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New York State Goes Lift Shopping

Only a handful of ski mountains in the United States are government owned and operated.  The largest public ski outfit by far is New York’s Olympic Regional Development Authority, which runs Belleayre, Gore Mountain, Whiteface and the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex at Lake Placid.  All but one of these properties are likely to see new lifts in 2019.  Because the mountains are funded in part by taxpayers, potential lift projects are subject to competitive procurement.  Over the last month, the Authority has opened requests for proposals for a new high speed quad at Gore Mountain, a quad chair at Whiteface and a surprise gondola at the ski jump.

Back on September 17th, ORDA opened bidding for a chairlift replacement project at Gore Mountain.  “Gore Mountain Ski Resort will be replacing their existing triple chair lift with a high speed detachable quad chair lift,” notes the New York State Contract Reporter.  “This would be a turnkey project where the winning bidder would provide all materials, labor and equipment to build and install the lift.”  This is almost certainly the approved upgrade of Hudson, a 2010 Partek build.  Bids were due last Tuesday and the term is 12 months.  Leitner-Poma built the last three detachable lifts at Gore, so I say it is their contract to lose.

Next up is an RFP for a new Bear Den quad at Whiteface, the largest ski mountain in the east by vertical.  The current Riblet triple in the Bear Den base area will become one of many late model Riblet lifts to be replaced recently.  I assume this one will be fixed grip but the contract reporter website does not specify.  Bids are due on Monday, November 26th.  Doppelmayr would seem to have the edge at Whiteface, having built the mountain’s three newest lifts.

Here’s where it gets more interesting.  The state also began soliciting bids last week for a new gondola at the Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumping Complex.  Empire State government has a penchant for gondolas, having built them at Gore Mountain and Whiteface in 1999 and Belleayre in 2017.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed erecting a $15 million gondola at the State Fair in 2017, a plan which was eventually cancelled due to intense public criticism.  The state also owns the Roosevelt Island Tram, built and operated by Leitner-Poma.

The ski jump gondola will be short.  The existing chairlift at the 1980 Olympic venue is quite popular despite rising only 217 feet.  “The Olympic Jumping Complex in Lake Placid, New York is planning on installing a Gondola at their facility,” is all the New York State Contract Reporter notes.  A pulse gondola might make sense but, then again, money doesn’t seem to be much of an issue for New York State.

Article by Peter Landsman

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