Hot Sheet: Sugarloaf, Ski Team roundup, Kicking Horse & Elbrus

Sugarloaf announces it will replace the Spillway Chair, Kicking Horse gets its master plan approved, terrorists spread fear in the Caucasus region, and more.

Sugarloaf officials announced the installation of a new chairlift for the 2011-2012 ski season to replace the existing Spillway chairlifts. The new lift represents the next step in the Sugarloaf 2020 plan, and will be the centerpiece of $4.3 million in offseason upgrades at Sugarloaf, which will include additional lift upgrades, and the continued expansion of new terrain on Burnt Mountain. The existing lift re-opened to the public this week following an accident during the Christmas holiday which resulted in several people being sent to the hospital.

The new lift will be a state-of-the-art, fixed-grip, quad chairlift built by Dopplemayr, and will be installed in the same path as the existing Spillway East lift. The overall cost for the new lift will be roughly $3 million.

“When we announced the Sugarloaf 2020 plan last summer, we said that a new Spillway was the top priority in our lift replacement strategy,” said John Diller, Sugarloaf's general manager. “The new lift will provide greater uphill capacity for our guests, and its design will ensure reliable access to some of Sugarloaf’s most unique and storied terrain.”

The new lift has been designed to be as wind-resistant as possible. It will travel at a lower height, and will be installed closer to the treeline to reduce its exposure to wind. The specially designed chairs will be heavier than a standard four-person chair, making them more wind-resistant and less susceptible to chair-swing.

US looks back on World Ski Championship success

Ted Ligety, Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso can look back on the collective three medals they earned for the U.S. Ski Team during the 2011 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and know that their legacy has changed

Before last week, only five Americans had won both Olympic and World Championship gold in alpine skiing. Vonn is one of them, so is Bode Miller. Also on the list are skiing legends Barbara-Ann Cochran, Phil Mahre and Picabo Street. On Feb. 18, 2011, Ligety joined the club.

“It feels incredible to solidify your name in the sport, especially with two runs that I'm proud of,” said Ligety. “Being on some level with the names on that list is pretty cool, but I feel like I've got 10 more years left in me and a lot more speed that I still need to find. I'm looking toward the World Cup overall title.”

Fourth after the first run, Ligety stood in the Garmisch giant slalom start and knew he had to perform. As a two-time World Cup giant slalom champion and convincing winner of the first three GS races of the season, everyone looked at him to win.

“I sorta blocked it all out,” he said. "Pressure is always there for every athlete and probably we put more pressure on ourselves than anyone. But I knew that I did everything I could to be in a position to win. I had worked harder in the off season than ever, I knew my skis were fast and I knew I had the ability to be fast.”

Titles will again be decided March 14-20 when the World Cup Finals are staged in Lenzerheide, Switzlerland. Until then, there are three more weekends for the World's best to stake their claim.

Kicking Horse master development approved

The Province of British Columbia has approved a new Master Development Agreement for Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, supporting continued economic development in Golden and helping Kicking Horse Mountain Resort become one of the premier resorts in the Canadian Rockies.

Following the January 2010 approval of the Master Plan, this approval of the Master Development Agreement is the final step in the provincial approval process. The 40-year plan includes expanded accommodation and commercial development, 20,000 bed units, an 18-hole signature golf course, a multi-use trail system with 11 proposed lifts and 1,695 hectares (4,188 acres) of skiable terrain.

“This is exactly the kind of development we want to encourage in B.C.,” said Steve Thomson, minister of natural resource operations. “Kicking Horse Mountain Resort showcases the beauty of our natural resources while supporting the local community. I know Golden will benefit from all the opportunities that will come out of this expansion -- from new tourism operators to contractors.”

Three killed, gondola destroyed in Elbrus attack

Three Russian tourists were killed in a terrorist attack at the Mt. Elbrus ski area in Russia’s Caucasus region. According to Russian news reports, terrorists first attacked the ski area, during which time a gondola lift tower was damaged in an explosion. And shortly after that, they stopped a van transporting tourists to the airport and opened fire. Two of the tourists were killed immediately, and four were taken to the hospital, where one died later. Russian officials are presently discouraging travel to the region.

--Peter Kray

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