Shooting Star Express – Stratton, VT

Garaventa CTEC Stealth III top drive station.
Departure side at the summit.
Work chair and upper lift line.
Top terminal porch.
View down at tower 9.
The bottom terminal and steep climb out.
Loading area.
Partially covered parking rails.
Towers 1-2.
Another view of the parking structure.
View up the lift line.

17 thoughts on “Shooting Star Express – Stratton, VT

  1. skitheeast May 3, 2019 / 2:41 pm

    This is probably the most controversial lift at Stratton as it indirectly replaced the Kidderbrook Quad. Intrawest wanted to provide one seamless ride from the base of Sun Bowl to the top of the mountain, so they placed Shooting Star here instead of in the old Kidderbrook alignment. When Kidderbrook was inevitably removed a few years later, a number of the mountain’s best trails were left with either a long runoff to the base or a flat cutoff that shortened the run.


    • Collin Parsons May 3, 2019 / 3:11 pm

      The Bear Down and Upper Middlebrook trails always had a significant runout to get to any lift. You always had the option of cutting over where the Shooter trail is to get onto Supertrail or Lower Downeaster instead. Kidderbrook Quad was in my opinion (having never ridden it) a useless out of the way lift that took 15 minutes to ride and only really served 2 trails once Shooting Star was built. After Tamarack is replaced and if they were to add a couple trails to skier’s right of Upper Kidderbrook, I could see a lower capacity high speed quad being installed there.

      They built Shooting Star where it is rather than on Kidderbrook because they wanted it to be a quick transfer between the lower and upper lifts. They wanted to prevent people from going to URSA where they have always had long wait times due to how many lifts feed traffic into it. If the upper Sun Bowl lift was on the Kidderbrook route, it would result in higher traffic on Churchill Downs which is pretty narrow, and more people would have ended up on URSA because it would be faster to go there than Kidderbrook. Since this lift is easiest to get to if you took the Sunrise Express, everyone who is continuing to the summit uses it.

      This lift is also very overbuilt for the location and there are two reasons for this. One is they wanted parts commonality with the Sunrise Express, and two they wanted to match the capacity so that there would be little to no wait for this lift. It functions essentially as a continuation of the Sunrise Express, rather than a standalone. When I ski Stratton, I use this lift quite often for top to bottom Sun Bowl laps, or even to just take Upper Black Bear or Upper Middlebrook. It’s also an easy way to get to the summit while bypassing the atrocious lines that form at URSA and to even worse extent the gondola.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Somebody May 3, 2019 / 9:06 pm

      I agree, it’s unfortunate there isn’t a straightforward solution to this, because the sunbowl link to the summit is important, but Kidderbrook (and the undevelopec forest to the skiers right) is the best terrain on the entire mountain, and lapping it is just miserable, especially when sunrise has a long line or shooting star is closed.


  2. powderforever21 July 29, 2019 / 2:12 pm

    Why didn’t they just do a gondola or something with a midstation?


    • Collin Parsons July 29, 2019 / 5:55 pm

      A gondola with an angle station and 3600/hr capacity is going to set you back at least 20 million dollars. I bet these two lifts were built for under half that. The separate 6-packs get the job done just as well if not better, and Shooting Star almost never having a line prevents a lot of people from going to URSA.


    • skitheeast July 29, 2019 / 6:19 pm

      A lot of people just want to lap the upper mountain terrain and it is more convenient when you can keep your skis on and get right on the lift and ski right off. A gondola would have been overkill.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Teddy's Lift World November 13, 2019 / 9:26 am

      1. Cost
      2. Space
      3. Convenience


  3. Donald Reif January 13, 2020 / 5:48 pm

    I think the more practical solution would’ve been a three lift project: with Sunrise as a nonstop six pack from the base to the summit, with Solstice being built as a high speed quad from its current starting location to where Sunrise offloads/Shooting Star begins, and a high speed quad replacing Kidderbrook. This would result in an arrangement similar to the west side of the mountain, where AmEx serves the lower half, Snow Bowl and URSA serve the upper half, and the Gondola provides direct top-to-bottom service.


    • Tijsen January 20, 2020 / 11:13 am

      A six pack for that alignment would be very long. Also these lifts were installed in 2001 so bubbles weren’t a thing in the US yet, and even if they were bubbles would make the lift close constantly on that last 3 tower stretch after passing over Upper Griz because it is always windy there.


    • Somebody January 20, 2020 / 3:17 pm

      There’s no reason to build a nonstop lift from the sunbowl base to the top, because nobody does full top-to-sunbowl laps. The trails just aren’t cut in a way that makes it viable. Most people lap the existing lower pod and use Shooting Star as a connector lift to reach other parts of the mountain. On top of that, there’d likely be confusion in the sunbowl base area with people not knowing which lift to get on.

      I think the solution is to:
      -High Speed Quad on Kidderbrook
      -Move Shooting star to replace both Tamarack and South American
      -Move the current South American FGQ to the shooting star line
      -HS8 on Ursa or keep the current lift and add a supplementary HSQ

      Liked by 1 person

      • skitheeast January 20, 2020 / 4:53 pm

        I agree with everything you said except I would not even move the existing South American lift to Shooting Star. It is already in its second location and was built in the 80s, plus it would be redundant with Ursa 8 and Kidderbrook detach. Perhaps keep the tradition alive and sell it to Magic for them to reopen Timber Ridge.


      • Tijsen January 21, 2020 / 2:15 pm

        The issue with shooting star going where tamarack is is that they want it to be two sections. An 8 pack on URSA would be a dream. It would improve flow so much better and it won’t do too much with overcrowding since it serves basically whole upper mtn and there are still some trails which can get more people on (Griz, Standard, etc). If they get a hsq for kidderbrook it will definitely help get people to the underutilized trails there and they can make some more trails south of it (Which I believe they own some and there from the Victoria USA ownership). There is no need for a second lift for sunbowl summit, since kidderbrook already will serve all upper sunbowl trails and there wont be enough demand for more upper sunbowl capacity.


        • LowerLiftline January 21, 2020 / 2:43 pm

          Did anyone here ride the Kidderbrook chair when it existed? It was miserable. The ride time would be aided by installing an HSQ but the piercing, constant wind directly in your face once the lift crests the ridge at Free Fall would be as terrible as it was when the lift was there. As a lifelong Stratton skier, I think Shooting Star is one of the best improvements the mountain ever made. The lower Kidderbrook runout only takes 5 minutes. Really not a huge deal.

          Also, all the land south of Kidderbrook, past the rope in Test Pilot, is VT state forest. International Paper offered to sell this to Stratton in the 80s but they passed on it for some reason and VT got in instead. The aren’t likely to ever let them develop more trails there unfortunately.


        • skitheeast January 21, 2020 / 3:41 pm

          Kidderbrook was similar to the old Snow Bowl lift in terms of wind/cold comfort. When they installed Snow Bowl Express, they kept the lift as low to the ground as possible and altered the alignment to mitigate those problems. The same could be done with a theoretical Kidderbrook Express.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Tijsen January 21, 2020 / 7:57 pm

          I know that the wind would be blowing downhill on this lift so maybe it could even be a bubble?


  4. Tom White January 21, 2020 / 3:48 pm

    I rode the Kidderbrook FGQ. Yes it was cold. But there is quit a bit of good terrain that would spread crowds if a HSQ was installed.


    • Donald Reif January 21, 2020 / 10:15 pm

      It would move people away from Ursa.


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