Vail tries to appeal to road cyclists

VAIL, Colo. Vail has provided $100,000 in seed money for what Town Council members hope will become a major professional bicycle race. They are, however, targeting road bikers, not mountain bikers.

"The road cyclists have demographics that very closely match those of our ideal summer customers," Rick Chastain, of the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau, told the Vail Daily (July 6). "They have an annual income of $85,000, are 35 to 47 years old, have a high propensity to travel, hold managerial positions and are frequent Internet users." Moreover, a magazine survey revealed that Colorado topped their list of preferred vacation locations.

The organization putting together plans, the Professional Cycling Tour, already has events in Manhattan, Philadelphia and San Francisco excellent springboards for marketing the Vail races over Labor Day weekend next year. The current plan is for a Denver-to-Vail race, followed by a circuit race between Vail and Beaver Creek, and concluding with a criterium in Vail Village. Promoters project filling 20,000 hotel rooms.

To make this happen, promoters say they'll need another $300,000 from public and private sources. The projected budget could hit $1.6 million.

Vail also is striving to add a number of other "icon" events. It has broadened its early-summer kayaking event into the TEVA Mountain Games, in August will launch a Food and Wine Festival and next April will host the Vail Film Festival. In the wake of the demise of the Jerry Ford Invitational Golf Tournament, a senior golf tournament also is being discussed.

Golf course targets outdoorsmen

DRIGGS, Idaho The back nine of an 18-hole golf course called The Links at Teton Peaks has opened, and the Jackson Hole News & Guide (July 2) reports that something is missing real estate along its periphery. Furthermore, greens fees are only $29.

Just how this came to be, the newspaper didn't say. However, there are suggestions: gravel cart paths, links-style sand traps and a great deal of land that has been left undeveloped. Bob Wilson, golf course co-owner, says his ideal customer is not the golfer determined to play 18 holes in three hours but the "outdoorsmen who loves golf, but might let a few groups go by while he stalks a cutthroat lurking off the seventh green."

Park City hosts super triathlon

PARK CITY, Utah It used to be that the Ironman Triathlon, with its combined 140 miles of swimming, riding and running, defined rugged. But for some, it's not quite enough.

Enter the Mountain Extreme Tri, which took place in Park City on July 11. The race started with two laps in a local reservoir followed by 100 miles of biking on singletrack, fire roads and dirt rail trails and finished with a marathon. The Park Record ( July 3) reported there were several hundred participants.

Crested Butte home for sale for $9M

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. A home near Crested Butte has been put on the market for nearly $9 million. The previous high for a home sale there was $2.5 million.

The 14,000-square-foot home is described as having the feel of a castle and something that might be found in Aspen or Beaver Creek. If the property sells at the asking price, the owner could be straddled with $35,000 monthly house payments, explains the Crested Butte News (July 3).

If the house does sell for the asking price of $1,000 per square foot, says David K. Owen, a local real estate agent, it will pull up the prices of both lower and higher end homes. In Crested Butte, the average for single-family homes hovers at $500,000, compared to $150,000 a decade ago.

Jackson Hole test scores lagging

TETON COUNTY, Wyo. Although students in Teton County scored far better than other students in Wyoming in state-mandated tests, some groups non-English speaking, poor, special education and Latino students lagged behind, reports the Jackson Hole New & Guide (July 2).

For example, 41 percent of fourth-grade non-Latinos were proficient in mathematics, compared with 11 percent of Latinos. In reading, 25 percent of the poor (a.k.a. "economically disadvantaged") were proficient, compared with 61 percent of those who are not poor.

Whistler uses nonlethal bear tactics

WHISTLER, B.C. This fall, 20 black bears are to be caught and collared with radios. But they won't be just any black bears.

Instead, explains the Whistler Question (June 26), only bears previously exposed to nonlethal aversion tactics will be caught. In other words, those that have been relocated after being caught filching garbage. Whistler has been using non-lethal tactics since 1999, and anecdotal evidence suggests success. However, there are no hard statistics, seemingly anywhere in North America, says Sylvia Dolson, executive director of the J.J. Whistler Bear Society. The goal of her group is to persuade other governments in British Columbia to similarly show restraint.

"There is a lot of anecdotal data, and that doesn't seem to be good enough," she told the newspaper. "So we want to radio collar 20 bears, and then we can determine, for example, if a bear is negatively conditioned in someone's yard, does it move into someone else's yard, or move off into the forest? Do they come back a year later, a month later or never?"

One goal of the group is less than altruistic. By demonstrating its success, the town can be accredited as Bear Smart. That's a bonus that is expected to serve the resort well in presenting itself as a "green" place to vacation.

The group behind this, the Whistler Bear Working Group, is actually made up of representatives from a number of groups, including the municipality, Intrawest, and the Squamish and Lil'Wat tribes, a.k.a. First Nations.

Ex-Enron CEO makes good in Aspen

ASPEN, Colo. The foundation operated by former Enron CEO Ken Lay has made the third of five $110,000 contributions it had pledged to the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. However, the foundation's managing director has announced this is the last payment, at least for now, because the majority of the foundation's funds were in Enron stock.

Lay owned four properties in Aspen before the December 2001 bankruptcy of Enron, notes The Aspen Times (July 4). All but one have been sold, and that last one is under contract.

Woman remembers father on Everest

TRUCKEE, Calif. Mountain climbing guide Mimi Vadasz in late May became the 13th American woman, and the oldest woman ever, to summit Mount Everest. She said hers was a spiritual quest.

"When I was 14 years old, my dad was dying, and he called me into his room," the 48-year-old told The Sierra Sun (July 4). "I knew it was probably going to be the last time we talked. He asked me what I wanted to do in life, and asked me if I had any dreams. I told him I wanted to be on the top of the world. I said I'd like to climb Everest because I really enjoyed climbing. He said when I did climb to the top, he would be there with me in spirit."

Reaching the summit hours before her teammates, she had time to reflect on her father. "I was so young when he passed, it was nice to say goodbye and thank him for watching over me," she said.

Tahoe/Reno push for 2014 Olympics

LAKE TAHOE, Calif./Nev. While Vancouver/Whistler are set to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, a group in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area continues to shoot for the 2014 Games. It wouldn't be a first for the region.

Squaw Valley hosted the 1960 Olympics, and some environmental groups say that the resort still suffers from impacts of construction of the Olympic Village, leaking oil drums buried under the Squaw Valley parking lot and the uncontrolled building boom that lasted until the early 1980s.

Part of that boom was hastened by I-80, itself partly a product of the Olympics. Now that highway is increasingly ineffective, and Olympic supporters say another round of the games would provide the kick-in-the-pants and federal dollars necessary to build a suitable replacement. The next phase of transportation, they argue, must be nonautomobile based, perhaps a monorail. Such technology is being investigated along Colorado's similarly traveled I-70 corridor.

compiled by Allen Best





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