Snowbasin Ski Area will launch a massive face lift this summer, transforming the small northern Utah resort into an international host for the 2002 Winter Games.
Four new lifts are scheduled for installation, including two gondolas and one high-speed quad capable of transporting 1,900 passengers an hour up the mountain."We're going top of the line with the lifts," said Snowbasin spokesman Gray Reynolds.
Reynolds said work on other base facilities, including a new lodge, restaurants and a snow-making system may also get under way this year.
The resort is owned by Earl Holding, a reclusive and wealthy Salt Lake businessman who also owns Sun Valley, Little America hotels and Sinclair Oil.
Holding is also a member of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's Board of Trustees, which oversees the 2002 winter Olympics and has a $9.8 million contract with the committee for exclusive use of Snowbasin in 2002 from Jan. 7 to April 2.
To make room for the expansion, Holding worked out a swap to take over Forest Service land adjacent to the resort for land he owns elsewhere in northern Utah.
Chip Sibbernsen, the U.S. Forest Service's liaison to Snowbasin, has not yet seen the final lift proposals, but expects to have them in hand early this week.
He said the Forest Service will have 120 days to study Snowbasin's proposals.
"I know Snowbasin is under the gun to get things moving quickly," Sibbernsen said. "But we'll still take the time to look at the proposals very carefully."
Both gondolas will be able to transport passengers down as well as up the mountain, Reynolds said.
"That capability is one reason we chose the gondolas over chair lifts," he said. "That, and people will be able to ride up the mountain in comfort on a cold, stormy day."
A new four-person, high-speed chair lift will be installed from the base of the resort to the top of John Paul Jones Ridge.
This 2,359 foot vertical rise lift will serve the Olympic racers competing in the downhill events.
The final lift will be the Olympic Jigback, a two-car tram that will take skiers from the top of John Paul Jones to the top of Allen Peak, where the men's Olympic downhill races will begin.
The tram will rise 510 vertical feet and be capable of transporting about 400 skiers an hour, Reynolds said.
The John Paul and Allen Peak lifts will be used for the National Ski Championship races in March of 1999, the Women's World Cup in 2000, and the Men's World Cup in 2001, he said.
"These races will provide us a great chance to test the courses before the Olympics," said Reynolds.