News Roundup: Cold Front

  • Sunday River releases maps of the upcoming Merrill Hill project.
  • Updated stats from NSAA show how many ski areas operated in each state last winter.
  • Las Vegas’ decision to go with Teslas in a tunnel rather than a Doppelmayr automated people mover may have been short sighted.
  • Jay Peak President Steve Wright discusses joining the Indy Pass, limited winter tram operations and potential future lift upgrades.
  • Mission Ridge begins erecting terminals for the new Liberator Express, which load and unload inside buildings.
  • Whiteface’s new beginner quad will be called Owl Express.
  • A new lift at Sun Valley will also get a fresh name, to be announced soon.
  • Gunstock burns down an old T-Bar station for firefighter training.
  • An Ontario ski area worries about lift safety following a rash of vandalism.
  • With the launch of a gondola up Hoonah Mountain next year, an Alaska Native corporation sees new opportunities for development.
  • Despite a 30 percent drop in business last winter, at least two New Zealand resorts plan to build new lifts this offseason.
  • As Smartwool moves headquarters from Steamboat to Denver, the company gifts $1.5 million to Howelsen Hill for a new Barrows chairlift, to be built by Skytrac.
  • A Michigan ski area with 12 lifts won’t make snow and will operate weekends only due to Coronavirus.
  • Mont-Sainte-Anne is no longer certain its base-to-summit gondola will be functional by December.
  • Big Sky wraps up a busy season of preparation for the Swift Current 6 top terminal and carrier storage facility.

Instagram Tuesday: Star Attractions

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

News Roundup: Construction, Construction, Construction

As Pandemic Persists, Doppelmayr Lays Off 190 Workers

Facing a significant drop in orders, the Doppelmayr Garaventa Group has made the difficult decision to cut about six percent of its global workforce. Out of the nearly 200 positions eliminated, 95 are at the firm’s Austrian headquarters. Prior to the layoffs, Doppelmayr employed approximately 3,400 people at sites circling the globe, including at North American bases in Salt Lake City, Utah and Saint-Jérôme, Quebec.

Globally, around 50 percent of Doppelmayr’s business happens at ski resorts. When other leisure and tourism segments are included, that number grows to 80 percent. In the last complete year before Covid shutdowns, North American lift installations included places hit hard in the pandemic economy: theme parks, cruise ports and sports stadiums. Even urban gondolas, which offer the promise of socially-distanced transportation, depend on municipal and regional tax revenues to be built.

“Despite a few attractive individual projects, the order situation has decreased significantly in recent months, and an uncertain winter with few or postponed investments in cable cars is approaching us,” said Thomas Pichler, Managing Director of Doppelmayr Holding SE. “We now have to adapt our workforce to the changed order situation.”

In North America, the company saw all its orders from Alterra Mountain Company, Boyne Resorts and Vail Resorts postponed earlier this year. While the upcoming 2020-21 winter will hopefully be successful for many ski areas, Doppelmayr’s customers again face immense uncertainty at a time when 2021 capital projects need to be planned and financed. Doppelmayr is optimistic that a headcount reduction now will enable it to survive and thrive as travel recovers. “We assume that with this new workforce we will have a stable number of employees for the next few years,” noted Pichler.

Instagram Tuesday: Up Close

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

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Kuppelbare Klemme

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Leitner-Poma to Build New Snow King Lifts

Jackson Hole will soon be a three gondola valley with the addition of an enclosed lift on what locals affectionately call the Town Hill. Leitner-Poma will not only supply Snow King Mountain’s new 8 passenger gondola but also a Skytrac chairlift servicing new backside terrain. The projects were recently green lighted by both the Town of Jackson and United States Forest Service. The approval is still subject to a 45 day objection period, but the ski area wanted to get in line early with Leitner-Poma and Skytrac with the goal of completion for the 2021-22 season.

“We are extremely excited to take this leap forward for Snow King to ensure that the historic ski area can be economically viable and sustainable long into the future,” said Snow King Mountain President Ryan Stanley.  “We have gone through a very extensive review process with both the Town of Jackson and USFS over the past five years and are now looking forward to making some exceptional improvements to the Town Hill that the community will be able to enjoy for decades to come.” The gondola will be the first detachable lift for 82 year old Snow King and will replace a 1981 CTEC double. To make room for the bottom gondola terminal, the Cougar triple‘s drive station will be moved 250 feet uphill.

A ride on the gondola will end at a new summit lodge featuring panoramic views of the Town of Jackson and Teton Range. The gondola will operate year round for skiers, sightseers and mountain bikers. In winter, a mountaintop learning area will feature three new surface lifts in a scenic setting. More advanced riders can look forward to new trails and glades on the southern flank of Snow King.

The two lift order is one of the first major projects announced for 2021, which could be a busy one for lift companies. More than a dozen North American 2020 projects were delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic and hopefully will be completed next year.

News Roundup: Good Things

Instagram Tuesday: Autumn Leaves

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

News Roundup: Going Virtual

Instagram Tuesday: Putting it Up

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

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Drive terminal @saddlebackmaine

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The Last of "The Lattice Frontier"

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