By Allen Best
Moderation is the key
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Sven Wiik has been skiing now for 89 years, and he attributes his vigor to at least two precepts.
“There are two reasons I ski,” he told The Steamboat Pilot and Today. “It’s enjoyable, and I do it to stay in shape. I need the exercise. I eat a lot.”
To that end, he skis nearly every day on the Nordic tracks around the Scandinavian Lodge that he founded in the 1960s in the hills above Steamboat Springs.
His 91st birthday was celebrated on Sunday, and the Pilot & Today says Wiik’s advice was conspicuously demonstrated.
“Moderation,” he stated simply. “I’ve been eating all my life, and that’s the word I use more than any. Moderation in everything.”
A native of Sweden, he competed on behalf of that country in the 1948 Olympics as a gymnast, then a demonstration sport. Later, for 19 years, he was ski coach and an assistant professor of health and physical education at Western State College, located near Crested Butte.
Vehicles 10, Moose 0
JACKSON, Wyo. – An estimated 10 moose have died on the segment of two-lane highway between Jackson and the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort during the last year, half of them during this winter alone.
Appalled by the carnage, a long-time resident of cushy Teton Village, Uta Olson, donated $30,000 to buy portable message boards to remind drivers of the hazard.
“5 MOOSE KILLED NXT 1MI” one of the signs says.
Some wildlife advocates have called for a reduction in the speed limit, now 45 mph, to 34 mph during evening hours.
Telluride debates powder
TELLURIDE, Colo. – Telluride is among the most liberal of ski towns. Yet the current issue confronting the skiing populace is fundamentally an issue among libertarians.
Oddly, perhaps, the issue is one posed by the sport – no, make that religion – of powder skiing. An avalanche death occurred recently in Bear Creek, a big canyon adjacent to the Telluride ski area. Avalanche deaths have occurred there with some regularity since at least 1988.
For a time, the U.S. Forest Service closed the backcountry gates from the ski area, but without total effect. The gates are now open, and some might argue that they should be closed again.
Of course, a recent victim of an avalanche adjacent to the Telluride ski area had all the gizmos in the world. Avalanche deaths in the Bear Creek gulch have occurred every few years since the 1980s, points out Seth Cagin.
“Thus there are big issues on the minds of folks in Telluride this week: the challenge of balancing individual freedom against individual responsibility; yielding to the allure of the high country versus managing the risks encountered there. There is the pain of knowing that in being part of an alpinist community, you can’t know if you will be the next person to get into trouble out there, or if it will be a close friend, or a complete stranger. But you can know that it will be someone who will leave behind loved ones, and that their loss, however painful it will be, won’t stop you or others from taking the same risks again tomorrow or when the shock wears off,” he writes.
“All of this makes alpinism something akin to a religion. The mountains, with their beauty and dangers, and with the thrills and challenges they present, inevitably produce both ecstasies and agonies. More than a few people have had spiritual encounters with the mysteries of human existence in the cathedral of Bear Creek,” he adds.
“In the aftermath of this week’s tragedy, there will likely be talk of better controlling the ski area boundary. More talk of gates and questions about liability, and possibly suggestions of something more like the European system, of offering the option of guided access or of selling rescue insurance, or even of expanding the ski area into Bear Creek so it can be managed.
But in the end, skiing powder will remain a koan: one of the most beautiful things a person can do, and one of the most dangerous.
Whitman plays Park City
PARK CITY, Utah – After a decade of promoting gay ski week at California’s Mammoth Mountain, Tom Whitman now returns to Park City for what has become the second annual gay ski week there.
The event in Mammoth has grown enormously. He hopes for the same success at Park City. “Last year we had 200 to 300 people, and this year we’re expecting 400 to 500. I want this to be the second biggest event in Park City next to the Sundance Film Festival.
Whitman said he first visited Park City when he was on the ski team at UCLA.
“The gay community has expanded in how it’s becoming more prevalent in different places around the country in the last 10 years,” he told the Park Record. “There is still a need for events catering to the gay community, guys and girls can come out here and feel comfortable.”
One of the event organizers, John Manelski, told the newspaper that the concept of a gay ski week saved snowboarding for him.
“When I came out of the closet, I couldn’t find anyone to golf or snowboard with,” he said. “Those happen to be two things I love doing.”
At Ketchum and Sun Valley, gay skiers are also in the news. An organization called Ski Bums, identified as the largest club in the world for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ski and snowboarders, visited during Presidents’ Day for a four-day treat.
Chris French, club president and founder, said he always tries to call ahead and make sure that the resort in question is welcoming of his community.
“I’m always super clear (about the nature of our group),” he told the Idaho Mountain Express. “We want to go somewhere we’ll feel safe.”
French told the Express that he founded the club because he wanted to meet people who love the outdoors as much as he did. “I wanted to find a boyfriend to travel the world with.”
Alas, although his club now has 800 members, 30 of whom are ski instructors, and a few more who are ski patrollers, he doesn’t have a partner. He’s been too busy to date, he says.
JACKSON, Wyo. – In 2008, elected officials in Jackson and Teton County announced an ambitious effort to reduce energy use of all types by10 percent by 2010 within government operations. They succeeded – barely.
Now, they are hoping to make similar efforts in the broader community. A consortium of local groups has received $900,000 from the federal government to deploy toward energy efficiency.
Using the grant, the local consortium is loaning up to $7,500 per electrical customer for work in energy efficiency. They must pay the money back within five years. Larger loans may be possible.
Another $1 million federal grant is pending. That money would go to commercial projects.