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Mountain News: slacker snowboarders boarding less



MISSING BOARDERS The growth and popularity of snowboarding appears to be on the decline.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Statisticians who monitor the ski industry report a continued trend that should disturb ski area operators. Young snowboarders, who boosted numbers at ski areas for 20 years as baby boomers began to cut back their visits, have become slackers.

Covering the annual meeting of the National Ski Areas Association, The Denver Post explains that snowboarders grew from 7.7 per cent of visits at U.S. resorts in 1991 to 32.7 per cent in 2009-210. But in the two seasons since then, the percentage has now fallen to 30.2 per cent.

"We got used to snowboarding becoming this giant engine of visitation, and they were our saviors. They are not anymore, and we ignore that at our peril," said Nate Fristoe, director of operations at RRC Associates, a Colorado-based research firm. The phenomenon is not limited to any one part of the country, Fristoe said.

The cause? Essentially, snowboarders are growing up and having their families — and not spending as much time on the slopes. Fristoe sees a further decline during this decade.

A glaring example of the drop-off can be found at California's Mountain High. Located a 45-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles, a decade ago the small ski area in the San Gabriel Mountains was attracting a multi-hued throng of visitors. Skate and beach culture was transferring to the slopes. But with nearly identical weather in November, the resort had roughly half as many visits as the same month in 2002, The Post says.

Banff griz lives good life at compost pile

BANFF, Alberta — One of the 60 grizzly bears in Banff National Park has been living the good life, chewing on steak bones and scarfing down corn on the cob at a composting facility near Banff.

Town officials said the composting operation had worked imperfectly. They erected a 9,500-volt electric fence to keep the bear out.

The bear had been outfitted with a GPS collar as part of a $1 million research project aimed at reducing grizzly bear mortality, particularly on the train tracks through Banff and Yoho national parks. Trains kill one to two grizzlies on average each year in the parks.

The GPS showed that this large, male grizzly had also visited the train tracks to eat grain and canola, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Crested Butte in talks with mining company

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. — Since the 1970s, efforts to develop a molybdenum deposit on Mount Emmons, Crested Butte's lovely backyard, have resurfaced about every 10 years.

Crested Butte has fought this with exceptional vigor. The local reverence for the mountain is reflected in its nickname, The Red Lady. But there's a very practical reason for their concern: from the mountain comes the water that flows through the town. Despite Crested Butte's legacy as a mining town, as seen from a local perspective, the new mining would produce nothing but disaster.