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Mountain News: Vail not interested in downhill biking

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"It's a valued and good thing to be doing in the forest, but we need to do it right," he said.

No big changes expected

ASPEN, Colo. - The Aspen Skiing Co. expects no major changes from last winter, when it recorded 1.36 million skier visits at its four ski areas in Pitkin County.

"Frankly, if we had flat business levels this coming winter to last winter, it would be OK," David Perry, senior vice president, told the Aspen Times . "We wouldn't be surprised by that. It would be a reasonable outcome."

Perry said plenty of experts have been trying to divine the future, but with no clear indications. While there have been signs of economic recovery this summer, he said, that hasn't caused any bullish predictions.

Still, the ski area sees a number of positives. Airline service will improve, and two new lodging properties will open in Aspen and Snowmass Village.

Also, labour shortages are happily absent. Even though some ski area operators cut staff positions last winter, Aspen Skiing remained fully staffed, with 3,500 peak-season employees. It intends to stay that course this winter, reports the Times .

The company plans to spend "significantly more" for marketing. "During difficult economic times, people will tend to go to brands that they trust," Perry said. "There is an opportunity to reinforce our brand, its authenticity, the appeal and great value of the Aspen-Snowmass experience."

Sunshine fined in death of worker

BANFF, Alberta - The Sunshine Village Corp. has been ordered to pay $250,000 in fines and penalties as a consequence of the 2004 death of a lift maintenance worker.

Karl Stunt died after a handrail got stuck on a terminal, twisting the chair violently and causing the handrail to strike him in the back of the head.

The judge, Manfred Delong, ruled that the ski area operator had been negligent, but had committed an offense that fell only halfway to the total possibility. The money is to be used for an endowment in the victim's memory at Selkirk College in British Columbia. It is the only Canadian college that offers programming directly related to the ski industry.

But the man's father, Bill Stunt, told the Rocky Mountain Outlook that he found the proceedings "ridiculous." That the proceedings took five years sent the message that workplace safety is not a high priority.

The ski area has been advised of a number of ways to post signs to remind employees of safety.

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