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How to use a Ski Lift

2 November 2017

When hitting a ski resort for the first time, the idea of getting on and off a ski lift can be a little daunting, but with the help and supervision of a lift attendant, chair lifts can be mastered quite quickly. Button lifts on the other hand, are a completely different kind of ride, but while they’re often the lifts skiers and snowboarders take longer to crack, with a little know how you’ll find they’re not as menacing as you might think.

What is a button lift?

When hitting a dry slope, indoor slope or mountain ski resort as a skier or snowboarder you’ll start to get to know a few different types of lifts. Including, chair lifts, gondolas, T-bars, travelators, and button lifts.

A button lift, sometimes known as a drag lift or Poma, after the French company which manufactures cable-driven lift systems, is just another type of lift for transporting skiers and snowboarders up a ski slope.

Like the chair lift, T-bar and Travelator a button lift allows skies to keep both skis clipped on while traveling up the slope, and snowboarders to have their front foot strapped into the board.

Button lifts work via an aerial steel loop that rotates on wheels and is powered by an engine. Attached are equally spaced poles hanging down and on the bottom of each pole is a button shaped plastic seat that is placed between the skier’s legs or under the snowboarder’s front leg and pulls them uphill.

Similar to a T-bar, a button lift drags skiers and snowboarders up the slope with their skis or snowboards sliding up the hill.

How to use a button lift 

Whether you’re a skier or snowboarder watch The Snow Centre’s video on how to use a button lift.

Tips for using a button lift on skis

  1. When getting on the lift, take your time. If you miss a button it doesn’t matter.
  2. Put your ski poles in the hand furthest away from the lift, so the hand closest to the lift pole is free to place the button between your legs.
  3. Rest onto the button that’s between your legs, but do not sit down. You should remain standing. The button lift will not take your full weight.
  4. While travelling up the lift try to keep the skis running parallel to each other
  5. Wait until you’re on the flat before releasing the button lift.
  6. Once you’ve exited the lift, move out of the way so others can exit the lift behind you.

Tips for using a button lift on a snowboard

  1. Before getting on the lift, approach with just your front foot strapped into the board, but make sure your back binding strap is out of the way of the middle of the board so you have room to rest your back foot between your two bindings.
  2. Whether you’re goofy or regular, your strapped in front foot should be leading you up the hill. Make sure your board and leading leg are facing the way the lift is going.
  3. When waiting for the button, adjust your position to make sure your waiting in the spot that will make it easiest to reach for the button with your leading hand.
  4. When getting on the lift, take your time. If you miss a button it doesn’t matter.
  5. Place the button under your leading leg, but do not sit down. You should remain standing. The button lift will not take your full weight.
  6. As you take the button lift, wedge your back foot up against your back binding to avoid any slipping.
  7. Once you’ve stepped onto your board and you’ve paced the button behind your front leg, keep hold of the button in your leading hand, stay relaxed, in a stacked position with your knees bent, ready for the lift to pull you up the hill.
  8. Looking up the hill, and keeping your back arm in line with your board behind you will help you maintain your balance.
  9. While travelling up the lift try to keep the base of the board flat, and running straight up the hill.
  10. Wait until you’re on the flat before releasing the button lift.
  11. Once you’ve exited the lift, move out of the way so others can exit the lift behind you.

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