by Lu Snyder
If you’ve already been on the slopes this year, you may have noticed Copper replaced its American Eagle lift. The replacement is more than a routine equipment update – it offers the resort a chance to better serve guests like you, whether or not you ski or ride.
Known as a telemix, the new lift offers you the choice between riding a six-person chairlift or an enclosed gondola. You’ll find them throughout Europe, but there are only a handful in North America. Some folks prefer the quick load and unload of a chairlift, where you don’t have to remove your equipment for each ride, but on those bitter cold days (or any day), you can now opt for a ride within the protection of the gondola cabin. It’s your pick.
Though the old Eagle was pretty dang comfortable and efficient (at full capacity, it could carry 2,400 people per hour and whisked you from the village to mid-mountain in about 7 minutes), it had clocked many hours in the past 30 years. By contrast, the new lift can carry 3380 people per hour – that’s a nearly 40 percent increase in uphill capacity, allowing the resort to minimize long lines and congestion in Center Village.
The telemix came with a hefty price tag, but the extra cost comes with benefits beyond a choice between chair or gondola. Engineered with a direct drive motor – without the gear box that typically runs the bullwheel – the telemix is quieter, uses less electricity and eliminates oil waste. The Eagle is one of four direct drive lifts the United States, including the American Flyer, all installed this year.
The lift is also engineered so if one part fails, the lift will continue running while lift operations works behind the scenes to fix the problem. Power outage? Equipment failure? You’ll never know as you head up for another run.
The new Eagle is the first step in a major on-mountain face-lift from Center Village. This summer, construction crews will replace the mid-mountain lodge, Solitude Station. Once completed, you will step out of the gondola and onto the upper deck of Solitude. What does that mean for you? No longer will you need to be a skier or rider to dine mid-mountain during the winter months and Copper expand on-mountain dining, wedding and event opportunities.
“It should open up a lot of opportunities to get more people up on the mountain in the summer, winter and year-round,” says Mark Kramer, manager of lifts and electrical maintenance.