By David Schissler
(August 2014) This December, visitors to Okemo can ride North America’s first and only high-speed, heated, six-person, transparent and retractable bubble chair. It’s replacing the Northstar Express lift. This lift promises to be so comfortable its working name is “the flying sofa”.
“There is excitement in the air on the mountain and a buzz around town and among our loyal Okemo skiers, as our Mountain Operation crew dives into the installation of this state-of-the-art lift,” said Executive Vice President and Co-owner of Okemo Mountain Resort Diane Mueller. ‘Over the years Okemo has had many “firsts,” beginning with construction of Vermont’s largest snowmaking pond. This lift adds another “first” to the list.
Here are the vitals:
Length: 6,430 feet
Vertical rise: 1,670 feet
Number of chairs: 113
Speed: 1,000 ft/minute
Ride time: 6.4 minutes
Riders per hour: 2,900
Cost: $6.9 million
As if this lift isn’t cool enough, it’s also going to have its own heated barn at its base. Each night the chairs will be removed from the cable and stored in the barn. No need to shovel these chairs after a snowy night! The removal of the chairs will also allow for more efficient de-icing of the lift cable. These features will minimize lift-opening delays and potential inconvenience to skiing and riding guests.
Construction of “the flying sofa” has already begun at Leitner-Poma facilities in Colorado and Europe. Deconstruction of the Northstar Express quad is well underway and it will head to Okemo’s sister resort, Mount Sunapee, NH to replace their Sunbowl fixed grip quad (See Sunapee story below, and careful with that quad, Eugene, I plan to ride it at Sunapee this season!). According to Bonnie MacPherson, director of public relations at Okemo, early in September web cams will be in place at both the top and bottom allowing lift junkies like me to witness this historic project.
“We listen to what our guests have to say,” said Vice President and General Manager Bruce Schmidt. “They have been telling us that they want a lift with some protection from the elements so they can have a better experience on the mountain and spend more time on the snow. Unlike a gondola that requires skiers and riders to remove their equipment each time they ascend the mountain, this new lift will offer speed, comfort and convenience.”
For more information, please call (802) 228-1600, or visit www.okemo.com