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Mountain News: Avalanche victim widow sues Intrawest



WINTER PARK, Colo. — The widow of a man killed in an avalanche last January at the Winter Park ski area has sued the ski area operator, Intrawest.

The lawsuit alleges that Winter Park officials should have known that slopes within the boundaries of the ski area could have been prone to avalanche.

The victim, Christopher Norris, died Jan. 22 while skiing in a forested area called Testle Trees.

James Heckbert, an attorney on behalf of the victim's family, told the Sky-Hi Daily News, that avalanches are not part of the inherent risk of skiing that, by Colorado law, protects ski area operators from suits.

"Ski areas are the experts. There is inherent risk as a part of skiing. You may hit a rock. that is part of skiing in a ski area. That is an inherent risk. An avalanche is not part of the inherent risk at a ski resort," he said.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center on that weekend had warned that triggering avalanches on any snow-covered slope of 30 degrees or steeper was likely. "Triggering slides will be easy today," said the report.

Aspen weighing need for lower-cost lodging

ASPEN, Colo. — For decades, Aspen has been resisting the image of being an exclusive resort that caters to only the world's wealthiest residents. But can a case be made that a deliberate strategy must be adopted to deliver a lower price point for tourists?

That's the fundamental question examined in a new lodging study sponsored by the city government. The study found that average hotel lodging rates grew 40 percent during the rah-rah years of 2003-2007. This run-up produced a gain of 49 percent in lodging tax revenues for the city government.

Another revealing statistic: Aspen lost 27 per cent of its total bed base inventory between 1994 and 2007.

The new report, according to the Aspen Daily News includes interviews with various individual and groups in Aspen as to their views. One view is that government need not tinker with the market place. "You have to pay for the quality of Aspen: the natural environment, the scenic view, the recreation, the arts and culture, the historic buildings," according to long-time planning consultant Stan Clausen.

But the Aspen Skiing Co. sees a soft underbelly to its own success. The company operates the valley's four ski areas along with its plushest hotel, the Little Nell.

Despite the loyalty of visitors to the Little Nell, as they move past 60 and 70, they're visiting less often. The task, says the ski company, is to stay relevant to young people — something the company has tried to do through its sponsorship of the X Games.

"Young people are more adventuresome and value conscious, and they're getting bombarded by marketing," said the company in its response to the study. "This generation will have 15 jobs in their lifetime, while the older generations had two — in general, the sense of loyalty is not as strong as it was."