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The Madrisa ski lift uses lasers to assist small children and the handicapped

Skiing is a great pastime for millions of families each year. For some, it hasn’t always been easy to get to the top of the mountain without assistance. The average chairlift just isn’t built for small children or skiers with disabilities.

That is beginning to change at the infamous Klosters-Madrisa ski resort in the Swiss Alps. Here they have opened the country’s first disabled and child-friendly chairlift powered by ABB technology.

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What makes this lift so unique is its laser-powered size recognition control system. Before it scoops up a rider, it scans to figure out the correct seat height for easy loading. The platform then raises or lowers to accommodate. This makes things a lot simpler for small children and monoskiers. Additionally, automatic closing and opening of the locking clip allows skiers to use the chairlift independently.

The new Madrisa chairlift is also more energy efficient than traditional lifts. ABB’s AC motors and traction converters save energy and require less maintenance despite being more than 1,890 meters long.

Among the first to ride the new lift were former Swiss wheelchair racer and eight-time Paralympic medallist Edith Wolf-Hunkeler and ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer.

“I’m a person like anyone, you know? I want to be free. I don’t feel handicapped. All the obstacles handicap me,” Wolf-Hunkeler said. “And so, if you can go skiing with your family and you’re together all the time, you don’t have to go around, then that makes it into an experience. And so cool to be independent for me especially.”

Madrisa first opened up in 1967 and has since become known for being specialized for families, kids, and the disabled. This new chairlift is just the latest way in which they can provide a new experience for those with physical disabilities. Their hope is to become the best place in Switzerland for physically restricted snow sports.