Every ski resort has to have some kind of mechanism/s to carry skiers and their gear up the hills, called ski lifts collectively. These ski lifts fall into two main categories, surface lifts that carry skiers along the terrain and aerial lifts that carry skiers suspended in the air.
Magic Carpets are ski lifts that belong to the surface lifts category. A magic carpet ski lift is a conveyor belt installed on the snow level. The skiers can ski onto the moving belt to be carried up the hill and ski off it as they reach the top.
Magic carpet ski lifts have been gaining popularity as a mode of transportation up the less inclined ski runs since the first magic carpet lift came into play in 1990 in Denver, Colorado, introduced by Rocky Mountain Conveyor & Equipment.
In this guide I’ll break down magic carpet ski lift build and operation mechanics, the different types of these lifts and how to ride one. I’ll also go over the pros and cons of magic carpet skiing.
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Magic Carpet Ski Lift Build And Operation Mechanics
Before we get into the details, read our post on how ski lifts work for a general overview of the mechanics involved.
Magic Carpet ski lifts rely on the traction between the belt and the ski bases to keep the skiers in place through the ride uphill. Therefore, they can be only used for beginner runs that are not very steep with less distance from base to top.
The conveyor belt of a Magic Carpet, made of grippy plastic or rubber, is installed at the snow level and driven in one direction by a pulley system. The driving pulley is turned by either an electronic motor or an engine.
The movement of the conveyor belt is quite slow, allowing for easy boarding and disembarking.
Types Of Magic Carpet Ski Lifts
There are a few different types of Magic Carpet lifts with varying structural designs. Let’s look at some of these.
Kids’ Magic Carpet Ski Lifts
These are simply very short magic carpets installed in much less inclined ski runs dedicated to children at some ski resorts.
These have tunnels built around the lengths of their runs, insulating the passengers from the harsh mountain winter so that they can remain warm, dry, and cozy as they travel to the tops of their beginner runs.
Railed Magic Carpets
This type has rails built along both sides for skiers to grab onto.
Even though the rails are intended to provide balance for the skiers, many ski resorts don’t have rails on the sides of their Magic Carpets, as the rails can be more hazardous than beneficial.
Read more about ski lift safety here.
Tubing Magic Carpets
Tubing Magic Carpets are designed to take snow tubing and sledding enthusiasts to their destination hilltops and are not intended for skiers.
How To Ride A Magic Carpet Ski Lift
If you are a novice ski enthusiast who is awaiting the first Magic Carpet ride up your beginner hill, rest assured, it is very easy to do.
You should master your basic ski moves in flat terrain before your first Magic carpet ride, and more importantly, your first bunny hill run though.
Once you are near the base of the lift, slowly ski onto the moving conveyor, keeping your skis parallel and aligned to the belt. Remember to keep enough distance between the skier in front of you as you board.
All you have to do is stand balanced once you are on the conveyor. Stay relaxed and alert, looking forward. If you have trouble with your balance, have a wider stance and bend your knees a little.
Once you reach the top of the hill, allow the belt to gently push you off to the snow, slide to either left or right, and use the plow to stop.
There is no reason to be embarrassed if you tumble or fall. It can happen to any newbie, and your fellow skiers will understand. Plus, the lift operators always stay alert to stop the conveyor and help you up on such occasions.
Read more tips for getting off ski lifts here.
Pros And Cons Of Magic Carpet Ski Lifts
As with every ski lift type out there, Magic Carpets have their advantages and limitations.
The main advantage of a Magic Carpet is how easy it is for beginners and kids to use. It doesn’t take much for them to learn how to board, ride, and disembark from a Magic Carpet, unlike riding a t bar lift.
Plus, skiers will rarely fall off a Magic Carpet if at all. Even if one does fall, an injury is very unlikely, due to the slow speed of the conveyor and the fact that it is on the snow level. So, rider safety is a big advantage.
Being only suitable for beginner ski runs with small gradients due to their reliance on friction between the skis and the conveyor belts is one of the main disadvantages of Magic Carpets ski lifts.
Another limitation of Magic Carpet is that overnight snowfall can render them inoperable until the snow covering the lift is cleaned off properly. It is difficult for trail grooming operations to get as close as other types of lifts to them too.
A Magic carpet is a conveyor belt installed on the snow level, intended to transport skiers up a beginner-level ski run that is not very steep.
They are very easy to use, even for beginners and kids. Chances of falling off, or getting injured if one does fall off, from a magic carpet are very slim.
Being suitable only for transporting people up shallow beginner slopes and needing to be cleared of snow after a night of snowfall before they can be operational, as well as the difficulty for grooming operations to get as close to them as other lift types are the limitations of Magic Carpets.
If you are a novice ski enthusiast, it is highly recommended that you choose a resort with at least one Magic Carpet Ski lift installed.