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A helicopter carries parts of Lutsen Mountains' new Caribou Express high speed chair lift to the top of Moose Mountain. The lift is under construction this fall. Once in operation, skiers will spent less time in lift lines and more time on the slopes. Photo coutesy of Lutsen Mountains

New lift at Lutsen promises to triple skiers' fun

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news Two Harbors, 55616
Two Harbors Minnesota 109 Waterfront Dr. 55616

Skiers and snowboarders at northern Minnesota's Lutsen Mountains probably will see more time on the slopes this season. The new Caribou Express high-speed chair lift will be in operation this winter and is expected to reduce ride-time to the top of Moose Mountain from 10 to 3 1/2 minutes.

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According to a new release issued last Friday, the new, six-passenger lift will provide access to 95 percent of Moose Mountain's runs and replace an older two-passenger model. Lutsen Mountains co-owner Charles Skinner said the upgrade is part of a 10-year, $20 million investment in the popular ski destination that has included numerous projects. This includes new runs -- two double black diamond-rated options on Moose Mountain's north face this year alone; a snow-making system that uses less water and energy to produce more of the white stuff; and indoor amenities as well.

"Base facilities, terrain expansion, lodging, and snowmaking capacity, along with the less glamorous but equally important projects like storm water and waste water management, roads, parking and public safety are all essential pieces of the puzzle," Skinner said. "The high-speed lift has been the No. 1 guest-requested improvement. All these other investments, though, were a prerequisite to supporting the new lift. We are thrilled to be at a point in our development plan to deliver this prized addition."

Marketing Director Jim Vick said the end result is more fun for visitors.

"The new lift will dramatically change time spent on the slope," he said. "With the new lift's increase in capacity and speed, a skier will enjoy three or four times as many runs in a ski day."

Beyond the advantages to guests, the coffers of other local businesses are expected to see a boost as well.

"About two-thirds of winter tourism is tied to alpine skiers in the area," said Linda Kratt, executive director of the Cook County Visitors Bureau. "An investment of this scale, and the impact it will have on the ski experience, is expected to translate to millions of dollars for our local economy."

Lutsen boasts 95 runs on 1,000 acres and is 65 miles north of Two Harbors on Minnesota Highway 61. For more information about Lutsen Mountains, visit www.lutsen.com.

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