The Direct Drive was selected as a first for Leitner Poma of America for its energy efficiency, environmental friendliness and quiet operation. Because of these features, Copper Mountain has also installed two Direct Drive units, totaling three in North America. As the world leader in direct drive technology, Leitner Ropeways has supplied over two hundred installations worldwide. Direct drive technology is changing ropeway design, and most new installations worldwide are moving to direct drive units.
The Direct Drive uses a low-speed synchronous permanent magnet motor, which is connected directly to the drive bullwheel and rotates at bullwheel speed. Leitdrive VFDs were chosen for the controllers. They are designed and manufactured by Leitner Ropeways and are installed and supported from the plant at Grand Junction, Colorado.
The Gondola at Winter Park features both the Direct Drive and Sigma Diamond 10-seater cabins. This high-speed and high-capacity lift, with a rated capacity of 3600 pph, demands high performance as it is the primary out-of-base transportation system for the resort. To handle that kind of capacity, the Leitner Direct Drive was chosen as the primary mover for the project. The backup is a 1.5 megawatt genset from Cummins along with a ring and pinion tertiary evacuation drive.
Located high in the Rocky Mountains above Denver, Colorado is one of the oldest ski areas in North America. Winter Park opened in 1932 as part of Denver Parks and Recreation. This newly acquired property of the Denver Water Board was the perfect place to cater for the emerging sport of skiing, and so the world-famous resort started to take shape. Earning its title as “Colorado’s Favorite” and located just an hour outside Denver, Winter Park has become an extremely popular skiing location boasting over 1 million skier visits per year. Originally founded and owned by Denver, Winter Park is now part of the Alterra portfolio.
Trains were the key to mountain access for skiing, and Winter Park became one of the few ski areas with a train service in the continental US. This service, called the "Ski Train”, still operates today with daily departures from Denver’s Union Station to Winter Park, which is the only remaining ski resort in the USA with safe train transportation to the slopes.
The Winter Park operators and Leitner Poma of America have a long-standing partnership dating back to the beginnings with the Poma lift. All lifts since 1985, totaling fifteen new installations, were purchased from Leitner Poma. In 2017 Winter Park was looking to take the next big step to improve its out-of-base capacity and upgrade the main feeder lift for the mountain. Passenger comfort was the key in the decision and a 10-seater LPOA gondola was the solution selected. The cabins manufactured by Sigma give the system a sleek yet bold visual identity. Providing a high level of passenger comfort in such a remarkable environment, the Winter Park Gondola is set to become a favorite with visitors in both winter and summer.