Vail’s new lift: ‘Greatest thing ever’
Aspen, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colo. ” For years, Vail Mountain’s creaky, two-seat Highline lift was as identifiable with that area as were its trademark moguls.
The circa 1973 lift took 14 minutes, the longest ride on Vail Mountain, to rise above the isolated double-black-diamond Highline run.
When Vail Resorts announced plans to replace the old chair with a high-speed, four-person lift, a few skiers decried the move to modernity. On Friday, though, skiers on the new, fast Chair 10 had only good things to say about it.
“It’s the greatest thing ever,” said Braden Wagner of Denver, who was headed down Roger’s Run from the top of Chair 10. “It just makes it so much easier. You don’t freeze.”
The new lift cuts the ride time in half, from 14 minutes to 7 minutes.
Wagner’s friend, Dom Burmeikis of Denver, had similar feelings.
“That lift, on a cold day, you could only do it three times before you had to check out,” he said. “Now, it’s nice.”
Burmeikis said he loves Blue Ox, the only trail in the Highline area that gets groomed. The other double-black-diamond trails under the lift, Highline and Roger’s Run, never see snowcats, which allows their bumps to grow to Volkswagen Beetle-like proportions.
On Friday, a steady stream of skiers and snowboarders were heading up the sleek, new lift. While some were heading down the beginner Sourdough area, others bee-lined for the mogul runs.
“It’s a workout, and it’s a challenge,” said Eric Olsen of Fort Collins. “I think (the new lift) is fantastic. Having the old, slow chair kind of limited who came back here.”
The only advantage to the old chair was that its lengthy ride gave your legs some time to recover, he said.
“You could get a reasonable rest between runs on Highline,” Olsen said.
Bryan Heinz of Avon is another fan of the Chair 10 terrain ” and the new chair.
“It’s great,” he said. “You can just quickly get up here. It’s twice as fast as the old chair.”
Resort officials tout Chair 10 for its ability to speed up trips to China Bowl, Two Elk Lodge and Blue Sky Basin. But Heinz was headed for the moguls.
“I love the bump runs, especially Highline,” he said. “They are much more enjoyable. I used to take one run. Now I take two or three.”
Mark Flynn of Jacksonville, Fla., said he comes to Chair 10 to escape the crowds when Chairs 11 or 14 get backed up.
“It’s a big difference,” he said of the new lift.
Vail Mountain officials have also said that guests increasingly expect high-speed lifts. Slower, fixed-grip chairs have become the exception on the mountain.
Regina and Rolf Woerz of Germany said they ski mostly high-speed quads when they go to ski resorts across Europe.
“This is standard for us,” Regina Woerz said of the new Chair 10.
Vail Mountain also wants to replace the slower Chair 5, which serves Sun Up and Sun Down bowls, with a high-speed lift. The Forest Service’s approval process is now under way, and the soonest a new Chair 5 could be in place is the winter of 2009-10.
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