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Mountain News: Shrinking glaciers a concern

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Skiing spread from Aspen

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. - Time and again come reminders of just how important Aspen was in the post-World War II explosion of ski areas. Vail, Telluride - it was like a concentric circle.

Consider Breckenridge, a molding mining town slowly receding back into the wilderness in 1959, a century after gold miners flooded the Blue River Valley.

In a piece published in the Summit Daily News , Josh Galvin points out that during that year Aspen had two Norwegians who were working as ski instructors. World-class skiers in their own right, they were assisting Stein Eriksen, the director of skiing at Aspen Highlands (who now owns a lodge at Deer Valley).

While in Aspen, the Norwegians met Bill Rounds, whose family was in the lumber business, and they convinced him to explore the opportunities of Breckenridge. He did, and opened a lumber store - which still exists today. And Rounds started the ski area at Breckenridge, with the aid of the Norwegians, Trygve Berge and Sigurd Rockne, who designed and cut the first ski trails.

Berge went on to become the first ski school director at Breckenridge and owned the original Norway Haus ski shop. Rockne opened one of the first fine-dining restaurants there. And they introduced the very popular Ullr Fest, which comes from Norway but remains a tradition in Breckenridge.

"A word to the wise," adds Galvin. "If you happen to run into Sigurd (70+years old) when you are out and about, don't get suckered into an arm-wrestling match. He will turn you into a 'gurly man' in a NY minute."

 

No evidence of exodus, yet

AVON, Colo. - When the Great Recession arrived like a backed up sewer and the real-estate sector of ski towns slowed to the pace of a nursing home, predictions soon began of a mass exodus of people dependent upon real estate and construction.

That was in late 2008, and it may happen yet. But, so far, there is no evidence of streets suddenly vacated, as has happened in the past when energy and mining booms in the West have suddenly gone bust.

In fact, enrollment in public schools of the Eagle Valley - an area that includes Vail, Avon, and Eagle - grew substantially this year. That may have included some students who had previously been attending private schools in the valley, but the Vail Daily notes that the programs designed for children of immigrants who don't speak fluent English grew by 250. Total enrollment increase was 450. Enrollment has increased every year since 1997.

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