Saturday, December 30, 2006

Another Big Snowstorm Hits Colorado

Government offices and some businesses closed yesterday after a second storm in a week socked the foothills west of Denver area with more than 2 feet of snow.

Snow falling at up to 4 inches an hour blanketed Evergreen in the foothills west of Denver with 28 inches of snow Thursday and several highways were closed by slick, icy conditions or by accidents that took hours to clear.

Interstate 25, the main north-south highway through the state, was closed about 60 miles north of Denver.

Crews were scraping sidewalks early Friday and private contractors were plowing parking lots after 16 inches of snow fell in the Denver metro area by morning.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Keystone Opens Superpipe

Keystone Resort opened its superpipe this past Wednesday.

The Superpipe is 450-feet long and 18.5-feet tall. It's been moved to a new location within Keystone's A51 Terrain Park in order to allow for equal sun exposure to both sides of the pipe, making for a smoother, more consistent ride.

This is the earliest opening for the Keystone pipe, according to park manager Julian LaMarche.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Dillon Reservoir Freezes Over - On Schedule

Dillon Reservoir is frozen. The average date of ice-over, as the Denver Water dam keepers call it, has held steady at Dec. 25 for the past 40 years, with no visible trend toward earlier or later.

But that doesn't hold true for lake ice in general, according to the Alaska Ice and Snow Observatory Network, specializing in studying lake ice. According to the researchers' web site, "the duration of ... ice covers has decreased in response to a general increase in air temperatures."

This year, the ice on Dillon Reservoir formed on the night between Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, just a couple of days ahead of schedule. By the evening of Dec. 23, the ice was already a couple of inches thick near the Dillon Marina.

The earliest the lake has ever frozen was Dec. 10, back in 1972, but last year wasn't far behind. In 2005, the ice formed on Dec. 11, the second-earliest date ever. Records from last year don't show particularly cold temperatures in late November or early December. In fact, the average daily minimum temperature for Nov. 2005 was 12.6 degrees, well above the historic average of 9.7 degrees. But the average high temperature for Dec. 2005 was quite a bit colder than the norm, at 26.4 degrees, compared to the historic average of 32.8 degrees.

The latest date for the lake to freeze up was Jan. 31, in 1981. That late date was a real anomaly in the records. There have been only four other years since 1966 when it took until January for the ice to form, and all those ice-over dates came early - within the first few days of the month.

If there is a slight trend to be spotted in the graphs and figures provided by Denver Water, it's the melt-out dates, which does seem to have occurred slightly earlier during the past 10 years or so. Since 1996, the melt-out date has been earlier than the long-term historic average.The earliest ice-melt on record is April 28, 2002. The latest date on record is May 31, in 1982.

To learn more about lake ice research, visit the Alaska Ice and Snow Observatory Network online at The web site includes cool ice photos, tons of basic ice physics, a basic introduction to the laws of thermodynamics that govern ice formation, and even an interactive quiz on ice.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Affordable Housing Fees Causing Frustrations

After some town council members had a chance to vent their frustrations with the last-minute bickering over the new affordable housing impact fees set to take effect Jan. 1, the Breckenridge Town Council got on with it, approving a policy that would exempt garages from the fee calculations, as long as all other local jurisdictions exempted them as well.

That doesn't look like it's going to happen, said housing authority director Bonnie Osborn.

The Board of County Commissioners did adopt an impact fee policy that includes a partial garage exemption, but Silverthorne and Frisco seem to be holding firm in their intent to include garages in the fee calculations.

That basically means garages built as part of single-family homes in Breckenridge will not be exempt from the impact fees, town manager Tim Gagen said after Tuesday's work session.

They will be included in calculating total square footage to be assessed for the fee. The conditional language adopted by Breckenridge was an effort to create some uniformity in the way the fees are applied around Summit County. But that hoped-for consistency is not quite coming together as envisioned, Osborn said.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Big Storm Rolls into the Mountains

A powerful winter storm brought heavy snow and strong winds to Colorado on Wednesday, prompting airlines to cancel dozens of flights and triggering the partial closure of Interstate 70 on the state’s Eastern Plains.

The National Weather Service said up to 2 feet of snow could fall in the foothills west of Denver and up to 3 feet was expected in northern Colorado.

Up to 20 inches was forecast for the eastern half of the state from Denver to the Kansas border some 150 miles away.

United Airlines, the busiest carrier at Denver International Airport, canceled all of its flights into and out of Denver from 1 p.m. until midnight MST. United spokesman Jeff Kovick said he wasn’t immediately sure how many flights were affected. Kovick said the flights were canceled early so passengers could be rebooked. Frontier planned to cancel up to 40 flights Wednesday afternoon, spokesman Joe Hodas said.

Most of eastern Colorado was under a blizzard warning, and winter storm warnings were issued for much of the rest of the state.

Early reports showed between a half-inch to 5 inches in eastern Colorado as the storm first worked its way across the mountains.

Eastbound lanes of I-70 were closed for 90 miles from Limon to the Kansas border. Westbound lanes were closed from the Kansas line to Burlington, about 13 miles. Other roads on the plains were closed as well.Winds up to 30 mph could pile up snow in deep drifts and make travel dangerous, forecasters said.

The storm dropped more a foot of snow in the state’s southwestern mountains Tuesday, on top of the foot or more than had fallen there over the weekend.Durango Mountain Resort reported 17 inches of snow Tuesday and Wolf Creek ski area had 19 inches of new snow.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Peak 7 Development Given Extension

An agreement between the Town of Breckenridge and the Peak 7 Development Company, LLC would give the developers of the base area complex an extended period of vested development rights of up to six years to complete the project, including residential units and commercial skier service facilities.

The Breckenridge Town Council first considered the agreement several months ago, asking the developers to propose some financial commitments (public benefits) to the town in exchange for the extension, commonly granted for large and complex projects.

Under Colorado law, the vested property rights preclude any action by a local government (such as a change in the development code) that would "alter, impair, prevent, diminish" or otherwise delay development of the property.

At the most recent council meeting, the agreement was revived, with the developers offering to pay the town $50,000 for the extension, to be used for affordable housing or for the installation of artificial turf at Summit High.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Frisco Visitors' Study Results

At the Frisco Town Council work session this week, the council heard the results of a visitors' study designed to help with marketing strategies and to design a brand for the town.

The presentation by Hill & Company marketing agency determined a profile of summer visitors based on 617 surveys taken during four events.

They found that 75 percent were overnight visitors between the ages of 35 and 64 with an income between $50,000 and $150,000. Fifty-eight percent were from other parts of Colorado, mainly Denver. Many of the out-of-state visitors were from Arizona, California and Florida.

The average stay is one to three nights and the average expenditure per person is $37. Currently, a 2006/2007 overnight visitors study is also being conducted by Hill & Company to get a complete profile.

The company was hired for about $50,000 to complete a discovery process on a brand for the town, to do research work studying and profiling the consumer, to assist in creating a 2007 marketing and media plan and to begin brand development.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Backcountry Snowsports Alliance Seeks Volunteers

The Backcountry Snowsports Alliance is looking for volunteers for its Vail Pass Ambassador program, helping the Forest Service manage the area for all users.

At issue are potential conflicts between motorized and non-motorized travelers in the heavily used area. A management plan purports to separate the uses as much as possible with designated non-motorized routes and motorized play areas, but in reality, activity on Vail Pass can be a crowded mess, with use far exceeding a reasonable capacity on busy winter weekends.

A $20,000 grant from the National Forest Foundation will help fund the citizen-based monitoring and education program, running every Saturday and Sunday from December 16 through mid-April.

Volunteers work in teams of two or more, educating Vail Pass visitors on regulations and use boundaries, as well as tracking user types and numbers. The volunteers will also monitor whether users are respecting motorized and non-motorized usage boundaries and report violations to USFS Rangers, fill out observation forms and conduct surveys.

In short, the volunteers will serve as eyes and ears for the Forest Service while backcountry skiing, ski touring, or snowshoeing on Vail Pass.

A short training session is required. In exchange for service, volunteers will receive a free season parking pass for the area. To sign up or receive more information contact Heath McKay at (303) 494-5266, or via e-mail at

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Barney Ford House Museum Exhibit

Former Summit County artist Ann Weaver brings a new perspective to Breckenridge's history with "A Moment in Time: Paintings of Breckenridge Past & Present."

The exhibit features 35 new watercolor works with a focus on Breck architecture.

The exhibit at the Barney Ford House Museum will remain up through July of next year and marks a new phase for the historical building.

Museum director Beth Carlson said the informational exhibits in the Barney Ford House had been the same since its opening two years ago. Beginning with the Weaver show, however, the museum will host two new exhibits a year in hopes of attracting more visitors to the site at the corner of Washington Avenue and Main Street in Breckenridge.

"We really just want to get new people in the museum - especially locals" Carlson said.

The exhibits will support the museum's mission to promote interest and education in Breckenridge history and black American history. Carlson is already looking ahead to what they hope to bring to the museum next year.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Silverthorne to Get New Fire Station

The Lake Dillon Fire Protection District, the Town of Silverthorne and the Silverthorne-Dillon Joint Sewer Authority (JSA) are working on conceptual plans for a joint fire/public works facility on about 5 acres at Highway 9 and Golden Eagle Road, across from the Raven Golf Course.

"Doing our strategic plan and our community fire plan we have determined that as call load goes up and as development is spreading rapidly to the north, the town of Silverthorne definitely needs a fire station," said Lake Dillon Fire Deputy Chief Jeff Berino.

The existing fire station on Blue River Parkway in Silverthorne, which was not built to accommodate an overnight crew, has been used for administrative offices and equipment storage since 1997 when the fire department began staffing a crew in Dillon 24/7.

While the crew in Dillon arrives at calls for service in North Silverthorne in about 5 minutes, a new station in Silverthorne would eliminate the 3 miles of roadway and 12 traffic lights it takes to get there, Berino said

.A Silverthorne station has been on fire officials' radar since the mid-1980s when a developer donated three-quarters of an acre of buildable land at Golden Eagle Road to the fire department - then called the Silverthorne Fire Department.

Since then, Silverthorne Fire merged with the Dillon, Dillon Valley and Frisco departments to form the Lake Dillon Fire Protection District, which retained the land in that consolidation.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Lighting of Breckenridge on ABC

The Lighting of Breckenridge, which took place downtown on Dec. 2, will be aired on ABC's "Good Morning America: Weekend Edition" on Sunday, Dec. 10.

Breckenridge, and the annual lighting event, will be featured in the Weekend Window segment during the hour-long program.

The ABC crew taped all day in Breckenridge on Dec. 2, getting shots of the town and the Breckenridge Ski Resort in high definition.

"The Weekend Window segment is a piece that breathes," said ABC producer Jennifer Pirone. "This one will highlight the sights and natural sounds of Breckenridge during the holidays."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Lance Armstrong to Ride the Leadville Trail 100

The rumors are true: Lance Armstrong is scheduled to ride in the Leadville Trail 100's mountain bike race in August 2007.

Yes, that Lance Armstrong, the seven-time winner of the Tour de France.

Leadville Trail 100 race director Ken Chlouber confirmed, after speaking with Armstrong's coach, that the race was on Armstrong's schedule.

He does one or two races per year, Chlouber said, adding: "This is huge for Leadville."

Mark Higgins, Armstrong's manager, this week reiterated the information Chlouber had gotten from the cyclist's coach. "I can confirm that he will be participating in the Leadville Trail 100 (bike race)," Higgins said.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Seedling Tree Program

The Seedling Tree Program is under way once again in Summit County to provide property owners with seedling trees to create wildlife habitat, promote growth on bare slopes and to prevent erosion.

To apply for seedling trees, property owners must have at least one acre of land, and they must not use the nursery stock in ornamental or landscaping plantings.

No plants purchased from this program may be resold as a living plant.

Trees are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and the nursery does run out of certain species.

For information and application form to purchase seedling trees, contact Summit County Extension Office at (970) 668-4140 or visit

Monday, December 04, 2006

Conceptual Plans for Breckenridge's Gondola Area

Town council members got an early look at conceptual plans for some of the last open land between Ski Hill Road and City Market, as ski area executives and planners outlined three different development concepts for the area around the new gondola terminal, and farther south, on what is now known as the Miners or Sawmill lot at a Nov. 28 work session.

Some of the land is owned by Vail Resorts and some of it by the town. Skier service facilities, including a ski school drop-off, food services and rental facilities will be the focus for the area closest to the gondola station, with residential resort development planned on the Miners/Sawmill lot.

Roger McCarthy, co-president of Vail Resorts' mountain division, and Mayor Ernie Blake said they envision a joint master planning process between the town and the resort, with a big focus on creating a connection between the new development and Breck's popular Main Street, as well as enhancing the Blue River and tying everything together with the planned expansion of the Riverwalk Center.

.The three scenarios were sketched out by Whistler-based Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners Ltd.

Concept A maintains the town's grid pattern of streets, providing vehicle and pedestrian access throughout the site. A path along the west side of the Blue River provides the link between the Riverwalk and the existing riverbank cycling trail. It would result in the loss of 760 parking spots. Building sizes would be most closely matched to the existing sizes.

Concept B, identified as "transitional," would include Main Street-style buildings on the east side of the Blue River to "tourist residential" development on the east side. Two additional levels of parking would be need at the Tailings lot to make up for the loss of about 830 spots.

Concept C is the "resort village idea, with more intensive "condohotel" developments increasing in scale and height moving west from the Blue River toward Park Avenue. It would result in the loss of about 690 spots, requiring 1.6 levels of new parking on the Tailings lot to make up the deficit.

Plan C was described as more of a resort-village development, along the lines of Copper Mountain or River Run at Keystone.

At this early stage, option B seemed to garner the most positive response from the town's elected officials.

McCarthy said plan B includes a diagonal component to ease access to the heart of downtown. Together with a "breadcrumb trail" of commercial and retail activity, that connection will help guide visitors between the resort base area and Main Street.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Keystone Almost 100% Open

More than a foot of snow fell in Summit County this past week, prompting local ski areas to open more terrain this weekend. Keystone Resort will open all five of its bowls today - North Bowl, South Bowl, Erickson Bowl, Bergman Bowl and its newest addition, Independence Bowl.

"We are not quite 100 percent open, but getting there, so I think we're up to 87 percent, 90 percent somewhere around there," said resort spokesperson Amy Kemp. "...There's incredible, incredible skiing."

Keystone is running the $5 Outback snowcat shuttle to provide access to North and South bowls; however, skiers and riders will have to hike to Erickson, Bergman and Independence bowls from the top of North Peak.

Guided snowcat tours are expected to start in the next few weeks, Kemp said.

The Forest Service gave Keystone final approval in September to expand its snowcat tours and hike-to skiing into Independence Bowl, which opens up 278 additional acres of steep, north-facing terrain. The bowls will only be open during the day, but the front of Dercum Mountain will remain open until 9 p.m. tonight as Keystone wraps up its annual 36 Hours of Keystone event.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Breckenridge Art Festival

Mark Beling's long-running July Art Festival, which is typically held over the Fourth of July weekend in Breckenridge, will return to Breckenridge this summer, albeit at a smaller venue with fewer artists selling their high-end crafts.

The fate of the 24-year-old festival has been on somewhat of a roller coaster ride since late July when the Breckenridge Town Council voted to end the art fair at the town-owned Wellington and Sawmill parking lots, citing traffic congestion and overcrowding during the holiday weekend.

With Breckenridge out of the picture, organizers had planned on moving the fair to Dillon for the Fourth of July weekend, but pushed that event back when some unexpected competition cropped up.

Two weeks ago, Beling found out that the town of Frisco - which he had approached about hosting his July Art Festival back in August - signed on to host its own Fourth of July weekend art fair organized by Howard Alan, a well-known Florida-based art promoter.

According to Frisco spokesperson Linda Lichtendahl, the town is in discussions with Alan to produce an art show on July 7 and 8, but the two have not yet penned a contract.

Nevertheless, fearing that the potential competition from Alan would prevent Dillon's inaugural art show from prospering, Beling and Dillon's marketing director opted to move Dillon's show to July 20, 21 and 22.

"We just didn't feel it would be successful," said Carol Craig, Beling's marketing coordinator. "We were very concerned about not getting enough artists. We didn't feel that we would be able to do the kind of marketing and advertising necessary to get people to come to a brand new show in Dillon."

At that point Beling was left without a venue for his signature event, which is held on one of the busiest summer weekends in the county.

But, while Craig was talking with the merchants' association that organizes events at the privately-owned Main Street Station about the end of July art festival Beling typically holds there, the idea came up to swap dates in Breckenridge - Main Street Station would host the July Art Festival over the holiday weekend and the town of Breckenridge would rent out its parking lots for the July 26-28 show.

That way, Beling would still have a presence in Breckenridge over the holiday weekend, and because his is an established event that people expect to see in town, it would be easier to draw visitors, even with an art fair on the same weekend in Frisco, Craig said.

"It seemed to be a really great scenario so that's kind of what we decided to do, and ixt really is going to work out well for everybody. It felt right," Craig said.

The July Art Festival will be scaled back next summer because Main Street Station is a smaller venue than the parking lots where the fair has been held in years past. About 60 to 70 artists are expected to be in attendance, as opposed to the 150 vendors who sold there last year, Craig said.

Meanwhile, the Dillon Art Festival should bring in approximately 100 artists. Beling's team is hoping this summer will be the first step in the cultivation of a solid arts event on the northern side of the county.

"I really think the show in Dillon can develop into its own signature event," Craig said.

Last week, the Dillon Town Council signed a contract with Beling for the Dillon Art Fair, despite some initial concerns over the later date in July. In early October, the town council had agreed to move forward with Beling to host the Fourth of July art festival.

"I would think that by this time in July the artists will begin to think the county is maxed out," Councilmember Don Parsons said.

Craig said she and Beling believe there are enough visitors, part-time homeowners and locals who enjoy the art festivals that the market in Summit County won't become diluted, especially with shows spread throughout the county.

"I think the people who would come to the Dillon Art Festival aren't going to drive to Breckenridge for an arts festival, especially on the Fourth of July weekend," she said.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Parking Rules Changing in Breckenridge

About 50 people showed up to voice their opinions and concerns over potential parking changes at a community meeting last night at the Breckenridge Town Hall Council Chambers.

The changes being considered include making four all-day parking lots limited to three-hour parking, providing employee and residential permits, and posting a re-parking restriction on Main and Ridge streets to avoid employee abuse of the time limitations.

The lots that may change include Sawmill, Wellington, the courthouse and Barney Ford, and the idea is to take a proactive role in combating what may happen in January when Breckenridge Ski Resort changes two of their free lots to $10 a day parking, officials said at the meeting.

That change may throw ski area employees or guests into the nearby lots, particularly Sawmill and Wellington, because they are free. Three-hour time limits could help prevent this, said Jim Benkelman, transit parking and fleet manager. Along with that change, employee parking permits would become necessary so they could still use the lots all day, he added.“We’re not trying to change employee habits other than we prefer they not park on Main Street and Ridge Street,” Benkelman said, adding that those streets are for visitors.

A trend officials see is employees parking for three hours and then moving up or back a spot for the next three hours. If they install a re-parking restriction, people will only be able to park in a block once during the day.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Proposed Loft-Style Development in Silverthorne

Depending on who you talk to, a proposed loft-style development in Silverthorne could either be the key to creating the feel of a vibrant town center along the Blue River or simply an oversized building out of place with its surroundings.

Developers from the Florida-based Greenwald Group have proposed the 92,917-square-foot, four-story Blue River Lofts at 421 Rainbow Drive, a 1.28 acre plot of land owned by Allen Greenwald across from the Silverthorne Recreation Center and nestled against the Blue River.

Right now, the plans call for the building to rise 50 feet - 15 feet higher than the maximum height allowed in that area of town, although Greenwald vice president Jerry Miller said he is looking at options to reduce the height by at least a couple feet.

The sketch plan includes two levels of underground parking, a ground level with space for commercial uses like a coffee shop, a bakery, a day spa and a wine bistro, and three additional levels to house a mix of 37 studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom condos.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Continued Study of Interstate 70

Maybe we should call it "continous" study! It never seems to end.

With another ski season getting underway over the busy Thanksgiving holiday, travelers along the I-70 corridor are preparing for the inevitable congestion that can make the trip to and from the mountain resorts slow and dangerous. There's no immediate solution in sight.

The burgeoning Front Range population means a steady growth in the number of I-70 trips, and plans by the Colorado Department of Transportation to significantly improve the highway are years away from being implemented. In fact, release of the final version of a long-awaited I-70 study has been pushed back until early next year. And once the plan is unveiled, it may be several years until construction actually begins.

But some short-term relief could come from a transportation demand management (TDM) plan forwarded by the I-70 Mountain Corridor Coalition, representing communities and businesses from all along the transportation corridor between Golden and Glenwood Springs.

The TDM plan includes a number of incentive-based measures intended to address peak-time congestion in the corridor. Some of the ideas floated in a draft version of the plan include free close-in parking at ski areas for carpoolers, as well as coupons for discounted goods and services for visitors willing to adjust their travel times to outside peak hours.

Additionally, the plan calls for installation of a high-tech traffic monitoring and notification system, which was implemented in a pilot phase this summer, visible to travelers in the form of new signs along the highway that detail travel times between key points.I t's not clear to what degree such measures will actually alleviate the crushing peak loads on the highway. The potential benefits haven't been quantified, coalition director Flo Raitano said. But similar measures have been tried - with mixed success - in other areas, notably in some of the long-distance travel corridors along the Eastern seaboard.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Two New Stores at Silverthorne Outlets

Two new stores have opened for business in the Outlets at Silverthorne just in time for the official start of the holiday shopping season.

Gymboree children's clothing store opened last Thursday, while Adidas opened last Friday.

Both stores are located in the Green Village off Rainbow Drive in Silverthorne.

Shirt Off My Back is scheduled to open on Friday in the same village, said Outlets marketing and events manager Janet Wolfson.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Colorado Mountain College Not Moving to Frisco

Colorado Mountain College will remain in Breckenridge and Dillon.

Since Frisco voters rejected a proposal to consolidate the campus on 20 acres of the Peninsula Recreation Area, the college is moving on to plan B.

They will be building a new 35,000-square-foot facility on Block 11 near the northern entrance of Breckenridge and, instead of consolidating, they will keep their Dillon site as well.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Breckenridge Nature Series

The Breckenridge Nature Series has standardized its hike and snowshoe times going into the winter.

The weekly hike/snowshoe will take place Thursday mornings at 10 a.m., starting on Thanksgiving day and running through April.

Prices do apply: A guided hike costs $15/person, $40/family up to four ($8/$22 with their own snowshoes).

Contact director Carin Faust at (970) 53-3362 for more information.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Breckenridge Town Welcome Center Grand Opening

Breckenridge's Welcome Center, at 203 S. Main Street, will join in the opening day festivities this weekend with a grand opening celebration of its own, featuring free coffee and other goodies between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Conceived as a one-stop information point for visitors, the 4,000-square-foot Welcome Center also houses a museum featuring multimedia interpretive displays on 1880s life in Breckenridge.

A 100-year-old log cabin that was discovered during the demolition of an existing building is part of the unique display.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Breckenridge Ski Resort Opens Tomorrow

This Friday, Nov 10 at 8:30 a.m., Breckenridge Ski Resort opens for the 2006-2007 season with three lifts, five runs and a terrain park with jumps and rails. Come celebrate with a complimentary pancake breakfast, live music and exciting giveaways throughout the day. As with previous opening days, lift ticket proceeds from Friday, Nov. 10 at Breckenridge Ski Resort will be donated to four local charities.

Breckenridge plans to open the Quicksilver out of the Village at Breckenridge, Beaver Run and the Mercury as well as the surface lifts for the Breckenridge Ski and Ride School. These lifts will serve five runs including Sundown, Columbia, Bonanza, Cashier and Silverthorne. Breckenridge Ski Resort will also be the first resort in the country to offer skiers and snowboarders jumps in addition to rails in the Country Boy Terrain Park. Breckenridge Ski & Ride School will also be open for the season, offering lessons at the Beaver Run base area.

This season, Breckenridge Ski Resort celebrates the opening of the BreckConnect Gondola that will bring together the town and the mountain. In addition to the gondola, Breckenridge is opening SnowWhite, 150 acres of expert terrain accessed off the Imperial Express. With the addition of SnowWhite, skiers and snowboarders can find adventure across 550 acres of lift-served terrain that the resort has added in the last two years.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Keystone Appoints New Exec.

Vail Resorts re-arranged its executive ranks Monday, promoting long-time Breckenridge skier services director Pat Campell to chief operating officer of Keystone Resort.

Campbell will report directly to Roger McCarthy, co-president of Vail Resorts' mountain division and chief operating officer of Breckenridge. McCarthy has served as chief operating officer for both Breckenridge and Keystone for four years since replacing John Rutter, who led the resort during much of the Ralston Purina era.

Campbell said no other personnel changes are planned at Keystone. Chuck Tolton will stay on as director of mountain operations.

Campbell's focus will be on delivering the type of guest experience that has "helped drive Breckenridge's growth and success as the second most-visited ski resort in the U.S.," said Vail Resorts chief executive officer Rob Katz.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Breckenridge Festival of Film Changes Dates

After 26 years as a fall event, the Breckenridge Film Festival is changing its dates to June 7-10 for the 2007 event.

While the time of year will be different, the festival's essential character will remain the same. Festival president Karin Penegor said, "June is equally well-suited to the casual and interactive atmosphere that has made the Breckenridge Film Festival special. The festival has always been enhanced by its beautiful mountain environment and June will provide as perfect a setting for the event as September always has."

Penegor said the many film festivals that occur in the fall (in Colorado and throughout the world) make it harder for people to make it to Breckenridge. Also the early summer is a good fit with the town.

Penegor wanted to emphasize that the new dates do not mean a change in the festival's fundamental goals - hosting stellar guests, presenting exceptional premieres and independent films, and creating an event to be shared by filmmakers and film-goers alike.

The 2007 Breckenridge Film Festival will feature forums, panel discussions and seminars throughout the weekend and continue its educational programs in association with the University of Colorado Film Studies Department.

Jeffrey Lyons, NBC film critic and co-host of ReelTalk, and Ben Lyons, movie correspondent for The E! Network, will continue to host the festival and conduct interviews with guests at open forums and post-screening Q-and-A sessions.

The festival website,, will soon carry the Call for Independent Film Entries as well as general information for the June 7-10, 2007, Breckenridge Film Festival.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Real Estate Market Continues to Rise

After a slow August, the real estate market in Summit County proved bullish once again in the month of September, according to statistics collected by Land Title Guarantee Company.

In September, the Summit County real estate market increased 36 percent to $219,939,000 in monetary volume, as compared to $161,353,500 in 2005.

The number of transactions stayed relatively steady with 444 this month versus 445 a year ago - an encouraging upward trend after a slow August.

August 2006 sales decreased 12 percent over the prior year, and transactions were down 27 percent from 2005.

"Prices are significantly higher, but volume is the same as last year," said Brooke Valance, director of sales and marketing at Land Title Guarantee Company.

Breckenridge led all areas in the county with 94 transactions, which was 21.17 percent of overall Summit County transactions, and accounted for 37.16 percent of the total monetary volume in the county.

Keystone followed suit with 81 transactions at 14.01 percent of total monetary volume.

The Breckenridge Golf Course rounded out the top three areas with 54 transactions, accounting for 11.30 percent of overall monetary volume in the county.

With the winter season right around the corner, Copper Mountain and Keystone have both seen a significant increase in the number of transactions over the past two months.

Currently, listings are down about 25 percent over this time last year.

Valance attributes the increase in monetary volume to: baby boomers purchasing their dream vacation home, locals trying to get in to the market before the county reaches full build-out, affordability of properties when compared to places like Vail, and rental revenues increasing after a strong snow year - as in the record-setting winter of 2006.

Friday, November 03, 2006

And Yet Another Colorado Ski Resort Opens for the Season

Thanks to one of the snowiest Octobers on record (more than 3 feet) and efficient snowmaking, the lifts opened today for the general public at 9 a.m. at Keystone - a week earlier than the expected opening date of Nov. 10.

Thursday, the U.S. Ski team began training, three days earlier than originally scheduled.U.S. Ski Team athletes trained on the mountain Thursday morning and will load the chairlift at 8 a.m. tomorrow in River Run. The top U.S. men's and women's alpine athletes plan to train on Keystone's North Peak through early December as part of an exclusive on-snow partnership announced two weeks ago.

The resort will opened with six trails covering 133 acres - Flying Dutchman, Bachelor, Whipsaw, Endeavor, Santa Fe, and Jackface - all serviced out of the River Run base area.

Keystone's A51 terrain park team plans to offer a wide range of features, including boxes and rails, on the side of the Flying Dutchman trail. Terrain park manager Julian Lamarche enthused, "We're going to have plenty of jib-tastic goodness in the park. It's going to be a lot of fun."

The River Run Lift Ticket office will be open along with other skier services. Free parking will be available in the Montezuma lots in River Run.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Silverthorne Outlets Makes Purchase

The Outlets at Silverthorne has purchased the former Summit Chop House restaurant, which sat on the market empty for more than two years.

Outlets owner Craig Realty Group closed the $2 million sale on October 3, according to Summit County property records, for the restaurant located at 247 Rainbow Drive, near the Green Village of the Outlets.

Outlets manager Rob Goodell said the company intends to maintain the 6,300-square-foot building as a restaurant, and possibly even provide two or three different food options inside.

First, the Outlets needs to work with the Town of Silverthorne to modify the restaurant's planned unit development to allow for a remodel of the building, Goodell said.

The Outlets' intent is to provide indoor and outdoor seating, and the company is looking at potential tenant mixes, including one business that would offer quick service meals, and another sit-down establishment, Goodell said.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Adopt-A-Senior Pet Month

Elderly pets are looking to live out the rest of their lives in a loving home.

These pets are wiser, more set in their routines than younger pets and are very loving.

Like people, their personalities are not going to be different - what you see is what you get.

With November being Adopt-A-Senior Pet Month, the Summit County Animal Shelter is supporting the effort with an adopt-a-thon Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 11-12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days.

Adoption fees for elderly animals will be discounted. Call the shelter at (970) 668-3230 for more information.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Frisco to Vote on CMC Location

On November 7 Frisco voters will decide whether to authorize the town council to pursue an agreement with Colorado Mountain College with regard to relocating the college to the Frisco Peninsula.

Those opposed to the peninsula site maintain the area should be reserved solely for recreational uses.

The peninsula totals 854 acres.

Of that amount, the town-owned Peninsula Recreation Area totals 217 acres.

A 20-acre campus would be 9 percent of the PRA and 2 percent of the entire peninsula.

The balance of the acreage is controlled by the U.S. Forest Service.

The location for the campus would be adjacent to Highway 9. The exact location within the 20 acres has not been finalized.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dillon Theatre Pesents The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged

"The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged" An irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard's plays in 100 minutes.

Warning!: This is a high-speed roller-coaster condensation of all of Shakespeare's plays, and isn't recommended for people with heart ailments, bladder problems, inner-ear disorders and/or people inclined to motion sickness.

10/29 - 12/10Every SundayLake Dillon Theatre, Dillon.6:30pm - 8:30pm(970) 513-9386 for more information.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Looks Like Another Snowy Winter

The early season storms that have dropped record and near-record snows in the local mountains could be consistent with a developing and strengthening El Niño weather pattern, according to Boulder-based climate researcher Klaus Wolter.

Although his official winter forecast isn't due until next month, Wolter offered a seasonal outlook for more than 100 snow-safety experts gathered for an avalanche workshop at Copper earlier this week, calling for a wetter-than-average late winter and spring.

Big storms rolling in from Southern California can be traced to El Niño, part of a periodic shift in ocean surface temperatures in the Eastern Pacific. Where exactly those storms track once they reach the central and southern Rockies is still hard to project. In some years, El Niño has a potent effect in the Southwest, including Colorado's San Juan mountains.

"It's not a straightforward thing in the fall," Wolter said.

"Typically, you don't get those classic El Niño storms that barrel in from Southern California. But rather you get these storms that interact with a lot of subtropical moisture that comes in, from Eastern Pacific storms ... which tend to get enhanced in El Niño conditions. We've already had our share of that this year," he said.

"I wasn't snowed in yesterday, but it was close," Wolter continued. At his mountain home west of Boulder, Wolter said the wettest Octobers that he has recorded have all been during El Niño episodes - in 1997, 2002 and this year. Wolter has been tracking weather at that location for 17 years. In general, October is the driest month of the year in Colorado.

Local National Weather Service observer Rick Bly said he's found a statistical correlation between October precipitation and winter trends, based on records going back more than 100 years. When October brings above-average moisture, there's a 70 percent chance the rest of the winter will also be wetter than average, Bly said.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Lots of Snow in Summit County and Colorado

Up to TWO FEET of new snow in the last few days at Breckenridge and Keystone!

With the recent snowfall we've received — more than 3 feet of snow just this month! — and cold temperatures for efficient snowmaking, Keystone will be ready to open Friday, November 3 — a full week earlier than expected.

Breckenridge- 24 inches at mid-mtn.- Opens November 10

Keystone- 16 inches at mid-mountain- Opens November 3

Vail- 9 inches at the summit- Opens November 17

Beaver Creek- 9 in. at the summit- Opens November 22

Monday, October 23, 2006

Keystone Donates Computers

Keystone Resort donated 30 out-of-use PCs and 23 monitors to the Jared Polis Foundation, a total of 40 monitors to Summit County and Fairplay School Districts, and three monitors to The Keystone Center.

The Jared Polis Foundation acts as a liaison between individuals and organizations wishing to donate computers and schools and nonprofit organizations that would like to receive them.

Sue Moran, Keystone PC technician, said that while formerly she and the IT department had recycled their monitors and computers, they decided to see if there were any organizations they could donate them to.

"We'd like to see more of our equipment take one more step before it gets recycled," she said.

With some research and a few phone calls, she found the Jared Polis Foundation. After erasing the hard drives of the computers, Moran and her colleagues drove the equipment to the EcoCycle Center in Boulder, which has a monthly pickup for the foundation.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Keystone Hosts U.S. Ski Team Training

Keystone, the U.S. Ski Team and York Snow announced a new partnership today that includes additional snowmaking capabilities on Keystone's North Peak and exclusive early-season training for U.S. Ski Team athletes at Keystone beginning this November.

Keystone, along with Breckenridge and Beaver Creek, began making snow yesterday thanks to the winter storm earlier this week that brought up to a foot of new snow at both Keystone (mid-mountain) and Beaver Creek (summit) and colder temperatures to the region.

Vail's expected to begin making snow Nov. 1.

With higher elevations, historic early-season natural snow and consistent ability to make snow for training, events and skiing/riding for the general public, Colorado resorts have long been factored into U.S. early-season training and competition.

The Keystone, U.S. Ski Team partnership announced today by U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) president and CEO Bill Marolt and Keystone's director of mountain operations Chuck Tolton is a one-year partnership that all parties hope to extend into the future.

Keystone began making snow on Starfire, the trail on North Peak that will be allocated for exclusive training use by the U.S. Ski Team starting Nov. 5.

York Snow provided additional highly efficient snowguns, which is the first phase of a snowmaking upgrade on Keystone's North Peak to accommodate the U.S. Ski Team training program. The team also is financially involved in helping support infrastructure and operational costs.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ski Area COO's Give Updates

Breckenridge and Keystone resorts COO Roger McCarthy, Arapahoe Basin COO Alan Henceroth and Copper Mountain COO Gary Rodgers touted last season's successes and announced new developments at their respective resorts at the annual COO breakfast, held this year at the Keystone Conference Center.

McCarthy took the podium first, launching his presentation with a video focused on highlights from Keystone. In it, McCarthy talked about the success of last year's 36 Hours of Keystone event, which returns this December for the resort's 36th anniversary, and Snowboarder Magazine's signature Superpark 10, which attracted professional snowboarders from around the world to Keystone last April. This year, Transworld Snowboarding Magazine ranked Keystone's A-51 Terrain Park ninth among the top ten parks in the U.S. - a significant accomplishment because Keystone joined the snowboarding world later than other ski resorts, McCarthy said. McCarthy also noted the expansion of Keystone's catskiing operation this year, with Forest Service approval to run snowcats to the top of Independence Bowl, opening up 278 additional acres of high-alpine skiing. Growth will continue at Keystone and McCarthy told the crowd to expect more announcements from the resort in the coming months.

Across the county in Breckenridge, the obvious big news is the BreckConnect Gondola, slated to open around Christmas. Construction on the $17 million gondola, which will whisk skiers and riders from the parking lots in town to the Peak 7 and Peak 8 base areas, began last spring and crews will continue working in the snow to get the project done on time, McCarthy said. Crews experienced a slight setback when the gondola cabins that were supposed to arrive in Breckenridge two weeks ago ended up in Illinois, McCarthy said, adding that the cabins are now on their way via semi-truck to the county.

The Crystal Peak Lodge will be the first building constructed as part of the Peaks of Breckenridge real estate development project that goes hand-in-hand with the new gondola. Sales begin on the 46 high-end units in December, McCarthy said.McCarthy also mentioned 150 acres of new expert terrain that will open near the Lake Chutes off the Peak 8 summit this season.

The ski season momentum has already begun building at Arapahoe Basin, which was the first ski area to open in the country last Friday, ending Loveland's six-year streak of holding the title. In store this season at A-Basin is the completion of the Black Mountain Lodge, an 8,000-square-foot lodge currently under construction at the top of the Exhibition Lift. When it's finished this spring, the new restaurant will seat more than 200 people and the kitchen will turn out a new menu that will be a step up from the food served now in the mountain's base A-frame, Henceroth said. Another change A-Basin aficionados might notice: The ski area has renamed its park the Treeline Terrain Park. Henceroth also looked ahead to next year and the potential to include the 400-acre Montezuma Bowl off The Legend's backside. Henceroth said he expects a final decision from the Forest Service on the project in the next two weeks, and he hopes to have a new lift under construction in the bowl by next summer.

Copper Mountain is coming off of a record year for snowfall and visitation, and is off to a great start this year, said resort COO Gary Rodgers. Snowmaking crews have started making snow on the Main Vein superpipe, which was a new addition on the mountain last winter, and was the first superpipe to open in North America last year. The resort hopes to have the super-sized halfpipe open before Christmas in plenty of time for the U.S. Freeskiing Open Championships, a top skiing competition that will come to Copper from Jan.17-21. Visitors to Copper will also find three new restaurants at the Center Village base this season: Pizza Carlo, which fills the spot left by Blue Moose Pizza, The Covered Bridge Grille, which replaces Alexander's on the Creek, and Incline Bar & Grill, a new venture between three Frisco restaurateurs in the old Lazy Lizard space.Rodgers gave the audience an update on the pending sale of Intrawest, which owns Copper Mountain, to New York-based Fortress Investment Group, saying shareholders approved the sale on Tuesday, and that the deal should be complete by the end of the month. Rodgers said that the sale shouldn't stall plans for future capital improvements on the mountain like the Tucker Mountain lift and a gondola and learning center at Union Creek. He also said that Fortress isn't planning to come in and run the resort, rather the company is expecting existing management teams to continue executing the business plan. Rodgers also addressed Copper's new environmental initiatives, including a decision to offset 100 percent of the mountain's electricity use with renewable energy credits.

Copper Mountain is set to open Nov. 3, while Breckenridge and Keystone will open Nov. 10.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Frisco's West Main Street Project

In about a year West Main Street in Frisco will have a new look, designed to revitalize the area and develop a safe pedestrian environment.

“This project will create a true western gateway to Frisco, which we really don’t have right now,” Michael Penny, Frisco town manager, said in a press release.

Some of the major highlights of the about $2 million project include a roundabout at Forest Drive and West Main, sidewalks along the north side of the road and street parking in front of commercial businesses.

Last week, spokesmen from PBS & J, the company out of Denver that is working on the project, met with the Frisco Town Council to review a few conceptual designs that incorporated feedback from the public. The council approved the alternative that represented what the community said they wanted in earlier meetings and surveys.

On Monday, Mike Harmer, project manager with PBS & J, said they are about 20 percent into the design phase. The streetscape project will go up for bid in spring 2007 when the design phase is complete, and construction will likely be from summer to fall for the main infrastructure, he said.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Breckenridge Halloween Carnival

The annual Breckenridge Halloween Carnival will be held on Friday, October 20 from 5pm to 8pm at the Breckenridge Recreation Center at 880 Airport Road.

This event benefits both Breckenridge and Upper Blue Elementary schools.

The carnival will feature 20 game booths with prizes, a Jail with police officers locking you up, cake walk, digital pictures, inflatables and story time.

Food is available to purchase including hamburgers, hotdogs, brats, pizza, chips and dessert which will be served starting at 5pm.

Game booths open at 5:30pm.Admission is $3 per person or $10 per family. Game tickets at the door are four for $1.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Breckenridge Seeks Tax Increase

A proposal to up the town's business and occupational licensing tax (BOLT) appears to have widespread support from the business community, including the Breckenridge Resort Chamber, the restaurant association and the ski area.

Should voters approve referred Measure 2A, the town would more than double the revenues it collects from short-term lodging facilities, restaurants, retailers and professional services like Realtors and attorneys, from about $500,000 to $1.075 million annually, with regular future increased tied to increases in the consumer price index.

The current BOLT has been in place for about 20 years and hasn't been changed in 16 years, said town manager Tim Gagen.

Colorado's taxpayer bill of rights (TABOR) requires voter approval.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Another Ski Area Opens for the 2006/07 Season

The Loveland Ski Area opened for the season at 9 a.m. today. Offering skiers and riders a 1,000 foot vertical run with top-to-bottom, side-to-side coverage.

This opening is the same day that Loveland Ski Area opened last year and one day earlier than the 2004-2005 season.

“Skiers and snowboarders have been chomping at the bit for three weeks since snowmaking began and we are excited to start the sea­son,” said John Sellers, marketing director.

Skiers and riders will access the run via Chair One at Loveland Basin and will use the trails Cat Walk, Mambo and Home Run to reach the bottom.

Loveland’s regular hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends and designated holidays. Early season lift tickets are $40 for adults and $19 for children (ages 6-14).

Friday, October 13, 2006

2006/07 Ski Season is Underway!

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area opened earlier today, becoming the first ski area in North America to open for the 2006/07 season.

A-Basin opened today at 9 a.m., beating its earliest-ever opening by nine days, and winning the rivalry with Love­land Ski Area to be the first mountain in the U.S. and Canada to kick off the season.

Loveland has won the race for the past six seasons, but this year A-Basin put on the push and it paid off.

“I think it’s the challenge of being the first ski area open in the nation, the publicity, being the ones that can kick off the ski season for Colorado and the nation and all the excitement attributed to that,” said A-Basin spokesperson Leigh Hierholzer

.A-Basin will start the season with an 18-inch base and 1,200 vertical feet of skiing on the intermediate-level High Noon trail, accessed by the Exhibition Lift, Hierholzer said. The High Divide Terrain Park will be set up with three features and can be access from High Noon, she said.

The mountain will stay open until 4 p.m. today. Weekend hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ticket prices on opening day are $43 for adults, $38 for teenagers and $19 for kids ages 6 to 14. Rentals will be available.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pay Parking in Breckenridge

Vail Resorts Wednesday announced a passel of new parking options for visitors at Breckenridge and Keystone, including a $99 locals season parking pass.

The changes are aimed to ease the pain of the transition to paid parking at the Miners and Tailings lots, closest to the new BreckConnect Gondola.

As expected, the resort will begin charging $10 per day for parking at those two lots as soon as the Gondola opens, foreseeably early this season. While the new gondola terminal and other base-area buildings will eat up about 150 spots, the resort will replace them with free spots in the Gold Rush parking lot, according to resort spokesperson Nicky DeFord.

DeFord said the array of season parking passes marks the biggest change from last season. The parking plan features daily, weekday and transferable passes, as well as several free lots withing walking distance of the gondola.

Breckenridge town officials said they will watch closely to see if the change from free to pay parking at the lots near the gondola has any effect on nearby retail and residential areas, said town manager Tim Gagen.

“For us it’s wait and see,” Gagen said, explaining that there have been some concerns that paid parking at the resort might lead visitors to park on town streets.

Gagen said. “If we see skiers parking where employees used to park, or if they’re not respecting the parking time-limits, we’ll be ready to respond on short notice,” Gagen said. One option is to implement a permit parking system in town, he explained.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Ski Tour" to Stop in Breckenridge

The inaugural "Ski Tour" will make a stop in Breckenridge next February.

The competitions include: A no- holds- barred skiercross race featuring some of the world’s best downhill demons, almost all with World Cup alpine backgrounds; and a superpipe competition with a field just as stout as the tour’s racing arm, showcasing talents like Tanner Hall and Simon Dumont and CR Johnson, among many, many more.

There is the entertainment: A promised national headliner band to play at each of the tour’s four stops, as well as more lavish parties than most ski towns see in a season. There is the TV: Network, that is — ABC in a prime after­noon slot for each of the four stops on tour. And there is the prize money: Big, lump sums, $ 125,000 per stop and $25,000 per victory.

When the organizers of this series sat down to plan their attack, it’s obvious they were not interest­ed in anything less than a festival. The Ski Tour is the brainchild of a pair of former college alpine racers- turned businessmen from Sun Valley, and is set to introduce a new kind of compe­tition to America’s skiing nation this winter.

Breckenridge is among four venues slated to host one of the stops; the Tour is scheduled to visit the resort on Feb. 1- 4, making it the second stop in the men’s-only series.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Vail to "Bury" Interstate 70?

Burying the interstate through Vail is possible. But the idea has a long way to go before it’s plausible.

“Even in a 50-year window, do I think a $4 to $5 billion in the Vail corridor would pop up on somebody’s radar screen?” said Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler. “I’m not sure why it would.”

Last month, the town released a feasibility study on tunneling Interstate 70 through Vail. The study said it’s possible, but didn’t consider how to pay for the project, whose initial cost estimate is around $3 billion. The study was completed last year but wasn’t released until last month, when council members said they were interested in it.

The Town Council will get a formal presentation on it later this month. Mayor Rod Slifer said he isn’t sure how Vail would find the money in the next two decades to bury the interstate. Slifer said, he’d like to see less costly solutions pursued before Vail looks at tunneling under Vail Mountain.

Lowering the interstate and putting a lid on it in certain locations — a method called “cut and cover” — could be less costly and could be done in stages, Slifer said. But Councilman Greg Moffet said he thinks a tunnel solution can be found within the next 20 years.

“I don’t think it’s quixotic at all,” he said. It has the potential to solve community problems, he said, primarily noise from the interstate. Moffet acknowledged that funding wouldn’t happen on a local or even a state level.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

National Weather Service Predicts Wet and Warm

If Jim Pringle is right we're on track for another solid winter.

Pringle is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Pringle predicts a moderate El Niño episode, which means a relatively warm and wet winter.

Unlike last year, when the southern half of Colorado tended toward dryness until late in winter while northern resorts bragged of early season records, this year the snow is predicted to be more evenly distributed,

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Frisco Buys Wind Power

The Town of Frisco signed an agreement which will reduce carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere by about 5.8 million pounds - the equivalent of taking 170 cars off the road or planting 257 mature trees each year.

The reduction will take place during the next three years as the town offsets 100 percent of its electricity use with 1,400,000 kilowatt hours of wind energy credits, according to a town press release.

"Frisco is being an environmental leader and choosing wind power allows us to make a tangible and meaningful difference," said Town Manager Michael Penny in the release.

The agreement is with Renewable Choice Energy, a Boulder-based wind power provider that also supplies Whole Foods Market, Kettle Foods, the Town of Vail and Vail Resorts, Inc.

Frisco is the latest to join the High Country Conservation Center's Wind 100 Challenge. Individuals or businesses looking to join the challenge, a grassroots effort to promote clean energy use in Summit County, can sign up online at or by contacting the High Country Conservation Center.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Vail Resorts Reports Earnings

Increased skier visits, a growth in season pass sales and significant revenue increases in the ski school, dining and rental/retail divisions all contributed to a successful 2006 for Vail Resorts, which announced year-end earnings on Thursday.

Vail Resorts owns Keystone and Breckenridge ski resorts in Summit County, as well as Vail and Beaver Creek in Eagle County, and Heavenly Ski Resort in California.

In fiscal year 2006, which ended July 31, Vail Resorts reported an increase in net income from $23.1 million in 2005 to $45.8 million - a 97.8 percent increase. Mountain revenue increased 14.7 percent over 2005 fiscal year, while lodging revenue fell 20.6 percent, mostly due to the sale of three hotels in the past year. Resort revenue, which is a combination of mountain and lodging revenue, increased 5.3 percent over 2005; real estate revenue dropped 14 percent.

The notable increase in mountain revenue can be attributed to a 5.9 percent increase in skier visits and a 6.4 percent increase in ticket prices, which included a 12.3 percent boost in season pass revenues, said Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz. Katz linked the company's strong performance to Colorado's heavy early season snowfall last season, on-mountain improvements, including the new Imperial Express SuperChair at Breckenridge, and employees' efforts to satisfy guests.

"In the end, that's why people come back, if they have a good experience," Katz said.

Breckenridge, the second most visited ski resort in the U.S., according to Katz, continues to play a vital role in the company's bottom line

."We've been very pleased with the performance at Breckenridge," Katz said. "It's really got as much or more momentum as any of our resorts."

Katz touted the Peaks of Breckenridge real estate development, which plans 450 high-end residential units and 75,000 square feet of skier services at the base of Peak 7 and Peak 8.

Katz expects the development to be one of the best properties at the resort because of its ski-in, ski-out access to the mountain, and its quick connection to the town of Breckenridge via the new BreckConnect gondola.

The project is currently in the planning and design stages, and sales on the first phase of the Peaks of Breckenridge, which Katz said will be priced "at the top end" of where properties sell in Breckenridge, are scheduled to begin during the upcoming ski season.

"We're anticipating good results from that project given it is really one of the best locations you're going to find at a ski resort that, right now, has tremendous momentum," Katz said.

The highly anticipated eight-passenger BreckConnect gondola, which will transport skiers and riders from the resort's parking lots to Peak 8, and Peak 7 in the future, is still scheduled for a Christmas 2006 opening or shortly thereafter, Katz said.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Frisco 2006 Community Survey

The Town of Frisco just released results from its 2006 community survey, which gathered input in July from more than 700 Frisco voters, homeowners and business-owners.

The survey respondents gave feedback on a wide variety of town issues and services, including recreation, economic development, demographics, special events and customer service.

Overall, respondents gave the town high marks and indicated they feel Frisco has a good sense of community.

Items that rated especially high include recreation, appearance of town, scenic/visual quality, parks and trails, open space areas, public safety and public transit.

The responses suggest the town should improve affordable housing, traffic flow, arts and culture, wildfire mitigation and energy conservation.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Tin Shop Guest Artist Program

Usually, there is a line between creator and creation. But in an artist-in-residence situation like the new program in Breckenridge where artists stay in an apartment above the studio, that line is blurred as the artist becomes a part of the artwork viewed.

The symbiotic relationship can offer viewers consistently new perspectives, while giving the artist a new place to expose their work.

All over the country, and even the world, artists have been finding and applying for the Tin Shop Guest Artist Program in Breckenridge.

The Tin Shop is located behind the Barney Ford House Museum in the growing Breckenridge arts campus area and will offer visitors access to each artist, scheduled to stay in periods ranging from two to four weeks.

During open studio hours folks can ask questions and see the creative process firsthand. Eighteen artists have been booked through December 2007 to stay at the early 1900s historic building, according to Jennifer Cram, administrator of the Arts District of Breckenridge.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Is it Healthier to Live in Summit County?

Is it somehow healthier to live in Summit County? That's what a new study from Harvard University seems to say.

Summit and six other counties located along the Continental Divide in Colorado lead the nation in longest average life expectancy, 81.3 years.

The only thing these places have in common, other than people long in the tooth, is thin air. The lowest point in any of them is in Eagle County, at the edge of Glenwood Canyon, where the elevation is about 6,000. Some principal towns in the group range from 9,000 to 10,000 feet in elevation.

The Harvard researchers don't know why mountain counties lead the nation in longevity.

There are two theories. One can be called the theory of self-selection. When people get sick, particularly with chronic lung and air diseases, they tend to leave the High Country for places with lower elevation like Grand Junction, Denver, Tucson and Phoenix, where medical facilities are generally better and where the air has more oxygen. This is mostly anecdotal, although one study conducted in the early 1980s documented the migrations in Colorado. On the other hand, migrants who are healthier may be drawn to mountain counties. The aging population is increasing in ski towns. The above-60 age cohort, while still relatively small, was the fastest-growing population segment in the 1990s. One of the researchers, Majid Ezzati, said that the research team had studied broadly demographic migrations, but not from individual counties. As such, those migrations in and out of mountain counties could explain their high rankings.

A second theory is advanced by Dr. Benjamin Honigman, director of the Colorado Center for Study of Altitude Medicine and Physiology. That theory holds that people who have lived at higher elevations for a long time develop a protective effect that yields stronger lungs and hearts. That has been proven in populations who have lived hundreds or thousands of years in high elevations. Tibetians, for example, have lived at locations of 12,000 feet and even higher. But that theory lacks supporting evidence, says Honigman. "There isn't much known about longevity and altitude," he says.

Honigman hopes to find money to study the connection between thin air and health. For example, Colorado also has a lower rate of heart attacks and stroke than most places, but it's not known why. It's a classic chicken-and-egg question: Do people in Colorado have behaviors that make them healthier, or is it because living in Colorado makes them healthier?

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Blue River "Pumpback" a No Go

The Breckenridge Sanitation District last week suspended plans for a proposed $10 million Blue River pumpback after negotiations with the Board of County Commissioners failed to resolve issues related to the county's permitting authority over the project.

According to district manager Andy Carlberg, talks collapsed after the county added "unreasonable and unlawful" language to a hotly debated Memorandum of Agreement.

As approved by the BOCC, the agreement would subject the district and its board of directors to civil and criminal penalties, Carlberg said.

The permitting negotiations have been complex, but essentially, the county wants to ensure that it retains what it believes is a state-mandated responsibility to review and regulate any "unintended consequences" resulting from operation of the pumpback outside the parameters outlined by the agreement. At issue during the district's Sept. 21 board meeting was language that would have established a "strong presumption of immediate and irreparable harm," from operation outside those parameters, according to county attorney Jeff Huntley. "We have to have a remedy in the event there is a violation," Huntley said.

That clause was unacceptable to the district board, Carlberg said, sounding frustrated but still passionate about the pumpback's upside.

"It's too good of a project to go away," Carlberg said, continuing to tout the potential benefits to water quality and quantity in the Upper Blue Basin.

As proposed, the pumpback would shunt up to 17 cfs of water from near the district's Farmer's Korner treatment facility through a pipeline back upstream to Breckenridge. The exact point of discharge back into the river hadn't been determined. But Carlberg said all along that the project would boost water in a depleted section of the Blue, where minimum streamflow standards set to protect aquatic life frequently go unmet, especially during snowmaking season. As well, the recycled water would have helped meet treatment needs at the district's Iowa Hill facility, and potentially even provided a source for a new reservoir in Breckenridge that is on the drawing board. Carlberg said the pumpback could also help address a sticky well water issue by providing an augmentation supply for groundwater users in the Upper Blue. Finally, he said the project would save a substantial amount of money by eliminating the need for costly upgrades at the Farmer's Korner plant, foreseeably needed to address water quality impacts within 10 to 15 years.

Carlberg said the district would now start to look at making plans for those improvements. "What was really sad was, we never liked the agreement, but we were at a point where we were going to sign it anyway," Carlberg said, explaining that the "presumption of immediate and irreparable harm" clause was the monkey wrench that gummed up the deal.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Best Snowboarding Parks - Breckenridge is Number 3

TransWorld SNOWboarding readers name North America's top snowboard parks in the magazine's November issue, on newsstands October 3.

For the third season in a row, Park City, Utah, retains top honors as North America's No. 1 Snowboard Terrain Park.

Mammoth Mountain, Calif., also maintains its place on the list as the No. 2 Best Park.

Summit County resort Breckenridge moves up to No. 3 from No. 8 in last year's poll, and Keystone was a new addition to the top 10, checking in at No. 9.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Skiers Lay Down First Tracks of the Season

Silverton Mountain Ski Area saw the first skiers of the year after two major storms dropped heavy snowfall last Thursday and Friday.

The lucky skiers and riders were waiting and ready to ride when they woke up to what looked like February storm conditions.

After two days of heavy snow, Silverton Mountain's slopes were chock full of new snow 28 inches to 36 inches deep at 11,600 feet with substantially more up at higher elevations.

Silverton Mountain (near Durango in southwest Colorado) is America's highest ski area, with a peak elevation of 13,487 feet.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Snow is Falling by the Foot!

Snow is falling by the foot in Colorado's mountain towns. Some ski resorts are considering opening earlier than anticipated.

The picture to the left is my deck, taken this morning.

While today is the first day of autumn it looked a lot more like the first day of winter. As of yesterday evening the Breckenridge Ski Resort was reporting 22 inches of snow about halfway up the mountain.

"We might have 3 feet of snow," said Nicky DeFord, spokeswoman for the resort.

Other ski towns reported: Keystone, 15 inches, Beaver Creek, 20 inches; Vail, 24 inches; Silverthorne, 8 inches; Dillon, 7 inches.

Friday, September 22, 2006

BIG Early Snowstorm Hits Summit County

An early fall storm descended on Summit County these past few days. Yesterday morning Breckenridge Ski Resort had eight inches of snow at the base with almost a foot of new sonw at the top of the mountain.

Last night I had an additional foot of snow at my home in Breckenridge. That probably means at least twice that much on the mountain.

It is starting off just like last year when we had a big snowstorm in early October.

The 2007 Farmer's Almanac is predicting this winter to be more snowy than normal for the Colorado Rockies. Snowmaking is set to begin in mid-October for Breckenridge and Keystone.

The early snowfall has resort officials excited for opening day with Breckenridge and Keystone both opening on Friday, November 10.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Summit Foundation Hires New Executive Director

A new leader has taken over at the helm of the county's largest nonprofit organization.

Recent Breckenridge transplant Lee Zimmerman began as the new executive director of the 22-year-old Summit Foundation last Monday

.Zimmerman, 59, has 25 years' experience working for nonprofit organizations, most recently at Investment Management Consultants, a professional association in Denver. Before that, he devoted 19 years to the United Way of Walla Walla County in Washington state as executive director. In that role, Zimmerman said he enjoyed being involved with a community-based, human services oriented, charitable nonprofit organization, and is looking forward to a similar opportunity with The Summit Foundation.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Blue River Will Not Vote on Paving Roads

The fur is flying in Blue River and the feathers are ruffled. The mayor resigned last week after a heated meeting about paving the town's streets.

This week the town of Blue River Board of Trustees voted Tuesday night to pull a controversial question off the November ballot that would have asked citizens whether they wanted to pay to pave the town's network of gravel roads.

The town will hold public work sessions beginning next month to discuss with residents how best to move forward with the paving issue.

One option could be paving only specific neighborhoods that want to make the investment, as opposed to smoothing all the unpaved streets in town.

The board passed a resolution at its September 5 meeting officially placing the question in the November 7 general election. At the time, trustees estimated it would cost each of the 597 affected lot owners about $18,000 - without interest - for paved roads, which they would have up to 15 years to pay.

The board decided to move forward with putting the paving question to voters several months ago after years of listening to people ask when the town planned to fix the 11 miles of gravel roads in town. The decision soon raised tensions in the small town south of Breckenridge, and opponents characterized the project as the haves vs. the have-nots, saying only the rich would be able to afford the cost of paving and others might have to move. Supporters, though, said they viewed the cost as an investment because it would boost property values.

Former Mayor Darcy Lystlund resigned the day after the board's last meeting, saying she had been verbally abused and physically threatened after the meeting by a resident who was upset over the the possibility of paying for paved roads.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Aspen Trees at their Peak

Next to July's blooming wildflowers, the brilliant color change of fall is nature's second beckon to don hiking boots and hit the trail.

While the aspens and other foliage on Summit County's highest peaks already turned their mellower hues of yellow, gold and brown, trees at lower elevations will peak in seasonal color soon.

Late last week I was on Boreas Pass Road and snapped the photograph above.

Boreas Pass Road - A popular dirt road that is passable by two-wheel-drive vehicle is Boreas Pass Road out of Breckenridge to Cuomo, a 17-mile route. From historic Cuomo, take Highway 285 to Fairplay and Highway 9 over Hoosier Pass back to Breckenridge.

SKI Magazines Top Resorts

Vail is Number 1 again.

The resort returned to its familiar spot as the top ski resort in North America in this year's SKI Magazine readers' poll. It is the 14th time in 19 years that Vail's has had the top spot. Last year, Vail was No. 2 and Deer Valley in Utah was No. 1. The two resorts swapped places this year.

Breckenridge was ranked sixth.

Beaver Creek was ranked eighth, down from sixth last year.

Vail Resorts' five ski mountains ranked in the top 20 among Western resorts. Besides Vail and Beaver Creek and Breckenridge, Keystone was 14th and Heavenly at Lake Tahoe was 17th.

Copper Mountain, just east of Vail, ranked 19th.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

New "Welcome to Summit County" Sign in the Works

Bob French wants to make a simple statement. The county commissioner suggested, "Welcome to Summit County" be written on new signs placed at county lines. The old phrase, "Welcome to Colorado's Playground" irked French and others because it was panned by jokesters who removed the "l" to create "pay-ground."

"It was a little slam at the real estate people and the way the county operates," French said. "I think that's inappropriate."

So simplicity was in order, and that's just how road and bridge employee Jim Slivka designed a prototype sign introduced to commissioners recently. He used the county government logo and plain text.

"I like it," French said. "It tells you where you are, has balance, is conservative but is also an attractive piece of art."

The logo is used for marketing and government business, and was originally designed by Kevin Mastin of The Mastin Group. The business won a national award for the work.

The new signs will likely be about six feet wide. They will be placed on Ute Pass and Highway 9 north of Silverthorne, Interstate 70 near the Eisenhower Tunnel and at Vail Pass, and on Hoosier and Loveland passes.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

"BreckConnect" is New Name for Gondola

This winter, Breckenridge is getting its first gondola, and the new, 8-passenger lift linking the town to the Breckenridge Ski Resort has a name and an identity: the BreckConnect.

The BreckConnect Gondola is scheduled for completion during the 2006-2007 ski and snowboard season, creating a streamlined link to transport large numbers of visitors between the town and the ski resort's base area at Peak 8 and, in the future, Peak 7. The fanfare in Breckenridge began earlier this year with final approval of the project, a joint venture between Breckenridge Ski Resort and the Town of Breckenridge.

Breckenridge-based advertising agency Wilson Lass was charged with creating the identity of the BreckConnect Gondola. The new logo design depicts arrowheads pointing opposite each other at either end of the name "BreckConnect," with "Breck" displayed more prominently in bolder type. The arrows represent the gondola's connection of the town of Breckenridge with the mountain and signify the direct route and speed of travel. The use of the term "Connect" was chosen as a compliment to Breckenridge Ski Resort's popular Peak 8 SuperConnect chairlift, promoting continuity between the resort and the town.

The BreckConnect Gondola will be one of the most modern gondolas in North America with seating for eight and room for ski and ride gear inside.The new gondola will start near the Breckenridge Transportation Center located in the parking lot right off historic Main Street and will eventually have terminals at both Peak 7 and Peak 8, providing an integral link for skiers, riders and visitors from town to the ski resort base areas. It will allow the ski resort and the town to upgrade the skier experience and improve the overall experience by reducing the number of people that need to be bussed to the mountain.

Setting the stage for the planned developments on Peak 7 and 8, the 8-passenger gondola is expected to be completed by January 2007. Right now, the ski resort plans to operate the BreckConnect Gondola in both the winter and summer seasons. It will have a ride time of approximately seven and a half minutes from the transportation center to the base of Peak 8 and will be able to carry 3,000 people per hour.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Snow White Chutes for Breckenridge

An area of seven steep chutes between Peak 8 and 9 that has always been off limits at Breckenridge Ski Resort will likely be open for the taking this ski season.

The resort plans to open 150 acres of terrain named Snow White, which is located in the saddle between Peaks 8 and 9 and would be accessible from the Imperial Express SuperChair, said resort spokesperson Nicky DeFord.

The above-timberline terrain skis similarly to the nearby Lake Chutes, she said.

“It’s steeper than Imperial Bowl, it’s not going to be groomed, so it’s definitely for the stronger skier,” DeFord said.

The Snow White chutes feed skiers onto the advanced Double Barrel or Way Out trails on the backside of Peak 8. Even though Snow White has always been in the resort’s operating boundary, it hasn’t been open to skiers and riders because it was at least a 45 minute hike from the top of the T-Bar before the Imperial Express opened last season. Because of that, ski patrol was more limited in how much terrain it could open at the top of Peak 8 due to the high avalanche danger, which requires control work before it can be opened to the public, DeFord said.

The new terrain isn’t offical yet; officials from Breckenridge will meet with the Forest Service this fall to put Snow White in the resort’s new master plan. After that, it should be official, DeFord said. At that time, the total cache of terrain accessed off Imperial Express will grow from 400 acres to 550 acres, DeFord said.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Biofuel Facility Up-Date

A proposed biofuel facility to heat the County Commons and the new Medical Office Building near the hospital (both near Frisco)has drawn intrest from some big multinational players in the energy sector, including Siemens and Johnson Controls, chosen as the final two bidders.

As envisioned, the plant would use wood chips from beetle-killed trees to heat the two buildings. The county received six bids for the $2 to $5 million project.

Planners met Sept. 1 to narrow that list down to the finalists, who were invited for interviews in mid-September, said Steve Hill, the county's special projects planner.

The goal is to have a plant up and running about one year from now, in time to produce heat for the winter of 2007-2008, said County Commissioner Bill Wallace.

Both Wallace and Hill said there don't appear to be any significant stumbling blocks in terms of permitting or other regulatory issues.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Parade of Homes

Yesterday marked the first day of the Summit County Parade of Homes.

The Parade of Homes is open today and tomorrow, and September 16 and 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and tickets are available at the homes for $5.

This year's Parade features homes in Breckenridge, Silverthorne and Keystone.

There are a total of 19 homes, four of which were built using many green building technologies and products. More companies are assessing their "green" practices. Consumers are also becoming more aware of the important role they play in the upkeep of our environment.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

26th Annual Breckenridge Film Festival

The 26th Annual Breckenridge Film Festival kicks off this week. Film Festival dates are September 7 - 10, 2006 – four full days of films, festivities and fun.

Hosted by NBC-TV film critic and “Reel Talk” co-host Jeffrey Lyons, the Breckenridge Film Festival affords filmmakers and audiences the opportunity to meet and mingle with each year’s special guests in a relaxed atmosphere.

For the past 25 years, Breckenridge Film Festival audiences have enjoyed meeting actors, directors, writers and producers. In the past, many of the premieres have gone on to be honored with Academy Awards, including “L.A. Confidential,” “American Beauty,” “Frida” and “Lost In Translation.” Other outstanding premieres include ” “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” “Lord of War” “The Motorcycle Diaries,” “Being Julia,” “Shark Tale” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Pleasantville” to name just a few.

Every year, the Festival selects the best Independent Films and invites the Filmmakers to the Festival where they have an opportunity to answer questions after their film screening.

This year a new Educational Program will be added to the line up. Christie Barnes, member of the Board of Directors, will host veteran director, Irvin Kershner (“Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”). Mr. Kershner will hold two seminars “Acting in Movies” and “What I Taught George Lucas”. Mr. Kershner will be presented the 2006 Breckenridge Film Festival Life Time Achievement Award.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Animal Rescue Says Thanks

Animal Rescue of the Rockies sends a big thank-you to all of the wonderful volunteers who helped make our Second annual Carter Park Bark Festival & Rummage Sale a success.

We raised $3,500 for our shelter fund to help Mariah's Promise build a facility near Divide, Colorado before winter arrives.

Special thanks to the Summit Daily, Krystal 93, RSN T.V., Starbucks, Mi Zuppa, Doc P.J., Tommy and Elisabeth Shreve & "D.J. Mike", Airport Road Auto Care, The Nenninger Real Estate Team, Breckenridge Animal Clinic, Alpine Bank, Paws & Claws, Summit Landscaping, and everyone else who donated their time and efforts to this fundraiser for the animals.

Way to go.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Vail Resorts Partners with National Forest Foundation

Starting this winter, Vail Resorts will tack a dollar onto sales of season passes, online lift tickets and hotel rooms to fund forest conservation projects, the company said recently.

"It's very consistent with our philosophy, which is we're looking for ways to communicate with our guests about the environment," said Rob Katz, Vail Resorts' chief executive officer.

The partnership between the resort company and the National Forest Foundation seeks to raise $600,000 this winter for projects in the White River National Forest and Lake Tahoe forests.

The announcement comes on the heels of the resort company's recent decision to go 100 percent wind power.

Customers will be able to elect not to add the extra dollar for the program.

"Whether they give the dollar or don't give the dollar, they're going to have to be educated about what it is," Katz said.

Katz said he expects a participation rate of more than 75 percent.