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A Needed Lift or Two After a Rough Year

by Dan Giesin | October 5, 2021

The Great Pandemic of 2020-21 put the brakes on a whole lot of things around the world, and the ski industry was no exception.

Many projects expected to be completed in time for the 2020-21 ski season were put on hold because of the coronavirus. For instance, of the nearly three dozen lifts around the United States that are set to make their debut in the coming winter, nearly a quarter of them (9) were supposed to be already spinning.

So as the ski industry — and the rest of us — are recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and anticipating some sort of “normalness” to return for the 2021-22 season, let’s take a look at some capital improvements at selected resorts around the nation.

Colorado

Vail Resorts, after a year’s postponement, boosted the carrying capacity at four of its resorts in the Centennial State:

  • Beaver Creek expanded its terrain by 250 acres with the addition of the family-friendly enclave known as McCoy Park, which will be serviced by the McCoy Park Express, a high-speed quad, and the Reunion chair, a fixed-grip quad.
  • Breckenridge will enable more riders to gain access to the popular Peak 7 area with the addition of the high-speed quad Freedom Superchair, which will work in conjunction with the older Independence Superchair.
  • Crested Butte’s oldest lift, Peachtree, which dates back to 1971, was converted from a double to a triple chair, and the beginners’ terrain at the resort’s base which it serves has been graded to have a more consistent slope.
  • Keystone turned the old Peru Express high-speed quad into a six pack, which is expected to improve the resort’s rider circulation with quicker and more efficient access to the mountain.

Northern Rockies

  • Big Sky has added another six-passenger, high-speed heated bubble chair to their lift system: The Swift Current 6. The new conveyance is replacing the old Swift Current quad, and will do it more efficiently — by having a slightly realigned line and unloading area — and faster, moving at a 1,200-feet per minute clip. The new chair, which also has automatic locking and unlocking restraining bars, was originally planned to run last season
  • Snow King, Jackson, Wyo.’s town hill, built an eight-passenger gondola to replace the 40-year old double chair that brought riders to the summit, and installed a fixed-grip quad on the south side of the mountain to open extensive terrain on the mountain’s south side.
  • Schweitzer will open its new Humbird Hotel — a 31-room slopeside boutique property — by the holidays. The northern Idaho resort also added 14 chairs to the Stella six pack, which will increase uphill capacity by 600 riders per hour.

Northeast 

  • Loon Mountain is now the site of the eastern U.S.’s first eight-passenger chair. The Kancamagus 8, which replaces the Kancamagus 4 quad, is a high-speed bubble chair with heated seats and automatic restraining bar.
  • Okemo will finally see the debut of two replacement lifts, which were delayed by the pandemic: The Quantum 6, a high-speed six pack, replaces the Quantum 4 quad in the Jackson Gore base area, and the Evergreen Summit Express, a high-speed quad, replaces the old Green Ridge triple and provides faster access to the summit.

Wasatch

  • Snowbasin’s Middle Bowl lift, heretofore a fix-gripped quad, has been converted into a high-speed six pack. The Middle Bowl Express, which brings riders to the stupendous Needles on-mountain lodge, shortens the ride time by more than half, from 12 minutes to less than 6.

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