A new chairlift at Sunridge Ski Area highlights the new season
A pair of new lifts, a quad chair, and a magic carpet conveyor are making their debut at Sunridge Ski Area this winter.
The lifts are replacing existing T-bars and rope tows and because the construction of the chair lift forced the removal of a section of trees, which created some new terrain, Sunridge can also say it’s expanded this season.
“When we were doing some recontouring, a treed area had to be taken out and it actually gave us an extra run,” says Sunridge owner Ian Bakker. “It widened the hill quite a bit.”
The new area will be developed into an advanced terrain park while the run the terrain park formerly occupied will be returned to a conventional ski run.
The lift itself is a Leitner-Poma fixed grip quad chair that Sunridge purchased from Talisman Mountain Resort in Ontario when it closed in 2010. There are 56 chairs on the liftline and the lift ‘s cost was “around the million dollar mark,” Bakker says.
As for the carpet lift, it replaces a rope tow in the beginner area and, accompanied with the recontouring of the slope, has created a gentle, more accessible learning area. Since the carpet allows unloading from both sides once skiers reach the top, as opposed to a rope tow that forces everyone to get off on the same side, there will be more room for people to disperse and exit the area.
Even further contouring was done in other areas of the hill to create a permanent skier-cross course. Skier-cross consists of head-to-head races on a course built to encompass both naturally occurring terrain and artificial features like jumps, rollers, and banks. It’s become a major component in Sunridge’s alpine race programs and the investment in skier-cross development is a continuation of progress made last year when the Sunridge Alpine Ski Team hosted its first-ever FIS qualifying skier-cross race.
“We had racers from across Canada and the U.S.,” explains Bakker. “The ski clubs are using skier-cross now as opposed to all gate training. Gate training is certainly still done but when you watch it (skier cross) you want to do it.”
This will be a busy year at Sunridge for ski teams as both the alpine and freestyle teams that were training at the Edmonton Ski Club have relocated to Sunridge following ESC’s decision not to open this season.
The new lifts are part of the first, and largest, phase of a three-phase plan Bakker has initiated to reinvest in Sunridge’s infrastructure. The second phase will be new snowmaking and the third phase will be redoing the tube park, a feature first introduced at Sunridge in 2000 that has since become a major attraction at the hill.
“We’re carefully bringing in changes but it all cost money,” says Bakker, who has owned Sunridge since 1988.
Sunridge is located in Strathcona Science Park, a provincial park at the east edge of Edmonton on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. It is now open for the season with snowmaking ongoing and more terrain opening in the next weeks. Hopes are to have the new chair lift operating later in December and the tube park expected to open on the 15th.