Lifts to Look for in PyeongChang

A new gondola at South Korea’s Jeongseon Alpine Centre glides over a Wold Cup race in 2017.  Photo credit: Doppelmayr

The Olympics have become a boon for ski lift companies, which often supply tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in new lifts in the run up to each Games.  Most recently for Sochi’s 2014 venues, Doppelmayr built a staggering 40 ropeways including multiple tricable gondolas that could even carry cars in the event of road closures.  Poma built another $137 million worth – 16 lifts – the most concurrently at a single area in company history.  Even summer host cities often feature ropeways that I’d like to think contributed to them being chosen as hosts in the first place.  Transport for London and Doppelmayr launched the Emirates Air Line just in time for the 2012 games and Rio de Janeiro debuted multiple urban gondolas in the run up to 2016.


Jeongseon Alpine Centre is a purpose-built Olympic downhill facility with 100 percent automated snowmaking coverage.

The 2018 games kick off February 9th in and around PyeongChang, South Korea.  Three ski resorts will host alpine events just 125 miles from where North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un opened his own new ski resort with a gondola and four chairlifts in 2013.  The South’s democratic government has constructed a similar facility from scratch to host the downhill and super-G events, called Jeongseon Alpine Centre.  Doppelmayr supplied a unique two-section gondola in 2015 and added additional two high-speed quad lifts in 2016.  This is notable because there are really only two runs!  One of the chairlifts is very similar to the temporary Timing Flats high-speed quad at Whistler, which simply ferried foot passengers from the base area to finish plaza during the 2010 Games and was moved to Sunshine Village after just two weeks of public use.

Spectators for the downhill, super G and combined will ride this lift to access a 6,500 seat stadium finish.  Photo credit: Doppelmayr

The two-section Jeongseon Downhill Gondola is powered by a single 857 horsepower motor and services the entire 2,707 vertical-foot  men’s downhill course.  A stacked bullwheel at the lift’s angle station has two grooves for the two different haul ropes.  After some delays with site prep, the gondola was built by multiple crews in just three months from November 2015 to February 2016, just before an IOC deadline.  The finish line at Jeongseon sits at only 1,788 feet above sea level and a 4,500 gallon-per-minute snowmaking system was also built here.  The venue receives little natural snowfall and has been criticized for its ecological impact and questionable future as a public facility.

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Beijing 2022 Olympics: Where are the Ski Venues?

Genting Secret Garden trail map.
Genting Secret Garden trail map.

This morning the International Olympic Committee announced Beijing as the host for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.  This means the next three Olympics after Rio will be held in Asia.  The 2022 games are shaping up to be a lot like Sochi with entire ski resorts being built for two weeks of competition.  In fact, only two of the four planned skiing and snowboarding venues exist today.  At least in China the facilities will probably be well-used after the games, unlike Russia where entire 3S Gondolas sit shuttered.

2012 Doppelmayr Worldbook entry for Genting Secret Garden's chondola.
2012 Doppelmayr Worldbook entry for Genting Secret Garden’s chondola.

The snowboarding slopestyle, halfpipe, and some of the freestyle skiing will take place at Genting Secret Garden near Chongli.  This resort opened in 2011 with two Doppelmayr detachable quads with bubbles and heated seats.  It added a Doppelmayr 6/8-passenger chondola the following year that serves 1,300 vertical feet.  Right next door, the older Wanlong Ski Resort will host slalom snowboarding.  It has three fixed-grip double chairs and a quad that look like the fake Doppelmayr lifts that China built for North Korea.  These lifts may have been fabricated in China or the ones China copied when they built the lifts for the North Koreans.  None of the lifts at Wanlong appear in Doppelmayr’s world ropeway map or Worldbooks despite being built relatively recently.

I think this Doppelmayr lift may be a Chinese-made fake.
Doppelmayr or the the Chinese version of Doppelmayr at Wanlong Ski Resort.

Nearby Wanlong and Genting Secret Garden there is a third resort under construction called Taiwu which will host the snowboard cross and freestyle skiing.  Wanlong, Genting Secret Garden and Taiwu are all in a cluster 140 miles from Beijing.  (For reference, Whistler was 75 miles from Vancouver in 2010.)  None of them get much natural snow so snowmaking will be essential.

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