In Brief: Hunt for Tahoe Tessie; 8-year-old dominates jump contest; Park City wary of spring biz |

In Brief: Hunt for Tahoe Tessie; 8-year-old dominates jump contest; Park City wary of spring biz

Staff Report

Where’s Tahoe Tessie?

Tahoe Tessie isn’t real, but climate change is.

That’s the tagline for “Find Tahoe Tessie,” an augmented reality game app developed by UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.

Players of the games become scientists in search of Tahoe Tessie. Throughout the game, players find scientific tools that can be used for lake experiments, explore Tahoe through local excursions, and apply scientific knowledge that will help find Tahoe Tessie.

“We worked with a technical advisory committee of ecology experts and education experts from various museums to come up with the best way to teach climate change at Lake Tahoe,” said TERC Education and Outreach Director Heather Segale. Segale served as team lead for the app development project.

They were looking for a way to teach about climate change that’s fun and approachable. 

Throughout the game, players can find and collect multiple Tahoe Tessies. Once she’s been collected, she can be placed anywhere in the real world, using AR technology.

Park City lodging forecast shows softening spring

Park City-area lodging numbers are projected to soften through the remainder of the ski season as compared to the numbers last year, even amid the snowy winter, as concerns about the economy appear to be starting to impact the tourism industry.

A lodging forecast prepared on behalf of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, dated Jan. 31, shows the 2023 projections consistently trailing the projections last year, as well as the actual 2022 numbers, through late March. The forecast is based on 22 properties representing a range of lodging options.

The stretch of the winter from the middle of February until the end of March is an important one for the ski industry, with the three-day Presidents Day weekend and the spring break weeks that follow normally being especially busy.

8-year-old dominates at Donkey Jump

Eight-year-old Zach Hiatt flew 35 feet 11 inches about halfway through the Donkey Jump competition during the 110th Winter Carnival Street Events on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat Springs on Saturday.

Event announcers John Shipley and Tom Whiddon were impressed with the jump, but knew it could be beat.

“You got to be around 35 (feet) to win it,” Shipley told the crowd shortly after Hiatt landed. “Someone’s going to need 36 (feet).”

But as the skiers and a few snowboarders kept flying, no one delivered a jump to knock Hiatt out of the top spot, and he claimed the blue ribbon.

He may have had a slight advantage over his peers, as Hiatt said after the competition he has been practicing for the event with a friend who has a snowmobile. Together they have been honing in on the right technique to maximize the distance they could fly.

Still, he didn’t expect to win Saturday’s competition.

“Tuck and pop,” Hiatt said, explaining his strategy. “You tuck when you’re coming in and then you pop at the top of the jump. And then you let go.”

Close enough to share some NBA All-Star boon

The NBA All-Star Game is headed to Salt Lake City later in February, but the event might not deliver a rim-rattling slam dunk for the Park City tourism industry.

A simple off-the-backboard layup seems possible, though.

Park City oftentimes receives residual economic impact during major events in Salt Lake City, and the All-Star Game is an especially notable one for the state. The people traveling to Salt Lake City could see a day trip to Park City or a day or two on the community’s slopes as options during their stay in the state. And some All-Star Game-goers are likely to choose to stay in Park City with the city’s proximity to Salt Lake City.

Demand for food help grows in Summit

Six years ago, Brianne Snow would describe 24 visits to her nonprofit’s food market as a busy day. Today, busy looks more like 363 daily visits.

That increase exemplifies the pressure Summit County’s largest nonprofit, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, is currently facing as the need for vital services from food to healthcare to mental health skyrocket, staff say.

“The general consensus of feeling around (the resource center) is tired,” said Snow, the nonprofit’s executive director. “We have a lot of challenges.” 

In 2022, the resource center, based in Silverthorne, served 9,992 people — nearly a third of the county’s population, according to the nonprofit’s data. But its reach is likely even more than that, with data showing a 2.5 average household size for each client. 

The heightened demand has manifested throughout the various arms of the resource center’s health and social service programs in past months. For example, the nonprofit saw 1,817 visitors to its food bank this past December, up from 841 in December 2021, data shows. That’s a 116% increase year over year.


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