Copper Mountain goes Soviet Union

COPPER MOUNTAIN –Less than 20 years after Ronald Reagan was denouncing the “evil empire,” the Soviet era has arrived in Colorado ski country.

The Pravda Vodka Bar recently opened in Intrawest’s carefully calculated and calibrated Copper Village. With its red walls, red lighting, red velvet curtains and dungeon-esque restrooms, the nightclub recreates the atmosphere of the Soviet era, reports the Summit Daily News (April 18).

It doesn’t end there. “Security,” i.e. bouncers, are dressed as KGB in dark trenchcoats and black, pulled-down hats. The door is heavy, riveted metal. And the bar itself is made of polished steel.

General Manager Greg Silas says this secure, intimate setting gets people out of their shell. “They let loose a little more. About 35 to 50 percent (of the patrons) last weekend were women, which means they feel secure here.”

Helping them loosen up a bit, apparently, are the 40 vodkas stocked behind the steel, all of them offered icy cold. Four shots run $12 each.

Silas says that with Pravda now having opened its icy cold steel doors to the public, Copper Mountain has a nightlife experience previously unavailable anywhere in the Rockies. “We like to say it’s a big city feel without the big city attitude,” explained Mark Lowe, spokesman for Pravda. “It has the sophistication of nightclubs in the city with the traditional warmth and hospitality that people in the Rockies are known for.”

Mexican music fills Vail’s arenas

VAIL – Regional Mexican music is becoming a big draw at Vail’s Dobson Ice Arena as well as in the big concert venues of metropolitan Denver.

Dobson regularly sells out its monthly shows, which have a capacity of 2,200 people shelling out $45 each. The shows are promoted by Vail local Pedro Luevano, who by day is a groundskeeper at a condominium, reports The Denver Post (April 17).

Meanwhile, in Denver, the city’s top concert promoters have begun booking such venues as the 16,000-seat Pepsi Center for the music known as Regional Mexican. “It’s just too big of an audience to ignore,” said Chuck Morris, a music promoter in Denver since the 1960s, who is now affiliated with radio giant Clear Channel Communications.

The Post describes regional Mexican music as “the raw voice of Mexican immigrants.” Lyrics speak to the insecure and vulnerable feelings of immigrants, as well as getting ripped off by employers, missing family and, of course, missing Mexico. The newspaper further explains that most concerts contain a sea of men in cowboy hats, fancy cowboy boots and colorful dress shirts. Women are usually far fewer in number.

Bus passengers called un-American

WINTER PARK – A bus driver turned upon two women who had been speaking in Spanish and demanded to know their names and addresses. Speaking Spanish on a public bus was an “un-American act,” he told them, and informed them he would contact their supervisor at Winter Park Resort as well as the police.

Frightened, the women themselves contacted police, who in turn interviewed the bus driver about his motivations. He said he had been disturbed by what he thought was a discussion of the war in Iraq, and he also thought the women may have been saying bad things about the U.S. The cops, according to the Sky-Hi News (April 17), warned him against confronting passengers.

Campers required to bear-proof

BANFF, Alberta – Campers in Canada’s western national parks this year will be required to completely bear-proof their sites.

They must store all food and other items with odors that could attract bears, including barbecues and dishrags, in hard-sided vehicles or campground storage lockers. They cannot be stored in tents or tent trailers. This, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook (April 10), applies whenever the items are not in use, or at night when campers are sleeping, or when the campsite is unattended for any length of time.

When applied in a test campground in Banff National Park last year, visitors got the idea quickly, tidying up their camps so as to avoid attracting grizzly and black bears, say officials with Parks Canada.

Once the bruins get a taste for human food, it can start them down the dangerous path toward habituation, which can lead to their eventual destruction, notes the newspaper. Only 60 grizzlies are believed to remain in Banff.

Plans arrive for heart of Big Sky

BIG SKY, Mont. – Gallatin Peaks Land and Development, which owns a huge swath of land in the middle of Big Sky, is trying to give the resort what columnist Todd Wilkinson describes as “the tangible community heart it never had.”

The anchor of their company’s blueprint, writes Wilkinson in the Jackson Hole News & Guide (April 9), is a town square of green space, flanked by “neighborhood” mom-and-pop shops, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, an athletic club and so forth. They’ve enlisted Jim Pepper, described by Wilkinson as a progressive planner who has “made recommendations to help this Pinocchio of a place become a real town.” Among his ideas: rotate existing street grids by 15 degrees to offer everyone standing in the town center a clear view of Lone Mountain.

Paraglider perishes in Sun Valley

SUN VALLEY, Idaho – A 29-year-old veteran paraglider pilot died after spiraling out of the sky over Bald Mountain, Sun Valley’s major ski hill, and into the Big Wood River.

Authorities say the victim was doing an extreme aerobatic maneuver. Chuck Smith, the owner of the local paragliding business, likened the maneuver to popping a wheelie while on a motorcycle. “Some people ride motorcycles their whole life and don’t do wheelies,” he told the Idaho Mountain Express (April 16).

Mary Jane grooming causes uproar

WINTER PARK – The Mary Jane portion of Winter Park has at least 34 mogul runs. Surveys consistently rate it as having perhaps the best bumps in North America. But David Barry, head of Colorado operations for Intrawest, says that Mary Jane is underused, and the best way to expand use is to mow down moguls.

To that end, the resort groomed two of the resort’s best-known mogul runs, Outhouse and Drunken Frenchman, this spring. The former had head-high moguls deep enough to hide in, while the later was a popular yo-yo run among proficient skiers.

Resort officials say the response has been 50-50.

Some mogul skiers, including some second-home owners from the Denver area, say Intrawest has it all wrong. Instead of making Mary Jane more intermediate, they say, it should market itself more to the advanced and expert skiers.

“Why would you want to mow down the best bumps in the world?” asks one, 42-year-old Bill Kauffman, in an interview with the Winter Park Manifest (April 16).

Gary DeFrange, general manager at Winter Park, said rumors that up to 70 percent of the moguls at the Jane will be knocked down are not true. “We’re only looking at a few runs, and in most cases it’s only partial grooming,” he said.

At the heart of the dispute is an anxiety about how Intrawest will steer the resort. Winter Park has had a habit of losing money, or at least not making much money. Compared to some other resorts, it has a smaller mix of destination visitors and sells its skiing goods at a lower price. The fear of Front Range skiers is that Intrawest will upscale the resort, catering more to destination skiers than die-hard locals.

Vail reports best snow in six years

VAIL - In the final days of its ski season, Vail reported surpassing the 400-inch snowfall market. It's the best snowfall the resort has had in six years, and is 62 inches more than the seasonal average.

Parents rave about dual immersion

KETCHUM, Idaho – Parents and teachers at two elementary schools have raved about an English-Spanish dual immersion program, now in its second year.

The schools’ superintendent, Jim Lewis, reports that based on evidence elsewhere, he expects test scores to stay the same or drop a bit until fifth grade. “Then they skyrocket above their peers,” reports the Idaho Mountain Express (April 16).

Lewis said the district is using a compact disc in its national search for bilingual teachers. “We need role models, especially native Hispanic speakers (of Spanish and English),” he said.





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