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
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
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.