Every year ski areas around the world spend millions on fancy new lifts to make getting up the slopes quicker and more comfortable than ever before, as well as making other infrastructure improvements.
There are at least 200 new lifts being built or upgraded around the world right now ahead of the 2018-19 season including some very exciting projects.
Here’s our pick of some of the best.
World’s New highest 3S Gondola lift, Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt will unveil the world’s highest 3S Gondola to its year-round Klein Matterhorn ski slopes at the end of September after three years under construction. The new lift from Trockener Steg is set to open on 29th September and will run alongside the existing aerial tramway increasing transport capacity on the route by 2,000 guests per hour on the route up to the top station at 12,536 feet.
The lift will carry 25 cabins, each capable of holding 28 people with a ride time of nine minutes and it has been announced that four of these will be “Crystal ride” cabins decorated with Swarovski® crystals.
“These will capturing the light in an effect that will amaze passengers and provide an unforgettable adrenaline rush,” a statement from the lift company claims, “Passengers will leave the glamourous “Crystal ride” cabins wanting more.”
Thousands of Swarovski crystals will adorn the exterior of the “Crystal Gondola” cabins, which will be unique in the world. The crystals will also be used to embellish the lettering on each of the cabins’ seats. Swarovski used “Crystal Rocks” for the application, a world first in the cable car sector for this form of sparkling decoration.
A New Base to the Ski Slopes for the World Cup Finals, Soldeu, Andorra
The skiing in the tiny principality of Andorra between France and Spain in southwestern Europe may not be terribly well known in North America but it is home to some of the biggest and best ski areas in Europe and will be on the world stage next March when it hosts the World Cup Finals at Soldeu, part of the largest ski resort in the Pyrenees mountains with more than 130 miles of ski runs. The only problem Soldeu’s ski slopes have is that they end with a valley and a river – there’s not much flat ground for racers to quickly decelerate in after they cross the line. The answer for Soldeu is to build a platform covering 170,000 square feet over the valley to form a horizontal race end zone for racers and fans. Underneath they’ll create 450 cars and trucks parking spaces – tackling another problem the resort has had to date.
A Gondola That Doesn’t Need Base Station Staff, Tignes, France
A new gondola lift being built at Tignes to create a new connection between the resort’s Brévières and Boisses area this winter will operate in the evenings without staff in its base station. The new lift is key to a complete overhaul planned at the foot of the slopes at Brévières and will replace three lifts that will be dismantled.
“Thanks to the OWA (Operation Without Attendant) system, this new gondola lift will run without operating staff in the bottom station from 5PM to midnight,” a statement from the resort’s operators, the Compagnie des Alpes, confirms.
A Ski Slope Down A Power Plant, Copenhagen, Denmark
A remarkable year round ski slope is being created on a new power plant near Danish capital Copenhagen. The waste-to-energy power plant has sloping sides and a 2,000 feet long ski slope with an artificial surface is being built to curve down around it. Around 57,000 skiers are expected to ski down the run each year and climb on a huge climbing wall also being created which will be the tallest in the world
Now Over 700 Ski Areas, China
The number of ski areas in China has passed 700 according to the new edition of the China Ski Industry White Book. The guide’s author Chinese ski industry expert Benny Wu puts the total number of ski areas in the country at the end of last year at 703, an increase of 56 on a year previously. At least 50 more ski areas are reported to be under construction. Countries with more than 500 ski areas currently or in the past have included Austria, Germany, Sweden, the USA and Japan but none are believed to currently have more than 700 in operation.
The vast majority of Chinese ski areas are not on the scale of most resorts in the established ski nations however. Of the 703 ski areas there’s a total of 1312 ski lifts in the country, an average of less than two per area, and that most of these lifts (1076) are short conveyor lifts with only 236 areas (just over a third) having a chairlift or gondola.
The Most Comfortable Chairlift Yet, Ischgl, Austria
Ischgl in the Austrian Tirol is spending €30 million on upgrades ahead of the coming winter with the bulk off the spend going on as fancy new chairlift, the ‘Gampen E4.’ It’s a six-seater chairlift but with extra wide 21 inch width chairs, which are heated of course, and ergonomically shaped for maximum comfort. Aside from the comfort and efficiency of the new service, the 3,000 feet height increase between the start and end of the lift has set a new record for the greatest elevation difference of any six-seat chairlift in the world.
New Zealand Second Gondola, Mt Ruapehu
Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, which currently boast the deepest snow base in the southern hemisphere at over 10 feet, will open a state-of-the-art gondola lift with 10-person cabins in time for the 2019 ski season. The 50-cabin gondola will start from Whakapapa’s base area, climbing to the Knoll Ridge Cafe in five minutes to access the Knoll Ridge Cafe, replacing the Waterfall Express chairlift at a cost of $25 million (NZ).
More Vertical and More Terrain, La Rosiere, France
In an unusual development in the modern era for the Alps, the French ski resort of La Rosiere has announced plans to add lifts to a new mountain face this winter. The two new six-seater chairlifts will increase the resort’s skiable vertical by 525 feet to around 4430 vertical feet. In addition five new red runs that will be created will increase the amount of skiable terrain by nearly 40kmto just under 200km. There will also be access to lots of freeriding terrain.
Scandinavia Most Modern 8 Seat Chairlift, Sweden
Sweden’s Sälen ski area is set to receive what owners SkiStar are describing as “Scandinavia’s most modern 8-seater express chairlift,” along with new ski runs and expanded snow-making facilities in time for next winter. SkiStar are spending on Sälen’s Hundfjället sector as it is located less than 10 minutes from the new Scandinavian Mountains Airport, which is under construction, and currently on course to receive its first flight in December 2019.
Gondola Stations with Multimedia Roofs, Gstaad, Switzerland
The Saanenmöser–Saanenwald–Saanerslochgrat lift in Gstaad’s large ski area will have a major rebuild this summer and re-open as a new state-of-the-art gondola with some world-first features next winter. The new lift will have 10-passenger cabins and technology that ensures an ultra smooth, quiet ride. A unique feature will be real-glass roofs on all the stations which give the option of being able to project moving images onto the multimedia facade.