Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. executives made it official Tuesday night -- the old Sunshine triple chairlift is being replaced with a high-speed quad this summer.
The new lift is part of a broader effort to make the intermediate trails in Sunshine Bowl more family friendly. The upgrade is included in a package of capital improvements valued at $7 million that was announced by Ski Corp. President Chris Diamond and Vice President of marketing Andy Wirth during a semi-annual appearance before City Council on Tuesday.
The new Sunshine Express will be the reincarnation of the "Tombstone" lift that has operated on the slopes at The Canyons resort near Park City, Utah, for about seven years. Steamboat and The Canyons are owned by American Skiing Company. Wirth said Tombstone will be replaced by a much-needed six-seat chairlift in a congested area at the Utah resort.
"The lift is in great shape," Wirth said. "The need and the focus is to put a fast quad in place for reliability and safety. I don't think our customers will know the difference," between the used lift and a new one.
Because of a tight schedule, the lift may not be open until mid-December.
The Leitner Poma of America chairlift will be refurbished, Wirth said, and new "hangars" (the top of the "T" on the lift towers) will be installed. Ski Corp. will purchase renewable energy certificates from 3 Phases Energy Services that correspond to the amount of electricity needed to power the Sunshine Express.
Other highlights of the capital improvement plan include almost $1 million in remodeling the Thunderhead and Rendezvous food courts. The redesign of the Thunderhead dining area will include a historical theme at the food serving stations. It will allow the addition of 52 seats, bringing the total to nearly 480.
The remodeling of the food service area at Rendezvous and the new chairlift are the major components of an effort to make Sunshine Bowl more appealing to families. The bowl begins above 10,000 feet on the southeast side of the Priest Creek area but offers some of the longest low-intermediate trails on the mountain. One exception is a single steep pitch at the top of Tomahawk that causes some skiers and riders to freeze.
Steamboat will fix the Tom--ahawk challenge with a new trail that bypasses the steep pitch while traversing back to the High Noon trail and Rendezvous Saddle. In addition, the beginner trail, Broadway, will be widened and its steepness will be reduced. Wirth said a family adventure trail will be installed.
Terrain park enthusiasts haven't been forgotten in this year's budget. Steamboat will spend a half-million dollars on new grooming equipment including a Zaugg superpipe cutter. The Zaugg was designed to create an elliptical shape in the pipe, which makes for smoother transitions in the landing zone. It also allows riders and free skiers to accelerate with greater ease, leading to more hits per run.