Record numbers at some Canadian resorts |

Record numbers at some Canadian resorts

Bob Berwyn

Plenty of snow and sunshine helped spur record numbers at some Canadian resorts during the first part of the holiday season, The Province, of Vancouver, B.C. reports.A marketing director at Cypress said the ski area may enjoyed its biggest day ever, with up to 10,000 visitors, with similar numbers reported at Grouse Mountain. Many of the interior and southwestern B.C. ski areas had all their runs open in time for Christmas, helping to draw the crowds.Several inches of new snow were reported at Sun Peaks, Silver Star, Big White and Apex Mountain. At the same time, authorities warned of potential avalanche hazards.Keystone offers dealsto militaryActive-duty U.S. military personnel can ski or ride Keystone all season long for $99, resort execs announced just before Christmas. The Liberty Pass will be on sale beginning Jan. 4, 2004.”The men and women of our armed forces have been out fighting to defend freedom around the world,” Keystone chief Roger McCarthy said in a press release. “This is the least we can do to say ‘thank you’ for the incredible work they have done, and continue to do each day. We hope they enjoy some much deserved time off with their family and friends.”Cloud seeding credited for Crested Butte snowsA Sandy, Utah-based company is claiming some of the credit for snowfall amounting to 140 percent of normal in the Gunnison River Basin, according to the Crested Butte News.North American Weather Consultants fired up its ground-based generators during four November storms, racking up a total of 339 generator hours for the month. For the winter, several jurisdictions in the area joined together to fund the $96,500 program.But the News reports there is no way of knowing whether the cloud seeding caused the increase in precipitation. Conflicting reports offer different conclusions. An October 2003 report funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found no evidence that cloud seeding actually increases snowfall. The report concluded, “There is ample evidence that ‘seeding’ a cloud with a chemical agent can modify the cloud’s development and precipitation.” But researchers are still “unable to confirm that these induced changes result in verifiable, repeatable changes in rainfall, hail fall, and snowfall on the ground.”Crested Butte Academy closes, reopensThe Crested Butte Academy, a private high school in Crested Butte, will remain open after all. Beset by financial difficulties, the school sent out a press release in late December announcing the end of operations at the end of the term.But Santa must have come through, because just a week later, the school’s board of trustees announced that it has successfully developed a restructuring plan. According to a press release, the academy received significant help from the Town of Crested Butte and Gunnison County in restructuring its long-term debts with financial institutions. Grassroots support was also important, although the school is still $100,000 short of its fundraising goals.Montana rejoices inholiday powderThe Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that Bridger Bowl, a small community owned nonprofit ski area, enjoyed a near record day on Dec. 29, drawing more than 4,000 skiers and boarders.According to the Chronicle, ski area workers had to turn some cars away at the highway because all the parking lots were full. Officials couldn’t say if it was an all-time record turnout, but estimated that it came close to some of the busy days during 1995, the last big snow year at Bridger Bowl.A persistent storm cycle dropped more than 100 inches of snow on the ski area in the week between Christmas and New Years, including 71 inches in a single night.Aspen ticket salesbenefit nonprofitThe Aspen Times reports that The Aspen Valley Community Foundation could receive as much as $3 million from a pass program initiated by the Aspen Ski Co.The so-called Foundation Mountain Pass is valid for four years on all four Aspen/Snowmass ski areas, and also at Vail, Beaver Creek and Steamboat Springs.Only 30 of the passes were offered, and all were sold within a few weeks, according to the Times. During the next four years, revenues from the pass will provide $1 million in unrestricted funds for the foundation along with a $2 million endowment fund, providing grants in perpetuity to local nonprofits in health and human services, education, and arts and culture.Sledding turns deadlyThe Middle Park Times reports that a Texas woman was killed while sledding in a driveway Dec. 21 when she skidded into a road and was hit by a Lexus SUV.According to the Times, neither alcohol nor speed are thought to be factor in the accident. A Colorado State Patrol report concluded that the “primary cause of the accident was the sled going into the roadway.”Snowmobiles restricted around Wolford ReservoirThe Bureau of Land Management is restricting snowmobile use in the Wolford Mountain area to minimize impacts to important winter range for high country deer, antelope and elk herds, the Middle Park Times reports.The snowmobile travel restrictions includes BLM administered public lands between Highway 40, Grand County Road 22 (Back Troublesome Road) and Grand County Road 25 (Antelope Pass Road).Yellowstone snowmobile ban costlyThe on-again, off-again ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park could prove costly to some small businesses in the area, the Jackson Hole News and Guide reports.While tourists are gathering to enjoy what could be the last season for snowmobiling the famed park, tour operators are trying to calculate what they stand to lose. Some companies have already started canceling reservation based on the ban, which will take effect next winter but cuts in half the number of snowmobiles permitted to enter the park this winter. According to the News and Guide, some outfitters are already contemplating layoffs.Additionally, some outfitters had already purchased new four-stroke snowmobiles to comply with new regulations. One tour operator said he stands to lose up to $50,000 in a single week, with a trickle-down effect to restaurants and gas stations. Court documents filed to support an emergency motion to stay the recent court order detail the economic impacts, according to the News and Guide.Jets backed up at Steamboat airportThe Steamboat Pilot & Today reports that several commercial jets were rerouted to Denver before landing at Yampa Valley Regional Airport. As well, waiting passengers overflowed the terminal during the busy Christmas holidays.According to the Pilot & Today, the congestion was attributed to several factors, including weather, crowded skies over the airport and planes running low on fuel. An unexpected high number of private flights arriving at the airport was also a factor.An American Airlines manager at the airport told the Pilot & Today that the company has outgrown its airspace as well as its terminal facilities. Two 100-passenger United Express jets returned to Denver because they couldn’t wait in the holding pattern as they ran low on fuel.And Transportation Safety Administration officials twice shut down the luggage screening station because there was no place for passengers to wait, the Pilot & Today reports.Storms blast SW ColoradoWhile local ski hills measured recent snowfall in inches, Mother Nature was more kind to the San Juans, where two feet fell on Silverton Mountain, according to a press release from Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA). Crested Butte picked up a foot of snow from the Dec. 29 storm, while other resorts around the state picked up anywhere from four to nine inches of fresh fluff.According to CSCUSA, more than 90 percent of Colorado’s terrain is open, with powder and packed powder conditions.

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