Backcountry feud gets tense

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. The quarrel between skiers and others is getting tense at Teton Pass, the gap between Jackson, Wyo., and Driggs, Idaho.

Backcountry skiers get annoyed with post-holing hikers, even snowshoers, because they destroy the up track. To encourage separate trails, one skier posted a trailhead sign that said, "PLEASE! Keep the boot prints separate from the skin track. This'll make travel easier for everyone!"

A few weeks later, the sign was gone, replaced by another: "Nobody here owns the snow! It's a temporary medium! Walk or ski where you like! If you have a problem move to a new location or town!! Your elitist attitude is not needed!!!!"

One hiking snowboarder told the Jackson Hole News that he is annoyed by the attitudes of backcountry skiers. "Get out of your ski-Nazi mentality," he said.

As for the sign that replaced the original it proved to be a temporary medium, too. A week after being posted, it was removed.

Love triangle stirs up Eagle

EAGLE, Colo. Kathy Denson, the owner of fur stores in Vail and Aspen who was acquitted last summer of murdering her boyfriend, has won again in court.

Her employee of 18 years, Monica "Monique" Seebacher, had sued her, claiming wrongful termination and also "outrageous conduct." But Seebacher withdrew her claims and also her demand for $200,000, reports the Vail Daily .

Denson, now 46, had a boyfriend, Gerald "Cody" Boyd, 45, and the two of them, along with Seebacher, had been involved in an occasional love triangle, as well as common cocaine use. In 2002, Boyd and Seebacher took up, and it was during that time that Denson shot Boyd, a greedy and boastful man, according to court testimony, to death with a black-powder pistol. A jury in Eagle, where Denson has a small horse ranch, agreed that there was insufficient evidence to disprove Denson's claim of self-defense.

The only lawsuit remaining is a civil claim by Boyd's ex-wife on behalf of his child. An attorney for the ex-wife says the case is similar to that of O.J. Simpson. While Simpson was acquitted in criminal court, evidence allowed in the civil trial resulted in a settlement against Simpson and on behalf of his ex-wife's family.

The Butte boasts best corduroy

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. If you get a bit of whiplash trying to keep up with Crested Butte's marketing message, you're not alone. Four years ago the resort was hosting the X Games. Last year it was boasting of being the UnVail. This year, reports the Crested Butte News , it has "Colorado's best corduroy."

Gina Kroft, the resort's spokeswoman, said the focus on the groomed product is in keeping with the ski area's growing emphasis on the family market. The amount of grooming doesn't seem to be changing, but the advertising of it is. The six or seven snow groomers have a collective 150 years of experience and, says Slope Maintenance Director Dale Massey, the slogan is "not something they're afraid to try to live up to."

Bachelorette winner back at Vail

VAIL, Colo. The Vail Daily reports that the "deliciously sweet" Ryan Sutter, who recently got married to Bachelorette Trista Rehn in front of something like 3 million people, is back at work as a firefighter in Vail. He told the newspaper that he was not only rusty in his duties, but woefully out of shape.

Just the same, after he responded to a medical call several hours into his first shift after the six-month hiatus, fellow firefighters had kind words. "He did an awesome job," said Craig Davis.

For Sutter, it's one emergency or another. "Everything is so last minute in the entertainment world. They tell you how badly they need you somewhere, and it's on such short notice. Everything is an emergency in that business It definitely was exhausting and more stressful than I thought."

Moose shot in Utah subdivision

PARK CITY, Utah Jack Fenton was gladdened to discover a yearling moose was munching on a wreath hanging from his front door in a rural subdivision near Park City. About an hour later he was anything but glad when a neighbor across the street shot the moose, but also sent an errant bullet thudding into Fenton's house.

"This is a town that practically worships moose," Fenton told The Park Record . One of Fenton's neighbors, Genaro Aremendariz, disagreed, saying that that the moose was a threat to children and property.

The shooter, who wasn't identified in the story, could face charges of killing protected wildlife and shooting in a subdivision.

Gay Ski Week future uncertain

WHISTLER, B.C. Whistler's Gay Ski Week, described by Pique newsmagazine as the largest gay and lesbian ski week in North America, is in doubt because of the death of its founder and organizer, Brent Benaschak. Last year the event drew 3,500 people.

Benaschak arrived in 1992 to open a bed and breakfast in Whistler, and he divided his time between Whistler and Fire Island, in New York.

Visitors enjoy silent Yellowstone

OLD FAITHFUL, Wyo. Instead of snowmobile engines, guide Betsy Robinson says that her clients at Yellowstone National Park during recent trips took in the squeak of snow underfoot, the snorting of bison and of wind whistling through trees.

A recent court decision halves the number of snowmobiles this winter and bans them entirely next winter. Instead, they must arrive as Robinson's clients do, by snowcoach, skis or on foot.

Robinson told the Jackson Hole News & Guide that on a similar trip into the heart of Yellowstone last year, she and her clients were unable to escape snowmobile noise, even on a 3-mile walk from Old Faithful to Morning Glory Pool.

"It's a long way for you not to be able to escape engine noise in that whole distance in the center of one of the wildest places in North America," she said. "But this year, it was just beautiful," she added. "You could hear the geysers going off, which at times in the past you could not."

Also visiting Old Faithful was BlueRibbon Coalition president Jack Welch, who was forced to take a commercially guided trip the first since he began snowmobiling into Yellowstone in 1969. Welch's group is fighting the phase-out of snowmobiles and argues that the arrival of four-stroke engines eliminates most of the noise and air pollution that caused many people to object to snowmobiles in the first place.

Future of ski industry studied

WHISTLER, B.C. Intrawest has launched a study intended to yield insight into the future of lift-aided snow sports skiing, it used to be called and hence how it should focus its energy and money. The only certainty is that it won't be the same as now.

"Looking back 15 years, the typical user was a skier in a one-piece ski suit with long, narrow skis," said Arthur DeJong, the manager of mountain planning and environmental resources for Whistler-Blackcomb. "Things have changed a lot. It's been a revolution."

DeJong told Pique newsmagazine that the study will help guide expansion of lifts and terrain at Whistler-Blackcomb while making better use of existing infrastructure through new technology and the better management of resources. It will, he said, take into account issues like global warming.

Among the things Intrawest is trying to figure out is why the Japanese market at Whistler has dropped 40 percent. It also wants to better forecast how problems being experienced in the air travel industry will affect the resort business.

The study seems to be rife with numbers. For example, demographers project that 20 percent of young North Americans will remain single for most of their lives, reducing the family market while creating a new market with different needs. Also, Intrawest is eyeing South America and Asia, which are expected to grow by 2 billion people in the next 50 years even as prosperity there creates new potentially new skiers.

And yet another: the most frequent activity for 18- to 24-year-olds is computer games. And youth obesity has doubled in the last 20 years.

Intrawest expects to complete the study by summer, and DeJong speculates that "it might be in our best interest to share this, or part of this, with other resorts out there."

compiled by Allen Best






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