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Aspen Times Weekly: ‘The Front Runner’ at the Denver Film Festival

Something changed forever in American culture, media and politics in the spring of 1987, during the three weeks between Colorado Sen. Gary Hart's dramatic presidential campaign announcement at Red Rocks and his ignominious retreat from public life amid a sex scandal.

Those three weeks are the subject of Jason Reitman's new film, "The Front Runner," starring Hugh Jackman as Hart, leading a sprawling ensemble cast. It tracks, from every angle, the candidate's undoing amid allegations of an extra-marital affair and the moment where the media switched how it would cover politicians' personal lives.

"We wanted to make a movie from the point of view of 20 different people — the journalists, the campaign people, Hart's family members — many people trying to understand the scandal as the world shifted underneath their feet," Reitman said before a screening at the Denver Film Festival. "A movie without heroes and without villains, just normal people trying to do the right thing."

With a sweeping style and a true-to-life messiness in dialogue reminiscent of Robert Altman, "The Front Runner" hops from crowded newsrooms in Miami and Washington to the frenzy of Hart's Denver campaign headquarters and the carnival of the campaign trail, back to his wife and daughter home in Troublesome Gulch. At the story's center is Hart's relationship with the 29-year-old Donna Rice (Sara Paxton), but the nature of their relationship is left ambiguous. Instead, Reitman focuses on how his morally ambiguous characters react to it.

(Aspen's small part in the Hart saga is among the details Reitman leaves out of the film. The senator met Rice at a New Year's Eve party at Don Henley's house in Woody Creek. But Reitman ignores that and depicts Rice and Hart's time together months later on the notoriously named "Monkey Business" yacht in Miami as their first encounter.)

Miami Herald reporter Tom Fiedler (Steve Zissis) acts on an anonymous tip that Hart is having an affair and stakes out Hart's Washington home in the hopes of catching him meeting Rice for a tryst. Fiedler and other reporters eventually confront Hart in the alley behind his house. That dramatic and unprecedented moment in campaign trail history, when Reitman heard about it on the podcast "Radiolab," inspired the filmmaker to tell this story.

"I couldn't believe that the next president of the United Stats wound up in this alleyway in the middle of the night with these journalists and nobody knew what to do because no one had been in their shoes before," Reitman said. "It felt like a movie — like a Western stand-off in the midst of a film noir."

Despite the tawdry scandal his name now evokes, Hart was a cerebral policy wonk. The film deftly communicates some of the senator's prescient ideas. In an early scene where he's being pressed by a reporter about his marriage, for instance, Hart is working on policies to the combat religious extremism and terrorism that he foresees rising after the Cold War. After the Rice scandal has broken and his campaign staff is pressing him to respond publicly, Hart refuses so that he can focus on a speech about the digital economy he knows will emerge in the years to come.

Despite those insights, somehow, he was blind to the way the media was changing, how his personal and family life were fair game in the campaign, and how his sex life might cripple his bid for the presidency.

Mike Littwin, the veteran Colorado reporter and columnist who covered Hart, argued in a panel at the festival that Hart — private and unfaithful — was basically in the wrong campaign at the wrong time.

"He was at the exact wrong moment to be Gary Hart," Littwin said.

In the 1984 campaign, when Hart first ran for president, the press knew he'd been separated from his wife and had other romantic partners, Littwin said. They didn't report it. In 1988, they decided that they would. So four years before the events of "The Front Runner," a candidate's affair didn't matter because the press wouldn't report it. Four years later, an affair didn't matter because — as Bill Clinton proved — you can still win if you're willing to endure the embarrassment of revelations.

Reitman co-wrote the screenplay with veteran political operative Jay Carson and journalist Matt Bai. It's based on Bai's book, "All the Truth is Out." They began working on it in 2015, before Donald Trump's election, before "grab 'em by the …" and before revelations of the Stormy Daniels affair and Playboy model hush payments. However, Bai argued in Denver, the seed of the Trump era circus were planted during Hart's downfall.

"What the film captures is a moment in which entertainment and politics collided — two cultures that had been separate, coming together — and when we began to treat politicians like celebrities," Bai said. "When you create a process that treats politicians like celebrities, I believe, you are bound to get entertainers as your politicians."


Juvenile who shot, killed dog near Carbondale sentenced two years in youth division

A Garfield County district judge sentenced a 14-year-old boy Wednesday to two years in the Colorado Division of Youth Services for shooting a dog to death and transgressions he committed in two unrelated cases.

That's according to prosecutor Tony Hershey, who provided limited details about the proceeding Judge Paul Metzger closed to the public, other than those parties directly involved in the case.

"This is about protecting the community and helping this child," Hershey said after the hearing.

Hershey and public defender Elise Myer had been under the judge's directive not to speak publicly about the case. After his decision to close the hearing, however, Metzger said, "I think it's appropriate for the court for a reporting of the outcome of the sentence as it relates to the case."

Held in the Garfield County Courthouse, the proceeding wrapped up a case stemming from the Jan. 24 arrest of the boy, who was 13 at the time, for gunning down a yellow Labrador retriever in a residential neighborhood near Carbondale.

The judge permitted Kirsten Pamp-Friel, who owned the dog, Otis, with her husband and daughter, to attend the hearing because she was a victim in the case.

"It's been such a long, drawn-out thing, it's hard to feel happy about any of it," she said afterward. "But I'm glad to move on."

Pamp-Friel has been in touch with the juvenile's parents, she said.

"His family reached out to express their sadness about it," she said. "They are lovely people."

The parents previously declined interview requests from The Aspen Times, and they could not be reached by telephone after the hearing. They were in court with their son, who had clean-cut hair and wore a gray sweatshirt hoodie.

The defendant, who has been in juvenile custody since Pitkin County sheriff's deputies arrested him, has not apologized to Pamp-Friel and did not speak at the hearing, Pamp-Friel said.

The judge also allowed the owner of Otis's mother to make an opening statement at the hearing on the condition he leave the proceeding after his remarks. The judge also permitted the owner to have the dog in the courtroom while he made his statement.

Woodland Park resident Richard Metcalf, who made the statement, would not comment afterward about what he said.

"Given the controversy that has existed in regards to publication of the material, I'm declining to make a comment," he said outside the courtroom.

Myer argued that Metcalf and his dog should not have been allowed to attend the hearing because they were not victims. Hershey had given Metcalf permission to attend on the basis that he also was a victim, and the owner and his dog cleared the courthouse security before entering the courtroom.

"Otis's owner, I have zero objections to her being in the courtroom," Myer told Judge Metzger in open court before the hearing began. "I do have an objection to the other interested citizen of being in the courtroom, the gentleman who did bring with him a dog and that dog that did birth Otis. I have an extreme objection to a dog being allowed in the courtroom.

"The dog is not a service animal. The dog is not a therapy animal in any way. I have concerns that the security guards blindly and without consulting the appropriate parties just allowed a dog into a courtroom because Mr. Hershey said it's OK."

The judge's sentence was part of a global disposition in which the three criminal cases were adjudicated with a single punishment. The nature of the other two cases was not discussed in the open hearing.

"I'm dealing with one case involving the killing of the dog, and I'm dealing with another case in which I always close the courtroom," Metzger said.

Colorado's revised statutes do not specify which juvenile hearings a judge can close to the public, but they do provide a judge with leverage on whether to keep a proceeding open or closed.

"The general public shall not be excluded unless the court determines that it is in the best interest of the child or of the community to exclude the general public, and, in such event, the court shall admit only such persons as have an interest in the case or the work of the court, including persons whom the district attorney, the county or city attorney, the child, or the parents, guardian, or other custodian of the child wish to be present," according to the statutes.

That was how Metzger drew his conclusion, saying, "It is in (the juvenile's) best interest to have this proceeding closed to the public."

Hershey argued that the media should be allowed to attend the hearing; Myer opposed it, as did the juvenile's case manager. Myer also was opposed to the judge's allowing the sentence be made public.

"I'm aware that this case has gotten a lot of publicity," Hershey said, "and a very smart lawyer yesterday told me that if it hadn't been a dog involved here, maybe it wouldn't have gotten as much attention. But regardless, it has, your honor. And I think essentially the public has a right to know."

Without media attention, Hershey argued, "Everyone today who is working, who has an interest in this case, even after a year, or may not have interest in this case, is being denied access to the court — not just (the reporter), but every single person who can read The Aspen Times, not just the paper copy, but the online version."

Myer, however, said Hershey is feeling "political pressure" to publicize the case because of community questions about it.

"I understand, and I believe, that there is significant pressure that has been placed on Mr. Hershey," she said. "People have called him over and over and over again every time (the juvenile) has had court. I understand that he feels certain political pressures."

Myer said the defendant and his family, as well as herself, have been subjected to threats of violence and online vitriol.

"When we have people calling for violence to be done to a child, calling a child a monster, he has to hear about these things," she said. "He shouldn't have to hear that this is what is being said of him or about him. He shouldn't have to know that because of certain allegations against him that his parents have suffered community ramifications.

"This has been an incredibly emotional and difficult process for them that they have suffered certain consequences that people look at them differently; people don't talk to them. They've been chastised by the community, and while there is very much an interest of people in the community to know what's going on, there is no regard for really the well-being of the community, because if there were, we wouldn't have certain things printed or allowed in newspapers. We wouldn't condone that."

Hershey countered: "All the problems that Ms. Meyer said can be resolved if the light of the First Amendment shines in this courtroom. There are always going to be crazy, stupid people out there who don't get it. But if you keep it a secret, if you keep this a star chamber, my concern is that it could be worse, so I just ask that court follow the Constitution of the state of Colorado and the United States."

Metzger has kept the hearings closed since the defendant's second court appearance in February.

While Pitkin County deputies arrested the defendant, the case was held in Garfield County because he also faced criminal charges there.

The same day as the teenager's arrest, he allegedly left the Garfield County Courthouse where he was due on other charges. The boy left while his guardian was using the bathroom.

From there, he broke into a home in the Glenwood Springs area and stole at least one firearm before he hitched a ride to the Crystal River Valley area where he purportedly fired two shots near a 2-year-old yellow Labrador retriever that was on private property.

The boy fired two shots from a trail near the home. The first shot, from a revolver, misfired. The second one, from a rifle with a scope, hit the chest of Otis, which then went inside the home on the property. The dog later died on the living room floor, where one of his owners found him. Another yellow lab on the property, Daisy, was not hurt, family members said.

In association with that incident, Hershey charged the boy with cruelty to animals and burglary, both of which would have been felony counts if he had been charged as an adult.

The Youth Services is a division of the Colorado Department of Human Services. For the time being, the boy will be the custody of its Grand Junction facility, Hershey said. He also will undergo further evaluations.

The killing has taken a toll on her family, Pamp-Friel said.

"I don't get my dog back," she said. "There is a before and now there's an after. And to be honest, it just changes you."


Final Stranahan donation sterilizes upper Lenado

Completing a process that began more than 40 years ago, local icon George Stranahan donated the last piece of property he owns in the upper Lenado area to Pitkin County's open space program Wednesday.

"George has done so much along these lines, something should be named after him," Commissioner Greg Poschman said. "George's legacy is rooted in all these parcels he's put in the public trust."

Stranahan — who lived on a large ranch in Woody Creek about halfway to Lenado for 40 years before moving to Carbondale about a decade ago — first conveyed a conservation easement to the Aspen Valley Land Trust in 1978 on 338 acres of mining claims he owned in the upper Lenado area.

In fact, that easement marked the first time a Colorado land owner placed such an easement on his property after a state law allowing it was passed, said Dale Will, acquisition director for the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Program. The 1978 easement excluded the 10.4-acre parcel donated Wednesday because Stranahan had selected the area to build a cabin, which occurred in 1982, Will said.

"This is a journey that really began 40 years ago," he said. "George decided to try and protect upper Lenado."

The cabin was removed from the property in 2009, while a transferred development right was issued in 2017 and a deed restriction placed on the property, according to a memo from Will to commissioners.

"This is the last of Mr. Stranahan's properties in this large area," Will said. "Everyone who's been there knows it's a stunning place."

The donation effectively sterilizes the upper Lenado area from development, with only a couple of parcels containing cabins, he said.

"Accepting this parcel would make the county owner of all the mining claims heretofore owned by George Stranahan," Will wrote in the memo. "We appreciate Mr. Stranahan's vision in keeping this area wild."

Will and others hiked to the site in September and found no mining pollution or any other obvious environmental hazards, he said. It will be managed as part of the open space program's "backcountry parcel management policy," which dictates that property bordering federal lands be managed in the same manner, Will said.

Commissioner Rachel Richards thanked Stranahan for the donation Wednesday and suggested creating a "certificate of appreciation" for him as a lasting thank you from the county.

"We really should commemorate and give something substantial to people who donate," she said.

"I think that's a great idea," said Board Chairwoman Patti Clapper.

Stranahan, an heir to the Champion spark plugs fortune, is a longtime supporter of local nonprofits, a benefactor of the Aspen Community School and was long considered the patriarch of Woody Creek.

Stranahan did not attend Wednesday's meeting and did not return a phone message seeking comment.


Aspen candidates gearing up for spring 2019 election

Election 2019 is on the minds of some Aspenites now that the majority of voters chose to change the date of picking who serves on City Council to March instead of May.

Candidates are emerging for three open seats on council this spring, with nomination petitions being available beginning in less than three weeks.

Councilman Adam Frisch confirmed Wednesday that he will be running for mayor.

"I'm the do-nothing mayor," he joked, saying the city and its residents need a break from all the initiatives coming out of City Hall. "Let's have a chill year and take a break."

Beyond that, however, Frisch said he is running because he still has work to do on the local affordable-housing program, among other issues facing the town, including the city's perceived problems in effectively communicating with its residents.

"I want to ensure that (affordable housing) stays the most important thing in our community," he said, adding how the program is governed and dealing with deficits in homeowner association capital reserves remain at the forefront.

He said he'd also like fewer construction projects impeding residents' quality of life in the offseasons.

"Housing, humility and no cones," he said of his early campaign.

Councilwoman Ann Mullins said she is considering a mayoral bid but said she wants to talk it over with family first and will make an announcement after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Frisch's seat will be open in June. He is finishing his second term and is term-limited after eight years as a councilman.

Mullins has two years left on her term and would be term-limited after that.

Councilman Bert Myrin, who is serving his last year of a four-year term, has begun campaigning for his seat based on the buttons he wears at public events that read, "Bert Myrin for council."

Skippy Mesirow — who championed moving the election date from the first Tuesday in May to the first Tuesday in March based on the argument that more people are in town during the high season — said Wednesday he is considering a run for council but isn't sure yet. He ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in the spring of 2017.

Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron, who has served three consecutive two-year terms, is term-limited this spring.

He, along with his fellow council members whose terms are up next year, will serve until June, despite that council members will be elected in March.

City Attorney Jim True explained that those elected next year will serve shorter four-year and two-year terms — by two months — because of the election date change.

He also said it is very likely city voters will be deciding during the March 5 election the future development of Aspen Mountain's west side.

A public vote will be triggered because two developers are proposing variances to the land-use code and a portion of the new chairlift corridor will be on city land currently designated as open space.

Aspen City Council is in the middle of reviewing land-use applications by developers behind the Lift One Lodge and the Gorsuch Haus.

If council approves them by mid-January, it will go to the voters in March.

"We are looking at two ordinances in one question," True said.

The deadline for council to put a question on the ballot is Jan. 14. Referendums and citizen-led initiatives are due by Dec. 12.

Candidates can pick up their nomination petitions starting Dec. 4 and they must be returned by Dec. 26.

Frisch said while he supported changing the election date in an effort to get more participation and prop up the local democratic process, campaigning during the dead of winter and the height of season will pose challenges that spring offseason stumping did not.

"But I'm planning on running with gusto and a smile on my face," he said, adding a main strategy for him is knocking on doors. "It will be cold and dark, but I have a warm coat."

He said he expects fewer candidates to turn out for council because they will be busy working during ski and tourism season.

"Campaigning takes 100 hours a week," Frisch said. "Serving on council takes 20 hours a week."


Roaring Fork boys soccer team sweeps 3A WSL postseason awards

Following a run to the Class 3A semifinals in the state playoffs, the Roaring Fork High School soccer team cleaned up the 3A Western Slope League awards as senior defender Max Candela won the league's Player of the Year award, while Nick Forbes won Coach of the Year after the Rams finished 15-2-1 (6-1 3A WSL), winning the league championship.

Candela was a staple of the Rams' lockdown back line, helping the Rams give up the fewest goals of the season in the league with just 11 goals against in 18 games, including eight in seven league games. Aside from his standout defense, Candela added four goals on the season, including a big penalty-kick goal in the second round of the state playoffs at home against the Valley Vikings.

Joining Candela on the 3A WSL first team from Roaring Fork were seniors Joe Salinas (six goals, one assist), Aidan Sloan (team-high 19 goals, nine assists) and Ronald Clemente (four goals, five assists).

Roaring Fork saw senior goalkeeper Leo Loya land on the honorable mention team after posting a 0.434 goals against average on the season with 74 saves, as well as senior Liam Laird, who recorded one goal and five assists on the season.

Aside from Roaring Fork, the Coal Ridge Titans saw senior Gustavo Archila land on the 3A WSL first team after posting nine goals and nine assists, which finished 8-7-1 (4-3 3A WSL) on the season.

Sophomore Jack Price (one goal) and senior Kade Frees (five goals, six assists) earned honorable mention honors for the Titans under veteran coach Michael Mikalakis.

The Basalt Longhorns had two players earn first team honors as junior Junior Portillo (three goals, six assists) and junior Richie Argueta (one goal) cracked the first-team roster. Junior goalkeeper Mateo Salazar (2.326 goals against average, 60 saves) and senior Bear Matthews (14 goals, five assists) earned honorable mention accolades for the Longhorns.

Grand Valley senior goalkeeper Marco Rojas earned honorable mention accolades for the Cardinals after posting a 4.692 goals against average while making a league-high 252 saves on the season.


Coal Ridge’s Kevin DiMarco signs with Chadron State for basketball

NEW CASTLE — Coal Ridge senior Kevin DiMarco just wants to focus on basketball.

After signing his National Letter of Intent with Nebraska's Chadron State College Wednesday in front of family, friends and teammates inside Coal Ridge High School, he can now do that without worrying about the recruiting process.

"It feels amazing to be able to do this," DiMarco said. "It was really stressful with the coaches constantly reaching out. Picking one was really hard, but all the stress is now gone and I can just play basketball my senior year without any worries about college. Since freshman year I wanted to sign before my senior year started, so to be able to do that is big."

The 6-foot-7 senior center is one of the top returning players on the Western Slope and sits 377 points away from 1,000 for his career, as well as 74 rebounds away from 500. Last year, DiMarco averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game, helping the Titans go 21-3 (9-0 3A Western Slope League). Coal Ridge won the 3A district tournament to close the regular season at Grand Junction Central, and then reached the second round of the 3A regional playoff bracket before losing to Manual, 80-77.

Back for his senior season, DiMarco is one of the focal points of Coal Ridge's vaunted attack under head coach Paul Harvey. The long, lanky center can not only get buckets in the paint, but step out from beyond the arc and drain 3-pointers, fitting into the new-age stretch-5 role in basketball.

"I saw him play in junior high and I could tell then that he was something special," Harvey said. "He came in as a freshman and really put in the work and developed his game. He improved his athleticism and worked on his strength training, so seeing him sign today is really neat. He had some god-given ability as well, which is nice. We did something today that I've never done here either: we had the whole team come into the gym to watch him sign so that they could see that hard work pays off."

That versatility offensively, as well as his size and length defensively, led to the interest from Chadron State College head coach Houston Reed, an Olathe native.

"I really love coach Reed," DiMarco said. "With him being from the Western Slope, I think we both connected really well. When I went on the visit (in September), I fell in love with the campus, and I connected well with the current players. I like that the campus isn't too big, but also isn't too small. It's right in the middle and it fits me well."

According to DiMarco, the Eagles were the first program to really jump on him as a prospect, which led to his first official visit in September. Aside from Chadron State College, Colorado Mesa University, Metro State University and Pacific University (Forest Grove, Oregon) were the other schools interested in DiMarco.

The talented senior joins a program that struggled last season in Reed's second year, going 3-25 (1-21 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference). That said, Reed had similar struggles at Otero Junior College in La Junta before going on an impressive run in his final five years, posting a 117-46 mark over that span.

During that successful five-year stretch, the Rattlers won the highly competitive NJCAA Region IX Tournament in 2012, made a repeat appearance in the title game in 2013, and most recently won the Region IX South Division in 2015-16 with a 15-1 conference record. Reed was voted the Region IX Coach of the Year in both 2012 and 2016.

DiMarco said Reed and the Eagles' staff will utilize him as the prototypical stretch-5.

"That's how they envision using me," DiMarco said. "I'm willing to do whatever it is that they ask of me."

"Chadron's a really tough program," Harvey said. "Coach Reed is a heck of a guy; he's down to earth. Kevin's going to thrive. He's going to surprise some people; he's been a bit overlooked, but he's going to do well for Chadron."

Outside of basketball, DiMarco plans on majoring in business and marketing with hopes of becoming a real estate agent after college.

The Titans open the season Nov. 30 in Carbondale at the Brenda Patch Tournament at Roaring Fork High School against the Lutheran Lions at 4 p.m.


Three Aspen High School golfers among those recognized on national signing day

The journey to get to this point involved a lot more than putting pen to paper, but that's all Aspen High School senior Jack Hughes had left to do to officially become part of the University of Colorado men's golf team.

Hughes, along with two of his teammates and senior swimmer Davy Brown, were recognized Wednesday during a signing day celebration inside the AHS gymnasium.

"I've worked extremely hard and put in a lot of hours to get to this point to become a Buff, but now I'm ready to work even harder," Hughes said. "These three boys up here, we've all earned it. We worked very hard and to have it pay off in front of the school and our family is really full circle."

Hughes finished second in the Class 3A state golf tournament last month, leading the Skiers to their first state championship in the sport. Finishing 13th at state was AHS senior Dawson Holmes, who sat to the right of Hughes during the celebration Wednesday, which was the first day of the open signing period for non-football sports.

Holmes is headed to the College of Charleston in South Carolina, which has a strong NCAA Division I program. Holmes had gotten pretty close with former Cougar coach Mark McEntire before he left to take over at Middle Tennessee State this past summer. Thinking the Charleston offer might be off the table, the new coaching staff, led by Mitch Krywulycz, reached out and assured him there was still a roster spot awaiting him.

"My grandparents live about two hours south, so I've spent a lot of time down there and Charleston had always been one of my top choices," Holmes said. "Between the state championship and getting into school and signing to play college golf, it's a pretty big weight off my shoulders."

Rounding out the college-bound golfers is AHS senior Colter Zwieg, who will play for NCAA Division III powerhouse Methodist University in North Carolina. In May, Methodist won its 12th national championship, which is tied for the most in Division III history.

"It was awesome to see all the work finally pay off and sit up there with those boys," Zwieg said. "This, I'm sure, will sink in when I get home and I actually start thinking about what it means and what it means for the future. It's just all the work finally pays off."

Both of the AHS golf coaches were in attendance Wednesday. Assistant boys coach Don Buchholz, who had also been the head coach for the girls team in the spring, recently announced he will soon be moving to Florida after having called Aspen home for the past 46 years.

Head boys coach Mary Woulfe, who has guided AHS to the past 10 regional championships, always is the first to commend the work Buchholz and the players have put in over the years to make Aspen into the golf powerhouse it certainly is.

"How incredibly proud can I be as a coach of the character they have shown, the fortitude, the grit and the amazing accomplishments?" Woulfe said. "And the humility with which they've all done it — it's amazing. And we are still waiting for that banner to get hung."

Brown, who spoke about her commitment Tuesday, will swim for Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.


Calgary vote shakes up 2026, 2030 Winter Olympic bid game again

Does anyone really want to host the Winter Olympics? Residents in Calgary answered that question with a resounding "No," and now the International Olympic Committee has some soul-searching to do. Again.

After being rejected in yet another public vote, the IOC is down to two candidates to host the 2026 Games — Stockholm, Sweden, and a joint Italian bid from Milan and Cortina D'Ampezzo. Both of those bidders also have issues, and organizers are scrambling to hand the next available Winter Games to one of them before either bid gets derailed. They will award the Games in June.

If either of those candidates work out, it will be a victory in that Sweden or Italy will break a string of three straight Winter Games in Asia, two of which — Sochi (2014) and Beijing (2022) — have been run by authoritarian governments that didn't have to answer to the public for the money.

But that's not to say Western democracies are falling back in love with the movement. Despite the IOC's attempts to streamline the bidding process and control the costs of the Games, no fewer than eight Western cities and countries have rejected the idea — either through elections or government action — of bankrolling what is increasingly viewed as a bloated, expensive sports festival with little upside for the city that takes them on.

"I think Calgary is another example of a democracy, more specifically, voters in a democracy, deciding that the hosting of the Olympic Games is just not in their best interest — and they have other things to focus on," said Chris Dempsey, who spearheaded Boston's opposition to hosting the 2024 Games.

Here's a look at some people, places and things in the bidding game, and where they stand after Tuesday's vote:

ITALY: The nation's federal government has vowed not to pay a penny after Turin was removed from this multi-city bid. It means regional governments will foot the brunt of the bill. Rome has bailed on two previous bids for the Summer Games, most recently in 2024, which certainly isn't a comforting thought for the IOC.

STOCKHOLM: Only three days after the IOC put the Swedish capital on its short list of finalists, a newly formed government in the city announced it would not provide funding to host the Games. Negotiations are ongoing.

SALT LAKE CITY: They have kept venues intact and, in many cases, improved on them, and there is no significant public opposition. To sum it up, the 2002 hosts could probably hold another Olympics in a few months, if pressed. IOC President Thomas Bach would be wise to award them 2030 right now — that is, only if they don't want 2026.

DENVER: The only city to be awarded the Olympics, for 1976, only to turn around and reject them, is officially in the running to be the U.S. candidate for 2030. But it's not much of a contest. Not helping matters: Colorado's incoming governor, Jared Polis, recently channeled his inner Richard Lamm — the then-governor-to-be who led the opposition in the 1970s — calling the Olympics "fun things for millionaires and business people" that leave others paying the bill.

THOMAS BACH: The president of the IOC looks more brilliant by the day for his decision to award two Summer Games — 2024 to Paris and 2028 to Los Angeles — in one shot at last year's IOC meeting. Acknowledging there were "too many losers" in the bidding game, he took the only two suitors he had left for the more-expensive, more-grandiose Summer Games and gave them both a victory. He might consider a two-for-one approach for Winter, as well.

CASEY WASSERMAN: Bach might be the president, but it would be difficult to find someone who wields more power in the movement than the head of the LA 2028 organizing committee. He's had a major role in shaping the new U.S. Olympic Committee, signing off on the hiring of the new CEO and CFO. Because he agreed to take the consolation prize, 2028, in what began as a contest for the 2024 Summer Games, he brokered an advantageous marketing deal with the USOC. And his blessing — and only his blessing — would be crucial to pushing Salt Lake City into the 2026 slot — a move that is currently untenable because of how it would impact the LA marketing arrangement.

ROTATING CITIES: The fantastical notion of rotating Olympics between three or four cities — say Sydney, London and Beijing on the Summer side, and Salt Lake City, Sochi and Vancouver on the Winter side — suddenly doesn't seem so outlandish. Given the current trend, there's no guaranteeing any city will want to host this behemoth past 2030. Dempsey, the Olympic skeptic, concedes the Olympics provide plenty of magic and power, "but that magic and power would be just as strong if there were one Winter and one Summer location for the Olympics, or some other process that allows you to host the Games without making exorbitant promises that lead to exorbitant costs."

Seasons in Aspen is just one sport to the next

You know the old saying that longtime Aspenites love to say and think never gets old: "I came for the winter but I stayed for the summer."

Well, I came for the job and it happened to be in the winter. And luckily, that first summer, I still had a job and each season since. So, I am fortunate to say that I, too, came for the winter but stayed for the summer.

Each time the summer comes to an end, I take a big sigh because I wish it was longer. It's just too short at 7,908 feet.

Regardless, I appreciate the seasonal nature of our little hamlet. Just when I am wishing summer would stick around longer so I can get those early-morning and evening rounds of golf in, it's time to ski.

With a fairly short fall and a quick trip to California, all of a sudden, I'm on deadline to go pick up my ski pass.

Then it's the overthinking of what time to go get the pass at the ticket office under gondola plaza — I should go right when they open, but I've got to get a workout in. If I go at noon, it will be crowded. Don't go after school when those damn families and parents are filling in the maze!

I bit the bullet and went at the noon hour Wednesday with my editor and photographer. It wasn't that bad because it's you and all of your like-minded friends who are in line chatting, talking about skiing and generally getting pumped up for the season. How can you not get stoked when freestyle skier Olympian Alex Ferreira is standing in line with you? Yep, that's right — even the elite have to wait sometimes.

It's the same when you go to the golf course for the first time in the spring — you see an entire different set of like-minded friends who are chatting it up and getting psyched for the season. Ski racer Olympian Andy Mill is one of those like-minded faces you see in the pro shop at the beginning of the season. I see him there more than on the hill, these days.

We thrive on the seasonality of our sports, and luckily that is our way of life here.

I just returned from Cambria, on the Central Coast of California. As I was walking the beach, watching the sea kayakers and surfers, I thought to myself, "I could live here."

But now that I am back and have my ski pass in my hot little hands, no way could I live in a place that doesn't have golfing, mountain biking, paddling and skiing all in one place (except maybe the Hearst Castle, I could stay and never leave).

I'm already looking forward to the bonus days in the spring when I can check off golfing, biking, skiing and paddling all in the same day.

But for the next several months, the goal is to match my days on the golf course to the days on the hill. So see you up there, my like-minded friends.


Lift 1A plan brings corridor into 21st century

I would like to show my support for the Lift 1A ski corridor. I think between Gorsuch House and the Browns, they have done everything that was asked of them to come up with a complete and thoughtful plan for 1A.

As a local that was born and raised here, I recall riding the original Lift 1 single chair and wishing there would someday be a new chair there. Then came the double. Now I am looking forward to a chair that would bring 1A into the 21st century.

I love skiing the 1A side of the mountain; for me it has the best terrain. Aspen is a ski town, and when mining died there was nothing here. Thanks to some people who had a vision, Aspen was put on the map — one of the premier ski resorts in the world, and I have skied most all of them. Now we have people who have a vision for 1A and I look forward to seeing their vision come true. I would also love to see World Cup skiing return to Aspen

on a regular yearly stop, as I would hope City Council does. Let's not forget Aspen is a ski town.

David Stapleton