Burke’s drive, kindness remembered
WHISTLER, B.C. – A big crowd, likely the biggest to gather in Whistler since the Olympics, according to Pique Newsmagazine, turned out on April 3 to hear about the little things that made local resident Sarah Burke so special.

“She’s been a superstar in everything her whole life,” said her father, Gord Burke, “ but I’ve never been more proud of anything than for the kindness she showed other people.”

He told of their first visit to Whistler, when she was 15, and of giving his daughter money to buy something special for herself while he enjoyed a drink at a local pub. After an hour, he heard a tap at the window. It was his daughter. “And she had spent all her money to remember the trip on a shirt. For me.”

That same sort of story has been told over and over again since Burke died Jan. 19 after a head injury nine days prior while training in a halfpipe at Park City. She was 29.

Her coach, Trennon Paynter, credited her with the tenacity that helped push the sport of halfpipe freestyle into the Winter Olympics in 2014.
“It will never be the same without her, but when we walk into the Olympic stadium in Sochi, Sarah is going to be the one leading the team. She made all of us better,” said Yuki Tsubota, one of Canada’s top up-and-coming freestyle skiers. “She was an icon for all of us.”

Said Andrew Goatcher, a grade-school friend from Ontario, where Burke grew up, “Nothing will be the same without her, but everything is better because of her.”

Immigration paperwork cited in layoffs
PARK CITY, Utah – Park City’s preeminent five-star hotel has fired an unspecified number of workers after a random audit by U.S. immigration authorities revealed that inaccurate or incomplete information had been provided on I-9 forms.

The Park Record said the chief executive at the Stein Eriksen Lodge declined to say which countries the employees were from. Some had worked at the hotel for years and others just for a season. They will be invited to return pending submittal of complete information.

The case provoked the hotel to use the e-Verify online system to check whether someone is eligible to work in the United States.

Snowmass taps into Brazilian market
SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Reflecting the shifts in world economics, the business level at Snowmass and Aspen now varies greatly depends upon when the Brazilian holiday of Carnival is held.

Last year, the Carnival was held in March, and rooms in Snowmass filled. This year, it shifted to February. February lodging was up 16 percent, reports the Aspen Daily News, while March was down nearly 13 percent.

Colorado ice gone the earliest ever
DILLON – Last year, the clock placed on the ice of Dillon Reservoir by the Rotary Club of Summit County stayed topside until May 23. This year, father time took a chill dip April 11.

It was the earliest ending ever in the 47-year history of the contest.

Previously, the earliest day for the clock to drop was April 28, which occurred in the extreme drought year of 2002, notes the Summit Daily News.

Rec-center bikes let riders juice up
EDWARDS – People pedaling the stationary bicycles at the recreational field house in Edwards should feel connected as well as healthier.

The bicycles produce electricity that is fed into the grid. There’s no expectation that the bicycles produce all that much, but they do give riders a sense of just how difficult it is to keep the lights and heat on.

A recent analysis shows that the field house is spending 64 percent less on energy use per square foot than an average commercial building in the Untied States. The facility has big fans, R-50 ceiling insulation, and radiant in-floor heat.

Water restrictions possible in Vail
VAIL – It’s going to be a rough year for water in the Vail Valley, according to local water officials. They are telling homeowners, landscapers and others that there’s a possibility that outdoor watering will have to be restricted.

Although the storm over the weekend undoubtedly improved the picture somewhat, the view last week was that this could be the worst year ever.

“2002 was the worst thing we had seen,” said Lin Brooks, general manger of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District. “It was the worst drought Colorado had seen since like the 1750s, according to tree ring data, and this one is so much worse, or at least shaping up to be much worse.”

Since 2002, said Brooks, the water district has  increased reservoir capacities, added new water tanks, and created better plans to optimize streamflows.

“We’ve done all these things,” she told the Vail Daily. “But that being said, this drought is much worse than 2002.”

Rider’s new friends made the difference
WHISTLER, B.C. – Several times each year, somebody suffocates after plopping head first into a tree well. If not for companions who stayed close, Sarah Masseria might have been one of those victims.

In March, after a 46-inch dump at Whistler-Blackcomb, she was riding the snow atop a creek. She was riding behind two others, who she had met that morning, and one of them at the top of the run had paused to say: “Lets’ just go slow and stay together, because there’s a ton of holes.”

Even so, she nearly perished. She went down in a hole with a thin covering of powder. “From above, all you could see was my board,” she wrote in a letter published in Pique Newsmagazine. “It was basically like being in a tree well. The more you move, the more you sink and the more that snow drops on you, weighting you down even more,” she said. “The more I moved, the further I went down… .”

She was starting to suffocate.

Her companions were in front of her, but one of them had seen her go down in the corner of his eye. Even so, getting back to her was difficult in the deep snow. They tried to get her bindings off her feet. It was difficult. In a near panic, they tried harder. Finally, they dislodged her from the vise of snow. They then dragged her out of the creek.

“The three of us just looked at each other in shock and disbelief,” she writes. “If I had been alone, there’s no way I would have been able to get out. I was upside down, and with every movement I sank further – it was all fresh pow, so there’s was nothing to grab or use to pull yourself up.”

Mountainfilm probes population bomb
TELLURIDE – Whether at 26,000 feet or at sea level, Telluride Mountainfilm takes on existential issues with big gulps.

The festival – held over Memorial Day weekend – began in 1979 patterned after an Italian festival devoted to adventure and ountains.  “At our roots, our core, we are about mountains and adventure,” says Peter Kenworthy, executive director of the festival. “But since the 1990s, we have also been about – as the mission statement says – issues that matter.”

This year, the festival has a day-long session devoted to population. Among those speaking will be Paul Ehrlich, author of the seminal tome, The Population Bomb, from 1968.

Also returning this year to debut his new series about the Dust Bowl of the 1930s is celebrated filmmaker Ken Burns.

The Telluride Watch notes that what may best epitomize the festival was the 1991 appearance of Sir Edmund Hillary, who was celebrated not only for his stature as the first to reach Everest’s summit, but also for his work building schools in impoverished Nepal.

“It wasn’t just mountaineering anymore,” writes Peter Shelton. “It was the things that mountaineers saw out there and what moved them to give back.”
– Allen Best

In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows