Utah’s first auto restraint chairlift opens at Deer Valley Resort

PARK CITY, Utah — Deer Valley Resort not only had feet of fresh snow pile up, bringing the base above the 100-inch mark for its sold-out Presidents’ Week guests, but it also had a brand new chairlift for them too. Burns Express is the first chairlift in Utah’s 15 ski areas to have an automatic restraint device.

Opened at the beginning of February and coinciding with the 25th annual moguls and aerials World Cup, the four-person, high-speed, detachable is Deer Valley’s 21st lift. It’s at the top of the Wide West run, and the bottom of the Big Stick run. 

The restraint device automatically lowers, raises, and goes on the spots between skier’s legs. There is no footrest component, and not unlike a garage door, it self-stops for impediments.

The lift towers for Burns Express are silver instead Deer Valley’s signature green. It’s so new, Deer Valley’s hasn’t had the opportunity to paint the name on it at the top or the bottom.

The chairlift’s manufacturing company, Dopplemayr, was founded in Austria in 1893. In the company’s 130-year history, it built 15,400 ropeway systems in 96 countries. The USA subsidiary, based in Salt Lake City, was established 40 years ago in 1982.

Shawn Marquardt, Vice President of Sales for Dopplemayr USA, told TownLift, “The concept of automatic restraint bars came about in the early 2000s to help support ski schools in the European Alps. Many of the European countries require that young skiers be paired one to one with an adult. The automatic restraint bars now allow one instructor to ride with multiple young ski students in the same chair.”

They can retrofit all types of multi-person lifts with these automatic options.

Burns Express provides direct access to existing green circle ski run Deer Hollow and the newly created green circle ski run Lower Gnat’s Eye.  

At Deer Valley, beginner-level skiers aren’t simply relegated to the “bunny hill.” Instead, several green ski runs allow skiers to travel throughout most of the ski area. 

National Ability Center clients who ski at Deer Valley utilize the operator manual override on Burns Express for their adaptive equipment monoskis and biskis.

According to Dopplemayr, in recent years, especially in the U.S., they’ve seen an increased interest in automatic and locking restraints.

However, the technology is situational. Coincidentally, Doppelmayr has recently installed a new chairlift at the Utah Olympic Park (UOP). The last chairlift installed at the UOP was a used chairlift from Deer Valley, Homestake. The auto restraint technology isn’t necessarily applicable to the UOP’s new lift as it’s strictly for elite ski competitors and competitions. 

The first automatic restraint device in Colorado is at Steamboat Springs; that and Deer Valley’s are the only two in the country.

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