Friday, July 24, 2009

Mountain Town News


Arapahoe Basin doubles its skier visits in 10 years

DILLON, Colo.—Founded in 1946, Arapahoe Basin constituted little more than chump change in the Colorado ski industry by the 1990s.

But what a difference just 10 years can make. The Summit Daily News reports that for the second consecutive winter, A-Basin surpassed 400,000 skier days, this year hitting 409,000. Last year, there were 431,000.

Those numbers say nothing about income for the ski area operator, as many customers use low-priced season passes. But there were likely more customers than were recorded at three of the Aspen Skiing Co.'s four ski areas and a great many other ski areas in the West.

By comparison, A-Basin a decade ago was notching 200,000 to 300,000 skier days a winter, but just 150,000 in the perilously dry winter of 2001-2002.

How did A-Basin get this traction? The story starts in the mid-1990s, when Vail Associates, then with two ski areas, purchased Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin. Competitors cried foul, arguing that the purchases tripped the federal anti-trust regulations. In time, the U.S. government agreed, and ordered the enlarged company, which called itself Vail Resorts, to sell one of its ski areas.

In a deal that many critics believed barely survived the arm's-length ruling, Vail sold A-Basin, the smallest of the operations, to a Canadian firm, Dundee Realty, which was based at Beaver Creek, then a short distance from Vail corporate headquarters.

The new owners have invested significantly into A-Basin. At the time of the purchase, the ski area barely nudged 200,000 skier days per year. One of just three ski areas in Colorado without snowmaking, it often did not open until December, sometimes even January.

With this snowmaking, A-Basin opens reliably in October, often the first ski area in the United States.

Banff contends with sexual assaults

BANFF, Alberta —Another woman in Banff has been the victim of what the Rocky Mountain Outlook describes as a vicious sexual attack amid the resort town's stupendously beautiful setting.

The woman, who is in her mid-20s, was walking alone at 2:30 a.m. when she was attacked. The woman managed to poke her fingers in the eyes of the attacker and scratched his face. A 38-year-old suspect was arrested the next day.

The newspaper recounts several rapes and other sexual assaults during the last several years, but also spoke with Barbara Nyman, the director of community programs at the Banff YWCA. She urged that the attacks be viewed within a broader context.

"In terms of sexual violence, the reality is that most instances by far occur between two people who know each other, and it often occurs indoors," she said.

Yellowstone traffic up sharply

WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont.—Despite the recession, Yellowstone National Park set a record during the first six months of year, with a 9.3 percent increase compared to last year.

Deer Valley fixes its first funicular

PARK CITY, Utah—A funicular has been installed in a new hotel being completed at Deer Valley Resort. It is the only funicular at a ski area in North America.

A funicular has rails, like for a train, but is commonly used on steep inclines. A cable pulls the cars up the incline or lowers them. One famous funicular in the United States is at Colorado's Royal Gorge.

The funicular at Deer Valley will whisk passengers from a ski area parking lot 500 feet up to a ridge, where the soon-to-be-completed St. Regis Hotel is located.

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