Resort Report: Bachelor development, patroller death & media coverage

It looks like the U.S. Forest Service may be opening up to more on-hill improvement discussions given its recent thumbs-up on Mt. Bachelor's Master Development Plan. But as SNEWS finds out, it could still be awhile before anyone starts building. That and more in this week's Resort Report.
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In a positive action for potential ski area planning in the Northwest, Mt. Bachelor has received notification from the Deschutes National Forest of official acceptance by the U.S. Forest Service of the resort’s updated Master Development Plan (MDP).

While no project or improvement described in the MDP has been authorized or approved by the USFS at this time, the move does signal a significant milestone for Park City-based Powdr Corp.’s Northwest holding. Bachelor administrators have been actively formulating and evaluating the MDP with the Forest Service and other local and state agencies, and key stakeholder groups including local business and environmental leaders since 2008. It is Mt. Bachelor’s first full master plan update since its original MDP was approved by the Forest Service in 1981.

The primary components of the plan include a new lift and ski trails east of the Rainbow Chair, a new base lodge, parking lot, learning area with multiple carpet-conveyor lifts and Kids Adventure Zone at the Sunrise base area, a new Nordic trail, and additional summer amenities such as downhill mountain biking served by the Pine Marten Express.

“Many master plan concepts have been developed over the years for Mt. Bachelor,” said Dave Rathbun, president and general manager of Mt. Bachelor. “The thorough review and public comment process we followed with our team, the Forest Service and many, many key users and stakeholders over the last two-and-a-half years resulted in the creation of a thoughtful and considerate plan for the future. As excited as we are today about the Forest Service accepting the plan, we know the process has only just begun.”

From this point forward, Mt. Bachelor’s MDP is considered by the Forest Service as a proposal for the actions and projects outlined in the plan. Prior to receiving approval or authorization, each proposed action is required to undergo environmental analysis as prescribed by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The USFS will manage the NEPA process moving forward, including additional public comment periods and preparation of all documents. Under a third-party contract, the USFS and Mt. Bachelor have mutually agreed to retain Cirrus Ecological Solutions of Logan, Utah, to assist in the NEPA process. Cirrus has performed similar duties for other ski area operators and national forests throughout the west.

A-Basin mourns loss of long time ski patroller

Arapahoe Basin's snow safety director Leif Borgeson passed away on Feb. 8, 2011, while hiking the ridge at the Aspen Highlands Bowl. He collapsed after the hike and was immediately attended to by Aspen Highlands patrol, but was unable to be resuscitated.

Borgeson worked at Arapahoe Basin starting in 1990 joining the ski patrol after patrolling at Keystone for several years. He worked in various capacities including medical coordinator, paramedic, snow safety supervisor and, most recently, as snow safety director. He was instrumental in creating Arapahoe Basin’s avalanche procedures and protocols and recognized nationally for his work on the study of avalanches in particular wet-slab avalanches. Between 2001 and 2004, Borgeson worked for the National Ski Patrol as its training director. Before joining Keystone in the 1980s, Borgeson worked as a patroller in Arizona Snow Bowl and as a Hot Shot forest firefighter in Flagstaff, Ariz.

He is survived by his wife, Denise Schmidt-Borgeson, two sons, Ian and Aidan Borgeson, his parents and his brother.

How the ski industry is covered – Death and Powder

Anyone in the ski industry knows that death and powder get more coverage than anything else. Accidents and storm alerts seem to get the breaking news push more than any celebrity sighting and groundbreaking chairlift. So much so that the headline, "Massive storm triggers deadly avalanches," would be considered a home run by any editor in the mainstream press. And truth be told, every one of us would click on that headline ourselves.

But one of the conversations we hope to continue on the WinterSports Channel is how the industry is covered -- in terms of what media is most effective, and also in terms of what kinds of stories generate the most interest, whether that’s in regard to new chairlifts, celebrities on the slope or on-slope deaths. If you have a headline or story angle you would like to share, feel free to send it to pkray@snewsnet.com. Likewise with any issues or trends you think are getting way too much coverage, or not nearly enough.

Still in the news this week, is the recent scary spate of snowboarder deaths. Unfortunately, 12 snowboarders have died on the slopes over the past month in the western United States, almost all teenaged boys or young men, and almost all in out-of-bounds areas. In California, where five of the deaths occurred, the San Francisco Chronicle is taking a hard look at the string of tragedies. The newspaper reprinted its own "Death on the Slopes" piece by staffer Tom Stienstra, which quotes California Ski Industry Association executive director Bob Roberts as saying, "The accidents are happening because people are out there off the runs, doing their thing in the trees."

You can check out the story here: www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/ski/detail?entry_id=82643

The question is whether you think this is a sad anomaly occurring in the midst of an otherwise above average season, or a scary new trend that we should all be discussing. We would love to share your thoughts by clicking on the SNEWS Chat link below.

--Peter Kray

Since late 2010, veteran journalist Peter Kray joined the SNEWS team and is now editor of the new SNEWS WinterSports channel. We trust you are enjoying the full offering of WinterSports news. Be sure to email your friends and let them know the best WinterSports news has arrived -- just in time for the winter season. Got WinterSports news? Send your WinterSports news to Kray at pkray@snewsnet.com. Subscribers can also post WinterSports news releases directly to the SNEWS website. Email us at snewsbox@snewsnet.com to learn about posting your own news releases, or for any other questions or comments. We love to hear from our readers!

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