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December 31, 2012
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Holiday business running equal with last year

VAIL, Colorado - We were busy over the holiday weekend, and we generally behaved ourselves, local officials said.

"Leading up to the holiday period we were pacing behind, but we were ahead of pace through December," said Chris Romer, executive director of the Vail Valley Partnership. "We were looking good for the holiday week."

Visitor numbers are running almost even with last year's numbers, said Diane Johnson with the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

Basically, people use water for all kinds of things - restaurants, pools, spas, and any number of other things --and almost exactly the same number of people used the same amount of water as last year, Johnson said.

"Vail is up a tiny bit from last year, and Avon and Edwards are spot on," Johnson said.

These days, more than half of the valley's destination guests arrive through the Eagle County Regional Airport, and airport manager Greg Phillips is a happy guy.

"Our numbers look good," Phillips said.

The final holiday numbers will be totaled by the middle of January when airlines file their reports, and then they'll do a year over year comparison.

In the meantime, Phillips' head count had 8,000 people inbound into the airport Christmas week, Saturday through Friday.

During the New Year's week, another 8,000 people flew into the local airport, Phillips said.

While other hard data is still trickling in, the rule-of-thumb indicators - things like parking, grocery stores and other businesses - point to a strong holiday season, Romer said.

It's a good day when Vail's parking structures fill, and the Vail Village structure filled both Sunday and Monday by lunchtime. The Lionshead parking structure was within a couple hundred cars of being filled both days, said Sgt. Annette Dopplick with the Vail Police Department.

In Beaver Creek, skiers were parking in the rodeo parking lot Saturday and were bused to the Beav'.

You're not surprised that Vail Valley business was brisk if you were trying to get to the Front Range Saturday afternoon.

The Colorado Department of Transportation said that traffic was up both east and west from last year and the year prior, 238,995 vehicles through the Eisenhower Tunnel between Dec. 20-26.

Of those, 109,000 were going eastbound, said Ashley Mohr, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Trains, planes and automobiles

On Sunday, a tractor-trailer was headed westbound down I-70 when he lost his trailer brakes about halfway down Vail Pass.

Colorado State Patrol clocked him running at more than 100 mph. The driver earned high praise from local law enforcement for keeping other motorists and himself out of harm's way.

Because made a calculated decision not to run over a car in the right lane, he swerved into the left lane and missed the runaway truck ramp at the bottom of the pass.

He took that long sweeping left hand curve at the bottom of the pass and decided it this had gone on long enough, so he pulled it over onto the shoulder. The truck rolled over and skidded to a stop.

One westbound lane of I-70 was blocked for a few hours, and that backed things up for a while it was cleaned up, Dopplick said.

Then there were the two Flight for Life helicopters that took off from Vail around the same time.

Turns out neither was a skier or a visitor.

Instead, two locals had to be flown to Denver for medical treatment. The thing is, Vail has one helipad, the one by the Vail town hall.

But on Sunday rescue workers needed two helicopters around the same time.

"That's just a factor of having lots of people in town," Dopplick said.

A woman was belaying ice climbers in a popular East Vail climbing spot Sunday afternoon, when a large chunk of ice broke free, fell and hit her in the head.

Rescue workers from three agencies showed up to help and it took an hour and a half to get her down and onto the helicopter.

Vail Mountain Rescue coordinated the ice climbing rescue. With the help of the Vail fire department and paramedics from the Eagle County Ambulance District they got her secured, off the ice and into the ambulance, said Dan Smith with Vail Mountain Rescue.

That one had to take off from Vail's Ford Park because, around that same time the helicopter on Vail's official helipad was being loaded with a pregnant woman who had to be flown from Vail to Denver. She had been snowshoeing on the Eagle-Vail golf course and started hemorrhaging, Smith said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Dec 31, 2012 07:56PM Published Dec 31, 2012 07:50PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.