CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Sugarloaf Mountain Resort plans to open a new $3 million chairlift at noon on Saturday to replace the Spillway East lift that derailed last year.

The Skyline lift was installed over the summer as part of the resort’s 10-year development plan, called Sugarloaf 2020, according to a resort release.

The lift, manufactured and installed by Dopplemayr, will be a fixed-grip quad that is faster, more wind-resistant and lower to the ground than the two-person chairlift it’s replacing, the release states.

“This is great news for Sugarloafers everywhere,” John Diller, Sugarloaf general manager, said in a news release.

“With the new Skyline Quad, skiers and riders will enjoy greater uphill capacity and reliable access to some of Sugarloaf’s most unique and storied terrain. This is a big step in our Sugarloaf 2020 plan and our crew worked hard all summer to keep things on schedule, so it’s very exciting to finally see it come to life,” he said.

Skyline features a conveyor loading system that loads riders on a moving platform. The resort said this system should improve the lift loading experience, reduce lift stoppage time, and allow the lift to run at speeds of up to 500 feet per minute, making it the fastest fixed-grip lift on the market.

It travels 3,746 feet, rises 1,457 vertical feet, features a total of 16 towers, and is powered by a 400 horsepower motor. An additional 400 horsepower Cummins diesel engine serves as a backup.

The lift has a wind-resistant design with shorter towers, heavier chairs and several hundred feet of wind-fencing, according to the release.

The resort said the high-capacity quad is expected to rebalance the flow of uphill traffic on the mountain, reducing pressure on other lifts and decreasing lift lines across the mountain during peak times.

The resort used helicopters and heavy equipment to install the lift. It’s part of $4.3 million in off-season upgrades at Sugarloaf, which also upgraded other lifts and is continuing to expand its new terrain on neighboring Burnt Mountain.

The old lift derailed last December, sending eight people to the hospital. A state inspector’s report cited wind, mechanical problems and training and maintenance problems at the resort as factors in the derailment.

A chairlift management expert with more than 30-years experience was recently hired by the resort to implement new maintenance and training practices recommended by the state inspector’s report, resort spokesman Ethan Austin said.

The first four seats on the new lift were auctioned off over the summer, with the proceeds going to benefit four different local non-profit organizations: the Sugarloaf Charity Summit, the Western Maine Center for Children, the Sugarloaf Ski Club and Carrabassett Valley Academy, the resort said.

The first 100 riders on the new lift will receive a commemorative Skyline t-shirt.

The resort said that people who want more information on the new lift and the Sugarloaf 2020 plan should visit its website at www.sugarloaf2020.com.

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