By Allen Best
Whistler inspired by Sarah Burke
WHISTLER, B.C. — Whistler continues to grieve the loss of one of its own, the freestyle skier Sarah Burke, who died Jan. 19 at age 29 after a freak accident in a halfpipe at Park City nine days earlier.
If eulogies for those who pass too early in life dwell on promise unrealized, those shared in Whistler speak of a truly remarkable, resilient personality.
Taking measure of Sarah Burke’s life and death, Pique Newsmagazine editor Clare Ogilvie finds two messages:
“People [such as] Burke inspire us, those who embrace their passions and push to make their dreams come true, never accepting a ‘no’ or ‘can’t be done’ as part of the conversation. It’s a message all of us should try to embrace at some level every day,” she writes.
“It’s the very message we want our kids and our leaders to listen to. If you want something, if you want to accomplish something, go and do something about it — work to make it a reality. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.”
Then, there is the practical matter of risk assessment and abatement – and the costs when things still go awry.
One repercussion from Burke’s death must be an investigation of how traveling, competing or performing athletes insure themselves or are insured. The waters remain a little muddy. It appears that a sponsor on whose behalf she was training in Park City will pick up some or most of the medical bills. Before that was apparent, an online solicitation garnered $300,000 in contributions, enough to spare her husband and other family members lingering hospital costs.
Banff mulls closed-door policy
BANFF, Alberta – Can a town government tell its merchants to close their front doors when it’s cold outside? Banff may try to find out.
Merchants there, as well as elsewhere, have taken to leaving front doors open in recent decades as a way of inviting shoppers to enter the business. A few have taken to posting signs that say they close the doors to save energy, but the practice is far from universal.
Some people are annoyed, however. They say that a town located within a national park celebrated for its natural resources should not be trifling with natural resources by burning fossil fuels, just so people don’t have to open the door of a business. They also note that this practice hardly squares with the town’s stated goal of being an environmental role model.
The Rocky Mountain Outlook reports that municipal councilors have instructed staff to lay the groundwork for a debate in September. Only one councilor, Stavros Karlos, opposed the further consideration of regulations. He said he hoped that energy cost would be enough to motivate people to close their doors.
Municipal staff said they had tried working with the Small Business Association of Banff to encourage people to close their doors, but without success.
New dog rule has town growling
JACKSON, Wyo. – All dogs have been banned from paths through school properties, including athletic fields, in Jackson and the nearby hamlet of Wilson.
School officials tell the Jackson Hole News that they have added signs, provided plastic doggie mitts to pick up poop, and talked with users, but to no avail. Instead, there are more unleashed dogs and more dog waste on the school grounds, said Kevin Thibeault, school district facilities director.
County officials are pushing back, agreeing that the school has the right to close athletic fields, but not community pathways. The newspaper, in an editorial, accuses the school district of an ill-conceived heavy hand. “Policing a leash law instead of a ban should have been the intermediate step.”
School layoffs soon to begin
VAIL, Colo. – The sharp falloff in the real estate economy is taking its toll on schools in Vail and the Eagle Valley. The public school system has shed 100 jobs in the last two years as teachers have retired and not been replaced. Now, layoffs will begin and benefits cut as officials try to shave $5.5 million from next year’s budget.
One point of contention is that even as teaching staff has been reduced, the administrative staff has grown. So have salaries. The school district superintendent, who already had a salary of $184,000, accepted a $15,000 bonus last year, reports the Vail Daily.
Home starts up in Montana
WHITEFISH, Mont. – Strong evidence of a strengthening real-estate market is reported in Whitefish.
Citing a study by local real-estate appraiser Jim Kelley, the Whitefish Pilot reports 43 building permits for single-family homes in Whitefish last year, more than double the number from the year before. That figure hasn’t been surpassed since 2006.
Median home price sales have also increased, 7.3 percent within the town and 9.1 percent in rural areas.
Chinese model after Jackson
JACKSON, Wyo. – The Jackson Hole News&Guide reports that wayfaring sorts in China may feel strangely at home. A resort located two hours north of Beijing by bus hired a firm from Oregon, which laid out several options of popular resort communities in the United States: Vail, Martha’s Vineyard and so on.
Developers fell in love with the Cowboy and Indian themes that were presented as representative of Jackson Hole. Now, there are stock plans for the 850 homes, each with an identity: Billy the Kid, Geronimo, and so forth.
The interior designer who helped the Chinese developers told the newspaper that the Chinese seem to equate the American West with freedom.
“They’re very serious people,” said Allison Smith, the designer. “They spend so much time processing how to be successful. This is whimsy, fun. They’ve seen it in movies. You should see them when they get a toy gun to play with.”
Whistler on short list for X
WHISTLER, B.C. – Whistler Blackcomb has made it to the short list of hosts for the expanded X Games in 2013-2015. ESPN intends to add six X events to the annual calendar, although it’s yet to be decided whether two or three of those will be in winter.
Existing winter games are held at Aspen and in France.
Pique Newsmagazine explains that it costs $16 to 418 million to put on the X Games, and Whistler hopes to pony up $5 million to sweeten its bid. That means support from local, provincial and federal governments, plus donations from the ski company and others. Sponsorship sales could go for $1 million.
Also on the list are three places in Brazil, plus Barcelona, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; and Quintana Roo, Mexico.