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Construction on new Canyons gondola could begin next year

Opening day at Canyons Village, November 28, 2021.
Vail Resorts
Opening day at Canyons Village, November 28, 2021.

Park City Mountain hopes to begin construction on a new gondola in Canyons Village next year.

Vail Resorts CEO Kirsten Lynch addressed the proposed gondola during a quarterly earnings call Thursday.

“At Park City Mountain, we expect to engage in a planning process to support the replacement of the Sunrise lift with a new 10-person gondola in partnership with the Canyons Village Management Association in calendar year 2025, which will provide improved access and enhanced guest experience for existing and future developments within Canyons Village,” Lynch said.

Park City Mountain spokesperson Sara Huey said construction could begin as early as next year pending approvals.

Vail reported a fiscal fourth-quarter loss of $128 million Thursday, which fell short of Wall Street expectations. Lynch said the loss was primarily driven by the company’s decision to boost its minimum wage, and below-average snowfall at Vail’s Australian destinations.

“North American summer operations also underperformed expectations driven by a combination of lower demand for destination mountain travel, which we believe was primarily driven by a broader shift in summer travel behavior associated with the wider variety of vacation offerings available following various travel restrictions in the prior two years," the CEO said.

Despite the fourth-quarter loss, the company recorded a profit of $268 million for the year, a result of record visitation and increased spending at Vail’s dozens of resorts.

“Ancillary businesses, including ski school, dining, and retail/rental, experienced strong growth compared to the prior period, when those businesses were impacted by capacity constraints driven by staffing, and in the case of dining, by operational restrictions associated with COVID-19,” Lynch said. 

Despite rebounding strongly from the prior year, Lynch said Vail’s dining underperformed expectations and remains below pre-pandemic levels.

Vail also reported Thursday that Epic Pass sales for the upcoming season are up 7% year-over-year. Pass prices increased 8% from last year. A full Epic Pass now costs $949, but prices are set to go up Oct. 11.

Vail said it's seeing strong sales growth from renewing passholders and new pass holders.

This past winter, approximately 75% of resort visits came from Epic Pass holders, which is slightly up from the season before.

New this year, the My Epic app will allow skiers and riders to scan passes and lift tickets from phones through bluetooth technology, eliminating the need for plastic cards.

For the first year of launch, Vail will provide plastic cards for passes and lift tickets to all guests. In future years plastic cards will be available to any guests who cannot or do not want to use their phone to store their pass or ticket.