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.
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.
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.
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.
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Only a handful of ski mountains in the United States are government owned and operated. The largest public ski outfit by far is New York’s Olympic Regional Development Authority, which runs Belleayre, Gore Mountain, Whiteface and the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex at Lake Placid. All but one of these properties are likely to see new lifts in 2019. Because the mountains are funded in part by taxpayers, potential lift projects are subject to competitive procurement. Over the last month, the Authority has opened requests for proposals for a new high speed quad at Gore Mountain, a quad chair at Whiteface and a surprise gondola at the ski jump.
Back on September 17th, ORDA opened bidding for a chairlift replacement project at Gore Mountain. “Gore Mountain Ski Resort will be replacing their existing triple chair lift with a high speed detachable quad chair lift,” notes the New York State Contract Reporter. “This would be a turnkey project where the winning bidder would provide all materials, labor and equipment to build and install the lift.” This is almost certainly the approved upgrade of Hudson, a 2010 Partek build. Bids were due last Tuesday and the term is 12 months. Leitner-Poma of America built the last three detachable lifts at Gore, so I’d argue it is their contract to lose.
Next up is an RFP for a new Bear Den quad at Whiteface, the largest ski mountain in the east by vertical. The current Riblet triple in the Bear Den base area will become one of many late model Riblet lifts to be replaced recently. I assume this one will be fixed grip but the contract reporter website does not specify. Bids are due on Monday, November 26th. Doppelmayr would seem to have the edge at Whiteface, having built the mountain’s three newest lifts.
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Whiteface is the largest resort in the East by vertical and played host to the 1980 Olympic Downhill. The New York State-owned Olympic Regional Development Authority continues to operate Whiteface along with nearby Gore Mountain and Belleayre in the Catskills. This week, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed an impressive $62.5 million for capital improvements at ORDA facilities for 2018-19. While the budget proposal is not yet law and does not identify specific items, it is likely to fund projects from Whiteface and Gore‘s management plans which, probably not coincidentally, were updated this month to include up to ten new lifts.
The biggest project in Whiteface’s future is the replacement of the Freeway double (a 1978 Hall) in a completely new and much longer alignment. A new high-speed quad would start at in the base area and cross over the Little Whiteface double-double, topping out on the Upper Mackenzie trail. Two new trails would be cut from the top, making this lift ideal for intermediate skiers and riders. A second project would replace the 1984 VonRoll double named Bear with a fixed-grip quad. An offload opportunity would be included near the current top terminal and the new lift would continue to the Mid-station lodge area parallel with the Face Lift detachable quad.
Significant improvements are planned for the Bear Den beginner complex. A relocated Riblet double-turned-triple currently services this zone and would be replaced with a fixed-grip quad. “The new quad and magic carpet at Bear Den will serve the extensive trail work we are planning in that area,” Whiteface General Manager Aaron Kellett tells NY Ski Blog. “We want to extend the lift top terminal higher to create better flow in and out of the area.” Last year, Whiteface proposed a new lift from Bear Den all the way to the Mid-station but that plan has morphed into a conceptual transfer lift between the two base areas. A second transfer lift (think gondola, pulse gondola or cabriolet) could link the main parking lot to the base lodge.