Poma lifts: The Pogo Sticks of the Ski Hills

What are Poma lifts?

The Poma lift, while resembling a T-Bar lift, is unlike any other lift that you will see on a ski hill. Often you will hear a Poma lift called a Button lift due to the tiny seat that resembles a button. Poma lifts derive their name from the leading manufacturer of them, Pomagalski.

A Poma lift is essentially a pole with a seat suspended from a set of springs. This pole is connected to a high-level moving cable. The springs in the arrangement give the impression of a pogo stick.  Hence the nickname, “pogo stick of the ski hill.”

How to ride a Poma lift?

Apparently riding a contraption of this sort will take some getting used to and being a snowboarder you will have a little extra learning curve to contend with. A Poma lift is designed with skiers in mind. A skier can easily separate their legs to step over the seat of a lift. A snowboarder has booth feet attached to a standard surface making stepping over anything impossible.

Riding the Poma lift

The biggest trick to riding a chair lift is getting the technique correct. You will glide into the loading area with your back foot out of the binding on your snowboard. This is common for almost all types of lifts, so it is a good skill to learn. To move around push with your rear foot much like riding a skateboard. You may wish to practice riding like this on flat ground and on gentle slopes before trying to mount the lift. A simple way to keep your balance is to rest your rear foot on the anti-slip pad as you move.

When it is your turn, very shortly after the previous rider has gotten on to the Poma, you will glide into the lift area. While standing in the lift track reach out with your hand and grab the handle of the Poma as it approaches you. Once you have a grip on the handle lift your rear leg and swing it over the seat. The motion is much the same as jumping onto a bike or a horse.

Getting off the Poma lift

The last hurdle to over come is the release at the top of the hill. To free yourself you will need to stand up and slightly spring yourself forward. Then gently launch yourself out of the lift track while swinging your rear leg over the seat. It can be difficult to do this at first so take it slow. Many people prefer to shift their weight out of the seat as they approach the end of the lift so that they are sliding on their snowboard before they try to swing their rear leg free. The lift operator will slow or even stop the lift to get you out of the track safely.

How not to fall off

Half of your problems are solved, once you are on the lift. The main problem that happens when riding a Poma is that riders catch their snowboard in the snow and fall off the lift seat or wind catches them and pushes them off since they didn’t expect it. The best way to avoid these problems is to hold on tight and keep the tip of your snowboard high and straight.

As with anything else you do, practice makes perfect. While a Poma lift is not all that common in North America, it is used extensively around the world. Having a little knowledge about it and knowing the necessary skills required will make it that much easier to ride when you do encounter one.

 

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