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?