Accessibility of Waidoffen 6 Chair in Hochfügen

We took a biski up today to check out the accessibility of the new Waidoffen 6 chair in Hochfügen.  Apparently, it’s the first of its kind and “combines the highest standards of design, safety and comfort.”

Waidoffen chairlift top station

Waidoffen Chairlift top station

It was exciting last winter to hear about the new chairlift (Waidoffen) that was going to replace the old 4 chair in Hochfügen.  The old chair was cold and slow, so to find out that it was to be replaced by a fast, heated chair was great.  However, I was a little apprehensive when I saw the design of the seats.  I couldn’t see how a sitski (monoski, biski, dualski etc.) could use it easily.

ergonomic individual seats

The ergonomic, individual seats on the Waidoffen chair

The Hochfügen website says: “the new chair lift offers ergonomic individual seats, an integrated seat heating system, ultra-light weather-proof covers and “Auto-lock” child safety locks, providing a high level of safety and comfort.”   It’s all true…  It’s comfortable, warm and fast and the child safety locks do their job well.  Nevertheless, how would a sitski manage?

We thought it might be sensible to take an empty biski up to the chairlift to see if and how it would work before we went with a skier.  The lift guys were very helpful and also curious.  They knew that it would work in theory but they hadn’t had an opportunity to try with any kind of disabled ski equipment.
What we found out today is that:

  • A part of the seat molding is removable. This allows the ski to sit straight on the chair with space for the foot bucket between the footrests.  As it happens, the ski that I took today actually fits well with the molding still in place.
  • The platform where people stand to get on the chair goes up and down.  If the lift detects that a person is less than 110cm high the platform rises automatically.  The lift operator needs to override this function with a sitski because when the chair is too low, the ski won’t “sit” on the chair safely until the chair has left the station.
  • The automatic safety bar can be set to manual.  This means that the sitskier can control how far the safety bar comes down on their legs.
  • A sitskier with broad shoulders might find it a bit of a squeeze to get through the gate onto the loading platform.

All in all, the accessibility is better than I thought it might be.  The benefits in terms of safety for small children and comfort outweigh the niggles.  It’s not perfect, but it works with the helpfulness and willingness of the lift operators.

accessibility biski on chairlift

Biski on the chairlift