High-elevation soccer disputed

LA PAZ, Bolivia – So why can’t international soccer matches be held at 11,800 feet? That’s the elevation of La Paz, the capital of Bolivia. But, according to a ruling by soccer’s world governing body, it’s too high.

The controversy dates to February, when an influential Brazilian club called Flamengo, which trains at sea level, played Bolivia’s Real Pootisi in a freezing rain at 13,120 feet. Although the Brazilians took oxygen and eventually drew 2-2 with the Bolivian club, the Brazilians vowed to never again play at such a high altitude.

Subsequently, in May, the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) announced a ban on international events held above 8,200 feet. The ban was explained as a response to medical issues and a concern that home teams at higher elevations had an unfair advantage.

That ban included the capitals of Bogota, Columbia, elevation 8,661 feet, and Quito, Ecuador, elevation 9,200 feet. Understandably, neither country was happy. In June the FIFA partially relented, raising the limit to 9,800 feet.

Now, only Bolivia is left in the cold – and Bolivians are none too happy about it.

The stadium in La Paz is somewhat informally known as the Condor’s Nest. Since 1957, it has been the site of most of Bolivia’s national team games during World Cup qualifying matches. Bolivia has only rarely won international matches, but theNew York Sun notes that the stadium was the site of a 1993 defeat of Brazil – the first time that Brazil ever lost a qualifying round.

Bolivian President Evo Morales has made it a case of political football. He has called emergency cabinet meetings and even donned his soccer gear for a match at 20,000 feet on the slopes of Sajama, Bolivia’s highest mountain. The Associated Press says Morales scored the only goal of the game.

While critics say Morales is trying to deflect attention from the problems of Bolivia, the poorest country in South America, Reuters says many ordinary Bolivians back the president.

“We didn’t have the luck to be born anywhere else,” says one 45-year-old pastry seller in La Paz. “We have to play sports wherever we are.” Bolivians acknowledge their country’s natural advantage in high-altitude matches with unabashed delight.

The FIFA plans a medical conference on sports in extreme conditions – heat, cold and humidity, in addition to high elevations – in October.

Tourism withers in Ketchum

KETCHUM, Idaho –The Idaho Mountain Expressreports that a standing-room-only crowd turned out for a presentation that would have done Einstein proud. As it has for five years, the town is talking about adding hotels. Three of them are proposed, and the task was to give an idea of how the height and bulk of what is being proposed would change the town.

It doesn’t matter, said a real-estate agent, Pam Colesworth. “We are withering as a tourist town. We need to infuse this town with tourists again … I ask you not to be afraid. Go forward and get it done.”

But a city councilwoman, Terry Trace, said the larger issue is improving air connections.

Despite being North America’s first destination ski resort, Ketchum and neighboring Sun Valley have flattened and now declined as ski resorts.

Developers have said they need to include real estate in a hotel offering, similar to what has been done at most other resorts. The city now allows such condo-hotels. For its part, the council wants a firm commitment from developers, experience in hotel development, evidence that the hotels will add to a tourism economy and affordable housing.

Steamboat aims for the Big Apple

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Look out Telluride, Aspen and Vail; Steamboat is gunning for your skiers.

The resort is adding a substantial number of airplane seats next winter and will have 490 potential passengers every Saturday from the three major airports in and near New York City.

“Accompanying the fact that New York is the single most lucrative ski market is the fact that it’s the single most expensive media market,” said Andy Wirth, vice president of sales and marketing for the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp, “but in this case, we felt the financial reward is there.”

Unlike flights from Atlanta, in which case about 40 percent of passengers actually come from Atlanta, about 98 percent of passengers on the Saturday flights from New York will come from New York.

Wirth told theSteamboat Pilot & Today that this is the “single biggest undertaking of total capacity and new markets the resort has ever seen.” Following the 2001 lull, Steamboat had 128,000 passenger seats, which increased to 154,000 last winter. Wirth says he is “highly confident” the air program will reach 175,000 next winter.

Vail fears bear-proofing unsafe

VAIL – If Vail’s new wildlife law isn’t a threat to human life, it’s at least a threat to limbs.

So says one of the Town Council’s members, Farrow Hitt. Hitt voted for the law earlier this year that mandates bear-proof dumpsters and other trash containers. But in his duties as the manager of a condominium complex, he sees significant problems.

Hitt says that the lids on the dumpsters provided by Waste Management are too heavy. “If someone was lifting that lid up and it fell back down on their hand, it would take their hand off,” he told theVail Daily.

For several years, Vail town officials had laws on the books that mandated no garbage could be left out until the day of pickup. Failing that, bear-resistant containers were required.

But resistant containers only delayed the efforts of bears, and hence the requirement for greater fortification. Hitt tells the newspaper that he believes the trash-removal company can do better. “We put a man on the moon,” he said. “We can get a dumpster lid that doesn’t chop people’s hands off.

But the local manager for the trash company, Jerry Valasquez, said lids any lighter would not be effective. It is not dangerous if used properly, he insisted.

Jackson debates taller buildings

JACKSON, Wyo. – Jackson’s town government is talking about taller buildings in the community core once again – and how much is too much.

Current regulations allow 35 feet. Projects that deliver affordable housing and extra parking are given 48 feet. But the latter height has produced buildings that are bulkier than what municipal councilors want to see.

In response, the city is now looking at a proposed 42-foot limit as a use by right in the downtown area, reports theJackson Hole News&Guide. The thinking is that a little bit taller buildings will result in more residential housing on the upper levels, and hence mixed-use, walkable communities. Councilor Mark Obringer said the change could net a “couple hundred housing units in downtown Jackson.

Councilor Bob Lenz, who has long opposed four-story buildings, said he believes the proposed 42 feet will result in high-ceiling living units – directly conflicting with Jackson’s avowed goal of having a smaller carbon footprint.

“It is a hypocrisy saying we are going green and going to conserve energy and then create more large living units. It takes more heat to heat a 10-foot ceiling than an 8- or a 9-foot one.”

Drought pinches Colorado and Utah

SUMMIT COUNTY – It’s been hot and dry in Summit County, like nearly everywhere in the West. Temperatures in Breckenridge reached 84 degrees on July 1, tying a record set in 1935.

The Summit Daily Newsreports that the 1.4 inches of precipitation in Breckenridge during June made it the 16th driest June since record-keeping began more than 100 years ago. The town is located at 9,600 feet in elevation.

Mindful of the wildfires at Lake Tahoe, Summit County commissioners and local towns banned open fires and fireworks. The district attorney, Mark Hurlbert, promised offenders the sternest response law books would allow.

Over in Utah’s Summit County, municipal officials in Park City have asked residents to cut back on use of their outdoor watering. “Maybe people haven’t switched their thoughts to the bigger picture around us,” said Mayor Dana Williams. City officials say that daily water use is consuming 85 percent of capacity, with three-quarters of that use devoted to landscaping. Fire officials, reportsThe Park Record, are worried about the fire danger after a hot May and June elevated the risk of wildfires

- compiled by Allen Best

In this week's issue...

July 18, 2024
Rebuilding Craig

Agreement helps carve a path forward for town long dependent on coal

July 11, 2024
Reining it in

Amid rise in complaints, City embarks on renewed campaign to educate dog owners

July 11, 2024
Rolling retro

Vintage bikes get their day to shine with upcoming swap and sale