News Roundup: Progress

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News Roundup: Confirmed

  • $150 million Raymond James settlement includes $762,503 for Burke Mountain’s new Leitner-Poma T-Bar.
  • Power outage leads to rope evacuation of Loveland’s newest lift.
  • Steamboat gondola refurbishing begins  (I got to tour Northstar’s gondola this week which received a similar upgrade in 2015.)
  • Orlando Sentinel confirms Walt Disney World is building three Doppelmayr 10-passenger gondolas with six stations.
  • Crystal Mountain breaks away from Boyne Resorts, orders five additional gondola cabins and plans to build new Discovery and Gold Hills lifts in 2018.
  • Eldora is selling Hall and Heron chairs as six-pack construction begins.
  • Preview Oakland’s new $13 million restaurant accessible only by gondola.
  • Sunday River’s new owner commits to replacing Spruce Peak.
  • This week’s cities floating gondolas include Edmonton and Burlington, Vermont.
  • Fatzer delivers four 153-ton track ropes to Germany’s Zugspitze using two trucks linked together for the entire journey.

News Roundup: Multiplying

News Roundup: Vermont

  • In the wake of fraud allegations and a federal takeover, Q Burke Mountain Resort will lose the Q and likely be sold within a year.
  • At Jay Peak, Doppelmayr says the 52-year old aerial tramway needs $4.15 million in repairs.  In a press conference, the Florida lawyer put in charge of both properties said “we’re not even sure we have to fix the tram.  The company that tells us we have to fix it is also the one that will get the contract.”  At least he’s stopped calling it a gondola.
  • A new lease for Ascutney Mountain will allow a nonprofit group to build up to three lifts at the ski area, which closed in 2008.  Skytrac removed Ascutney’s four CTECs from 2012-2014 and sold them to Crotched Mountain, Pats Peak and Liberty Mountain.  A 1970 Hall double remains standing on the property.
  • Washington, DC taps the same company that conducted the feasibility study for the Portland Aerial Tram to study the proposed Georgetown Gondola.
  • A D-Line gondola is coming to Innsbruck.
  • The Mi Teleferico “My Cable Car” network in La Paz carried 43 million passengers in its first 22 months with 99.3% reliability.

Feds Seize Jay Peak & Burke Mountain, Allege $200 Million Fraud

Jay Peak and Q Burke Mountain Resorts have new management today courtesy of the federal government.  In a joint press conference with Vermont’s governor and state regulators this morning, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission released an 81-page complaint alleging Q Resorts Inc. owner Ariel Quiros and CEO Bill Stegner defrauded investors and misused $200 million over the past eight years in a “Ponzi-like” scheme.

The EB-5 Visa program gives foreign investors permanent U.S. residency in exchange for investing $500,000 and creating jobs at American businesses.  Funds are supposed to be used for specific projects such as the snowmaking expansion at Mt. Snow.  At Jay Peak, Mr. Quiros and Mr. Stegner raised $350 million with 700+ investors from 74 countries for seven different projects.  At least $200 million of that money was instead redirected to pay off loans used to buy both ski mountains, purchase a condo for Quiros at Trump Place in New York and pay personal income taxes.  “The alleged fraud ran the gamut from false statements to deceptive financial transactions to outright theft,” said Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s enforcement division.

The alleged flow of funds is so complicated the State of Vermont set up an interactive page to view it.
State of Vermont diagram showing the alleged flow of funds.
What does this all mean for the ski operations?  The SEC froze assets yesterday and appointed Kansas City-based Leisure Hotels and Resorts to operate Burke and Jay.  The company has no ski resort experience but owns numerous hotels in the Midwest. Jay’s Communications Director said this afternoon that Quiros and Stegner no longer have any authority to conduct business or direct operations until the case has concluded.

Longtime Chief Marketing Officer Steve Wright has stepped in as General Manager for now an

Jay Peak is open for skiing today with 4 

lifts spinning.

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Oldest Operating Lifts in the US & Canada

1. Single Chair, Mad River Glen, VT – 1948 American Steel & Wire Single Chair

The single chair at MRG still has its original towers and terminal structures but everything else was replaced by Doppelmayr CTEC in 2007.  As part of that project, towers were removed, sandblasted and repainted before being flown back to new foundations with new line gear.  Doppelmayr also replaced the bullwheels, chairs, grips, drive and haul rope.  This begs the question of ‘when is an old lift a new lift?’

2. Gatlinburg Sky Lift, Gatlinburg, TN – 1954 Riblet double

Everett Kircher of Boyne fame bought this chairlift from Sugar Bowl, CA for $3,000 in 1954.  Originally it was a single chair built in 1939.  Modified sheave assemblies were machined at the Kircher’s car dealership in Michigan when the lift went to Tennessee.  At some point it appears to have gotten newer-style Riblet towers.  Boyne Resorts still operates this lift 800 miles from their nearest ski resort. (edit: JP notes in the comments below that this version was replaced by a Riblet double in 1991.  Thanks JP!)

3. Chair 1, White Pass, WA – 1955 1962 Riblet double

This lift only operates on busy weekends and holidays but it’s an old one and a good one .  A classic Pacific Northwest center-pole double with very few modifications from its original design and no safety bars! (edit: Brian notes in the comments that this lift was actually installed as Chair 2 in 1962.  The original chair 1 operated 1955-1994.)

IMG_9529
Chair one at White Pass lives on despite an adjacent high speed quad.

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