Dec 1, 2011 | Marmot, Winter 2011

Take a Ride on the Magic Carpet over Easy Acres!

The Resort has invested $3 million into redeveloping its entire learning area, now renamed Easy Acres.

Crews spent the summer leveling out the beginners’ ski area by at least 10 feet, widening runs and installing new equipment designed to make it easier for people to enjoy the snow this season.

Gone is the old Green Chairlift, the handle tow and platter lift. In their stead are four new Magic Carpets – canopied conveyor belts that move skiers and snowboarders from one place to another with more ease than the chairlift ever could. Three carpets have been installed in the area where the Green Chair used to be. The fourth is the “teaching” carpet, located where the handle tow used to be.

“Easy Acres is a complete transformation of what used to be known as our Green Zone,” Resort Director of Public Relations Brent Curtain said.

Aside from removing the old lifts, runs have been widened, terrain has been re-graded and made smoother and runs have been renamed to Easy Street and The Big Easy. Some of the existing names, like Easy Out and Marmot, still exist.

“The experience for beginners is going to change drastically for people learning to ski and snowboard,” Curtain said.

The Resort has also invested $160,000 upgrading the rental inventory. New revolutionary “auto-turn” skis for beginners that make turning much easier were tested last year, and the inventory expanded this season.

The Bradley Building, which is connected to the back of Alpine Lodge by a covered walkway, is being re-branded as the Mount Washington Learning Centre. People can book their lessons and rent their snow gear there; the kids programs are run out of this building, as well as the Snow School.

For Mount Washington President Peter Gibson, who has been on the mountain since the trails were first cut for the resort in the late 1970s, the Resort has come full circle.

“You know, when I saw the towers going in 33 years ago (for the Green Chair) I was really excited,” he said. Now he’s equally excited to see the Magic Carpets ready for use.

The evolution of the Resort began with the beginners’ area and through the years increased terrain and improved equipment until the double black diamond Boomerang Chairlift in the Outback. Now it’s back to the beginning.

“It’s kind of interesting when you look at it,” Gibson said. “It started with the Blue Chair to a high-speed four, then the Red Chair to a high-speed six, then the high and sort of sexy (double black diamond) stuff.”

The ski industry itself has hit a plateau of growth as people have progressed through the levels, and now it’s time to again cater to the people who have thought about getting into the sport but haven’t tried it yet, Gibson said. “We’ve got to entice them to get up here.”

The Green Chair wasn’t the most positive experience for first-time skiers. It was steep getting off the chairlift and there used to be a lot of stops and starts as lift technicians had to help people get off the chair.

For beginners “simply being in the air can be intimidating as well,” Gibson said.

With the three separate carpets at different elevations, students can choose to go up all three levels and ski down from the top or get off at the first or second carpets and ski down one level at a time.

The other advantage of having four carpets instead of having everyone concentrated in one area is the Resort can spread people out over the four lifts, separating different skill levels as well as skiers and snowboarders.

With the old handle tow in the learning area, beginners did a lot of walking up and down the hill for the first half hour. “Now they will be on a lift immediately,” Gibson said.

Ultimately, the Resort would like to see an increase in its Discover programs, and more people up the mountain experiencing snow play for the first time. A new Learn to Turn program allows visitors to pay for three lessons plus lift ticket, rental and a bonus lift ticket for April.

For 32 years the Resort never really used the beginners’ area to its fullest potential because it was steep in spots. Now that the area has been leveled out “it’s going to be completely beginner friendly,” Gibson said.

“It will be one of the largest beginners’ areas in North America.”

So what happens with the Green Chair? See News in Brief

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