ELLICOTTVILLE - By officially passing state inspection, the new $3.5 million morning star high-speed quad chairlift is ready for the upcoming ski season at Holiday Valley.
The chairlift passed inspection on Oct. 28, when 26 of the 56 chairs were loaded with 935 pounds each to approximate the weight of four people in a chair. The total testing weight was 24,310 pounds, which is more than 12 tons. The lift was operated in forward and backward modes then the brakes, backups and auxiliary motor were tested. Safety switches and tower circuits were also tested. Everything passed inspection by the state Department of Labor and by representatives of Doppelmayr CTEC, the Salt Lake City, Utah, company that manufactured the lift.
The lift uses a 300-horsepower electric motor to power it to a speed of 1,000 feet per minute over a distance of 2,530 feet up 562 vertical feet to the top. The capacity is 2,400 people per hour. Despite being almost 30 percent longer, the ride will be two and half minutes quicker.
'Morning Star is one of our most popular runs (ski slopes). It has eastern exposure, so people like to go there early to get the morning sun,' said Jane Eshbaugh, Holiday Valley marketing director.
Ms. Eshbaugh said the run was lengthened to make the trip down the slope longer for skiers and converge people to where the eagle ski lift is also located.
'We wanted to improve the skier's experience and make it longer, it is almost a third longer,' she said. 'Everybody likes a longer run and it is also now next to another lift, the eagle lift. This way people are more concentrated in one area.'
Jim Curtis, Holiday Valley mountain manager, led the crew in the construction of the lift. Ms. Eshbaugh said Holiday Valley is one of only a few ski areas in the country to construct its own lifts.
'We have always done our own lifts here. It is a benefit because the lift crew will know it inside and out,' she said. 'They know where every bolt is, every piece of metal and every wire. This is best for maintenance and to make sure things are working well. If it needs repaired, they know what to do.'
The project started on May 1, with the removal of an existing four-person fixed-grip chairlift and demolition of the concrete tower bases and lift terminals. Ms. Eshbaugh said there are plans to use the lift that was removed to replace the snowpine double chairlift for the 2011-12 season. Skiers and riders will also be able to ski the lift line under the new chair. New terrain was added to accommodate the longer length of the lift and additional lights were installed for night skiing to the base of the lift.
A grand-opening celebration for Holiday Valley guests will be held once the resort opens for the winter season. Ms. Eshbaugh said the target date for the resort to open is traditional the Friday after Thanksgiving, which is Nov. 26.
'It will depend on Mother Nature,' she said. 'The actual first day for the new lift I would guess would be some time in early December, if the weather cooperates.'
Holiday Valley has 58 slopes and 13 lifts, which are spread over four distinct faces that offer challenging steeps, gentle cruisers, glades and fun terrain parks. Three base lodges provide full-service dining, marketplaces and coffee bars, as well as ski and snowboard rentals and repair, two ski shops and four bars. Children's ski programs and on-site day care are available for families. Lodging is available on the slopes and in nearby Ellicottville.
Holiday Valley Resort is on the web at holidayvalley.com.
Holiday Valley tests its new high-speed quad chairlift that will be available for use this winter at the ski resort.