New ski area caters to urban kids

EVERGREEN - California's Mountain High has been the talk of the ski industry for the last few years. Despite having only 220 acres, the ski area located within 45 minutes of downtown Los Angeles posted more than 600,000 skiers last winter. Most were snowboarders of various ethnic groups.

Now, the owner of a ski area within 35 miles of the state capitol in Denver hopes to use something of the same formula to reinvent the Squaw Pass ski area. The ski area, although located at an elevation of 10,500 feet, has been closed for 30 years. Two years ago, Gerald Petitt purchased it for about $700,000 and this past summer spent money to provide the essential snowmaking.

But even without snowmaking, there was enough snow - about a foot and a half - at the site to enable skiing. "Snow is the least of my worries," said Doug Donovan, the ski area planner. The more general infrastructure requirements and expenses were the greater concern. The ski area plan was to go before the Clear Creek County commissioners on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

In general, demographers who have studied the ski industry say that one clear potential for growth is to cater to the growing ethnic groups, particularly Latinos, found in urban areas.

Freeze magazine ceases publication

OCEANSIDE, Calif. - Free-skiers across the West are lamenting the imminent demise of Freeze magazine, which will cease publication after its January issue. Although editor Micah Abrams insists the 7-year-old publication is profitable, owner Time Warner says the circulation remains too small to warrant continuing.

"It's target audience represents a very narrow slide of the overall ski market," said Brad McDonald, publisher of Freeze and five other magazines. The niche, he added, has not proven large enough to allow Freeze's circulation to grow to the level necessary for the magazine to move forward.<

The magazine's narrow niche was of freestyle skiers who emerged from the shadows of the more prominent snowboarding movement. "The new-school skiers rode backwards on twin-tipped skis, flew higher than snowboarders in terrain parks, and skied down steel rails," explained The Denver Post . " Freeze , which targeted males aged 12 to 25 with photo-heavy issues that charted free-skiing's evolution was there to give them a voice."

Speaking with Whistler's Pique magazine, Abrams said he doubts that the magazine would move to a different venue. "A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into the last eight years," he said. Moreover, he noted that Freeskier and Powder magazines had shifted their editorial content to embrace freeskiing.

Still, he remained proud of pushing the sport of skiing, if only slightly. "It sounds a little pompous, but I don't think it's inaccurate to say that the ski industry would look the way it looks right now without freeskiers or Freeze ."

Crested Butte comes back to life

CRESTED BUTTE - Crested Butte's ski area is opening in mid-November this year, about a month ahead of the last several years, a signal that after several years of faltering the resort is returning to the ranks of the living.

The difference? The ski area has new owners, Tim and Diane Mueller, who have invested a great deal of money in snowmaking. As well, says John Norton, the former president of the ski company (and still a consultant), the Muellers just want to test drive their new ski area.

Crested Butte rose in the ski magazine rankings from last year, getting to No 11 in the Skiing reader poll and No. 19 in Ski . Why the different? Writing in the Crested Butte News , Norton explains that Ski has a somewhat older, family-oriented readership - exactly the sort that Crested Butte is aiming to get with its expanded grooming program, its real estate expansion, and its hoped-for expansion onto an intermediate-mostly mountain called Snodgrass. For now, the steeps have earned the resort a reputation among the younger and more radical-minded downhill sliders.

Baker saves man from drowning

ASPEN - The manager of a bakery in Aspen is being called a hero after saving a motorist from drowning.

The hero, Rob Carney, a manager at a bakery in Aspen, shrugged off the accolade. "Anybody else would have done the same thing," he told The Aspen Times . "I'm just glad that I was in the right spot at the right time."

The driver of the car had suffered a seizure. Taking the wheel, the driver's girlfriend turned the car off the highway but could not stop it. She bailed out of the car before it went into a shallow pond on a golf course.

Finding Carney in the vicinity, she returned with him to the pond to find the driver inside the car, with the windows rolled up and water rising rapidly. Carney grabbed a rock, waded to the car, and broke a window. He then grabbed the driver by the collar and yanked him out.

The driver had never suffered a seizure before and was stunned, unable to remember anything. By then, only the submerged lights indicated the presence of the car.

Aspen hosts extreme thinking event

ASPEN - While most ski resorts continue to offer all manner of sweat-by-the-bucket "extreme" athletic events, Aspen plugs away at its reputation as a summer-time gathering place of mind, body and spirit.

The latest in that regard is the Aspen Ideals Festival, which is to be held next July. Co-sponsored by Atlantic Monthly magazine and hosted by the Aspen Institute, the event is to have six days of lectures, panel discussions and classes in what might be called an "extreme thinking" event.

Among the 40 confirmed speakers are primatologist Jane Goodall; author Toni Morrison; founder Jeff Bezos; New York Times columnist David Brooks; and TV newsman Charlie Rose. Topics for the festival presentations will range from American values to environmental issues, and ethical dilemmas in science and medicine.

Steamboat may stiffen bear laws

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS - City officials in Steamboat Springs are considering stiffening regulations intended to discourage human-bear encounters. As in most other mountain towns in Colorado, bear incursions into residential and business districts escalated last summer because of meager natural food for the bears.

The existing law, which was adopted in 2001, requires wildlife-resistant trash containers for any garbage left outside other than during the hours of 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, the law was not enforced until this past summer.

Now, the city is considering a law that would mandate that all trash be kept in wildlife-resistant containers. A Colorado Division of Wildlife-approved 95-gallon trash can costs nearly $200 at a local hardware store, The Steamboat Pilot notes.

Regulations governing trash were also stiffened at Aspen and Beaver Creek this summer after bears began lingering in residential areas in numbers that would have been staggering only a few years ago. In some cases, residents reported feeling unsafe leaving their homes, and in some cases bears made a habit of breaking into and entering houses.

Construction traffic becomes 'horrific'

TELLURIDE - "Horrific" has been one of those trendy words lately, like "trumps" and "one of a kind."

Originally, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, horrific had a narrow, precise meaning: "causing horror; terrifying." But as used in public discourse, it has come to mean most anything. Or so it would seem from a report in The Telluride Watch .

There, a real estate development is provoking heavy construction traffic with up to 70 trucks grunting their way through the town. Residents of the East Telluride neighborhood showed up to complain about the intrusion that some called "horrific."

Boomers target Colorado, Wyoming

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. - Developers and real estate agents at resorts across the West have begun to think about the impending boom of retiring baby boomers. Just as younger people have been flocking to ski towns and resort valleys for a generation or two, boomers are being drawn to the beautiful places of the West. Among the hot-spots for this new freshman class of senior citizens will be Colorado and Wyoming, says the AARP.

Real estate agents in Jackson Hole note that their area already has much to offer retiring boomers. Existing educational opportunities range from classes in Italian to Native American studies. Also, the resort valleys offer much to do physically beyond the toned-down athletics normally associated with retirement villages.

-compiled by Allen Best





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