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Whistler readies for 2010 Winter Olympics

Allen BestSpecial to the DailyVail CO, Colorado

WHISTLER, B.C. All eyes in Whistler seem to be on 2010, when approximately 6 billion eyeballs will be focused on Vancouver, Whistler, and the Winter Olympics.As our two-week Olympic party quickly approaches, like a tsunami on an unsuspecting fisherman, most Whistlerites are finally coming to realize just how much of a workload hosting such a global media orgy entails, writes Michel Beaudry, a columnist for Pique. From construction workers to municipal administrators, from Whistler-Blackcomb staff to the teachers in the local schools, everyone in town seems to be functioning at full-tilt boogie these days.The municipality is preparing to spend $14 million to get an area called Celebration Plaza ready to become center stage for the world, and plans another $18.5 million for the entertainment extravaganza. Much of the money will come from the Canadian government, although a significant portion of the local hotel tax, some $6 million, will be diverted to the cause.Meanwhile, the letters section of Pique newsmagazine suggests lively barroom debates in Whistler about the real meaning of the Olympics. One letter-writer, Steve Andrews recognizes what might be called The Peoples Games. Seeing that amateurism is all but dead in modern sport, these Games could be one of the last refuges for amateur competition, he writes. These events will be activities based on pure enjoyment. Among his nominations: randonee racing.While Vancouver is shaping up plans for rubber dinosaurs, letter-writer B.K. Buchholz shares his somewhat tongue-in-cheek vision of recreation of the classic Japanese horror film, Godzilla vs. Biollante, using the new Peak to Peak gondola towers as the paper machete-festooned props.More seriously, the Whistler Community Services Society wants to use municipal land adjacent to the Athletes Villages to build an 80,000-square-foot greenhouse. The vision is that the greenhouse will burn methane from the nearby sewer plant and landfill to heat the greenhouse to produce carrots, tomatoes, peppers and other items.The group believes the project would need to buy electricity from the grid only three weeks per year, and will still make a cool half-million-dollars a year.People [will] come to Whistler knowing they will be eating organic vegetables that were just picked, said Dr. Stephen Milstein, a greenhouse committee member. A local grocer reports that sales of organic product are rising 5 to 7 percent annually.Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed is said he absolutely supports the idea. It is just a fantastic story. However, he wants to see a more solid pro forma first.

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. Few people would expect to ever need to know what to do if caught in an avalanche. But in Jackson Hole, where avalanche deaths among backcountry skiers and sledders are a staple of winter news in the Jackson Hole News&Guide, its no academic subject.Since at least 1864, reports the newspaper, the conventional wisdom for the hapless person has been to mimic a swimming motion, in an effort to stay atop the snow or even get out of the current.That convention has been challenged in recent years by Colorado-based avalanche expert Dale Atkins. At a meeting of 300 skiing professionals in Jackson Hole recently, he again explained why he believes its better to keep your hands around your face, so you can create an air pocket when the movement of snow begins to slow.Slab avalanches move extremely fast, Atkins points out, but then stop rapidly. In a flash of time that survivors found remarkable, they cease to move like a liquid and then, setting up like concrete, move like a solid mass. At that point, the person no longer can move. If swimming, arms akimbo, the victim will be unable to get a hand around his or her face and an arm to the surface.Atkins said that human bodies are likely to end up closer to the surface anyway. He illustrated this principle by shaking a bowl of mixed nuts. The large Brazil nuts come to the surface.He was challenged at the meeting by Martin Radwin, who argued that waving and kicking, as if in swimming, makes a person larger, and hence increases the chance of the that person rising like a Brazil nut.There seems to be no empirical evidence to support either hypothesis.

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – The real-estate market in ski towns of the West has been humming along, despite the shudders nationally. The high-end market seems unaffected.But the first evidence is coming in that the national woes are affecting the outlying areas. The Jackson Hole News&Guide reports that two speculatively built homes in Victor, Idaho, which is located across Teton Pass from Jackson Hole, have been sold for less than half.



LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Ten or 15 years ago, you could barely give away compact fluorescent light bulbs. They were big and, to the annoyance of many, flickered uncertainly when you turned on the switch.Those days are gone. Sierra Pacific Power gave away the compact fluorescents on a recent day in South Lake Tahoe, and all 10,000 were gone within two hours.The lights use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, and last far longer. They are also more expensive. Still, incandescent bulbs are on their way out, says the Tahoe Daily Tribune. Nevada has banned their sale effective 2012. Similar legislation is in the works in Congress.


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