The week that was |

The week that was

A skier in Harmony Bowl on Whistler Mountain, with the Harmony 6 lift in the background. Vail Resorts announced Monday morning that it's buying Whistler Blackcomb in a $1 billion deal. Whistler will remain part of the Mountain Collective pass for the 2016-17 ski season. It will become part of the Epic Pass in 2017-18.
Paul Morrison/Whistler Blackcomb |

Vail Resorts to buy Whistler Blackcomb for $1 billion

Vail Resorts shook up the ski-resort world Aug. 8 with an early-morning announcement of its intent to acquire the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort in Canada. The deal is expected to close in the next two to four months.

Disclosed terms of the deal — which a Vail Resorts statement called a “strategic combination” — add up to about $1.06 billion in U.S. currency, paid in both cash and stock to Whistler Blackcomb stockholders. The announced deal states that Whistler Blackcomb shareholders will receive a cash payment of $17.50 Canadian per share and will receive 0.0975 shares of Vail Resorts stock per share. The total payment adds up to $36 Canadian per share — $27.36 per share in U.S. currency.

— Scott Miller, Vail Daily

Mountain Collective adds Telluride, Revelstoke

The Mountain Collective pass, a collaboration among several independent resorts, started in 2013-14 as an alternative to Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass. The pass program announced Aug. 9 that Telluride and Revelstoke are on the roster for the 2016-17 ski season.

On Aug. 8, Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan said that responding to consumer demands is a key to being competitive, adding that consumers want multiresort options from the ski industry.

The Mountain Collective pass is now on sale for a limited time at $409. The pass includes two days of skiing or snowboarding at each of the 14 partner destinations (Alta/Snowbird, Aspen Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine Village, Mammoth Mountain, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Ski Queenstown-Coronet Peak-The Remarkables, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Stowe Mountain Resort, Sun Valley, Taos, Thredbo, Telluride Ski Resort and Whistler Blackcomb, which will continue to honor the pass for the 2016-17 winter season), plus a 50 percent discount on all additional days with no blackout dates. Passholders also receive two days at each Global Affiliate Destination, Chamonix (France), Hakuba Valley (Japan) and Valle Nevado (Chile). Pricing for kids aged 12 and under is $99 for the 2016-17 season.

— Scott Condon contributed to this report.

Aspen council OKs $500,000 Entrance to Aspen study

The Aspen City Council on Aug. 8 blessed a resolution calling for the expenditure of nearly $500,000 on a study exploring the feasibility of light rail or buses to alleviate traffic gridlock into and out of Aspen.

By doing so, the council upheld a July decision by the Elected Officials Transportation Committee to pay for the study through a half-cent sales and use tax from Aspen and Snowmass Village funds.

Elected officials from the governments of Aspen, Pitkin County and Snowmass Village comprise the committee.

“I support the study as described,” Councilwoman Ann Mullins said. “It’s been 10 years since we’ve looked at things.”

Mullins urged looking “at all options” that would address Aspen’s traffic problem that is punctuated during the commute hours.

The Entrance to Aspen debate has been going on for decades, starting with a 1975 vote regarding light rail and most recently a 2002 vote in which both county and city residents favored the existing S-curves arrangement over having two car lanes and two bus lanes into and out of town over the Marolt Open Space.

The latest step is the upcoming analysis, which would cost a total of $494,000, with $414,000 funding the Entrance to Aspen transportation-options studies and another $80,000 toward a company that will collect cellphone transportation data to get a better idea of traffic patterns. Aspen Skiing Co. is paying $10,000 of that sum.

— Rick Carroll, The Aspen Times

Rain welcomed during drier-than-average summer

The overdue arrival of the summer monsoon in August brought welcome relief to what was shaping up to be a dry summer for Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley.

The Aspen Water Plant already recorded 0.87 inches of rain in August as of Aug. 5. That’s more than the 0.65 inches that fell in June.

June was significantly drier than normal for Aspen. The average rainfall since 1951 is 1.22 inches.

The water plant recorded 1.44 inches of rain in July, according to an unofficial report released Aug. 5. That compares with an average of 1.77 inches.

May was only slightly below the average of 1.89 inches, with 1.71 inches this year, according to the water plant’s records.

Cumulatively, rainfall for May, June and July was 3.8 inches, or 78 percent of the average of 4.88 inches.

This summer is significantly drier than last year. In May 2015, the Aspen Water Plant recorded 4.69 inches of rain. In July 2015, the Aspen Water Plant recorded 3.29 inches of rain. June 2015 was about average.

While this month is starting wet, conditions are supposed to dry out next week. AccuWeather Inc., a commercial weather-forecasting company, released its 2016 U.S. fall forecast Aug. 4 and said the western U.S. generally can expect a dry fall.

“We still may have another spurt of moisture here and there into early September in eastern parts of Utah, but other than that, those areas will start to dry out as well by middle fall,” the company’s report said.

— Scott Condon, The Aspen Times

Longtime Aspenite George Madsen dies at age 90

George Madsen — a man who made his mark in Aspen media, politics, business and civics — died at Heritage Care Center on Aug. 3 at age 90.

Madsen was an editor and longtime columnist at The Aspen Times after his own one-man publication, The Aspen Flyer, was absorbed by the larger newspaper.

He worked for Aspen Skiing Co. as vice president of marketing and headed a three-person department during a period of vigorous growth in the 1970s.

He won election twice as a Pitkin County commissioner and served from 1980 through 1988.

Madsen immersed himself in community activities in an era when that meant putting in a lot of sweat and toil rather than writing a check. He was a charter member of the Aspen Rotary Club in 1971 and organized numerous events for seniors.

He was inducted into the Aspen Hall of Fame last year.

“It was great that we were able to honor him,” said his son, Bill Madsen, a Snowmass Village council member. The induction ceremony was almost like a memorial service for him while he was still alive, he said.

“I think he ran out of gas,” Bill Madsen said. “Father Time finally caught up with him.”

For the full story about Madsen, visit

— Scott Condon, The Aspen Times

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