Fear and clothing in the Vail Valley

BEAVER CREEK – Under the headline of “Fear and Clothing in the Vail Valley,” the Vail Daily (Jan. 17) surveyed skiers at Beaver Creek about their thoughts on clothing.

Ski hats with antlers and rubber spikes are most uncool, say local skiers and snowboarders – perhaps as uncool as skiing in a hockey jersey or a bright-pink one-piece suit.

On the other hand, duct tape is so stylish that at least one skier purposefully burns holes in her jacket in order to have an excuse to tape it. “It’s as critical as a hockey player missing teeth,” she said. Hmmm, do you suppose she thought about just duct-taping her jacket, without bothering to make holes?

Taos News snubs proposed Wal-Mart

TAOS, N.M. – Wal-Mart may open a superstore in Taos. Either in response to public opinion, a hunger for sales tax revenues, or both, town officials have been clearing the way. But in an editorial (Jan. 19), the Taos News urged the community to reject Wal-Mart. Said the newspaper: “Wal-Mart is a region-changing institution. It doesn’t replace one corner of the regional market, it supplants everything ... Do we want Wal-Mart, a corporation...that has been shown to have deeply homogenizing effects on other American regions that were once so singular – to move in and dominate our community?”

The Taos News went on to examine the company’s payscale and benefits packages – very low – and its union-busting activities, as well as its practices in other countries, before concluding: “While many businesses fall short of our labor and social expectations, Wal-Mart is a market leader and as such bears a greater responsibility to improve its record and to open its actions to public scrutiny and review. Until it does, we should pass on a Wal-Mart Supercenter.”

State’s snowfall well below average

ASPEN – If Colorado is to pull out of the drought that has plagued it for the last three years, the skies will have to start snowing steadily, and soon. By now, on average, more than half the snow of winter has arrived. And snowpacks range from only 85 percent of average to 65 percent of average on the Western Slope, where nearly all of Colorado’s ski areas are found.

“Average” would be a blessing given how little snow has fallen. However, this is one of those years in which snow seems to be gathering high but not in the valleys, meaning ski areas aren’t quite as bad off as this might sound.

Meanwhile, a study by the U.S. Geological Survey suggests that the cooling ocean water in the North Pacific, something called Pacific Decadal Oscillation, will lead to more droughts during the next three decades in much of the West. But Don Rogers, editor of the Vail Daily (Jan. 23), cautions readers to take that with a grain of salt. He recalls that a study 20 years ago in California predicted California would be in for a prolonged wet spell. Instead, California got hit with a major drought for many years.

Copper tries to reverse its ratios

COPPER MOUNTAIN – Parking is becoming such a problem at Copper Mountain that Intrawest, the ski area owner and resort developer, is talking about putting a cap on skier days. Resort officials also claim they want to reverse the resort’s current ratio of 60 percent day-skier to 40 percent destination-skiers.

The issue comes up as Summit County officials review Intrawest’s development strategy. Much lies ahead, including a performing arts center, a large hotel, 1,100 housing units and two gondolas.

Currently, reports the Summit Daily News (Jan. 22), the resort has 2,666 spaces designated for day-skier parking. That’s sufficient on all but about two weeks a year, when the demand is closer to 3,500 spaces. During those times, cars spill out onto the resort’s arterial roads.

Intrawest says as additional building is done at Copper, the projects will have their own parking, much of it underground.

Teacher says he was fired for being gay

TELLURIDE – In 1993, Telluride voters approved an anti-discrimination ordinance in a show of support for Aspen, Boulder and Denver, and in defiance of a statewide vote that banned such anti-discrimination laws against homosexuals and bisexuals. That law was later ruled unconstitutional.

Now, the Telluride School District is being challenged on the basis of that law. Carlos Somers, a teacher of Spanish who is openly gay, claims he was fired because of his sexual orientation. He also claims his constitutional rights were violated.

After 10 years of teaching, his contract was not renewed last May after school administrators charged him with using inappropriate language in class as well as insulting school staff. His firing precipitated an outpouring of letters of support from his students.

Peace activists gathering at X-Games

ASPEN – Activists who want to articulate a major dissent to the U.S. threat of war against Iraq are preparing for a rally in Aspen during the ESPN Winter X-Games.

ESPN will be in Aspen for the event, as will ABC and ESPN2, plus print journalists. The television broadcasts are expected to get to 110 million people in 147 countries. Whether the media will cover the rally remains to be seen, as is whether many people will show up. Rally organizer Tricia McKenzie is saying the event could attract upward of 2,000 people depending upon weather, lodging and day-to-day twists of U.S. foreign policy.

Assuming there is no change in the war situation, the event may attract busloads from across Colorado. However, it’s mid-winter, and all available rooms are already booked. She’s pleading with locals to open their living rooms to sleeping bags. Unsolicited, Hunter Thompson, who lives near Aspen, offered to speak, and the town’s other celebrities are now being asked to participate.

Telluride offers hyperbaric therapy

TELLURIDE – The Healing Company is now offering one-hour stints in its hyperbaric chamber for those bothered by Telluride’s thin air at 8,750 feet.

Many people visiting mountain resorts are bothered by the thin air, at least until they acclimate, which can take several days. Common symptoms are fatigue and shortness of breath, while some people report episodes of vomiting. But lack of oxygen also slows healing, which is why the Denver Broncos and the Olympic Training Center both use hyperbaric chambers to heal athletes quickly after intense workouts.

Meanwhile, a man from Silverthorne credits treatments in a hyperbaric chamber with allowing him to more rapidly gain his speech following a stroke. The Summit Daily News (Jan. 13) explains that the chamber allows the oxygen supply in the blood to increase 1,500 to 2,000 percent, allowing the body to create new blood vessels in areas of the brain damaged by the stroke.

Ski death toll hits 14 in Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY – By mid-January, the death toll on slopes in Colorado had hit 14, and half of it was at Keystone. Some were from smacking into trees, others of heart attacks. It’s unclear what happened in the case of a 47-year-old Keystone employee who fell from a chairlift while being downloaded in high winds. He suffered severe heart blockage, but that didn’t cause him to fall from the lift, reports the Summit Daily News (Jan. 22).

Islamic homeowner speaks for U.S.

BEAVER CREEK – Malik Hasan, who owns what was for many years the biggest house in Eagle County, has become an unofficial ambassador to Islamic countries, offering himself as prime evidence that Islam and America are compatible.

Hasan grew up in Indian and Pakistan in poverty. However, he was able to get into medical school, and then moved to London, where he practiced medicine for six years. In 1971, he arrived in Chicago but began casting about for a safer place to live. He found it in Pueblo, a place on the hot, dusty plains that reminded him of Pakistan, and also had no neurosurgeon.

From his medicine, and then from his creation of an HMO, HealthNet, which is now the nation’s fourth largest, Hasan has become wealthy enough to own seven homes, including one in Beaver Creek that the Rocky Mountain News (Jan. 23) describes as more palace than home – it was for many years the largest home in Eagle County. Semi-retired now, he still has great influence, as befits a registered Democrat who gives at least $250,000 to Republican candidates.

That sort of largess opens doors, and now his Council of American Muslims for Understanding is working with the U.S. State Department in an effort to make the case in Islamic countries that there is no oppressive atmosphere in the United States toward Muslims.





News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index