Okemo set to open alpine roller-coaster thriller

You sure don't find four-season roller coasters open for thrill seekers outside of Sunbelt fun parks. But next month, Vermont will be the place for coaster fans when the Okemo Mountain Coaster at Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow will open for the public.

While it's not your father's roller coaster-it's part roller coaster, part bobsled, part alpine slide-the apres ride looks just as fun, maybe more so. It's ideally adapted to Vermont's alpine heights, regardless of the time of year-rain, snow or shine.

Manufactured by Weigand of Germany-where engineered safety and mountain thrills go hand-in-hand-Okemo's coaster is a marvel of amusement design. It features maintenance-free stainless steel tubular rails for an ski-like run down the mountain.

According to Okemo publicity, riders will start with a five-minute, 1,600-foot climb followed by a 375 vertical-foot descent along 3,100 feet of track that follows the contours of the mountain with added waves, camel backs, banking loops, and a "twister" section, at speeds of up to 25 mph.

Okemo's Bonnie MacPherson said ride plans are on schedule.

"Around this Thanksgiving, Okemo Mountain Resort will unveil the Okemo Mountain Coaster; it's a four-season attraction that will offer a scenic and exhilarating ride through alpine forests and along the contours of the mountain at Okemo's Jackson Gore," she said.

"The Okemo Mountain Coaster will serve as an anchor for other Jackson Gore activities," said Ted Reeves, vice president of Okemo Real Estate and Development. "It will become another fun, alternative, family activity in summer and winter."

There are only six similar mountain coaster rides located in North America.

The Outlook will test ride the Okemo coaster next month and provide readers with a sneak peak-er, peek-at a ride that promises all the thrills of downhill skiing without the skis.

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