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January 29, 2009

Ski Industry Retail Sales Down - But Not as Bad as It Could Be (h/t FTO)

From First Tracks Online:

"According to the (U.S.) Census Bureau the rest of retail trade is down 11%, so considering that, the snow sports market is weathering this economic downturn fairly well," said Kelly Davis, SnowSports Industries America's (SIA) Director of Research.

Overall, the snow sports market declined 1.5% in total dollars compared to August through December 2007 to $1.875 billion. Hardest hit was the alpine equipment category where current model ski sales were down 17% over last season. One bright spot in the alpine equipment category was the continuation of strong sales of twin tip and fat skis (80-95mm waist width). The snowboard category declined 5% in boards, boots and bindings. Overall apparel was down 3% but snowboard apparel, shell parkas and fleece sales remained strong and another surprising increase of more than 20% in adult one-piece suits shored up the market. Accessories continued to sell well and sales were up 4%, particularly hats, gloves, and wax that many skiers and riders purchased at resort shops.

The equipment category declined 4% in dollars overall with the deepest loss in alpine ski and equipment sold in chain stores. Alpine ski sales, particularly current year models, declined 17% over last season even while twin tips and fat skis were selling well. The biggest loser in the alpine ski category was the mid-fat ski (70-79mm waist width) category; flat mid-fat skis were down 45% and mid-fat systems were down 14%.

Alpine ski boots and bindings sales were about even with last season sales and current year models are selling well. Snowboards, snowboard boots, and snowboard bindings sales declined 5% season over season but reverse camber boards continue to sell extremely well. Nordic equipment sales declined 2% in dollars and 7% in units even though Alpine Touring equipment sales soured 23% to $4.6 million.

Apparel sales accounted for more than 40% of all dollars spent overall in the snow sports market. Fleece continues to be the big seller in the apparel market with $170 million in sales, which was flat compared with August to December sales last season. Adult shell parkas sales increased 5% season and snowboard apparel continued to sell well but increased just 1% compared to last season.

The hottest apparel trend is the surprisingly strong sales of apparel suits, for both adults and kids. More than 70,000 adult suits have been sold so far this season for a 20% increase in dollars sold, and sales of juniors suits are up 21% in dollars sold. Overall, expect to see about 125,000 new one-piece suits on the slopes.

The return of the One Piece Snow Suit. =)

On the plus side, the market is not completely tanking. It is down but not out. Let's hope that the economy picks up steam sometime soon.

Interesting the trend on fat skis versus mid fat and on twin tip versus non twin tip. That the straight midfat appears to be dying.

Posted by Justin at 05:07 PM | Comments (2)

Casino Revenue in AZ Down--How Do They Fund SCOTUS Case Against Snowbowl Now

A little note on Indian Gaming revenue:

Revenue plunged at Arizona's 22 Indian casinos during the fourth quarter, as the worsening recession kept gamblers away from the tribes' gaming tables and slot machines.

Based on fees paid to the state, the casinos' combined revenue was down 16 percent, marking the biggest quarterly drop since Arizona Indian gaming was legalized in 1993.

"People are saving their money," said Sheila Morago, executive director of the Arizona Indian Gaming Association.

The casinos don't break out revenue figures on a quarterly basis.

I guess the Sierra Club will have to make up the difference if WMA, Navajo, and Hopi gaming revenue falls... Actually, only the WMA tribe has casinos if I remember right.

I was reading a book the other day The Millionaire Mind and it talked about gambling and how almost all of the successful millionaires surveyed for the book did not gamble. Indian Casinos are especially problematic in my mind because they don't face nearly the regulation that Vegas and other casinos do.

I won't rant too much about it, but I took notice of the situation when the WMA tribe started using casino money to fight Snowbowl's snowmaking. It is their right to do, even though I disagree with their legal footing. The WMA tribe fundamentally bothers me that they run casinos and a ski resort and use the the funds from these businesses to fight Snowbowl on religious freedom grounds.

Posted by Justin at 04:57 PM | Comments (2)

Mammoth Cuts 101 Jobs

From the LA Times:

Sad but not unexpected news for employees at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area: job cuts.

CEO Rusty Gregory, in an interview with KSRW radio, or Sierra Wave, confirmed that 101 employees have been fired and other cost-cutting measures were enacted to make up for a sharp drop in skier-visits.

Revenue at the Eastern Sierra resort, which offers some of the world's finest skiing and snowboarding, is down 21% from preseason projections. And the projected number of skier visits for this season has been reduced from 1.4 million to 1.1 million.

Gregory said 10 senior managers received 5% pay cuts. Vacation time has been shortened and gas allowances have been eliminated. Gregory, however, assured that none of the cuts will jeopardize the safety of visitors.

Meanwhile, snow conditions remain outstanding and lift lines are ridiculously short. I won't say that's a good thing, because it isn't.

On a related note: Nearby June Mountain, which is under the same ownership, probably will remain open at least through February, thanks to advance bookings.

Not good news for So Cal skiers. But it turns out that not a lot of them are traveling to Mammoth anyway so they may not notice.

Posted by Justin at 04:55 PM | Comments (1)

January 20, 2009

A Sunday to Remember

Just thought I would update on part of why it has been such a slow ski season for me so far. It seems that football occurs somewhere other than football cities in January. Normally my team, the Cardinals, are done around mid-October at 2-5 or thereabouts. At that point, I cannot give a season ticket away and end up agonizing about going to games and we spend most of the day talking about draft picks and training camp.

This makes two ski weekends that were absolutely ruined by home playoff games. =)

I haven't said anything on the site because I didn't want to jinx it and in part because it seemed like a side note to even make the playoffs that once we got in, we were playing with house money anyway, but it seems that the Cardinals are not done yet.

I have in my lifetime been to an NLDS Game 5 Diamondbacks-Cardinals in 2001, a Suns-Lakers Game 7, a Suns-Clippers Game 7, several Suns-Spurs or Suns-Mavericks playoff games, and an Atlanta-Cardinals game. But nothing compared to the electricity of Sunday's NFC Championship game.

It still hasn't sunk in all the way and that is the upside of two weeks to prepare. The entire world gets to talk about my team like they mean something to someone other than the 30,000 fans that would go to a Browns or Lions or Bengals game at Sun Devil Stadium and sit on the East Side in the Sun on a 110 degree September afternoon. Or drive to Flagstaff every year just to watch training camp.

So I am heading to Brian Head this weekend, then hosting about 20 people at my place the following weekend to hope that the Cardinals shock the world and win the whole damned thing.

Posted by Justin at 10:06 AM

Sunny Skies Out West Keep Skiers Home

Not the kind of news California and western resorts want:

Fresno, CA, USA (KFSN) -- A warmer than normal holiday weekend resulted in fewer skiers in the mountains, and some tourists at Shaver Lake were surprised to see less snow than they expected this weekend. Still, very few people are complaining.

There may have been enough snow for these kids to sled down a hill; but Sylvia Murrieta was expecting a winter wonderland when she and her family travelled to Shaver Lake. "When we turned the corner, we thought, 'we're not going to find any snow.' It's all hard. Everywhere it's hard, you can't find any fluffy stuff anywhere," said Murrieta.

The lack of fresh snow led to fewer skiers at Sierra Summit. "I think the perception is, 'it hasn't snowed in the mountains, you can't be skiing.' People are just waiting for more snow," said Boomer Devaurs.

Sierra Summit operators say they make new snow every night and they're constantly grooming the runs. They say despite the lack of real snow, there is still no reason to stay away. "If they're staying home, they're missing out on some good skiing," said Devaurs.

Posted by Justin at 10:04 AM

Protest Video to Get Out There - Kinda Cool (h/t Olof)

Posted by Justin at 10:01 AM

January 19, 2009

Snowbowl Press Release on Traffic Capacity

A Press Release from AZ Snowbowl:

Ski area capacity is determined by the number of cars in the parking lots. We can hold between 1,200 and 1,400 vehicles depending on the snow conditions, plowing, icy spots, etc. We average 2.58 persons per vehicle which coincides very closely with our ticket sales and skier count of between 3,000 and 3,500. The holidays have been the historical busy days over the last ten years as our parking capacity has not changed.

Working with the Forest Service we have agreed that the way we manage the parking and Snowbowl Road ensures a consistent method to measure and manage the busier days at the ski area. We do anticipate the busiest of days to be behind us now. We have seen unprecedented numbers of snow players in Flagstaff, thus causing more traffic congestion. We have been working with local law enforcement to help ease the congestion. One recommendation is to not turn right on to Humphreys Street, but to continue straight, over Schweitzer Mesa, turn left on Route 66, then your next right to Butler Avenue and the I‐40 interchange. This is typically a much faster route.

As our parking lots fill we first turn away folks who do not have ski or snowboard gear as our rental shop is typically out of inventory. Sledders are not allowed up. When the lots are completely full, they are completely full; any additional vehicles create safety issues. We do however try to allow those with their own equipment and season pass holders up as vehicles come down the mountain. We do have parking crews monitoring the situation and communicating with others as space opens. This is a dynamic, day by day, proposition. During these busiest of times we ask for your patience and understanding. On holidays and weekends, we recommend being at the ski area by 8:30 AM. If you are renting ski or snowboard equipment from Snowbowl, please be here by 8:00 AM. This will give you plenty of time to get safely on the slopes.

Please finalize the snowmaking decision at the SCOTUS and get this fixed. PLEASE!

Posted by Justin at 10:37 AM

January 15, 2009

Skiers Ski All 13 Utah Resorts in One Day

From Ski Utah:

Salt Lake City, UT - On Tuesday, Ski Utah and a team of nine skiers successfully skied all 13 Utah ski and snowboard resorts in a single day. This is the first time in history that every resort in the state has been skied in one day, breaking the record of 11 resorts in a day set during the 2003-04 winter season.

The mission began at Brian Head Resort in southern Utah at 4 a.m. The team drove to the Giant Steps run and enjoyed pristine corduroy snow under the light of a large moon. Mother Nature continued to provide perfect bluebird weather conditions throughout the day. Spectacular snow conditions were complemented with perfect temperatures, mountain-blue skies, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. The final stop was at Beaver Mountain, near Logan Utah, over 360 miles north of the mission’s starting place. The group arrived at Beaver Mountain just before 8 p.m. and enjoyed three celebratory runs off the Little Beaver Lift. In between, Ski Utah staffer Chris Pearson shuttled the group from ski area to ski area by van.

"With an international airport just minutes from our mountains, Utah is the most accessible winter destination in the world,” commented Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty. “Skiing 13 in a day, using only a van and skis, really underscores this point."

The team assembled by Ski Utah to accomplish the feat included: Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News; Amy Anderson, Park City Television; Bill Weidner, Ski Utah Member; Jessica Kunzer, Ski Utah; Andy Bauman, Park City Television; Jake Bogoch, Skiing Magazine; Kendall Card, Ski Utah; and Brian Schott, Freelance Writer.

Good times. The Wasatch Front rocks. So much to ski and so close to everything.

Posted by Justin at 01:16 PM

Skiers Get Lost Near Powder Moutain, UT - Spend Cold Night

From the SLC Tribune:

A husband and wife spent a night huddled against a rock after skiing outside the boundaries of Powder Mountain resort in Eden, the resort's snow safety director said.

Following some tracks, the pair skied out of the eastern side of the resort, at about 2 p.m. Monday, said Powder Mountain snow safety director Roger Arave.

They continued down a canyon in the La Plata area, ending up about three to five miles outside the resort boundaries. Though they passed boundary several signs, foggy conditions made visibility poor, Arave said.

The pair decided to find a protected place to spend the night, Arave said.

The next day, they futilely tried to reach the resort again on their own until about 3 p.m., when they were found by a group of snowmobilers from the nearby Monte Cristo recreation area.

Though they were without matches or a cell phone, the pair made it through the experience unscathed, Arave said.

"They seemed to be in pretty good shape for the ordeal they had been through," he said.

Glad they made it out OK.

Posted by Justin at 01:14 PM

Season 4.5 of Battlestar Galactica Starts Tomorrow

Just a random note--BSG wraps in 10 weeks. I just finished watching season 4.0 about an hour ago and am stoked for the final half season to get going.

Great Spoiler Site Patriot Resource has a spoiler synopsis of episode 4.11:

The fleet copes with finding an uninhabited and uninhabitable Earth. The leadership struggles with what to tell the fleet after such a huge disappointment. Meanwhile, the Four Cylons start to remember their previous life. Tyrol has flashbacks to a previous life on a populated Earth and the day the Cylons destroyed themselves. Apparently, the four then went into hiding, suppressed their own memories and eventually began new lives in the colonies. Kara finds a burned out ship and something on it (her own body?) that freaks her out. She burns the evidence. Leoben is around so he must have some knowledge of Kara's discovery. D'Anna ends up getting left behind on Earth when the combined fleet leaves. The Final Cylon appears on Earth although we don't know when or who sees them. Our guess is that D'Anna is the one to see the Final Cylon.

H/T Erich for taking season 1 on a ski trip with us three years ago to Brian Head.

Posted by Justin at 01:08 PM

January 12, 2009

Ferry Resigns Over Front Range Riff-Raff Comments

Interesting Comments from Vail Chamber and Business Association Executive Director Kaye Ferry over the Epic Pass:

“They’re paying $2,500 a night for a room, and then they’re fearing for the lives of their grandkids when they go skiing over Christmas,” Ferry said of Vail’s traditionally upscale, destination clientele.

“Throughout the history of (Vail) we have appealed to exclusivity. The only people we let up there during Christmas are the ones with the big homes and their ski instructors. We had eliminated the Front Range riff-raff, and all of a sudden we’re selling a pass that’s to the masses.”

Well said...

Now find a new job, bitch:

Kaye Ferry, the outspoken and sometimes controversial executive director of the Vail Chamber and Business Association, has resigned in the wake of comments to Colorado Confidential last week in which she labeled Denver day skiers “Front Range riff-raff.”

Ferry denied making the comment, although she stood by her concerns about the potential parking, traffic and skier-safety impacts of Vail Resorts’ new $579 Epic Pass. The story was picked up by mainstream media such as the Denver Post and caused a flurry of negative comments on Web sites around the state. Colorado Confidential stands by the accuracy of Ferry’s quotes.

The Vail Town Council late last week collectively sent a letter to board members of the Vail Chamber suggesting Ferry be asked to resign. On Saturday, Susie Tjossem, executive director of the Vail-based Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame and also a Vail Chamber board member, sent a letter to town council members announcing Ferry’s resignation.

I guess my family of moderate means is riff-raff that your grandkids need to be scared of.

Posted by Justin at 03:25 PM

Vail Resorts Skier Visits Down 5%

From the Wall Street Journal:

The snow fell early and often at most of Vail Resorts Inc.'s properties, but the avalanche of the bad economic news still took its toll. The company on Friday said that skier visits and forward bookings have declined for the season to date.

Vail Resorts said that from the start of the season through Jan. 6, total skier visits to its five properties were off 5.8% compared with the same period a year ago, while lift-ticket revenue fell 7.5%. Bookings as of Dec. 31 are down 14.8% on a room-night basis.

While the company's shares tumbled sharply on the early morning news, they partially rebounded and some analysts said it appeared that bookings were holding up better than expected...

The drop in lift-ticket revenue was higher than that of visits largely due to more traffic from season-pass holders, according to Mr. Katz. Ancillary revenues -- that is, from dining, retail and rentals -- were off about the same as lift tickets. The ski school was off roughly 20%.

"We believe the greater decline in ski-school revenue was due to lower guest spending on certain higher-priced items during their trip, a trend that was matched in lower check averages at certain of our fine-dine restaurants," the executive said.

Looking ahead, Mr. Katz noted that booking trends have improved from the 23.3% decline reported early last month -- an indication that "many of our guests are booking closer in, which we saw evidence of in the recently concluded current-year holiday period."...

Separately, Aspen Skiing Co. said skier visits were down 8% during the two weeks that covered Christmas and New Year's Day, compared with last year. Company officials had projected that visits would fall between 5% and 15% over the holidays.

A spokesmen for Aspen Skiing said that the week of Dec. 21-27 was noticeably down compared with last year but Dec. 28 through Jan. 3 was as strong, if not stronger, than last year.

5-10% decrease in skier visits during this economic crisis when unemployment has gone from around 4.8% to 7+% in a year...

Count your blessings.

Posted by Justin at 03:18 PM | Comments (1)

Brokeback Mountain Ski Area Participates in Vail Skier Rescue

From my friends at BrokeBack Mountain Ski Area:

Beautiful. A little photoshop works wonders.

Kudos to Beth Clark at BMSA.

Posted by Justin at 02:55 PM | Comments (1)

January 08, 2009

Not All Bad News - Economy Not Hurting Skier Visits As Much As Thought

First Tracks brings more economic info about the industry:

Reports recently released from U.S. ski areas confirm what a previous study indicated: that skiers and snowboarders continue to hit the slopes in strong numbers despite current economic conditions, as long as conditions remain snowy. According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), a random survey of several dozen ski areas nationwide revealed that skiers and riders showed up in numbers similar to last season's holiday period, and in some cases, in record numbers. Some resorts are reporting visits up 40 percent over last year's Christmas holiday period. ..

Visits also appear to be strong in the West, with Colorado's Arapahoe Basin, Powderhorn and Winter Park all reporting record-setting days. Vail Resorts, owner of Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Vail Mountain, and California's Heavenly Resort, said it planned to release visitation numbers later in the week. In Utah, Park City reports visits tracked on pace with last year, thanks in part to its accessibility to an international airport. In California, Mountain High, just outside of L.A., reports visits up more than 40 percent over last year. Meanwhile Mammoth Mountain reports that while it went into the holiday period behind last year's figures, it finished December up one percent over the previous season.

This fall reported season pass sales across the nation were at record levels, while advance hotel bookings were reportedly soft for some destination resorts. But where there was early snow, resorts are reporting that skiers are coming out at, or in higher numbers than last year and above the 10 year average thus far.

An October survey of a national sampling of skiers and snowboarders showed that the total number of days they intended to hits the slopes tracked on pace with last year across every region of the country. More than half of surveyed consumers said they will seek out destinations closer to home. About 50 percent also indicated they will seek out more affordable lodging options and reduce the amount they spend on food and beverage during their trips. Many skiers and riders indicate they may shave off a day or two from their longest overnight skiing/snowboarding trip.

Pray for Snow. That is all I can say. And pray that people continue to visit resorts, just cut back slightly on their food and drink spending, go closer to home, take shorter trips, and spend less on lodging. These are good things anyway as they tend to bring down prices. Resorts will lower their prices to be more competitive and this is good for everyone. Hotels lower prices to compete with bargain down mountain places.

But predictions for things being completely dire seem to be exagerated. This is very good news.

Posted by Justin at 12:20 PM | Comments (2)

Bargain Hunters, Juniors, Apparel Keep Industry Afloat

From First Tracks Online:

While the overall retail market struggled to make it into the black after Thanksgiving, the ski and snowboard retail market remained healthy with 3% growth according to SnowSports Industries America's (SIA) own research. August to November snow sports sales surpassed $917 million as the overall retail market faltered in the recession's nadir. SIA further reports that carryover and juniors' equipment sales continued to lead the snow sports hard goods market, while sales of this season's alpine ski and snowboard equipment sagged. Cross country ski equipment is a bright spot in the hard goods category with 14% growth season over season...

Sales of carryover gear continued to account for a significant portion of equipment sales in November. Carryover accounted for 30% of skis, 23% of snowboards, 21% of ski boots, and 23% of snowboard boots sold August to November 2008. Compare that to last season's August to November results when carryover sales accounted for just 20% of skis and 21% of snowboards sold and millions fewer dollars spent.

However, sales of current year model alpine ski equipment sagged heavily with most ski categories down significantly. In fact, excluding carryover sales, current model alpine ski sales are down about 16%. Ski prices are up across the board but dollar sales of skis (including carryover) are down almost 7% despite the increase...

Parents didn't slow their spending on equipment and apparel for the kids in November. Overall, junior's equipment sales increased 12%; junior ski sales were up 21% in dollars, junior snowboard sales increased 1% in dollars. Parents were not skimping on apparel for their kids either, junior apparel sales increased 7% and a surprise in the numbers was sales of junior snow suits that increased more than 40% in units and in dollars...

Chain stores' equipment sales continue to sink with total decreases of 21% in dollars and 19% in units. Alpine ski sales are down 24% and snowboard equipment sales decreased 22%. Chain stores equipment sales accounted for just 11% of all equipment sales in the U.S. snow sports marketplace from August to November. Apparel sales made up half of all chain store snow sports sales August through November 2008.

Sports Authority by my house has already taken down their entire ski section and moved in Watersports equipment. They did this mid-December.

Junior ski sales up 21%, snowboard sales up 1%. Interesting. Worth noting.

Posted by Justin at 12:12 PM | Comments (1)

Warren Miller on the Yellowstone Club

New West brings this article from Warren Miller on the Yellowstone Club - the haven for the uberrich in Montana near Big Sky:

Lately I have read numerous newspaper articles about, “the haven for the rich and famous at the Yellowstone Club in Montana. Its’ gated community guards the super rich from being bothered by less fortunate people.” I signed on as the director of skiing at the club two years before the first lift was installed because its 14,000 acres of private property would continue to provide a wilderness experience for my children and my grandchildren. I bet my over-half-a-century reputation as an extreme sports movie producer that my own vision of the Yellowstone Club would someday become a reality. It has done that and then some...

Almost every member of The Yellowstone Club is a self made, very successful person and can’t avoid being Economically Stratified. Can they pay more for a cup of Starbucks coffee than you can? Do they still drive all night to go skiing close to where they live when they don’t have time for their Montana vacation? Yes, and they do that on a lot of weekends.

What would happen if one of the wealthiest people in the world showed up at Vail or Aspen with his wife and children? They would be mobbed by people wherever they went! The privacy that every member of the Yellowstone Club has earned by their hard work is highly treasured by them.

I have less of a problem with the Yellowstone Club that sits on private property, not leased USFS Land, than the Vails and the Aspens of the world that are public resorts and charge rates that the public cannot afford.

If the rich want to isolate themselves in their own castles to keep the riff raff from bothering them, who am I to object, so long as they do not use public land and public financing to do so. I like the concept of private, exclusive resorts, golf courses, etc. If you can afford it, buy it. Just don't use shady means like BLM land swaps to do it. There is plenty of that sort of stuff going on and I am left to believe the Yellowstone Club was on the up and up, just like Beaver's Elk Meadows proposed resort is.

I have written a lot about the increasing price of skiing and the negative effect it has on the sport. On gentrification of ski towns. On escalating commutes for ski workers. On low wages. On all of the visa'ed workers because your average US worker won't take the low wages.

I don't dislike resorts or the rich by any stretch. I just think that many of the macroeconomic decisions by the resort industry as a whole are hurting families and making skiing such an exclusive sport that you have to make $150k a year to do it. Yellowstone Club ups the ante on exclusive from $150k a year to owning at least a multimillion dollar home. You have to be worth $10M or more.

I agree with Warren Miller in defending the hard working folks that have earned their wealth and defending their right to own property wherever they see fit, be it on a golf course, next to the ocean, or at a ski resort in Montana. It is quite dissimilar from thousands of moderately rich folks take over a town, force out the locals with high real estate prices, and swamp a public resort with escalating traffic and high prices. But that is the industry model.

Posted by Justin at 11:51 AM

Chairlift Catches Pants, Hillarity Ensues

A little humor for you from Vail:

Wardrobe malfunctions don't just happen to celebrities. A 48-year-old skier was left hanging upside down, half naked on a chair lift at the Blue Sky Basin at the Vail Ski Resort in Vail, Colorado. His pants and underwear were apparently caught in the ski lift, leaving him bare bottomed and exposed.

Fortunately, the man, who has not yet been named, was not hurt.

How Did It Happen? Vail Snow Job?

The Vail skier, being called the naked skier by online searchers was hanging upside down for approximately seven minutes, a Vail spokeswoman Liz Biebl said. (Associated Press) The Smoking Gun reports it was 15 minutes. He had fallen through a raised chair lift and his his pants got caught on the chair when he fell, according to FOX.

Specifics about how the man could have ended up hanging from the chair were not released by the Blue Sky Basin in Vail, Colorado. More details about how the Vail skier started his New Year as the naked skier, were reported by The Smoking Gun and the Vail Daily.

The chair was not lowered as it should have been and the Vail skier fell through the gap. A child who was with the man is shown seated in the chair lift, as the man dangles beneath the chair lift, suspended in place by his right ski.

Photo Fall Out

The photo of the so-called naked skier, who was really only half-naked, resulted in a suspended job for the photographer, Marty Odom. Odom was not working in a professional capacity when he shot the photos, although he is a professional photographer.

He was at the Blue Ski Basin in Vail, Colorado skiing and he took the now famous photos of the naked Vail skier with his own camera. His images of the upside down skier were published in the Vail Daily, and Odom's employer, SharpShooters claim the suspension is due to the non-compete clause he signed.

Odom was doing what any other trained photographer would do, get the shot. The man was being helped, although not yet down from the chair lift when the photos were shot. History and pop culture are filled with priceless photos taken by photographers in the right place at the right time.

Posted by Justin at 10:48 AM

January 02, 2009

Aspen New Years Bomb Threat

New Years got ruined in Aspen by a Bomb Threat:

ASPEN, Colo. - They rang in 2009 a day late in Aspen after a former resident unhappy that his hometown has become a resort playground for the wealthy vowed "mass death" and left four bombs around downtown before killing himself.

Aspen police say James Chester Blanning, a 72-year-old who skied competitively as a teen but had grown bitter about his hometown, walked into two downtown banks Wednesday afternoon and left gift-wrapped bombs made of gasoline and cell phone components...

Blanning's bombs caused the evacuation a 16-block area - nearly all of downtown Aspen. The evacuation lasted until 4 a.m., meaning the resort's hallmark mountaintop firework display and ritzy downtown parties were canceled.

Aspen restaurants and high-end stores tried to recapture the holiday spirit Thursday night with a rescheduled fireworks display. Revelers even started chanting a New Year's Eve-style countdown. But the party numbered in the hundreds, not the thousands...

He gave no motive for the bombs, other than vague statement expressing hatred for President George W. Bush. The he added, "I was and am a good man." Linn said Blanning acted alone.

Aspen residents recalled Blanning as an eccentric who grew up fascinated by Aspen's past as a silver mining town. People who knew Blanning say he became disenchanted with his hometown as it became an increasingly exclusive destination for the wealthy.

Mary Eshbaugh Hayes, who writes a weekly society column for The Aspen Times, knew Blanning as a boy and once employed him as a driver for her trucking company. Hayes recalls firing Blanning, a noted skier in high school, because he was unreliable.

"He was a very good skier, but he didn't really fit into the new Aspen," Hayes said Thursday.


Posted by Justin at 02:11 PM