Sugarloaf ski area has received a replacement lift this week, five months after vowing to spend $800,000 to replace a chairlift that malfunctioned and rolled backwards, injuring seven skiers and stranded 200 others last March. This was the second lift-related accident at the resort in recent years; in 2010, at least eight people were injured at Sugarloaf when a cable derailed and sent five chairs crashing to the ground.
Officials said the new lift will have a redesigned gear box and technology to prevent rollbacks (the cause of last season's incident). The towers and chairs, however, were carried over from the previous lift.
The King Pine lift refurbishment is the largest investment Sugarloaf made, but upgrades to systems on older lifts were also made, including braking and rollback systems, Sugarloaf's spokesman, Ethan Austin, said Monday.
The King Pine terminal's motor housing arrived at the ski area Saturday. Officials tweeted that it is expected to be assembled in the next several days and will be operational by Christmas week.
Richard Wilkinson, Sugarloaf's vice president of mountain operations, told WCSH-TV that the ski resort could have rebuilt the lift, rather than replace it, but chose not to.
"I ride these lifts, too. My family rides these lifts. They have to be safe. No doubt about it. They can't fail," Wilkinson said, according to the Portland Press Herald.