Peace River Branch Engineer Scores Hit
With Invention of Ski Belt Conveyor Lift
BY DAN ROPCHAN, P.ENG.
Wayne Schultz, P.Eng, one of APEGGA Peace River Branch's innovative professionals,
combined engineering experience with his love of skiing to invent an exciting
new ski lift. By day, Mr. Schultz works at Weyerhaeuser's pulpmill as
their reliability improvement leader.
But during evenings and weekends, he balances a busy family life with
improving his recently patented invention - the Ski Belt conveyor lift.
The Ski Belt, an idea that began in his garage, is now used by thousands
Mr. Schultz's new ski lift system is a hit at Sun Peaks, near Kamloops.
Now in its second season, his lift has proved ideal for beginner skiers
and snow boarders, who can find conventional lifts a challenge. "I
tried to make it easier," says Mr. Schultz.
Skiers slide down a small snow ramp to match the belt speed, then on to
a two-foot-wide belt to enjoy a smooth and comfortable ride up. The belt
runs flush with the snow, for obstacle free and safer operation. Unloading
at the top is a breeze: the user just skis off to the side then down the
Mr. Schultz conceived the Ski Belt in February 1993. When early results
looked promising, he tested the market at the Canada West Ski Areas Association
trade show in Nakiska. There were skeptics but many encouraging responses,
since a beginner-friendly ski lift is the key to bringing first-time skiers
By September 1994 Wayne completed the research and documentation he needed
for a Canadian patent application. After further prototyping, field testing,
and safety evaluations, the patent was granted on Aug. 19, 1997. A website was launched (www.telusplanet.net/public/skibelt)
and marketing efforts peaked with the Kelowna CWSAA trade show.
In the fall of 1998 a conveyor manufacturer's interest in building and
marketing the Ski Belt led to the first sale to Sun Peaks for the 1999/2000
season. In the second season of operation, the beginners at Sun Peaks
are enjoying the ease and safety of the new style of lift. The encouraging
response Mr. Schultz has received has increased his confidence that the
business will continue to flourish and more skiers, at the beginners level,
will continue to enjoy the use of his invention.