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Gay ski week draws dissent

Janet Urquhart

TELLURIDE – Several Telluride business and marketing representatives visited Aspen recently to check out the goings-on at Gay Ski Week with an eye toward the future of their resort’s fledgling ski week.Telluride is expecting perhaps 500 attendees for its second Gay Ski Week – as opposed to the 2,000 to 3,000 or so participants who are expected in Aspen – but the Telluride event has not gone unnoticed.A letter to the editor of the local newspaper, the Telluride Daily Planet, questioning why Telluride Mountain Village would sponsor the gay-oriented event, sparked a flood of replies in support of the village’s involvement. Mountain Village is located on the opposite side of the ski area from the historic town of Telluride. The resort is located in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado.The furor made the pages of the Rocky Mountain News and prompted a slew of e-mails to Telluride Mountain Village – many of them lambasting the village and threatening to keep their family at home.Kerri Cardin, public relations and communications manager for Mountain Village, said she doubts many of the e-mails came from individuals who were actually planning a ski vacation to Telluride.”To think you’re going to change your family’s vacation plans just doesn’t make sense to me,” added Tracee Hennigan, events coordinator for Mountain Village.Though Cardin and Hennigan both resided in Aspen previously, they’ll be paying much closer attention to Gay Ski Week now that they’re involved in organizing a similar event, they said. “It was always a blast,” Cardin recalled. “I’ll bet a lot of the people and merchants in town look forward to Gay Ski Week. It’s lucrative and a lot of fun people come to town.”The Telluride Ski Co. sponsored the inaugural Telluride event last year, which attracted 250 to 300 people, Cardin said. Scheduled Feb. 26 to March 6 this year, it coincides with the Telluride AIDS Benefit, an annual fashion show that precedes the resort’s Gay Ski Week.Once the controversy over the event erupted in the pages of the local newspaper last month, Telluride Cyberguide, operated by a local resident, offered this advice on its Web site: “Although this week should be fun for those not offended by alternative lifestyles … we are strongly suggesting that families concerned with exposing their children to the homosexual lifestyle and homosexual behavior schedule their vacations another time.”Al Heirich, who operates the cyberguide, told the Rocky Mountain News that he posted the alert after visitors to the site asked about the controversy. He said the ski resort responded by asking him to remove a link to its Web site, which he did.His Web site defends the caution, noting it has offered a similar warning to families about College Ski Week, when public drunkenness and other raucous behavior may be prevalent.Vail, Colorado


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