2017-12-27 / Front Page

Catskill Thunder Gondola Opens at Belleayre

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Hi speed, hi capacity, hi comfort lift a hit on holiday weekend
Joan Lawrence-Bauer

Highmount, NY -- 12.30.18 -- It was impossible to find an unhappy face at Belleayre Mt. Ski Center on Saturday afternoon when Catskill Thunder, the new gondola lift at the historic New York State Ski center made its maiden runs, putting icing on a well-baked holiday weekend cake.  Cold weather and snowmaking contributed to great conditions but with temps in single digits or low teens, the joy of being whisked to the top of the mountain in a warm and quiet enclosed car (with skis and poles stashed on exterior racks) was a happy scene to behold.

"Did you ever think you'd see the day?" was an often heard exclamation as this reporter talked with skiers and staff at the lift on Saturday.  "I took a ride in a gondola, and when I got to the top, I was still at Belleayre," was the way ski patroller Tom O'Brien expressed the sense of disbelief at the ski center, often overlooked in funding battles.

And so it was last year when a late winter announcement indicated that Whiteface and Gore Mountain, the other two state-owned ski centers operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority would each get $10 million in the new state budget and Belleayre went unmentioned.  The local reaction was swift and furious and before the final budget was passed in April, Governor Cuomo had announced another $8 million to bring a gondola to Belleayre.

That the money was awarded, the bids and contracts completed was remarkable.  The the lift was built, installed, tested and carried passengers in about 8 months time is a testament to the readiness, depth of talent, and will to get it done that ORDA officialas and Belleayre Mt. staff demonstrated.

The News will have complete coverage and a series of photos in its print edition on Wednesday.  But for now, Happy New Year is a serious understatment at Belleayre Mt. Ski Center.  

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