News Roundup: Best Ever

ORDA to Spend $38 Million on Lifts in ’23

Citing a tight supply chain and manufacturer consolidation, the staff of New York’s Olympic Regional Development Authority today requested board approval for seven major lift projects to be completed in 2023. Three state-run ski areas – Belleayre, Gore Mountain and Whiteface – each would receive new and upgraded lifts under the ambitious plan.

At Gore Mountain, bids are already in for replacing the Hudson triple with an extended detachable quad. The lowest bid came in at $8,761,520, though ORDA has not yet released the name of the winning manufacturer. This lift would operate year round and be accompanied by a new lodge. ORDA now also wants to replace Gore’s Bear Cub Poma in 2023. A replacement fixed grip chairlift would cost an estimated $3.5 million.

Four lift capital projects are proposed for Belleayre, the largest of which is a full replacement of Lift 7. A $6.5 million detachable quad would follow a modified alignment beginning near the top of the Lightning Quad. The Belleayre Express, a 16 year old detachable quad, would receive new operator houses and electrical systems at a cost of $1.7 million. Lift 8 is in line for a $400,000 upgrade and a new conveyor would round out $9+ million worth of lift projects at Belleayre.

The largest single project is at Whiteface, the largest vertical ski resort in the east. ORDA plans to build a two stage detachable quad from the Bear Den base area to mid mountain with an angle station along the way. This lift would cost a whopping $16.5 million due to the complex nature of the alignment.

The ORDA Board nearly unanimously approved resolutions for all projects to proceed as quickly as possible.

News Roundup: Quad For Sale

  • In an op-ed, Vail Mountain Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Beth Howard says the company is evaluating wages for next season.
  • Mike Goar pens a similar letter to the Park City community.
  • New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu says his office is working to address complaints about Vail Resorts operations at state-owned Mt. Sunapee.
  • Indy Pass adds Sunlight, Colorado.
  • A 7 year old is expected to be okay after falling 35 feet from a chairlift at the Florida State Fair.
  • New York State issues an RFP for the North Creek Ski Bowl detachable quad project at Gore Mountain.
  • Here’s a preview of the Lookout Pass Eagle Peak expansion, set for a CTEC quad this summer:

News Roundup: Ramping Up

News Roundup: On the Map

Last summer, we examined the names of our trails and lifts, and recognized that the name “Eskimo” is considered derogatory and offensive by many. Through research we learned people in many parts of the Arctic consider Eskimo a derogatory term because it was widely used by racist, non-native colonizers. Many people also thought it meant eater of raw meat, which connoted barbarism and violence. Brands with longer histories than Winter Park’s have also decided to abandon the term. The iconic Eskimo Pie dropped the name in 2020, and the Edmonton Canadian football team announced it would no longer use the name as well.

Winter Park is a place for all people to Venture Out, to escape and retreat, to transform and trailblaze. Winter Park is an inclusive place and that’s why we moved to change the name of the Eskimo Express Lift to the Explorer Express Lift. The name “Explorer” more accurately represents our resort, our brand, our team, and our guests.

News Roundup: Suits

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.

New York State Ski Areas Plan New Lifts for 2020-21

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As part of a proposed budget, three more lifts similar to Belleayre’s new Lightning quad would be built at ORDA ski resorts in 2020 and 2021.

New York’s state-owned Olympic Regional Development Authority plans to spend a whopping $147 million to upgrade its facilities during 2020 and 2021.  Those venues include Belleayre, Gore Mountain, the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex and Whiteface, which together saw three new lifts over the last three years.  On Friday, the agency issued a formal request for proposal for three more fixed-grip quad chairlifts to be built over two years.

This summer, both Gore and Whiteface would see new lifts replacing Riblet models.  Gore proposes replacing the Sunway double with a fixed quad capable of moving 2,400 guests per hour.  The previous lift dates back to 1986.  The new alignment would end slightly higher than the current lift, with a 566 foot vertical rise and 3,102 foot slope length.  This machine would be bottom drive, bottom tension with a loading carpet.

sunway2020

Also in 2020, Whiteface plans to replace the Bunny Hutch triple with a quad.  The current lift opened in 1997 with used Riblet equipment.  The new lift would be about 450 feet longer with a vertical rise of 364 feet.  This quad would also be bottom drive/bottom tension and may include a loading conveyor.

bunnyhutch2020

Following in 2021, Gore would see a replacement for the High Peaks double.  The existing lift is a quirky Riblet-CTEC hybrid that experiences long lines during peak times.  The new lift would be a bottom drive fixed-grip quad with a design capacity of 2,400 skiers per hour.

highpeaks2021

No new lifts are planned for Belleayre, understandable considering the Catskills mountain got two of the last three projects.  There’s no guarantee ORDA will follow through on these specific plans but the RFP gives us a pretty good idea of the authority’s wish list.  Potential suppliers have until March 5th to bid and, if funded and approved, construction would be complete by November 15th of 2020 and 2021.

News Roundup: Beyond Skiing

  • According to the New York State contracting website, the Gore Mountain Sunway, High Peaks, Hudson and Whiteface Bear Den lift replacement projects that went out to bid last fall are all on hold.  Two bids were received for the Olympic Jumping Complex gondola in Lake Placid but no builder has been selected as of January 18th.
  • A chair falls off a 1993 Yan detachable quad in Spain, closing an entire ski resort indefinitely.
  • Lift service returns to Killington’s South Ridge for the first time in a decade as of yesterday.
  • Bartholet completes its first 10 passenger gondola lift in Norway.
  • Les Otten lobbies for a new bill that would permit public financing for The Balsams redevelopment.
  • The proposed gondola in Idaho Springs, Colorado would be modeled after the Sea to Sky Gondola, which now carries more than 400,000 riders a year in British Culumbia.  The 1.2 mile Colorado version would rise 1,100 feet above Interstate 70.
  • The largest lost ski resort in Canada, Fortress Mountain, could reopen with a mix of new and refurbished lifts in 2020.
  • Sun Valley and Snowbasin ditch the Mountain Collective Pass for a partnership with Vail Resorts and the Epic Pass starting next winter.
  • The Laconia Daily Sun explains how Highland Mountain Bike Park finds success on the grounds of a long lost New Hampshire ski area.
  • The former longtime operator of Timberline Four Seasons Resort is indicted, accused of illegally prescribing pain drugs.  The ski area suffered a major lift accident in 2016 and has operated only sporadically this winter.

News Roundup: Only in Utah