News Roundup: States

  • Keep an eye out for a brand new urban gondola adjacent to the stadium during coverage of the final World Cup soccer match in Moscow.
  • The Jay Peak receiver goes after the owner of six Quebec ski resorts for allegedly aiding and abetting fraud that followed the sale of its Vermont ski resort to a Florida businessman.
  • Boston will spend $400,000 to study a gondola and other possible transportation options for the city’s Seaport district.
  • Utah skier visits fell 9.6 percent compared with last year but were even with the state’s ten year average.
  • Vermont visits rose 1.2 percent year over year to 3.97 million.
  • New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald says the state will have the final say in Vail Resorts’ announced takeover of Mt. Sunapee’s lease from Triple Peaks.
  • The Oakland Zoo will more than double in size on July 12th thanks to an innovative gondola.
  • SilverStar’s new gondola, recently dubbed the Schumann Summit Express, launches July 14th.
  • The White River National Forest approves Vail’s Game Creek six place project. I’m still waiting to hear back from Vail Resorts about a construction timeline and manufacturer.
  • A Branson, MO company is still talking about building a $260 million gondola system there.
  • The second Doppelmayr Wir magazine of 2018 highlights the company’s quickest ever gondola construction project in the United States, Big Sky’s upcoming D-Line eight seater and a 2,800 pph gondola that requires no operators at all.
  • Purgatory furloughs employees, reduces hours and eliminates some positions entirely as it remains closed due to the 416 Fire.
  • Sebastian Monsour, the Australian developer who flew to Maine to announce his purchase of Saddleback, is arrested in Brisbane, accused of misusing $3.4 million in investor funds.
  • Parts are everywhere at Wolf Creek for the upcoming Meadow detachable quad.
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Alterra to Acquire Solitude

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Make it a dozen!  Alterra Mountain Co., the 11 month-old company formed by KSL Capital Partners, Aspen Skiing Company’s owner and others, is buying Solitude Mountain Resort in Utah.  The Big Cottonwood Canyon destination will become the company’s second Utah property after Deer Valley, which Alterra acquired from the same ownership group last fall.  “With its close relationship with Deer Valley Resort, Solitude Mountain Resort is a natural fit for Alterra Mountain Company, and a tremendous addition to our family of destinations,” said Rusty Gregory, Chief Executive Officer of Alterra Mountain Company in a press release.  “We are especially excited to expand our reach within Utah and offer another ski and snowboard experience in a state known for its exceptional snow and mountain culture.”

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The Summit Express is the newest lift at Solitude, Utah, which is set to become Alterra’s newest resort later this year.

Brighton owner Boyne Resorts attempted to buy Solitude back in 2014 but it was sold to Deer Valley months later.  Prior to that, the DeSeelhorst family had operated the resort for more than three decades.  Today, Solitude operates a fleet of eight Doppelmayr and CTEC lifts including four detachable quads.  Just yesterday, the resort confirmed to me its intention to replace the Sunrise lift with another high-speed quad next summer.

“Joining the impressive group of Alterra Mountain Company destinations Solitude Mountain Resort places in a strong position to grow and enhance Solitude,” said Kim Mayhew, the mountain’s General Manager in a statement. “We are excited about the opportunities for our guests, our staff, and for our community in Big Cottonwood Canyon.”  The transaction is expected to close by the end of the third quarter.  Terms of the agreement and Ikon Pass access details were not disclosed.  Assuming Solitude gets added to Alterra’s 2018-19 season passes upon closing, Ikon passes would include access to 408 lifts at 33 US and Canadian mountains.  With Vail’s recent acquisitions and partnerships, the competing 2018-19 Epic Pass is up to 309 lifts at 24 mountains in North America.

Instagram Tuesday: Solstice

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

This morning’s sunrise. #BeaverCreek _ Photo by @jresnick215

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Cabin #1 taking its maiden voyage. #SilverStarGondola

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News Roundup: Flames

  • Purgatory Resort closes indefinitely and is under a mandatory evacuation order due to the nearby 416 Fire.
  • Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz tells analysts in a conference call there are still select acquisition opportunities in North America (with more elsewhere) and that there are no specific plans yet for the $35 million in capital earmarked for Okemo, Mt. Sunapee, Crested Butte and Stevens Pass.
  • Swiss manufacturer BMF and French competitor LST team up to sell urban ropeways in France.
  • The Forest Service tentatively approves Steamboat’s Pioneer Ridge expansion, Bashor Gondola and other new lifts.
  • A plan for the complete rebuild and reopening of Denton Hill, Pennsylvania is now online.
  • Less than a month after opening its first two urban gondolas, the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo unveils plans for a massive 6.8 mile, six station 3S gondola line.
  • Politicians block Gunstock from borrowing $600,000 for lift maintenance and other offseason projects as some call for a private takeover of the county-owned ski resort.
  • French lift website remontees-mecaniques.net interviews Sigma CEO Yannick Morand about premium Evo & Symphony gondola cabins, air conditioning and why ten passengers are the new eight.
  • Non-Vail Colorado resorts tallied 7.1 million skier visits last season, only 2 percent below 2016-17.
  • The Balsams developers request that the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority delay consideration of its $28 million state-backed loan application.

More Skyliner Steel Rises Across Walt Disney World

June is an important time for the Disney Skyliner gondola project as we’re a year from when the system would need to open to transport guests during the park’s busiest months of 2019.  A late spring opening seems like an attainable timeline as construction of many of the system’s towers is complete with terminal steel now spotted at four of eight station locations.

The Epcot park entrance known as International Gateway was one of the last stations to break ground but concrete is now in place for the four masts that will support the terminal.

Most of the approximately seven towers between International Gateway and the first angle station are now standing near Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and its various parking lots.

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Instagram Tuesday: Gearing Up

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

 

News Roundup: Possible

  • Vail Resorts net income rises 41.5% over last year’s third quarter with Epic season pass sales up 12 percent in units and 19 percent in dollars through May 29th.
  • The new Lift One will likely be put to Aspen voters in a winter 2019 special election rather than the November general election.
  • The Western Idaho State Fair plans to debut a chairlift for the first time in August – apparently a used Riblet of unknown origin.
  • An urban gondola proposal in Ogden, Utah is back.
  • A great writeup about Heron’s early days answers why Aspen Skiing Company switched from Colorado’s homegrown lift company to Riblet.
  • Now’s your chance to enter to win one of Arapahoe Basin’s retired Norway chairs.
  • Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and the Sierra Club sign an agreement for the resort to abandon California Express Alternative 2 in exchange for the group withholding legal action against alternatives 3 and 4.
  • The Seattle suburb of Kirkland looks to a possible aerial lift to connect its city center with an upcoming bus rapid transit station.
  • Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and Whistler Blackcomb COO Pete Sonntag do a wide ranging interview with the local newspaper after a challenging year and a half.
  • Tower 6 of Howelsen Hill’s chairlift  is on the move for at least the third time as city leaders grapple with whether to fix it.
  • Beartooth Basin, the only summer ski resort in the United States, opens for the season as everyone else closes.  An experiment is also underway to run the lifts with biodiesel.
  • The Olympic Regional Development Authority proposes a new chairlift for its Lake Placid ski jumping venue.
  • Another Borvig surface lift bites the dust in favor of carpets.
  • Berkshire Bank says the Hermitage Club no longer has the right to restructure and argues receivership should proceed.  One Hermitage property is scheduled to be auctioned on June 25th.
  • A decision not to create an opportunity zone in Rangeley, Maine becomes yet another reason Saddleback is going nowhere fast.
  • The man accused of lying about spending a night on a Gore Mountain chairlift says he is innocent and may sue the State of New York.

Instagram Tuesday: Lonely

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

Prepping in ski boots #goodtimes #altaskiarea

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High Meadows Mud Season

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Coast to Coast! Vail Resorts Buys Okemo, Crested Butte, Mt. Sunapee & Stevens Pass

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Crested Butte Mountain Resort operates a dozen lifts in central Colorado, mostly built by Poma.

The largest publicly-traded ski resort company in the world today simultaneously unveiled two major transactions to buy ski resorts in four different states for more than $300 million.  Vail Resorts will acquire Triple Peaks, LLC for $82 million and Stevens Pass, Washington for $67 million, subject to regulatory approval.  The former, founded and owned by Tim and Dianne Mueller, operates Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado and Mt. Sunapee in New Hampshire, hence the name Triple Peaks.  Broomfield, Colorado-based Vail will buy out the three resorts’ long term leases from Oz Real Estate upon closing for an additional $155 million.  Okemo, Mt. Sunapee and Crested Butte signed onto the industry-pioneering Epic Pass back in March and will now offer unlimited, unrestricted access for Epic passholders.

Another Oz-owned resort, Stevens Pass, will be sold to Vail for $67 million in a separate deal subject to regulatory approval.  Stevens Pass is currently operated by Karl Kapuscinski along with Mountain High, California.  The SoCal resort is not included in Vail’s purchase.  Stevens Pass will join the Epic Pass for the first time, making it an even more compelling product for Pacific Northwest skiers who frequent Whistler Blackcomb.  Stevens will also be included in the Edge Card, a product that predated Vail and is offered exclusively to residents of British Columbia and Washington.  Notably, Stevens Pass has major lift expansions on both flanks of the current trail system in its approved master plan.

Okemo is a nearly 100 percent Poma mountain in southern Vermont that competes with the powerhouses of Stratton, Mt. Snow and Killington.

With today’s news and other deals including the sale of six resorts to Boyne Resorts, the Oz Real Estate Ski Resort Holdings portfolio now includes just Jiminy Peak and Sierra at Tahoe, down from 15 resorts at its peak under CNL Lifestyle Properties.  Northstar California, Mountain High and Bretton Woods were also sold off over the last few years.

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Poma Releases 2017 Reference Book

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The latest edition of the annual Poma Reference Book is out and features pictures, statistics and diagrams from projects the storied French manufacturer completed last year.  Poma has now built more than 8,000 lifts in 80 countries and many of the newest gondolas and detachable chairlifts were built in Asia last year.  One of them was among the first gondolas to utilize Sigma’s new Diamond Evo cabins with sliding doors in China.  Other projects were realized as far away from France as Inner Mongolia, Vietnam and Myanmar.  Another notable installation was a 10-passenger reversible tramway with double LPA grips in Ecuador.

Unfortunately not quite all of Leitner-Poma of America’s U.S. and Canadian projects were included in the book but there are some excellent images of three new six-packs built for Vail Resorts in Colorado as well as the supremely unique quad at Alta, Utah.  As you scroll through the pages, note how many of Poma’s detachable lifts built outside North America in 2017 feature Direct Drive.  LPOA plans to bring the innovative technology to Colorado for the first time in 2018.