Utah wants bigger market shareIn another sign that the nationwide war for destination skiers is heating up, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Utah Travel Council is making a concerted effort to woo Texas skiers to the Beehive State.The Utah Legislature gave the travel council a one-time $1.75 million funding boost to take advantage of last season’s Olympic publicity by grabbing some of Colorado’s market share, according to the Tribune. At least part of the money was spent on promos that ran during traffic reports in Dallas. Other targeted markets include Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Cleveland, Boston, Atlanta and Florida.The promotion involves two free lift tickets for skiers who spend at least four nights at a participating lodging facility. Utah officials also launched a direct-mail campaign targeting skiers on a mailing list obtained fromSnowSports Industries of America, the Park City Chamber & Visitors Bureau, The Canyons, Brian Head Resort and Ski Utah.Aspen ski plane returnsThe Aspen Skiing Company is also looking to up its market share, especially among Front Range skiers who might be tired of traffic jams on I-70. The Aspen Times reports that the resort and United Airlines have teamed up for the second year to offer a $99 package that includes a roundtrip flight and a lift ticket. According to the Times, the deal lured more than 1,500 Denver-area skiers and boarders last season.The Ski Plane flies weekdays through April 4, with some holiday blackout dates. The flight leaves Denver at 8:20 a.m. and arrives in Aspen at 9:05 a.m., with return flights departing Aspen at 6:15 or 7 p.m. The package alsoincludes some multi-day ticket options, as well as a lodging option.According to the Times, the Ski Plane "was hailed locally as a brilliant move," helping to introduce Aspen to Front Range residents who weren’t likely to drive past the I-70 resorts to get to more distant Aspen.Timing at issue for New Zealand Olympics bidThe Auckland, New Zealand Herald reports that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is considering a bid by New Zealand to host the Winter Olympics, but that timing could be a tricky issue. The seasons are reversedin the Southern Hemisphere, so that could mean holding ski events in July and August.According to the Herald, IOC officials said athletes could conceivably prepare for that time frame, but that it would clash with the World Cup soccer tournament.Stratton prices reach Stratto-sphereDaily lift ticket walk-up ticket window prices at Vermont’s Stratton Mountain have climbed to $72, outstripping prices at the biggest resorts in the Rockies, including Vail, according to First Tracks Online, a Web-based ski magazine.The price, recently announced on Stratton’s Website, will be charged Saturdays after Dec. 20. According to First Tracks Online, the price marks an industry record for the U.S. Last season, Stratton’s top price was $64. The average daily lift ticket price nationwide is about $49, according to the National Ski Areas Association.The price, announced on Stratton’s Website on Thursday, applies to Saturdays and holidays after Dec. 20. Until then, skiers and snowboarders are being charged $59 a day. Last year, Stratton charged a "walk-up rate" of $64 onholidays and $62 on weekends. This year, a Sunday ticket will cost $69.Alta eyes make-overThe Salt Lake Tribune reports that Alta Ski Area is considering replacing the Germania and Collins lifts with a single detachable chair that would run from the base all the way to Germania Ridge.Under the area’s revised master development plan, recently proposed to the U.S. Forest Service, a mid-mountain shelter would be torn down and eventuallyrebuilt in a new location. A new three-story base lodge is slated for a site between the bottom of the existing Collins lift and the Wildcat ticket office.The Forest Service’s Salt Lake Ranger District will hold two open house sessions as part of an environmental review of the proposal. The district ranger who will coordinate the review is Loren Kroenke, who formerly worked in Vail as a USFS project manager for the Cat III expansion.The lift changes would not up capacity at the area, something that would likely stir opposition from die-hard Alta fans, who cherish their relatively uncrowded slopes.AK heli-ski outfit seeks permit expansionChugach Powder Guides, renowned purveyors of the steep and deep, are seeking an expansion of their permit area, according to the Anchorage Daily News.Alaskan heli skiing has been growing in popularity, but conservationists are concerned about losing opportunities for quiet recreation and encroachments on wilderness characteristics in the mountains around Girdwood and Turnagain Arm, the Daily News reports.Heli ski trips with Chugach Powder Guides cost about $650 per day to about $4,475 for a week-long package. The Forest Service is considering a short-term permit that would enable the agency and ski company to evaluatepotential impacts in so-called exploratory zones farther south along the Kenai Peninsula.At recent scoping meetings in Moose Pass and Girdwood, some residents expressed concern about increased chopper traffic, claiming the expanded permit area could harm wildlife and annoy other backcountry skiers exploring the area under their own power. Conservation groups would like to see heli skiing restricted to concentrated areas rather than letting it spread acrosswide swaths of public land, according to the Daily News.The heli ski operators say the expanded permit area could help them minimize impacts to wildlife and other users by avoiding an area when they spot animals or snowshoers. The Forest Service is expected to make a decision on the one-year around Christmas.Vancouver to vote on Olympic bidAn oft-discussed Olympic bid by Vancouver, British Columbia is in the news again, this time as officials try to decide on the exact wording of a citywide Olympic plebiscite, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail.The vote is set for Feb. 22 and will cost more than a half million dollars. According to the Globe and Mail, some Olympic boosters say the referendum could damage the city’s chances for hosting the Games.While the outcome is not binding on the Vancouver bid committee, it could have an impact on International Olympic Committee, which makes the ultimate decision on awarding Olympic Games. According to the Globe and Mail, Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell had been under pressure from Vancouver Olympic boosters – including various business interests – to cancel the referendum.The mayor is said to support the bid but also wants to let voters have a say, the Globe and Mail reports.Final bids are due Jan. 10 and the IOC evaluation committee will visit the region in spring and make a selection in July. Whistler resort is a partner in the Winter Olympics bid.Steamboat snowmobilers gripingA move by the U.S. Forest Service to limit snowmobiling in the mountains around Steamboat Springs is drawing criticism from motorized users, who claim the agency did not consult them, according to the Steamboat Pilot & Today.The federal agency recently redrew its winter recreation map of the region to designate a 3,000-acre non-motorized area just east and north of Steamboat Ski Area. Management of some popular backcountry areas around Buffalo Pass was also changed, requiring snowmobiles to stay on designated trails.But some snowmobilers serving on a grassroots management task force said they did not agree with the 3,000-acre designation near the resort and claimed theweren’t informed of the change in advance, according to the Pilot & Today.