Gallery owner redeems his karma

TELLURIDE, Colo. It sounds improbably bizarre. An art gallery owner in Telluride was planning to go to Denver. There, his fianc`E9 was planning to become a U.S. citizen. The gallery owner, Neal Elinoff, was going to donate a kidney to a former high school classmate he barely knows.

In donating the kidney, Elinoff told The Telluride Watch , he wanted to "do something really concrete and positive" in hopes of turning around his life. "I've had such awful karma for so long."

He told of a roller coaster ride of a life. He was a millionaire before 30, having opened and then sold an ice cream store in Houston. His next venture, a cookie outfit, was a bust. After that he was in Chicago, then in Colorado's Summit County for a few years to operate a restaurant. Something there went wrong, and his wife announced she and the four kids were leaving. Then, most recently in Telluride, he declared bankruptcy and was nailed for making a false statement in federal court, an unwitting falsehood, he maintains. Convicted nonetheless, he was given probation on the condition that he be home every night by 11 p.m.

Walker sets out on Pacific Crest

WINTER PARK, Colo. During ski season, Scott Bergmann walks between his two jobs, a four-mile round trip. Then, during the off-season, he walks around the country at an average clip of 20 to 25 miles a day. He has hiked the Colorado Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and in April will set out on the longest of them all, the 2,700-mile Pacific Crest Trail.

A Winter Park resident since 1986, he worked as a foreman on the construction of a hotel and made good money but then sold his house and his car, basically everything except his backpack and guitar. He wanted a stress-free life, he explained.

As for the art of hiking, the 40-year-old advises that it's 95 percent mental and only 5 percent physical. "It's only the first 500 miles that are tough," he told the Winter Park Manifest . "The first 500 miles either break you or make you. After that you just keeping getting stronger and stronger."

Kennedys helped start Park City

PARK CITY, Utah A lot of ski areas have been having their 40th anniversaries Crested Butte, Steamboat, Breckenridge and Vail all began in the early 1960s. Often, politics were involved, but Park City may be alone in getting special help from President John Kennedy.

Jack Gallivan recalls that he became acquainted with Kennedy in the 1940s, when Kennedy, then a freshman congressman from Massachusetts, visited the publisher of the Salt Lake Tribune , where Gallivan worked. When Kennedy came around again in 1962, this time as both a friend and a president, Gallivan knew what favor he wanted a $1.2 million federal loan. The money was needed to revitalize the decaying, old mining town by opening the ski area. Immediately the ski area founders began seeking to host the Olympics.

Latino immigrants taking up skiing

TELLURIDE, Colo. Latino immigrants don't ski, right? No, that's wrong. The Telluride Watch reports that a growing number of students who are categorized as English language learners are participating in the school ski and skate physical education programs.

Many Hispanic parents, who considered skiing to be a dangerous sport, have changed their minds. The key thing, said Kathleen Morgan, a specialist in teaching English as a second language, is to support parents in whatever decisions they make.

"As the Hispanic community has gotten larger and more established, they understand more, and there are more kids getting involved," she told The Telluride Watch . From only 6 students receiving ESL instruction in the mid-1990s, the school district now services 54, nearly all of them Hispanic.

Townhomes displace trailer park

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. The story from Steamboat Springs about a trailer park should sound familiar to many resort towns. There, the owner of a 39-space trailer park wants to convert it into a townhome and retail project.

What this means for one young couple is that their plans have gone awry, explains The Steamboat Pilot . In buying the trailer in 1999, they knew the land was for sale, but still saw it as their last, best hope to get into real home ownership. They hoped they could save money to build their own house. But now, their savings are tied up in a 1973 trailer that no trailer court within 50 miles or more will take.

In Routt County, where Steamboat Springs is located, about 11 percent of housing, both owner-occupied and rental-occupied, is in trailers. The median price of those homes is $37,500, compared to a median price of $199,000 for condominiums and $325,000 for single-family homes.

Displacement of Steamboat's five trailer parks pushes Steamboat further along the path toward being the province of only rich people. While other communities have a "no-net-loss-of-housing" requirement or a mandate to provide financial assistance such as a relocation allowance, Steamboat does not have such a policy.

Luxury takes root in Jackson Hole

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. Four Seasons opened at the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort this winter, the latest of several new hotels that Jonathon Schechter calls a "Bermuda Triangle of Luxury" in Teton Village.

"Most striking is that service levels seem a lot higher," said Schechter, who writes a business analysis column for the Jackson Hole News & Guide . "I detected little trace of the vaguely sullen, vaguely whatever' approach to service that has so long been a hallmark of numerous village venues."

The base area's physical appearance has also changed. "Gone is much of the funky slovenliness that distinguished the village until a few years ago," he observes.

Delivering this "Land of Generic Luxury," as Schechter calls it, obviously cost a great deal of money, which in turn means hotel managers will be expected to fill the summers and shoulder seasons, ski areas managers to boost skier days, and the community overall to support tourism, particularly higher-end tourists.

All this he adds, will be part of an insidious pressure to homogenize, something painful to people in Jackson Hole who have been fiercely protective of their specialness. "As dowdy as the village may have been, at least it was different than any other major ski area," he concludes. "Now we're less so, and the forces of worldwide globalization will keep pressuring us to be increasingly like every other resort."

Resorts appeal to the gay market

WHISTLER, B.C. Whistler, as have Aspen and Telluride, recently hosted an event aimed at gay and lesbian skiers and snowboarders. About 4,000 people were expected.

By some estimates, gays constitute 10 percent of the travel market, repots Pique newsmagazine. What's more, gays seem to have been less discouraged by the threat of terrorism, SARS and other impediments.

Whistler has gone out of its way to court gay travelers, reports Pique newsmagazine. For example, Tourism Whistler, the resort's leading marketing organization, has even developed part of its Website for gay travelers.

"It is a very lucrative market, and it is in sync with what our resort product offerings are," said Jill Greenwood, director of brand marketing of Tourism Whistler. "They are adventure travelers; they like to try new things, go to new places; they are food and wine enthusiasts; they are culture and arts enthusiasts. So Whistler is a really nice product offering for them."

With same-sex marriages now legal in British Columbia, Whistler has yet another reason to visit. Among those going there to get married are two avid snowboarders, women from San Diego, who intended to have a ceremony conducted atop Whistler Mountain to consecrate their eight-year relationship.

"Fifty years go you could still be thrown in jail for being a homosexual, and now with a three-hour plane ride from here you can get married," said one of the San Diego lesbians, Chris Ford.

Girls protest no-skin at school rule

KETHCUM, Idaho Girls at Wood River High School conducted a sit-in to protest a new dress code that they contend violates their right to self-expression. The code bans midriff and cleavage skin, as well as sunglasses, caps and hoods.

The school's principal, Graham Hume, seemed reasonably tolerant and amused by the protest, says the Idaho Mountain Express . He said it was sparked, in part, by Victoria's Secret thongs, which fashionably are seen above the top of the pants.

But teachers are getting uncomfortable at times. "If a girl has a low-cut top and a teacher needs to help her at her desk, it's uncomfortable," he said. "With sexual harassment out there, we can't afford to not pay attention."

Swift acquires Colorado newspapers

VAIL, Colo. Vail long ago ceased to have a newspaper headquartered in the town. At one time three newspapers with the name "Vail" were being published, but all were located downvalley. Now, there are two, but owned by the same company, Swift Publishing, a Nevada-based chain.

Swift, owner of the Vail Daily , the dominant publication in the market, purchased The Vail Trail , a weekly and the original newspaper. In announcing the acquisition, Vail Daily publisher Steve Pope promised that the weekly would continue to have an independent and left-leaning voice, while the daily would have a right-leaning voice but neither one getting very far from center.

With this purchase, Swift strengthened its hold on the Colorado high country. It now owns seven weekly newspapers and four daily newspapers from Aspen to Frisco. It is also the dominant publisher in the Lake Tahoe area, although there the monopoly has not produced a very high bar for journalism.

-compiled by Allen Best





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