Autumn blues |

Autumn blues

Vail Trail staff
Theo StroomerHelmut Fricker of Vail, left, discusses technique for playing the alphorn with an unidentified visitor from Florida. Fricker was playing his alphorn, a long wooden horn, for guests in the Beaver Creek Village.

Denver – Mud season, indeed.

Vail Resorts lost $24.6 million in its first fiscal quarter this year, from August to October. The figure was down from last year’s $35.8 million first-quarter loss, thanks to the company’s settlement of a contract dispute with Cheeca Holdings LLC.

Declining real estate revenue translated into a 14 percent drop in overall revenue from the previous year, though season pass sales climbed 7.8 percent.

The gap between the close of summer tourist season and the start of the ski season traditionally means a loss for Vail Resorts. The company’s stock price fell 4.6 percent, to $50.86 a share.

The good news is that winter seems to have finally appeared in the Vail Valley. Vail and Beaver Creek mountains received more than two feet of snow the first weekend in December, and that no doubt had a hand in Vail receiving a record early-season crowd on Saturday, Dec. 8.

Eagle County – Rohn Robbins, the Edwards attorney who was running for Eagle County’s State House of Representatives seat recently vacated by Rep. Dan Gibbs, has withdrawn from the race.

Robbins cited family and monetary concerns as his reasons for removing his name from the hat, as his two sons prepare to leave for college.

“The district deserves somebody that can make this their sole focus,” he said. “I hope to be involved and contribute in other ways.”

Vail – Mother Nature is making up for lost time.

A dry November is a thing of the past, with snow in the forecast nearly every day this week and a storm last weekend that dropped 8 inches on Vail Mountain and 6 on Beaver Creek. That storm capped off more than two feet of accumulation for both resorts in the previous week.

The storm brought 7 inches to Breckenridge, 6 to Keystone and 5 to Arapahoe Basin.

Beaver Creek – Say hello to some fresh terrain.

Beaver Creek opened expert area Grouse Mountain last weekend, accessible only via the newly opened Goshawk and Lower Peregrine trails. The Talons area includes Screech Owl, Raven Ridge, Ptarmigan, Bald Eagle, Falcon Park, Osprey and Ruffed Grouse trails.

The opening brought the Beav’s total open skiing and riding area to 1007 acres, with 83 trails served by nine lifts.

Vail – The man responsible for seeing the ski potential of Vail Mountain turned 85 this week.

Fifty years ago, Earl Eaton led Vail founder Peter Seibert up the mountain, and together they hatched the plan for the resort. Though Eaton was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, he hopes to get back on the mountain on his ski bike by the end of the season. Eaton, who was born at Squaw Creek ” now the entrance to Cordillera ” is the only person allowed to take a ski bike on the lifts during normal operating hours of Vail Mountain.

Vail – Get ready for a bigger property tax bill.

The town considered lowering its tax rate this week to compensate for increases in property valuations of 32 percent for single-family homes and 66 percent for condos. The increased home values mean the town will collect about $650,000 more in property taxes than anticipated.

Instead of lowering the tax rate, however, the town ended up merely waiving the $48,000 “abatement levy.” Getting rid of the abatement levy will save $4.14 in taxes for someone with a $1 million home.

Council members decided not to lower the mill levy because doing so would risk not being able to raise it again.

Denver – Dan Gibbs was politically unemployed for about an hour this week, the time lapse between resigning his Colorado House of Representatives seat and swearing in as a state senator.

Sen. Gibbs was selected last month by a vacancy committee to replace former Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, who resigned to run for U.S. Congress.

“It’s exciting,” Gibbs said. “I’m looking forward to it. I’ve really enjoyed serving in the House and I look forward to this new opportunity to serve in the Senate.”

A Democratic vacancy committee will meet next week to select a candidate to fill Gibbs’ open House seat, which represents Eagle County.

Keystone – An area company has found a way to combat the wastefulness of the pine beetle infestation that just might become an international solution.

Breckenridge Timber to Log, begun by Gene and Therese Dayton, uses a log lathe machine to remove the bark, smooth the logs and create a notch so they fit seamlessly together to build log cabins.

Colorado and Canadian officials have visited the business to assess its potential as a model for other areas.

“It’s our passion for green, for wanting to make a difference in our community,” Therese Dayton said.

The practice may arrive in the Vail Valley soon, with Bob Curfman, of 360 Green in Vail, working with the Daytons to learn how to operate the business and the machinery.

“There’s a lot of interest all over,” Curfman said. “We think we have a solution we can replicate worldwide.”

– Compiled by Sarah L. Stewart

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