Copper Mountain Resort won’t open new American Eagle lift this weekend |

Copper Mountain Resort won’t open new American Eagle lift this weekend

The new gondola cabins for Copper Mountain Resort's new American Eagle chairlift reside at the resort earlier this month.
Courtesy Curtis Devore, Copper Mountain Resort

Copper Mountain Resort announced on Friday evening it will not open its new American Eagle chairlift in time for this weekend

“Despite our best efforts,” the resort said in a statement, “our new chairlift, the American Eagle, will not be operational December 1st and 2nd. As a result, there will not be uphill lift access from Center Village.”

The new American Eagle is a Leitner Poma high-speed lift that includes a combination of both 6-person chairs and 8-person gondola cabins. The new lift is supposed to increase uphill capacity by more than 40 percent. It replaces Copper’s former American Eagle lift, which was a high-speed quad, in servicing some of the resort’s most popular skiing and riding terrain out of Center Village.

Copper added in the statement that guests will still be able to reach Center Village for food, drinks and entertainment, including a concert featuring The Strumbellas at 3 p.m.

“We apologize for the inconvenience and share your frustration with the delayed opening,” Copper’s statement concluded.

As part of the press release, Copper also included a statement from Rick Spear, the president of Leitner-Poma of America, the manufacturer of Copper’s new American Eagle and American Flyer lifts. The resort’s new American Flyer lift has also yet to open this season.

Spear described the American Eagle lift as “nearly complete,” though he added that there are a few unforeseen technical issues that will not allow the lift to open as previously planned. Earlier this week, Copper said on its social media channels that it expected the new American Eagle lift to open on Saturday.

“All main power systems are functioning as expected,” Spear said in the statement. “but several backup power systems are not performing to Leitner-Poma standards. We apologize for the inconvenience and disruption that this delay has caused for Copper Mountain’s guests, homeowners and management team. We are making every effort to complete this state of the art gondola/chairlift project as quickly as possible.”

Despite their inability to open American Eagle, Copper plans to have 1,224 acres of skiable terrain open on Saturday. Copper on Saturday will host its inaugural Snowsation event in Burning Stones Plaza in Center Village from 3-4:30 p.m.

Saturday’s delay in American Eagle’s expected open comes in the wake of a few other setbacks for the opening of the lift. At the start of the month, Copper reported the American Eagle lift was on track to be completed before Thanksgiving while the American Flyer lift was scheduled to be completed shortly thereafter. The resort said this delay, later than the resort’s Nov. 16 opening day, was due to the fact that two physical lift parts — one for each lift — manufactured in Europe were in transit to Colorado.

Crews from Copper Mountain and Leitner Poma then continued to work on the lifts through the month as, last Friday, Copper reported on its website page for the new lifts that the Colorado Tramway Board was on site completing load tests and inspections.

Then, during testing on Monday morning, a gondola cabin for the new American Eagle lift broke free and fell to the ground just after exiting the base terminal. Because it was not open to the public, no one was injured.

In a statement on Monday, Copper Mountain said a review by Leitner-Poma indicated that no critical components were damaged and the resort did not anticipate any delays as a result of the mishap.

The resort also says the new American Eagle and American Flyer are the first two lifts in North America to run on direct drives as opposed to a complex gear system.


As for the new American Flyer lift, it will be a Leitner Poma, high-speed six-person chair with bubble enclosures that should increase uphill capacity by 33 percent. In a Facebook video posted Sunday, Copper spokeswoman Stephanie Sweeney said the Leitner Poma crew had moved their focus to that lift.

“They are working on splicing the cable and getting that lift up and running as soon as possible,” Sweeney said in the video. “Same with that. As soon as we have any updates, we promise to share them with you guys. And we, again, we will be enjoying these all so soon.”

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