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Mountain Town News

Park City, Utah: Sundance house offer was just illegal mirageWith the Sundance Film Festival soon to be held, many people in Park City are looking to make some quick money with high-end rentals. But no bonanza will be had at one home, for which an advertisement was placed on craigslist, the free online classified listings.The house, located near the towns film-crowd hopping Main Street, was advertised for $5,000 per night, with a minimum five-night stay. However, the homeowners association that includes the house specifically precludes anything less than monthly rentals, reports The Park Record. Now that the story is out, you know the law-abiding neighbors will be watching the comings and goings like a hawk. Steamboat Springs, Colo.: Intrawest invests heavily in Steamboat ski productTen months after the Steamboat ski area was purchased by Intrawest and its corporate parent, Starwood, things are going swimmingly, says the Steamboat Pilot & Today.We think Intrawests first 10 months of ownership paint a rather rosy picture for the future of the ski area, said the paper. For years, the biggest complaint about [former owner] American Skiing Co. was that it didnt have the capital to invest in the ski area. While other ski resorts made significant on-mountain improvements, Steamboat got by with Band-Aids.Intrawest has invested $16 million in upgrades, including many such to-dos as a new gondola haul rope. That investment, in turn, has triggered new base-area development. Plans are moving ahead for 1 million square feet of redevelopment at Ski Time Square and Thunderhead Lodge, a 1970s-style component of the base area. The plans represent the kind of investment developers are making in Steamboats base area long considered the resorts Achilles heel, says the newspaper. Ketchum, Idaho: Sun Valley-area medical center gets $1 million gift Emergency services operations at St. Lukes Wood River Medical Center have been bolstered with a $1 million gift by Julia and George Argyros. He is chairman and chief executive of a real estate company in California called Arnel & Affiliates, and he also owns the Seattle Mariners, a baseball team. The Idaho Mountain Express also notes that he is a former ambassador to Spain. Crested Butte, Colo.: Minimum wage rises, but to no consequence Minimum wage has increased in Colorado, and is now at $7.02. That compares with the federal minimum of $5.85.But the new law has no real effect in Crested Butte or, for that matter, probably any other mountain town. At Crested Butte Mountain Resort, for example, the basic entry-level wage for non-tipped jobs is $8.16 per hour.I dont know that it will really affect us, says Christi Matthews, director of the local chamber of commerce. Minimum wage is not really a livable wage in Crested Butte. Denver, Colo.: Airline chiefs saying new jets will fly in springtime The new chief executive officer of Frontier Airlines is now saying that it will be March or April before it can begin flying its new Bombardier Q400 turboprop planes to Aspen, Jackson Hole and Ketchum.The Denver-based company last year created a new subsidiary, called Lynx Aviation, with the goal of expanding service to the smaller markets, many of them resort areas, from Denver. Among the other markets expected to be serviced by the new planes are Eagle County/Vail, Montrose/Telluride, and Yampa Valley/Steamboat.The Q-400 is one-third more energy efficient, allowing costs to be discounted. Even in Aspen, that discount is considered a major plus for tourism. As well, Ketchum is eagerly awaiting the link to Denver, with the expectation it will make Sun Valley a more attractive destination for people in the East. Crested Butte, Colo.: Plumber comes nose to snarling jowl with lion Crawling under a rural cabin to look at some frozen pipes, plumber Josh Pierce decided he wasnt getting paid nearly enough. About 20 feet after crawling into just a 2-foot space, with not even a wrench in his hand, he encountered what he quickly realized was a young mountain lion.After it hissed and spit at me, I realized I was looking into the eyes of a lion not more than 5 feet away, he told the Crested Butte News.The News notes that when facing mountain lions, the rule of thumb is to make yourself look large. Unfortunately, since Pierce was on his stomach, he didnt have that luxury, the newspaper explained. The lion was in pounce mode, its fangs bared. So Pierce did what seemed like the only thing possible: He backed away, as best he could. It was good enough for the big cat.At some point, the cat was rousted out of his wintertime refuge in the crawl space and killed. Durango, Colo. Mountain bikers dislike recommended wilderness Mountain bikers are disturbed by a recommendation from the U.S. Forest Service to create a new wilderness area between Durango and Silverton that would close 20 miles of the Colorado Trail to wheels.The recommendation, if adopted by Congress, would also make at least six other trails off-limits to biking, reports the Durango Telegraph.Its definitely a conundrum for mountain bikers, said Mark Richey, a mountain biking advocate. We all love wilderness areas, but we feel like were excluded by their [recommendation] designation. Its not a comfortable place to be in.While the Forest Service cites comparatively little use by mountain bikers in the area in question, mountain bikers disagree. Bill Manning, director of the Colorado Trail Foundation, also noted that the wilderness designated would eliminate the ride from Molas Divide to Durango, a 75-mile grunt considered one of the nations epic rides. Wolf Creek Pass, Colo.: Helmets cut injuries, but not fatal ski accidents Helmets were supposed to make skiing and snowboarding safer. In fact, there has been no significant reduction in ski area fatalities in the last nine seasons, even though the use of helmets has increased to more than 33 percent. However, helmets have reduced the number of head injuries, according to a study cited by the National Ski Areas Association.Those statistics were cited by the Durango Herald after a 14-year-old boy died after hitting a tree along an intermediate ski trail at Wolf Creek Ski area.Nationally, about 37 skiers and snowboarders have died per year during the last decade. Jasper Shealy, a professor emeritus at the Rochester Institute of Technology, found that fatalities are more likely to occur along wide, smooth and well-groomed intermediate-level trails. Questa, N.M. :Ski area plucked from red ink The landscape of the West is littered with shuttered ski areas. Some were underfinanced. Others were set in locations with inadequate snow. Yet more suffered from remote locations.But life may be returning to New Mexicos Ski Rio. It is located just south of the Colorado border, about 50 miles north of Taos; it has been closed since 2000, mired in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.The property has now been purchased by a company from the Czech Republic that is called Cimex. The cost was $6.5 million. The 2,700 acres include 120 building lots, three ski lifts and two hotels.They dont even know yet what they are going to do, said Pavel Lukes, a real estate agent of Czech descent in Taos who brokered the deal. He met the Cimex officials during a social gathering four years ago in Vail.They are not in the ski-area development business now. But the place has so much potential. Were just happy for liberating Ski Rio.The company expanded to the United States eight years ago with operations in Naples, Fla., although it also invested in a Colorado project and got a 100 percent return, according to the website.The ski area has a checkered history. A website called coloradoskihistory. com says the resort was developed in 1980 as Rio Costilla Resort by a livestock group with broad land interests in Northern New Mexico. Unlike most ski resorts, it is located entirely on private land.Allan Best compiles Mountain Town News. He can be reached at allen.best@comcast.net.


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