WinterSports News Blast: Enviro report cards, record openings & more

The annual Ski Area Environmental Report Card was just released, and while some areas earned top grades, others may want to spend a little more time at the sustainability study hall. Plus, Jackson Hole's record opening, Glen Plake becomes a ski instructor and much, much more.
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The Ski Area Environmental Report, compiled annually by the Ski Area Citizens Coalition, was released Nov. 30, with the 82 ski resorts scattered throughout the West averaging a 2 percent improvement in their overall scores. Rating improvement trends resulted from resorts investing in water and energy efficiency projects and for not proposing or implementing terrain expansions into sensitive lands.

“Ski areas are not developing as much new terrain in sensitive areas,” said Paul Joyce, the research director for Ski Area Citizens. “Is this due to an environmental commitment? Or when the economy turns will the treads on the bulldozers turn also?”

According to Richard McIntyre, campaigns director for Sierra Nevada Alliance, “Ski areas spent money on energy efficiency, such as upgrading windows, employing solar power and improving public transportation, but this won’t compensate for taking out endangered species habitat or bulldozing a wetland. We hope their environmental efficiency mindset extends to their development strategy as the economy improves.”

According to the report, the 2010/2011 Top 10 environmentally friendly ski areas are:

1. Squaw Valley (A)

2. Park City (A)

3. Alpine Meadows (A)

4. Aspen Highlands (A)

5. Aspen Mountain (A)

6. Buttermilk (A)

7. Deer Valley (A)

8. Jackson Hole (A)

9. Sundance (A)

10. Bogus Basin (A)

The 2010/2011 Worst 10 environmentally friendly ski areas are:

1. Breckenridge (D)

2. Sun Valley (D)

3. Arizona Snowbowl (D)

4. Taos (D)

5. White Pass (D)

6. Copper (D)

7. Brundage (D)

8. Las Vegas (D)

9. Brian Head (C)

10. Silver Mountain (C)

To see the whole report, check out: www.skiareacitizens.com

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has record opening

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort opened one week early on Nov. 26 (photo - right), with the entire mountain available for the first time in the resort’s history.

Early snows have been pounding the ski area, leaving a 127-inch base for opening day. According to JHMR spokesman Zahan Billimoria, “That’s more snow to date than ever in recorded history, by far.”

California’s Kirkwood opens Cirque to guided skiing

Atop Thimble Peak, The Cirque at Kirkwood Ski Resort has been off limits to all but the world’s best skiers and snowboarders in sanctioned, resort-sponsored competitions such as the North Face Masters and North American Freeskiing Championships.

But during the 2010/11 season, guides from Expedition: Kirkwood will lead limited tours into the forbidden zone. Weather and conditions permitting, participants in each outing will be guided down The Cirque’s complex, exposed chutes and couloirs. These limited tours will provide the knowledge and logistical answers needed to provide additional guided access to more of this terrain in the seasons to come.

Glen Plake joins PSIA-AASI, looks to gain instruction certification

Glen Plake recently joined the Professional Ski Instructors of America-American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI). The legendary skier currently serves as an ambassador of Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month (LSSM), a public initiative to encourage others to get involved in snowsports.

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Plake is planning on participating in PSIA clinics and obtaining PSIA alpine certification this winter.

“We are thrilled that Glen chose to become a member of PSIA-AASI,” said Andy Hawk, marketing director of PSIA-AASI. “His contributions to skiing -- and encouragement of those learning to ski or ride -- will make him an excellent addition to our association, and we’re eager to provide him with education and training resources along with the opportunity for certification. It’s an exciting testament to the evolution of our association that a person of such notable influence in the industry recognizes and supports the use of our training and certification opportunities.”

Denver Post article questions ticket cost for Big Air Exhibition

An article by reporter Jason Blevins in the Nov. 26 issue of the Denver Post looks into just how many young ski and snowboard fans will be able to afford the $45 ticket price to the Denver Big Air exhibition in Denver's Civic Center Park, Jan. 25-26, just prior to the opening of the Snowsports Industries America Snow Show.

In the article, Blevins reported, “$45 is less than the $55 to $75 tickets offered earlier this month for the same event. The International Ski Federation World Cup's sanction makes an event more expensive to host.”

The cost of building the necessary Big Air ramp in the middle of downtown Denver, as well as assorted fees associated with it being an International Ski Federation sanctioned event, have contributed to the ticket price. But, “Big Air organizers are hoping 12,000 spectators will pay for 'prime viewing' areas on Bannock Street and in the City and County Building plaza across from the park,” Blevins wrote.

Olympic Medalist skier Shannon Bahrke opens coffee shop

Two-time Olympic medalist Shannon Bahrke Happe, the Lake Tahoe native, who now calls Salt Lake City home, is expanding her three-year-old Silver Bean Coffee Company, opening a flagship retail coffee shop at the bottom of Big Cottonwood Canyon just off I-215. Bahrke Happe was joined by fans and fellow Olympians on Nov. 26 for a grand opening celebration.

Bahrke Happe, who won an Olympic silver medal in moguls skiing at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, capped a star-studded career with the U.S. Ski Team last February winning bronze in Vancouver. She is the only U.S. freestyle skier in history to win two Olympic medals.

The new Silver Bean Coffee shop is at a convenient location for skiers coming and going from Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon. It's located just off exit 6 of I-215 in the Old Mill shopping and entertainment complex just off SR190. On ski days, it's one of the heaviest trafficked roads in Utah as skiers and snowboarders head up to the Cottonwood Canyon resorts of Brighton, Solitude, Alta and Snowbird.

WinterSports news roundup

Christy Sports has hired Liz Avery to serve as the company's vice president of finance. Avery will be responsible for the overall direction of the company's finance, accounting and treasury functions.…The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center announced it has received a $5,000 grant from Recreational Equipment Inc., to support the organization's Know Before You Go (KBYG) avalanche awareness program.…Deuter USA announced the hiring of Pinnacle Sales NW for sales representation in the Northwest region, covering Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska and Montana.…Lynsey Dyer has joined the Tecnica & Blizzard Freeride Team…Gregory Stump's newest ski film, Legend of AAHHH’s, was previewed Nov. 26 at Aspen's Wheeler Opera House. Twenty years after unleashing Blizzard of AAHHH’s upon the world, Stump returns to explore the history of ski films in his latest movie.

--Peter Kray

On Oct. 6, 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 start of 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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