[R5R, Alpine Meadows] pumped energy into upgrading features for children this fall. It revamped its children's center and has become the first U.S. resort to install new magnetic child safety features on two of its lifts.

The resort is installing the new Magnestick® technology on Subway and Meadow chairlifts and is the first resort in the U.S. to do so. The technology uses magnetic seatbacks to hold young children in place to prevent injury from falling off lifts.

Magnestick®, a French company, recently expanded across the Atlantic as Magnestick of America to handle installation of the technology at U.S. and Canadian resorts. "The company approach us and wanted to do it," General Manager Kent Hoopingarner told OnTheSnow. "We're just trying to stay ahead of technological advances, so why not."

The beginner double chairlifts will have several series of chairs with and without the Magnestick® technology. Some chairs will be equipped with the magnets on both seatbacks, some on one seatback, and some with none. That will allow for ski school classes to load the lift in a group and others who may not need or desire the technology to ride, too.

The technology requires children to wear a vest that contains a thin, four-inch-wide metallic plate, which functions as a back protector on the slope as well as metal for the magnet to latch. The magnets release when children put their feet on the snow at unloading ramps.

The three magnets on the seatback are designed for young children who may load lifts off-kilter, that is slightly above, below, or to the side of the magnet. "When you get on, you don't have to line up perfectly for the system to work," explained Hoopingarner. 

Children ages three to six years old in Alpine Meadow's Kids Camp will be outfitted with the vests. Magnestick® is manufacturing the vests to match with the resort's current bright Kids Camp colors for different class levels. The vest also will be available to rent for young children not in Kids Camp.

The resort added the flaik system last winter to increase safety for children. Hoopingarner cited several examples of the GPS system proving effective in tracking down lost children. The addition of the Magnestick® technology takes the resort's concern for children another step further. "We saw the flaik really work last year and want to do what we can to prevent children from getting lost or injured," added Hoopingarner.

Alpine Meadows also redesigned their children's center in the first level of the main lodge. Families go in one door, and children go out the other to the slopes. The new computerized registration system will recall information for children to speed up the process for kids after the first day. The Kids Camp center, which is not a day care, includes an outdoor snow play area with a 300-foot conveyor carpet that accesses an improved mini terrain park and snow tubing lanes.

Kids Camp programs are available for young children ages 3 to 6 in morning, afternoon, and all day versions. Children are split into ski groups based on age and ability. All Kids Camp programs include lift tickets, instruction, lunch, rental equipment, helmet, the flaik GPS system, and Magnestick® vests. Rates run $113-158 per day.

More information. Or call 530-581-8200.