Magnetic ski lifts for kids across Courchevel
All 18 chairlifts in the French resort will be fitted with special magnets to help prevent children from falling off. The child needs to wear a special vest over his or her ski clothes and is then secure.
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It is rare for a child to fall from a chairlift but it does happen. Each season a number of children fall from chairlifts, usually slipping under the safety bar.
There have occasionally been serious injuries and sometimes fatalities.
A child died in Verbier in the season of 2007/08 after falling from the chairlift at Les Chaux over a beginner ski slope. The child was in a local ski school at the time.
Courchevel pioneered a new system, the Magnestick, a few years ago where a child wears a vest with a magnet on and this is activated for the duration of the chairlift ride.
Each chair has an electromagnet that automatically activates when the child gets on the lift. It is then switched off automatically at the top allowing the child to disembark.
The vest also has a back protector in it for support while out on the slopes.
We have reported on the system in the past here on PlanetSKI.
It is used in some ski resorts in the USA such as Alpine Meadows as well as other resorts in Les Trois Vallees.
There is also a lift equipped with magnestick in Andorra, the La Basera chairlift in Arcalis.
It is primarily used for children in the local ski school, the ESF, and had proved popular.
"We transport skiers everyday and I think that it is natural to be preoccuped by our customers' safety. Every type of transport is concerned by safety, airlines and bus companies, and nowadays it is one of our main priorities. To have 100% of our chairlifts equipped must avoid falls," said the Director of the Courchevel ski area, Thomas Thor-Jensen.
The most common accident is the safety bar being lifted too early and a child then falling before the chairlift arrives at the station.
The magnestick minimises that risk.
In recent times the issue of children falling from lifts has been taken more seriously.
Hundreds of children fall from lifts in The Alps each winter.
Some resorts have introduced extra barriers pointing downwards on the safety bar to prevent children from sliding underneath.
Val d'Isere is one such resort.
For a basic video of what it is like and how it works then see below.
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