New gondola closes due to malfunction day after opening; might not be in operation for busy holiday week

Flurries of snow fall over the new gondola at Steamboat Resort on Nov. 21. Following a malfunction a day after the lift's grand opening, officials say the gondola should reopen this weekend.
Derek Maiolo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With a busy holiday week ahead, it is uncertain if the new gondola will be in operation at Steamboat Resort following a malfunction Sunday.

The new gondola, which fully opened to the public Saturday, experienced a mechanical malfunction at about 4:45 p.m. Sunday, according to Maren Franciosi, digital communications manager for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.

The malfunction occurred on the drive line to the gear box in the upper terminal. Its cause is currently being assessed by resort officials and employees of Doppelmayr Garaventa Group, the Austria-based manufacturer of the gondola. As crews work to fix the issue, the gondola will not be in operation.

“(It was) identified as a mechanical issue, not a safety issue,” Franciosi said Monday morning.

There were no guests on the gondola at the time it stopped working, but two cabins were occupied with about seven employees. Franciosi said backup motors were used to get them safely unloaded.

Tests were conducted last month by the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board ahead of the gondola’s opening, but nothing was noticed at that point, according to Franciosi. Likewise, there were no issues Saturday or Sunday while the resort was open.

A timeline for the gondola’s repair is currently unknown, but the resort has opened the Thunderhead Express for guests to access the open terrain.

“We’ll take as much time as necessary to fix it to ensure it’s not a problem in the future,” Franciosi said.

Dave Hunter, vice president of operations at the resort, was at the site of the gondola Monday with Doppelmayr crews and couldn’t immediately comment.

“We appreciate our guests understanding as we identify the root cause of the issue and take the time necessary to fix it,” Franciosi said. “When we have more information on a timeline for reopening, we will update guests and staff.”

To reach Bryce Martin, call 970-871-4206 or email

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