An Alpine coaster or mountain coaster is a type of roller coaster which uses a bobsled-like sled or cart to run down a track usually built on the side of a hill. It is similar to an alpine slide which also uses a sled to run down a smooth concave track, but on an alpine coaster the sled runs instead on tubular rails and is not able to leave the track.
Both these types of track slide are sometimes denoted with the German name Sommerrodelbahn. They are often built by ski resorts in order to use existing winter infrastructure and provide additional summer income, although some installations are standalone.
As of 2007[update], the longest alpine coaster in the world is the 17,400 feet (5,300 m) long Tobotronc at Naturlandia, in the Pyrenees of Andorra. The highest alpine coaster in the world is the 3,300 feet (1,000 m) long Alpine Coaster of Glacier 3000 in Gstaad, Switzerland starting at an elevation of 9,747 feet (2,971 m).
Safety features, speed, tracks and layout vary by manufacturer. The inventor and leading manufacturer, with over 130 installations throughout the world, is Wiegand Sports GmbH.
- 1 History
- 2 Tracks
- 3 Mechanics
- 4 Safety
- 5 Locations
- 5.1 Austria
- 5.2 Germany
- 5.3 Canada
- 5.4 Italy
- 5.5 Jamaica
- 5.6 Haiti
- 5.7 New Zealand
- 5.8 Russia
- 5.9 Serbia
- 5.10 Switzerland
- 5.11 United Kingdom
- 5.12 United States
- 5.13 Vietnam
- 6 See also
- 7 References
The predecessor to the mountain coaster is the alpine slide, which started in its present form in the 1970s. Josef Wiegand had envisioned the idea of creating a roller coaster ride for ski resorts that would take advantage of the topography of the land, rather than building the structure to create the elevation changes that traditional roller coasters require. His company Wiegand, incorporated since the late 1960s and based in Rasdorf in Germany, installed the first stainless steel tracks, rather than the customary fiberglass or concrete tracks, in 1975. The company developed and installed its first mountain coaster, under the "Alpine Coaster" trademark, in 1997.
Since 2006 the headquarters of Wiegand Sports GmbH has been located in Stevensville, Montana, in order to stay competitive and provide service to their North American customers. Here they engineer, project manage and store spare parts and material in a 30,000 square foot facility. Manufacturing is still done in Rasdorf, Germany where over 350 people are employed; the Montana location has 20 employees as of 2016.
In 2007, a new manufacturer of Alpine Products emerged. In 2010, the assets of Alpine Products were purchased by Aquatic Development Group (ADG). Since the purchase, ADG has manufactured and installed mountain coasters at 7 locations including Killington Resort, Copper Mountain and Ober Gatlinburg, among others.
Most mountain coasters are installed by ski resorts as an added year-round attraction, or installed seasonally to augment income during summer months. The latter have easily removable tracks that are placed over the ski runs after the ski season. All Alpine coaster tracks are devised for easy installation, with minimal impact to the topsoil and environment, as most tracks are built close to the ground, taking advantage of the natural elevation of the terrain. No concrete work is needed, except at the station. Bridgework up to 5 metres (16 ft) tall is installed by manufacturers to negotiate roads, trails, ski slopes or water crossings. Tracks are constructed of aluminum or stainless steel for low maintenance and durability.
Closed-loop tracks include a lift system during the course of the ride. Some coasters on ski resorts eliminate the long, tedious climb up to the top by utilizing the resort's ski lift to take riders to the top of the course, so the riders can enjoy a longer one-way downhill run back to the station. Alpine coasters are always closed-loop coasters.[dubious ]
Thrill elements on mountain coasters could include varying degrees of curves, dips and hairpin turns. Large spiral circles (helixes) are not only used as a thrill element, but also for reducing elevation.
Alpine coasters can also operate throughout the year, even through light rain and snow.
Each sled accommodates one or two passengers and is controlled by a hand brake located on both sides of the car, or a single brake lever in the middle. Riders are advised to place their hands on the brakes at all times for safety reasons. Pulling the brake handle causes the cart to slow down or stop; pushing or letting go of the handle causes the brakes to release, allowing the cart to accelerate.
Alpine coasters are unique among amusement park rides in that the rider has complete control over his or her speed and ride experience. Riders can opt for a slower leisurely run, or with minimal or no braking for a faster thrilling ride.
Most cars are equipped with a centrifugal brake system that controls its maximum speed by limiting the rotational speed of the run rollers. Riders are responsible to observe a safe distance as a common courtesy to the riders in front. Each car is equipped with shock-absorbing front and rear bumpers in case of collision, which occurs when riders are driving too fast and not leaving enough space for braking distance. Newer generation coasters are equipped with an anti-collision system that automatically apply the brakes if the rider gets too close to the car ahead.
To secure the riders on their seats, each car is equipped with a three-point safety belt for the rider and a lap belt for the passenger. Tracks also have safety nets, especially on steep curves, as a precaution.
- Mieders Summer Toboggan Run at Serlesbahnen. This is the World's steepest alpine coaster, with a monorail type track at a length of 2.8km
- Imst Alpine Coaster at the ski resort of Imst. The World's longest mountain coaster, at a track length of 3.5km,
- Abtenau summer toboggan run, near the city of Salzburg. A 1920m track reaching speeds of up to 40km/h.
- Hasenhorn Coaster at Todtnau in the Black Forest. The track is approximately 2,9km long, making it one of the longest mountain coasters in Germany.
- Alpine Coaster at Kolbensattel in Oberammergau.
- Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster at the Blue Mountain in Ontario, Canada has a downhill length of 3,650 feet (1,110 m) with a maximum speed of 26 miles per hour (42��km/h). Wiegand Product
- Viking Mountain Coaster at Mont Saint-Sauveur in Quebec, Canada. Wiegand Product
- The Pipe Mountain Coaster at Revelstoke Mountain Resort in Revelstoke, British Columbia is a monorail alpine coaster with a top speed of 42 kilometres per hour (26 mph) over a length of 1,400 metres (4,593 ft) and a 279 metres (915.4 ft) vertical drop.
- Funbob at Adventure Park Cimone in Sestola, Emilia-Romagna.
- Rainforest bobsled at Mystic Mountain, Wiegand Product
- Labadee wiegand Product
- Christchurch Adventure Park, a mountain bike park in Christchurch, will get a mountain coaster by December 2017.
- Rodelban in Bobroviy Log Park, Krasnoyarsk
- Alpine Coaster of Glacier 3000 in Gstaad, Switzerland is the highest alpine coaster in the world with the starting elevation of 9,747 feet (2,971 m) and a downhill run of 3,300 feet (1,000 m) reaching a top speed of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h). The ride opened on March 26, 2007.
- Forest Coaster at Zip World in Betws-y-Coed, Wales is the first alpine coaster in the UK. It has a downhill run of 2,330 feet (710 m) reaching a top speed of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h). The ride opened in May 2017.
- South Lake Tahoe - Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster at Heavenly Mountain Resort, opened on July, 2006. Wiegand product
- Breckenridge - Gold Runner Mountain Coaster at Breckenridge Ski Resort, opened in 2010. Wiegand Product
- Colorado Springs - Ski Broadmoor at Broadmoor Hotel, closed
- Copper Mountain - Mountain Coaster at Copper Mountain Resort, opened in 2017. ADG, manufacturer and supplier
- Glenwood - Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, opened in 2005. Wiegand Product
- Steamboat Springs - Outlaw Mountain Coaster at Steamboat Ski Resort, opened in August, 2017. Wiegand Product
- Vail - Forest Flyer at Vail Ski Resort, opened in 2015. Wiegand Product
- Helen - Georgia Mountain Coaster, opened in 2019. Wiegand Product
- Charlemont - Thunderbolt Mountain Coaster at Berkshire East Ski Resort, opened in 2014. ADG, manufacturer and supplier
- Hancock - Jiminy Peak's Mountain Coaster at the Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, opened in July, 2006. Wiegand Product
- Branson - The Branson Coaster, opened in 2017. Wiegand Product
- Branson - Runaway Mountain Coaster at Branson Mountain Adventure, opened in August, 2016. ADG, manufacturer and supplier
- Bartlett - Nor'Easter Mountain Coaster at the Attitash Mountain Resort, opened in November, 2010. Alpine Products built
- Gilford - Gunstock Mountain Coaster at Gunstock Mountain Resort, opened in August, 2016. Wiegand Product
- North Conway - Cranmore Mountain Coaster at Cranmore Mountain Resort, opened in 2010. Wiegand Product
- Cortland - Nor'Easter Mountain Coaster at the Greek Peak Mountain Resort, opened in 2014. Wiegand Product
- Ellicottville, New York - Sky High Mountain Coaster at the Holiday Valley Resort, opened in August, 2011. Wiegand Product
- Tannersville - Mountain Coaster Poconos at Camelback Mountain Adventures at Camelback Mountain Resort. Opened July, 2012. ADG, manufacturer and supplier
- Gatlinburg - Anakeesta Rail Runner at Anakeesta, opened in 2018.
- Gatlinburg - Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster - Opened in August, 2014.
- Gatlinburg - Ski Mountain Coaster at Ober Gatlinburg, opened in September 2015. ADG, manufacturer and supplier
- Gatlinburg - Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster - Opened in June, 2017
- Pigeon Forge - The Coaster at Goats on the Roof, opened in 2015.
- Pigeon Forge - Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, opened in August, 2013.
- Park City - Park City Mountain Alpine Coaster at the Park City Mountain Resort, opened in August, 2006. Wiegand Product
- Snowbird - Snowbird Mountain Coaster at Snowbird Ski Resort. Wiegand Product
- Killington - Killington Beast Mountain Coaster at the Killington Ski Resort, opened in July, 2015. ADG, manufacturer and supplier
- Ludlow - Timber Ripper Alpine Coaster at the Okemo Mountain Resort, opened in December, 2010. Wiegand Product
- Jackson - The Cowboy Coaster at Snow King. Wiegand Product
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