News Roundup: On the Block

  • Alterra’s David Perry says significant capital is likely be spent at Steamboat in 2018 and 2019 with phase two of the gondola rebuild and other big projects on the table.
  • A Denver TV reporter heads to Texas for a two-part interview with the husband of Kelly Huber, the woman killed during a lift malfunction last year at Granby Ranch.
  • Two loaded chairs collide at Owl’s Head, Quebec after the Green Chair was pressed into rare operation amid downtime on a neighboring high-speed quad.  The 1972 Heron-Poma is the former Big Hitch lift from Stagecoach, Colorado.
  • China Peak’s owner wishes he still had the $900,000 he spent to build a new lift last summer that can’t open with no snow.
  • The new Peak triple was rope evac’d at Pats Peak last Monday, apparently due to a gearbox issue.
  • Poma dedicates its newest factory in France.
  • Disney Skyliner’s first tower is up and it’s tapered in the cool Wolfurt style.
  • Ian Cumming, founder of Powdr and majority owner of Snowbird, dies at age 77.
  • Granite Gorge’s chairlift opens for the season after a gearbox issue and other problems.
  • Ariel Quiros officially settles with the Securities and Exchange Commission for $82 million, paving the way for the sale of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain.
  • The world’s longest lift is open!
  • Killington formally applies to replace the South Ridge triple with a quad chair, manufacturer unknown. The sample profile confusingly shows a Poma Alpha drive and Doppelmayr Eclipse return terminal.
  • Teton Pass, Montana won’t reopen under current ownership and is up for sale.
  • Skier visits have declined 30 percent in South Korea over the last five years and there are several lost ski resorts in the Olympic region.
  • The Sawtooth National Forest tentatively approves Sun Valley’s project to replace the Cold Springs lift with a longer high-speed quad as soon as this summer.
  • A chairlift will be studied studied for one of Alabama’s most popular state parks.
  • Alterra names Mammoth veteran Rusty Gregory as the company’s first CEO.
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Lifts to Look for in PyeongChang

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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

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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.

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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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News Roundup: Economies of Scale

  • Poma wins monster $47.1 million contract for five lifts from the company that operates Val d’Isère, Tignes, Meribel, La Plagne and Les Arcs in France.  Last year’s three-lift, $29.4 million contract from the same group went to Doppelmayr.
  • An Australian teenager is lucky to be alive after doing pull ups on a moving chairlift cable.
  • The inaugural gondola featuring Sigma’s Symphony 10 cabins debuts in Italy.
  • Canton, Ohio looks at gondolas, calling them “transportainment.”
  • Props to Bear Valley for frequent Moke Express updates.
  • A judge sides with Monarch in lift unloading injury lawsuit.
  • Following a workplace death and news that a major lift is out of service, confusion surrounds Sunrise Park Resort’s season, though new management and lifts could be on the way.
  • Record-shattering aerial tramway with 6,381 feet of vertical and a 10,541′ free span opens in Germany a week from today.
  • Connecticut’s Woodbury Ski Area might be gone for good.
  • George Kruger of Ski Lifts Unlimited, instrumental in rebuilding lifts at Magic Mountain and beyond, passes away.
  • Leitner-Poma is completing final assembly of a cool 25-passenger tramway at the upcoming Salesforce Tower in San Francisco.

News Roundup: Turnover

  • Squaw seeks extension for permit to replace Red Dog lift.
  • MND Group turnover increases 15.1 percent year-over-year.  The company aims to double sales by 2020 partially through LST Ropeways subsidiary.  Referencing the new Cannon Mountain T-Bar in the latest magazine, MND notes “success has enabled LST to penetrate the US market, paving the way for other promising opportunities.”
  • Doppelmayr will begin building its next tri-cable gondola in December.  Who would have guessed Kenya would get a 3S before the United States!
  • Forest Service gives final green light for Breckenridge and Keystone six-place upgrades.
  • A slow landslide continues to move tower 6 of the Barrows lift at Howelsen Hill.
  • SE Group will study placement of Aspen Mountain’s future Lift 1A.
  • Denver Post publishes two part interview with Larry Smith of the CPTSB re: Granby Ranch.
  • The LiftDigital safety bar display system with integrated Wi-Fi will launch in Colorado for 2017-18.
  • New PomaLink newsletter features the Grand Canyon Express and a six-station gondola at a zoo in China.
  • Poma’s 2016 Reference Book includes LPOA installations but not Skytrac ones.
  • Mountain Creek files for bankruptcy protection with debts totaling $40+ million including $500,000 balance on 2012 Partek chairlift loan.
  • One of Heavenly’s original 1962 tram cars is for sale.  Email me if you’re interested.
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  • Artur Doppelmayr died Friday at age 95.  May he rest in peace.

News Roundup: Colorado

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Likely new lifts for 2017 are pacing 39 percent ahead of last year, when 28 new lifts had been announced on this date.  I’ve identified 39 lift projects for 2017 and if last year’s pattern holds, lift manufacturers will build approximately 57 new ropeways in N. America in 2017, the most since 2004.  We’ll know by about July 1.

News Roundup: China

New Roundup: French

Who Will Buy America’s First Eight Passenger Chairlift?

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Eight new eight-passenger chairlifts debuted this ski season, the highest number in history. Twenty years since the technology debuted, Doppelmayr, Garaventa, Leitner and Poma have now built a combined 78 of these mega chairlifts on three continents and in eleven countries.  With 2016 seeing the greatest number of eight-passenger chairlifts constructed, a question on everybody’s mind should be: when will the world’s second largest ski market finally build one?

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Doppelmayr debuted eight-passenger chair technology in 1997 (in Norway of all places) and continues to be the market leader, having built two-thirds of those operating today.  But for the first time ever the Leitner-Poma Group installed more than Doppelmayr and Garaventa combined last year.  In 2006, Leitner built the first combined installation with eight-passenger chairs and 10-passenger gondola cabins and there are now seven of these across Europe.  Bubble chairs and seat heating came along in 2000 and nearly every new eight-passenger lift features both these days.  In total, 60 percent of eight seaters globally have bubbles and half sport heated seats.

8packdistributionbycountry

Austria is home to over 60 percent of the world’s eight-passenger chairlifts and exactly five have ever made it out of Europe.  Australia and Asia each got their first in 2003 but several leading ski markets have never gone there – among them Japan, Canada, China and the United States.

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News Roundup: Six-Pack

News Roundup: South America

This is an open thread.  Feel free to leave a comment on anything lift-related.