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Vail Gondola Keeps Skiers Warm, Economy Moving In Colorado

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A helicopter puts the towers in place for the new gondola at Vail. (credit: CBS)

A helicopter puts the towers in place for the new gondola at Vail. (credit: CBS)

VAIL, Colo. (CBS4)- The new gondola being constructed at Vail is not only offering luxury to skiers and boarders on their way up the mountain but it is also keeping the economy moving in Colorado.

The gondola features heated seats and WiFi and it considered one of the most high-tech chair lifts ever created.

There are only two companies in the world that build ski lifts of that caliber. One is in Europe and the other is in Grand Junction, Leitner-Poma of America.

“More than 70 percent of this lift is being built right there in Grand Junction, Colorado. That’s a great thing for our economy and our state,” said Vail Resorts spokeswoman Liz Biebl.

Choosing the Colorado company to build the gondola keeps millions of dollars in the state and dozens of Coloradans employed.

The factory opened during the recession. Thanks to the new gondola at Vail, Leitner-Poma was able to hire an extra 20 workers.

“This particular machine is the biggest ski lift project we have this year,” said Leitner-Poma spokesman Jon Mauch.

The factory will make 10 lifts this year but none are more prestigious than the one ordered for Vail.

When Vail decided to replace its 25-year-old Vista Bahn four passenger lift last year, Leitner-Poma was thinking outside the box to make the gondola special.

It will be the fastest and highest capacity gondola in the U.S.

“This is truly going to be a state-of-the-art gondola, 10 passengers, WiFi access, heated seats. It’s going to be a tremendous improvement for the guest experience,” said Biebl.

Vail is responsible for the WiFi but it was Leitner-Poma that thought to add the heated seats.

“It’s kind of a new product that’s just getting ready to kick off now and it’s really neat kind of comfort to get in and sit on that seat and feel that warmth,” said Mauch.

Vail Resorts is keeping the price tag of the multimillion dollar project a secret. Both companies said they’re happy to have a relationship that keeps the money in Colorado’s economy.

“We sure think the built in America is an important piece, definitely an improvement to my job and everybody here. We don’t like to see these jobs go to Europe,” said Mauch.

Skiing In Colorado

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