Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How skibikes can derail or jam a chairlift

If skibikes aren't loaded  or unloaded properly on a chairlift, they can either derail the cable or jam it.  It's one reason why its a good idea for ski resorts to require certification/license before they can get on their lifts.

Durango Mountain Resort in southern Colorado requires all riders to show certification every time before they get on a chairlift.  Its prevented any lift incidents from happening at the bottom and top stations.  Other ski resorts that do not require certification to board a chairlift have experienced bottom lift station incidents.

The clearance between the bottom of a chair and the snow surface can vary from chairlift to chairlift at ski resorts.  They can even vary during the day due to changing snow conditions at the same chairlift.  This includes the top and bottom lift stations.

Some skibikes are designed to be loaded and carried underneath the chairlift chair.  Examples of this include the Geary Storm, and the Ultimate Snow Toys 3Ski.  These designs may be a disaster waiting to happen if the rider is unaware of the potential to cause damage to the chairlift at either the bottom lift station or top lift station.

After several incidents to its chairlifts, Winter Park Resort in Colorado does not allow them to be carried underneath its lifts.  Geary Storm riders are asked NOT to drop their seats, load, and carry them under the chairlift seat.  Instead, they must be loaded into the chair.

Watch the loading sequence in the above video to see the loading procedure for this model type.

A local skibiker tried to tell me that this was due to faulty loading procedures and maintenance at Winter Park Resort.  I called the head of the Colorado Tramway Board in October 2012.  He said that there is no mandatory minimum chair clearance at the loading area in Colorado.  Clearances are set individually for each chairlift with minimums and maximums set for each lift.

Winter Park Resort offers lessons but certification is not mandatory to board a chairlift.  Conversion kits and homemade are not allowed on the lifts at Winter Park.  Leashes are only required on designs that do not immediately fall over upon rider ejection.

Ski resorts that are considering allowing them for the first time should carefully review their certification policy.  New or novice riders may not truly understand how they turn and stop unless they've had a proper lesson.  This is especially true with freestyle peggers and homemade and/or conversion kit riders.

From 4 years of teaching peggers and skibobs through a resort ski school, I highly recommend ski resorts require certification before riders can board a chairlift.  If you would like more input on skibike chairlift safety, please contact Roy Meiworm at Durango Mountain Resort.  He'd love to talk to you.

The new freestyle (peg) type are a piece of equipment many ski resorts are unfamiliar with.  With proper risk management rules and regulations, they can add a safe new dimension to the guest experience.  Those who would otherwise stop skiing or snowboarding due to injury or disease can continue to enjoy the ski slopes.

© 2012 G. Kunkel and A Colorado Skibiker Goes Skibiking. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and A Colorado Skibiker Goes Skibiking with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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