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Mountain News: Colorado dams make a Gogh of it

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Having read the assigned essays about the Middle East, one student discussed the subject with the strangers for eight minutes. He didn't recognize the man.

The student was floored when informed later that he had been discussing world affairs with Bill Gates. Gates and his wife, Melinda, visit one school per year. This year it was Eagle Valley, one of 13 school districts across Colorado to benefit from a $900,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The school is 59 kilometres down-valley from Vail.

The Vail Daily explains that the couple arrived at 8 a.m. and left just before the final bell, after finally identifying themselves through the school intercom to students and staff. Save for school personnel and local police, who were sworn to secrecy, none had been informed of the visit. But word soon leaked out via Facebook postings and other devices.

The system funded by the Gates measures how well teachers are presenting curriculum and how well students are absorbing it, measured through data from standardized testing, explains the Vail Daily.

Personalize, specialize your resort products

PARK CITY, Utah — Trends expert Daniel Levine told an audience in Park City that they should heed five trends, which he described as having more permanence than a fad.

First, personalize products, to allow consumers to tailor an experience or product. But also specialize, producing offerings for defined demographics One example from New York is of "men aisles" in grocery stores, which has items that might appeal more generally to men, according to an account in The Park Record.

Also, he said, be transparent: you can't withhold information from customers (about lousy snow conditions, perhaps), because the information is available on the Internet.

And finally create memorable experiences but also be aware that people have become more value-conscious. "Authenticity is a big word we are using a lot recently, and it's important. Be authentic," said Levine.

Banff biz up and new flights may help more

BANFF, Alberta — Tourism in Banff and in Banff National Park rose last summer, although not to the banner year of 2007-2008. The number of guests visiting the park from April through September increased 2.3 per cent compared to 2010.

With the ski areas from Lake Louise to Norquay now open or soon to open, winter tourism boosters also remain hopeful. Buoying their hope, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook, is increased frequency of flights from Sydney, Australia, to Vancouver, and also flights from Tokyo to Calgary.

Ski companies move dispute to court room

PARK CITY, Utah — Two of the three ski area operators at Park City, Talisker and Park City Mountain Resort, have taken their legal sniping into court.