CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Following months of planning, construction, and testing, Sugarloaf will officially open its new Skyline chairlift to the public at noon on Saturday, Dec. 17.
The new lift was installed over the summer as part of the resort's 10-year development plan, called Sugarloaf 2020, according to a news release issued by the resort Tuesday.
The new $3-million, four-passenger chairlift, manufactured by Doppelmayr-Garventa, replaces the aging two-passenger Spillway East and Spillway West lifts.
Spillway East was the scene of a mishap in December 2010 when high winds and an in-progress lift adjustment led to a derailment that caused several chairs to drop to the snow below, injuring six passengers.
The resort will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the base of the lift, and the first 100 riders on the new chair will receive a commemorative Skyline T-shirt.
The first four official seats on the new lift were auctioned off over the summer, with the proceeds going to benefit four local nonprofit organizations: the Sugarloaf Charity Summit, the Western Maine Center for Children, the Sugarloaf Ski Club and Carrabassett Valley Academy.
“This is great news for Sugarloafers everywhere,” John Diller, Sugarloaf''s general manager said in a prepared statement. “With the new Skyline Quad, skiers and riders will enjoy greater uphill capacity and reliable access to some of Sugarloaf’s most unique and storied terrain. This is a big step in our Sugarloaf 2020 plan, and our crew worked hard all summer to keep things on schedule, so it’s very exciting to finally see it come to life.”
The new lift features a conveyor loading system, the second of its kind in Maine, which aims to improve the lift-loading experience, reduce lift stoppage time, and allow the lift to run at speeds of up to 500 feet per minute, making it the fastest fixed-grip lift on the market, the release stated.
The new lift travels 3,746 feet, rises 1,457 vertical feet, features a total of 16 towers, and is powered by a 400 horsepower motor. An additional 400-horsepower Cummins Diesel engine serves as a backup.
Skyline was designed to be as wind-resistant as possible, with shorter towers, heavier chairs. Several hundred feet of wind-fencing have been installed along the lift to help protect it from the mountain's notorious winds.
Resort officials have said the presence of the new, high-capacity quad is expected to rebalance the flow of uphill traffic on the mountain, thus reducing pressure on other lifts and decreasing lift lines across the mountain during the busiest times of the ski season.