Chairlift rides: a necessary evil of the skiing world. Cold, hard and painfully slow, not to mention fraught with delays in times of inclement weather. This season, Okemo Mountain Resort is out to renew the lift ride's reputation – and make American ski history while they're at it – with the debut of the country's first six-person heated bubble chair, the Sunburst Six.
Following the close of the 2013 season, the resort began deconstruction of its long-time Northstar Express lift – the premier summit quad on the resort's main face. In it's place, a brand new Leitner-Poma high-speed, six-person bubble chair will usher skiers and riders 1,670 vertical feet to the summit in under seven minutes. But undeniably, the hottest feature (pun intended) by far is the new six-pack's plush heated seats.
State-of-the-art bubble chairs have been cropping up around the country in the last few years. In 2010, Canyons (UT) opened the first heated four-person bubble chair. In 2011, Mount Snow (VT) installed the first six-person bubble chair. Not only is Okemo's new bubble lift the first six-person lift in North America to offer heated seats, it's the first protected chairlift in the resort's history.
"Our guests have been telling us that they want a lift with some protection from the elements so they can have a better experience on the mountain and spend more time on the snow," says Okemo Vice President and General Manager, Bruce Schmidt. "Unlike a gondola that requires skiers and riders to remove their equipment each time they ascend the mountain, this new lift will offer speed, comfort and convenience."
And with the added comfort of a warm tush, Okemo skiers and riders can expect their lift riding experience to improve significantly. Look for the Sunburst Six to start spinning its bright orange bubbles in early to mid December.
More 2014 Improvements
Okemo's list of 2014 improvements don't end with the trip up the mountain. The ride down is getting softer with the addition of another 100 high-efficiency HKD snow guns to pump out the good stuff. With a mountain-wide total of 1,100+ tower guns, the resort is well-equipped to offer great conditions throughout the season and (weather permitting) hit their projected opening date of November 15, 2014.
Okemo will also breath new life into their freestyle terrain with the help of Snow Park Technologies (SPT), whose imaginative and meticulous park sculpting has been the stage for dozens of signature events, including ESPN Winter X Games, Dew Tour, Burton U.S. Open and features like Red Bull's Double Pipe. Over the course of a new three-year partnership, SPT will consult with Okemo on new terrain designs (and locations) to aid rider progression and take the resort's park program to new heights.