Maine Gov. John Baldacci was on hand recently to cut the ribbon on [R443R, Sunday River]'s brand new $7.2-million state-of-the-art lift.

The gondola/chair hybrid cuts the ride time to North Peak from 20 minutes to seven, and means skiers and riders only have to take one lift, rather than two. The Chondola extends from South Peak Base Area to North Peak, over a distance of 5,994 feet and a vertical rise of 1,149 feet.

"This is the day we have all been waiting for," said Dana Bullen, General Manager of Sunday River. "The Chondola changes the way we interact with our guests. It accommodates both skiers and snowboarders and can handle much more volume."

The new lift is first in the Northeast, and one of four in North America. It is a high-speed detachable lift that carries six-person chairs and eight-person gondola cabins, alternating four chairs and one gondola

In addition to the Chondola, Sunday River unveiled 12-hour-a-day skiing and riding under lights that are part of the resort's $14 million in capital investments for the 2008-2009 season.

Former Gov. Kenneth M. Curtis dedicated the first chairlift at Sunday River in 1971, the first and last time a Maine governor performed such a ceremony at the ski resort.