MAGIC CARPET RIDE

January 08, 2004 11:00 pm
A skier rides the Wonder Carpet  at Anthony Lakes Ski Area. The conveyer transports skiers up a gentle ski and snowboarding hill just west of the Anthony Lakes lodge. The Wonder Carpet at Anthony Lakes is 80 feet long and is the second longest in the Northwest. (Observer photos/DICK MASON).
A skier rides the Wonder Carpet at Anthony Lakes Ski Area. The conveyer transports skiers up a gentle ski and snowboarding hill just west of the Anthony Lakes lodge. The Wonder Carpet at Anthony Lakes is 80 feet long and is the second longest in the Northwest. (Observer photos/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

The Matterhorn is nowhere to be found.

Still, a piece of the European Alps has come to the Anthony Lakes ski area.

It is a new moving sidewalk known as the Wonder Carpet. The 80-foot-long conveyer transports skiers up a gentle ski and snowboarding hill just west of the Anthony Lakes lodge.

Jerry Gomes, a ski lift operator at Anthony Lakes, understands the new lift well. Gomes has seen similar lifts operate successfully for years in the European Alps. Some are used there to transport skiers to runs

"They're very popular,'' Gomes said.

Riding the lift at Anthony Lakes is as easy as stepping on an escalator at a shopping mall. It moves at about the same speed but the hearts of skiers riding it are undoubtedly beating faster than those of shoppers looking for

bargains.

Terry Edvalson of La Grande, a former ski instructor, believes the new lift gives beginning skiers a timely lift.

"It makes it infinitely easier for the new skier or boarder,'' Edvalson said.

Edvalson taught skiing for many years at Anthony Lakes but is not teaching this winter because he had one of his knees replaced early last year.

"I might have kept teaching in spite of my new knee if I had known they were going to put this in,'' said Edvalson, who now skis successfully with his artificial knee.

Ski instructor Gary Lee of

La Grande has a similar sentiment. He believes it is a good tool for beginning skiers because it is so easy to get on and off.

"Kids seem to love it,'' Lee said.

Skiers and snowboarders sometimes ride the lift almost continuously during Anthony Lakes' operating hours. Many are young beginners, but experienced adults also use it. Many are skiers who are trekking back to the lodge after a day of skiing on Anthony Lakes' more difficult slopes. The lift is a welcome sight to tired skiers, said Jerry Krieg, Anthony Lakes' marketing director.

"At the end of an afternoon of skiing some people don't want to walk up a hill,'' Krieg said. "It gives people an option.''

The new lift is situated on a hill that was not previously used for skiing or snowboarding.

The new lift is the second longest in the Northwest next to a 100-foot one at Willamette Pass, Krieg said. There are five ski resorts, including Anthony Lakes, in Oregon that have Wonder Carpet lifts.

The Wonder Carpet is made by SunKid, a company in Austria. The longest in the world is 400 meters and is located in Gangchon, South Korea.

People riding Anthony Lakes' conveyor lift are advised to lean forward slightly. They should not have loose scarves or other clothing that could get caught. The moment something does get caught the lift shuts down as a safety precaution.

A ticket for a handle tow or regular lift is needed to ride the Wonder Carpet.

The new conveyor complements Anthony Lakes' carousel for beginning skiers. The carousel is situated just west of the Wonder Carpet. Skiers grab on to one of the carousel's moving bars and then are pulled across the snow in circular fashion while learning to slide and turn. The carousel makes it easier to learn fundamentals. It began operating last winter at Anthony Lakes.

The carousel and the Wonder Carpet are all near a handle tow for a small ski and snowboarding hill.

"The handle tow, Wonder Carpet and carousel are all stepping stones for the beginning skier,'' Krieg said.