Mountain town party scene declines

SUMMIT COUNTY - Clearly, drug use is not as open now as it was 20 or even 30 years ago in ski towns. Then, people laid out lines of cocaine on restaurant tables in Winter Park, Breckenridge and any number of other mountain towns. In Vail, 20 or more skiers would gather at a time at an on-mountain shack to smoke pot.

But has drug use declined since then? Statistics are scant, perhaps nonexistent. What is clear is that attitudes have changed.

Until the early 1980s, cops gave drunken drivers lifts to their homes instead of jail. More recently, the ski companies began making drug tests a prerequisite for employment. In addition, the demographics of ski towns have changed. Instead of being primarily people in their 20s, the median age is now in the 30s, and with plenty of gray hair at the high end. This new demographic dilutes the party scene, and maybe even makes it a minority, notes the Summit Daily News .

"I believe that in the '70s there was a greater prevalence of drug use per capita because you didn't have the same depth of community structure and involvement that you have now," said Terry Ruckriegle, a district court judge and a Breckenridge resident for 20 years.

Co-housing succeeds in Steamboat

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS - Co-housing, a popular housing trend in Europe that is slowly gaining a foothold in the United States, is now being tried for a second time in Steamboat Springs with a project of 12 single-family homes and six townhomes. The Earthrise Community is a co-housing project that is currently taking shape in Durango.

In co-housing, explains The Steamboat Pilot , the spaces between homes in the project is an open area lined with walkways leading to one another's homes. Garages and parking areas are on the perimeter, to encourage casual interaction among neighbors. Some amenities, such as workshops, are typically shared. Residents can collaboratively plan, design and maintain the developments.

"We're not just developing real estate. We're creating communities and neighborhoods and places for people to live," said Rob Dick, the project manager for the new Steamboat project, called River Place. Home prices range from $250,000 to $300,000. Sizes range from 1,200 to 1,725 square feet.

Dick was behind another co-housing project, Butcherknife, along with Ellen H`F8j, the former director of the Routt County Planning Department.

Early ski season comes at a price

PARK CITY, Utah - If not for snowmaking, many ski areas would have remained closed this year going into the Thanksgiving weekend. That's often the case.

But if snowmaking allows an unnaturally early start to ski season, it comes at a high price. At Deer Valley, for example, the snowmaking system consumes more electricity than all the lifts operating at one time. The electric bill for a month of snowmaking comes out to $100,000.

Water needs are similarly huge, notes The Park Record . Deer Valley's snowmaking guns have a capacity for 7,000 gallons a minute.

The irony of all this, of course, is that most ski resorts end the season with their deepest snow depths of the year. Come the warm weather of spring, the snow remains but most skiers are off to other things.

Avon enacts darks skies rules

AVON - Add Avon to the list of towns with an ordinance restricting light pollution. However, it might not be immediately obvious. The new law allows five years for offending fixtures to be modified. Among the most substantial offenders is the town itself, which expects to spend upward of $300,000 over the next several years changing out fixtures on street lights. Unregulated will be light bulbs of 60 watts or less.

Lake Tahoe to host gay ski week

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - First was Aspen with its Gay Ski Week, which annually draws 3,500 visitors while adding $12 million to the local economy. Then, during the last few years, both Telluride and Whistler have been reaching out to gays with similar ski-oriented festivities.

Lake Tahoe now wants to get in on that action. An event, Ascent: The Winter Party, is planned for late February and early March. Organizers are planning for 700 to 1,500 participants. The gambling, ski, and general tourism industries all seem to back the event. "As a destination, to turn our eye or to make judgments on people would be horrible," said Don Marrandino, who heads the Lake Tahoe Gaming Alliance. Among the events will be drag races down ski slopes at Heavenly Mountain.

Hotels cause surge in Vail stock

AVON - Stock in Vail Resorts has surged in recent weeks based on the likelihood that Vail will sell some of its RockResorts hotels, which are located from Breckenridge to Jackson Hole to Lake Tahoe. After three years of dampened business travel, hotels are now doing better.

"It's likely that certain of Vail's hotel assets may trade hands at high prices in the coming months," wrote stock analyst Roger Miller of JMP Security. Although Vail has rarely turned a profit since it went public in 1997, earnings this year are projected to reach $150 million to $160 million.

Miller projects the share price, after hovering round the IPO of $16, might hit $28 by the company's year end next summer. It is now at $22. Even the Motley Fool, which earli er this year disparaged the company for its difficulty in turning a profit, now sings its praises, reports the Vail Daily .

Bronze elk nailed at roundabout

FRISCO - Roadkill rarely makes the front page of a newspaper. But then, the elk hit by a motorist at the roundabout in Frisco was no ordinarily elk, but instead a $38,000 bronze sculpture. The Summit Daily News said no motorist had been nabbed for downing the elk statue. Still standing in Frisco were bronze bears and bighorn sheep.

Film festival tries to define itself

WHISTLER, B.C. - The Whistler Film Festival is going into its fourth year this December, and such descriptions as a "fledgling Sundance" are being heard. This idea of "Sundance of the North" has a sexy sound, but is it realistic? asks Pique newsmagazine.

Like Park City, where the Sundance festival is held, Whistler's status as a mountain resort alone makes it a draw for film buffs. But beyond that, the newspaper finds evidence that the Whistler event is still trying to figure out its niche.

One idea is that Whistler needs to concentrate on the small films. Lots of good films seem to drop through the cracks at Toronto's esteemed film festival. As such, Whistler could become a leading place for independent Canadian films to be discovered.

Ultimately, however, some think Whistler should not hope to become Sundance. "It's bursting at the seams. It's outgrown the facilities. It's outgrown the town," says Maclean's magazine writer Brian D. Johnson, one of Canada's top film critics.

Whistler may instead begin emulating Telluride's film festival, which has been held for the past 31 years on Labor Day Weekend. "We want Whistler to be Sundance in the way of discoveries, but realistically we know we'll never match it as a market," said Bill Evans programming director for the Whistler event. "If there's a festival we should model ourselves after, it's more the Telluride festival, kind of a 'boutique' festival. A quieter festival, but equally esteemed."

Jackson fears creation of rival hub

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. - Merchants in the town of Jackson, the traditional gateway to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, are getting riled. Major expansion at the base area of the Jackson Hole ski area is proposed, with 458 homes, a golf course, and 81,000 square feet of commercial space. The ski area base is 12 miles from the town.

A business owner, Alberta Kucharski, said the business owners are concerned that expansion of the base area, called Teton Village, will divert tourists, who will do all their shopping there, instead of in Jackson. They could, according to this theory, fly into Jackson Hole, go to the base area, and never spend time - or money - in the town of Jackson.

However, one town planning commissioner says that business owners he contacted favored the competing commercial hub because they could also locate businesses there.

- compiled by Allen Best





News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index