Vail has its biggest day ever

VAIL – Vail Mountain may have had its biggest day ever on the Friday following New Year’s. Various sources, including the U.S. Forest Service, confirmed that 22,000 people had been on the ski mountain, reports the Vail Daily (Jan. 4).

Bob McLaurin, Vail’s town manager, said it was the biggest Christmas season in about a decade. Among those said to be in Vail and Beaver Creek for the holidays were Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lopez and Al Gore. The latter stayed with Adam Aron, CEO of Vail Resorts.

Many of the holiday skiers, however, were day-skiers from Colorado. Mayor Ludwig Kurz told a gathering that town officials would like to see a higher ratio of destination visitors but for now the town seems to be happy to be past the malaise of the last several years.

New resort gets new name

CALDWELL – Developers of a four-season resort 100 miles north of Boise have come up with a name, Tamarack Resort, to replace the name West Rock Lake Cascade.

The resort has a 10-acre grove of tamaracks, one of the few conifer trees that changes with the seasons, turning gold before the needles are dropped in autumn, growing back as green in spring.

A news release issued by the development team states that the resort is premised in the boom in second homes, a market that they expect to continue growing. The median price of a second home in 2001 was $162,000, they point out, which was 26.8 percent higher than it had been two years prior.

The development is scheduled to open in 2004, the first major destination ski resort since Beaver Creek opened in 1981. (Several smaller resorts have opened since then). It is to have 2,800 vertical feet of skiing, two on-mountain restaurants and 15 lifts.

Also planned in the project are 2,000 units of housing and an 18-hole golf course. Buildout is projected for 2018.

Berthoud converts to cats

BERTHOUD PASS – Colorado’s first ski area to have a chair lift, Berthoud Pass, hasn’t been using chair lifts for the last two winters. Instead, it has converted into a Sno Cat skiing operation, and from various reports, seems to be doing much better financially.

The cost isn’t for the faint of heart – $225 a day solo or, if you have some buddies, $2,500 for the whole cat. But the Winter Park Manifest (Dec. 25) dismisses the cost as “highly affordable” when compared to a skiing experience at Vail or Breckenridge.

Trick Daddy flops in Vail

VAIL –A hip-hop artist named Trick Daddy had been lined up to entertain juveniles, ages 15 through 17, on New Year’s Eve. But after three weeks of sales, only 20 tickets had been sold for the show at Dobson Ice Arena, which has a capacity of 2,500.

Maybe it’s just as well. The Vail Daily (Dec. 31) said that the gold-toothed Trick Daddy “gives voice to lyrics so vile they make censors cringe.”

Vail has been censoring the activities of its young visitors after several years of near riots on New Year’s Eve. The town ordered a curfew of 10:30 p.m. for those younger than 18 and prohibited anyone under 21 from entering Vail Village.

Common error caused crash

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – One woman died when a small plane crashed in the mountains just above the Catamount Golf Course, southeast of Steamboat Springs.

The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately apparent. The pilot was identified as being experienced with mountain flying. But Bob Maddox, owner of Mountain Flight Service, carefully suggested that the pilot may have committed the most common of errors: overestimating his plane’s ability to climb through thin air while heavily weighted.

Steamboat’s airport is at 7,000 feet, and by flying west, pilots can slowly gain altitude. However, if flying east across the mountains, they must quickly gain 4,000 feet.

The plane was carrying four people and three pit bulls. “They were probably pretty close and thought they were going to make it,” Maddox told The Steamboat Pilot (Dec. 31). “They could have turned around at almost any time.”

Crested Butte drops ‘resort’

CRESTED BUTTE – In about 1973, Jerry Jones suggested that Keystone add the name “resort” to its name because it wasn’t just a ski area but a place of many amenities. By now, just about every ski area with an ounce of ambition calls itself a “resort.”

Until now, that included Crested Butte Mountain Resort. But John Norton, president and CEO of the company, says the place is to be called Crested Butte Mountain. “That’s our most important asset,” Norton told the Crested Butte News (Dec. 27). “We’re really more of a ski area at this point than a resort.”

Ironically, it’s now more of a resort than ever. Like many other ski areas, Crested Butte has gotten into the land-development business. Still, could this be a retro move, to help Crested Butte with its image as a good, old-fashioned ski area, just in case the move toward retro skiing gets a firm foothold in the marketplace?

Stratton tops ticket prices

ASPEN – Aspen may have the reputation as the most exclusive ski resort on the continent, but its $68 sticker price ranks behind those of Vail, Beaver Creek and Deer Valley. At $72, Stratton tops the U.S.

For Stratton, a newcomer to the higher echelon of ticket prices, this seems to be a statement by Intrawest, the resort’s owner. “It is making a fairly definitive statement about who you want your customers to be,” said Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association. “They want some level of exclusivity,” observes David Parry, a vice president of Aspen Skiing Co.

Few people pay the full rate. As The Aspen Times (Dec. 27) notes, bigger ski resorts offer a variety of prices based on time of year, time of day, advance purchase and so forth. Perry said other resorts he has studied show that only 20 percent of customers pay the full rate.

T-ride looks at NHL-sized rink

TELLURIDE – Discussion continues in Telluride about how big to make the new ice rink. An NHL-sized rink, 200 feet long, is preferred by the local hockey community, i.e. hockey dads, but the 185-foot-length would be large enough for tournaments and whatnot, as well as more in line with the community’s budget.

Telluride’s Daily Planet notes with the ice-refrigeration system, the total cost of the pavilion is expected to reach more than $2.5 million.

Spring springing earlier

DENVER – Two new studies conclude that spring is arriving earlier in Colorado and elsewhere, a result of rising global temperatures.

In one instance, in the Elk Range between Aspen and Crested Butte, marmots have been emerging from hibernation more than three weeks earlier than they did in 1980. In another case, robins are flying into Colorado two weeks earlier, reports the Rocky Mountain News (Jan. 2).

Working independently, two research teams reviewed hundreds of papers that tracked the behavior of plant and animal species believed caused by human-driven global warming, reports the newspaper. “Both teams concluded that they had found the ‘fingerprint’of global warming on hundreds of species, from insects to birds and mammals.”

Earth’s average temperature climbed about 12 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century, and a U.N. panel has predicted that average global temperatures could rise as much as 10.5 degrees in the next century.

T-shirt event raises objections

CRESTED BUTTE – John Norton, CEO of Crested Butte, is getting some flak, this time for a wet T-shirt contest at the company’s Hall of Fame bar.

Norton has been promoting a youth movement, contrasting Crested Butte with the “retirement” communities to the north. Gwen Pettit, a former mayor of Mt. Crested Butte, vigorously rejected the T-shirt contest.

“If this is really just a light-hearted event, then I invite the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council members to support this event by entering their spouses, partners or daughters to support stimulation of the local economy.”

Udders, she added, should be judged at county fairs, not in bars.

-compiled by Allen Best






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