On Tuesday, the Brace Shop reported an accident atop the Sugarloaf Ski Resort in Maine when one of the lift cables derailed and sent several skiers tumbling to the ground. Perhaps the worst feeling in the world came from the maintenance technicians who declared the lift to be unsafe just moments before the accident. Reports have indicated that Spillway East was shut down earlier that morning when the cable was eerily outside the safety of its track. But as a result of the busy skiing season, the lift was reopened soon after. Yikes!
When workers viewed the cable again at 10:30, the situation could not have been more urgent. The lift was slowed and employees were told not to let anyone else get on. Imagine being the last one to get on a chair and hearing the people behind you say that the lift is closed to further riders for safety reasons. Again, Yikes!
Although this is the busiest ski week of the year between Christmas and New Year’s, Sugarloaf was fortunate that more people were not injured. To date, only five chairs fell to the ground and only six people were injured, none of whom were up against any life-threatening danger. The most notable pain that seems to be lingering for the injured is in their lower back, perhaps not unsimilar to the abrupt shock of a fender bender where sufferers feel a gradual aching and occasional sharpness, but nothing severe.
The Sugarloaf cable in question is nearly 35 years old, but like ski resorts across the United States and around the world, these lifts are inspected daily, weekly, monthly, and annually. When an accident like this happens, we usually want to point a finger and lay blame on someone who dropped the ball. No doubt Sugarloaf will take their share of hits from patrons who choose to ski elsewhere for a few years, but one of the injured, a 63-year-old woman named Mimi Michaud, said that amidst her pain (whiplash and bruised ribs), she didn’t want to give her ski resort of many years a black eye. With the exception of an occasionally terrifying moment like this past week, chair lifts are routinely very safe and you should enjoy every bit of this ski season.