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Mountain News: Canmore to get another bite of Olympic apple?



CANMORE, Alta. — It was a pretty good party the last time that Calgary and Canmore hosted the Winter Olympics. That was in 1988, and it helped lift Calgary out of the doldrums and change Canmore from a dumpy coal-mining town near the entrance to Banff National Park into the high-end resort town.

Calgary's city council recently has approved $5 million to explore a bid for the 2026 Olympics. Their next step is to earn the backing of the Canadian Olympic Committee. The International Olympic Committee will make a decision in 2019.

The $52 billion spent by Russia to host the Sochi Olympics plays into Calgary's bid. This compares with $7.7 billion for the 2010 Vancouver-Whistler Olympics.

The IOC has indicated it wants to lower the costs for hosts, and one way to do that is to re-use facilities.

"We wouldn't be doing this if we weren't satisfied that the IOC is going to look at existing facilities and come back to original cities that have supported and had the Olympics," Doug Mitchell, chair of the group that has been working for two-and-a-half years to prepare Calgary's proposal, told the Globe & Mail.

One of the city councillors in Calgary said that the city, now mired economically because of low oil prices, is in almost exactly the place it was in 1981, when it previously bid for the 1988 Olympics. "We have a troubled economy at the moment," said Richard Pootmans. "Why not have an inspiring large project to re-energize the city?"

Both Canmore, which hosted Nordic events, and Calgary still have quality venues in place from 1988, the newspaper notes. If this happens, it adds, the 2026 Olympics might earn the sobriquet as the Sensible Games.

Talking heads in Aspen

ASPEN, Colo. — Whether measured by private jets, toilet flushes, or talking heads, Aspen gets extremely busy in late June.

First came the Aspen Food & Wine Classic. The affair resulted in the landing of 220 private jets, the pouring of at least 20,000 bottles of wine, and more than 7,900 square-metres of tents, according to statistics compiled by the Aspen Daily News.

Then there were two major conferences. Iceland's president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, told attendees of the America Renewable Energy Days conference that embracing renewable energy has helped transform his country from one of the poorest countries in Europe to an international economic success story.

National figures were yakety-yakking like crazy at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, defended the U.S. support for Boeing's deal with Iran, a country with missiles aimed at Israel.

"Doing business is the best way to create vested interests and furthering transformation," he said, but added: "It's complex, folks."

But it wasn't all politics and statecraft.

Elsewhere during the Ideas Festival, Caitlyn Jenner, the 1976 decathlon gold-winner in the Olympics at Montreal, talked about the suicide rate among transgender people. She said that 41 per cent of transgender people under the age of 21 have attempted suicide.

Jenner said that she herself contemplated suicide in 2013 when she learned of the impending publication of a story about her intention to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

Upon reflection, she decided that she didn't want her story to end that way. And the last year, she reported, has been the best of her life. She feels authentic, "like thousands of pounds of weight lifted off your shoulders."

So yes, Aspen has been busy. But how many people have been in town? It's an imprecise science, but one technique long used in Vail and other mountain towns has been dubbed the flush factor. Use of water varies between 70 and 120 gallons per day, according to the Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District.

Using that formula, Aspen has a peak population of between 15,000 and 25,714, both on the July Fourth weekend and on New Year's Day. That's about double the off-season low in early May.