STUDY: Impact of Bad Winters on New Lift Installations
Research of new and used lift construction in devastating winters from the past.
Saturday, March 12, 2016, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
With record temperatures quickly bringing the 2015-16 season to a close, the winter's meager snowfall will likely end up as the worst in modern New England ski history. The maximum observed snow depth through February this season at the Mt. Mansfield snow stake was 34 inches, as compared to 47 inches in 1995, 43 inches in 1983, 36 inches in 1980, and 49 inches in 1974. With poor snow fall throughout the region, many ski areas are scrambling to stay solvent, rather than attempting to fund off season capital improvements.
A study based upon New England Ski Lift Database data suggests new aerial lift installations were not impacted by those bad winters. New aerial lift installations remained level or grew following the rough 1973-74, 1982-83, and 1994-95 seasons, the latter driven in large part by LBO's reconstruction of Sugarbush.
The study also suggests used aerial lift installations remained level or grew following bad seasons. The slight growth was driven in part by the acquisition of lifts from recently closed areas, such as two former Magic Mountain lifts installed in 1995.
The most recent subpar winter, 2011-12 (snow depth of 78 inches at the end of February on Mt. Mansfield), saw a decline of new aerial lift installations and a growth of used lift installations, once again influenced by liquidations (the Crotched Mountain installation of the Ascutney high speed quad).
Four chairlift installations were completed in New England last off season, the second lowest number in modern history. Three of the installations were brand new. A forthcoming NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com story will explore potential 2016 lift installations.