Ski Lift Breaks Down, Injures 8 People

An aging Maine ski lift succumbed to winds that sent several riders plummeting to the ground, hospitalizing at least five adults and three children.

The AP reports the lift, which went into service in 1975, was slated to be replaced soon, but passed a recent inspection. The cable jumped off the track in the face of 40 mph wind gusts. The skiers caught a break because the snow they fell into was fresh and ungroomed, meaning it was a lot softer.

“The next thing I know, it was bouncing up and down like a yo-yo,” an onlooker told the AP. “It was terrifying.”

Hospital: 5 Adults, 3 Kids Injured on Ski Lift [The Associated Press via ABC]

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  1. Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

    Somehow, this is Obama’s fault.
    (/sarcasm)

  2. mmmsoap says:

    To be fair, this accident probably has a lot more to do with the crazy winds the NE has been experiencing in the last few days, than the fact that the ski lift was “aging”….not sure why someone wanted to go skiing in 40mph winds, but there you go.

    • KatieNeptune says:

      The weird thing is, Sugarloaf tends to close because of wind on a (regular-ish) basis…I wonder why they didn’t this time around.

      /skis in the wind
      //it’s always windy on a mountain.

    • KatieNeptune says:

      CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine — As several skiers recover in hospitals from their terrifying plunge to the slope far below, investigators hope to determine whether wind, a mechanical glitch or some combination of both caused a resort’s chair lift to jump its track and collapse.

      Wind gusts of 40 mph were reported around the Sugarloaf resort before Tuesday’s accident on the lift, which was built in 1975 and set for upgrades or replacement. But one skier who fell the 25 to 30 feet to the new-fallen snow below said she didn’t remember it being exceptionally windy.

      “I mean maybe it was a small factor, but I don’t think that it was a giant factor because I know the mountain woundn’t have opened the lift if it wasn’t safe,” Rebecca London told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

      “And I also have been on that chairlift in higher winds,” she told ABC. “I don’t remember it being outrageously high winds yesterday.

      [Bangor Daily News:

      • mmmsoap says:

        I hear you, but my point was more that the NE has been experiencing excessive winds recently (more than usual, even for a mountain) and although it may not have been windy that moment, wind in general would cause things to get off-kilter. I like that the article itself points to both wind and mechanical failure, and doesn’t particularly emphasize the age of the ski lift (something the consumerist post does not do). Besides, “doesn’t remember” is definitely not the same thing as “not” being windy.

        • KatieNeptune says:

          No you’re totally right I was just curious to see how it would develop as the day went on….thus, you are exactly correct. It’s the wind, dammit! THE WIND!

  3. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    I have said it a million times: ski lifts are EVIL.

  4. nbs2 says:

    The company should have maintained the lifts better?
    The company should have closed the lifts because of the inspected machine might have blown down?
    Blame the OP for riding the lifts on a windy day?

    Can someone tell me what I’m supposed to do with this story?

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    I see a free lifetime pass around the corner with all the overpriced hot drinks and food you can eat included.

  6. AllanG54 says:

    All I can say is…I guess they’re going to have to replace that lift a lot sooner than they thought.

  7. Anachronism says:

    My understanding of this particular lift design (Borvig) was that it was designed to allow the sheaves (the wheels on each tower) to have horizontal play in order to slide side to side to help the cable stay on track under winds.

    However, in many cases the assembly that permits this was welded in place in order to ease maintenance. I’d be interested to see whether that is found to have factored into the accident.

    This lift is a fairly rare example of a “double double” where two double chairlifts run parallel and use the same lift towers,

    In any case, lift accidents suck, and I am very happy that only eight injuries occured with no deaths. The Teller lift accident at Keystone in the 1980′s, or the one at Whistler in the 1990′s come to mind.

    I also think areas notorious for high winds should really invest in secondary T-bars so that they can keep areas of the mountain open without worrying about things like this. T-bar/surface lift installs are cheap, and they can also be run at much higher rope speeds than fixed grip chairlifts, and in some cases high-speed detachable lifts.

    Basically, surface lifts get a bad rap, and mountains should have more of them.

    I was skiing Loveland (Colorado) on the 26th, and they had their 1960′s Poma open- its a surface lift only used on expected busy days (which the 26ths was not for some odd, odd reason). It reminded me of how much fun surface lifts are. :)

    • majortom1981 says:

      In my experience with amusement rides its always when park maintanance changes ride design that you get accidents.

  8. failurate says:

    They didn’t say how severe the injuries are, but they did say the recent snow cushioned some of the landing. I figure there are probably still broken bones, torn ligaments and what not.

    How liable is the resort for this type of accident? Is it like a pro baseball game where buying a ticket and entering the park is essentially agreeing to not hold the park responsible if you happen to catch a bat with your face?

    • NYGuy1976 says:

      It would probably depend who was at fault for the machine breaking. I would guess if it declared wind (act of god) the park cannot be held liable. They will will probably give out some settlement from their insurance to whoever was injured so I would be surprised by any lawsuit.

  9. myktag says:

    One of these things is not like the others. Why is this even on here?