CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Installation of a new chairlift, replacing the two existing Spillway chairlifts, will begin in May and be completed by November, Sugarloaf officials announced Wednesday.

The new lift represents the next step in the Sugarloaf 2020 plan. It will be the centerpiece of $4.3 million in off-season upgrades at Sugarloaf, which will include additional lift upgrades and the continued expansion of new terrain on Burnt Mountain.

Last summer Sugarloaf announced its 2020 Road Map, a comprehensive 10-year vision for development at the resort. The first phase, the 270-acre Brackett Basin development on Burnt Mountain, opened this season.

The new lift will be a state-of-the-art, fixed-grip quad chairlift built by Dopplemayr and will be installed in the same path as the existing Spillway East lift. The overall cost for the new lift will be roughly $3 million.

“When we announced the Sugarloaf 2020 plan last summer, we said that a new Spillway was the top priority in our lift-replacement strategy,” General Manager John Diller said.

The new quad will feature a conveyor loading system, which will 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.

Skiers will step onto a moving conveyor, and the chair will pick them up while moving forward, Sugarloaf Spokesman Ethan Austin said.

The lift will travel 3,746 feet, rise 1,457 vertical feet, feature a total of 16 towers and will be powered by a 400 horsepower motor. An additional 400 horsepower Cummins diesel engine will serve as a backup.

The new lift has been designed to be as wind resistant as possible. It will travel at a lower height and will be installed closer to the treeline to reduce its exposure to wind. The specially designed chairs will be heavier than a standard four-person chair, making them more wind resistant and less susceptible to swinging.

The presence of this new, high-capacity quad in the center of the mountain 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 peak times.

Deconstruction of the existing Spillway lift is scheduled to begin in May.  Construction of the new lift is scheduled to be completed by mid-November.

In addition to the new lift installation, Sugarloaf has also allocated $150,000 to upgrade the drive systems in the Sugarloaf SuperQuad. The upgrades, which will convert the systems from analog to digital, will result in more reliable and consistent operation, with fewer stoppages.

Sugarloaf will also continue work on its terrain expansion to Burnt Mountain this summer, with an additional 135 acres of glades scheduled to open for 2011-12. Phase Two of the Burnt Mountain expansion will provide access to a second above-treeline area at the summit of Burnt and will open new lines on some of the steepest and most challenging terrain at Sugarloaf. The new terrain will bring Sugarloaf’s total acreage to 1,056 developed, skiable acres, the most in the East.

Sugarloaf is operated by Boyne Resorts and owned by CNL Lifestyle Properties. More information on the Sugarloaf 2020 Road Map is available at www.sugarloaf2020.com.  For more information on Sugarloaf, visit www.sugarloaf.com.


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