion, it won’t happen till after 2022, vail can only spend 200 million per year on capital projects, they have 35 or so resorts that’s around 5.5 to six million each resort.


      • skitheeast May 1, 2020 / 12:03 pm

        They can easily conservatively spend less than $1 million at each of the five mid-Atlantic resorts and the ten midwest resorts, which brings the average to $8.4 million for each of the remaining 22 resorts. However, it is doubtful most resorts would get nearly that much.


      • Peter Landsman May 1, 2020 / 3:28 pm

        Keep in mind Vail intended to invest a total of $210 to $215 million in calendar year 2020 prior to the crisis. Not very much more than $200 million and that includes integration costs for the 17 Peak resorts.


  6. Kaden K May 1, 2020 / 1:00 pm

    Darn it the Colorado ski closures was banned until may 27. A basin is probably not going to reopen.


    • Peter Landsman May 1, 2020 / 3:24 pm

      It’s May 23rd (Saturday of Memorial Day weekend), not May 27th. I linked to the order above.


  7. Resolve.Action.Love (@Snowman55403) May 2, 2020 / 10:07 am

    Reading Exhibit 99.1 in the Vail 8-K, it looks like so far Vail has lost $298-318 million from Covid-19. Even for a big company like that, it’s a huge hit.

    I would imagine that, baring a massive spike in infections next winter, the big ski companies will be working very much with Polis and public health officials to figure out how to operate for the coming season. It may be inconvenient. Ops may have various limitations.

    I would think that both out of individual’s sense of worry as well as that recessions are just generally bad for the snowsports industry, that skier visits will be down quite a bit. But ski (and snowboard) we must. At least when it’s cold, we’re mostly wearing masks already!


    • Mr Incredible May 2, 2020 / 11:31 am

      Actually skiing and boarding is one of the more recession proof industries historically. People may not jump on a plane to do it but they will get their turns in. It seems that for a lot of skiers and riders it’s something they can’t live without


    • Tom s May 2, 2020 / 7:02 pm

      Most businesses depend on volume, if ski resorts Can’t have volume then they have a problem, my guess we will have a vaccine for next winter, only question is will Americans have enough income to ski? If vail lost 318 million, and with the 600 million they just borrowed, this pandemic cost them close to a billion dollars, what has Alterra lost? what has Powdr Corp lost? What has Boyne resorts lost ? Maybe the big four don’t make it through this pandemic.


  8. reaperskier May 2, 2020 / 12:55 pm

    What kind of lift is it?


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