Mountain Town News: Alberta considers 2026, Vonn takes on Trump, wolves return to Colorado
Park Record contributing writer
Canmore & Calgary plan studies of 2026 Olympics
CANMORE, Alberta – Elected officials in Canmore last week agreed to spend $200,000 to bring on consultants to help the municipality at the entrance to Banff National Park to consider being part of a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.
Calgary, located about an hour east along the Bow River, had previously agreed to spend $3 million for a similar study.
Calgary and Canmore teamed up to host the Winter Olympics in 1988. Hosting the Nordic events helped Canmore transition from a former coal-mining town to a major snow-sport destination.
Mayor John Borrowman described the study going forward creating “an understanding of what an actual commitment might be for the Town of Canmore and the future benefit. We have said regularly, and in many ways, we are not prepared to be pulled along on this. We have our own decisions to make.”
The Rocky Mountain Outlook reports that a high-level financial analysis has estimated potential revenue for the 2026 Calgary/Canmore games at $2.19 billion, with expenses of $4.57 billion. That would leave taxpayers on the hook for $2.41 billion, with half of that expected to be covered by the federal government.
Hosting the Olympics always requires massive investments, and costs invariably are higher than projected.
According to the FiveThirtyEight, Bent Flyvbjerg at the University of Oxford’s Said Business School found an average 156 percent cost overruns for hosting the Olympics. This compares to 20 percent overruns for road projects, 34 percent for bridges and tunnels, 45 percent for rail projects, 90 percent for dams.
In 2014, Stockholm, Lviv, Krakow, and Oslo all withdrew their bids for the 2022 Winter Games because of ballooning costs.
Forbes magazine in 2016 examined the costs of hosting the Olympics, winter and summer, since Barcelona in 1992. Winter comes cheaper than summer, with the exception of Russia’s Sochi Olympics in 2014.
Vancouver’s $2.54 billion cost for the 2014 Winter Olympics was a 13 percent cost overrun. Salt Lake City’s $2.52 billion was among the leaner operations, and the cost overrun was only 24 percent.
Lindsey Vonn stirs it up in remarks about White House
St. MORITZ, Switzerland – Three-time Olympian Lindsey Vonn had tongues wagging on Facebook and elsewhere in the last week after she told CNN that she would “absolutely not” visit the White House if the U.S. Olympic Team gets invited, as is the tradition, after the team’s participation in the Olympics in South Korea.
“I mean, it’s not necessarily my place to be sticking my nose in politics, but as an athlete, I do have a voice,” she told reporters later.
As recounted by the Associated Press, Vonn did not mention President Donald trump by name, but she did say she admired San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — a subject of Trump’s derogatory Tweets.
“Athletes, and sport in general, should be apolitical. Unfortunately, the Olympic movement has been corrupted by world politics since the very beginning….” said one Facebook user in Colorado. “You can respect the office without necessarily liking the individual holding that office,” said another on Facebook.
But others supported her. “Atta girl,” said a woman. “It has been profoundly said, and how true it is, that the only thing necessary for evil to exist is for good people to remain silent,” said another, quoting Edmund Burke, the 18th century Irish statesman.
In a Facebook posting Tuesday morning Vonn shared that her comments “opened up my eyes as to how divided we are right now.” She said she had heard from people who wished for her to break her neck. “We need to find a way to put aside our differences and find common ground in communicating,” she said.
But she also indicated that the United States is not moving in the right direction.
“I am proud to be an American, and I want our country to continue to be a symbol of hope, compassion, inclusion and world unity,” she wrote. “My travels around the world have recently made clear that this is no longer how people view the United States.”
International visits to U.S. slide in Trump presidency
International visitation to the United States was down nearly 4 percent in the first months of 2017. How much of that was due to the election of Donald Trump as president?
The Associated Press notes that many sectors of the travel industry had warned Trump’s anti-foreigner rhetoric and immigration policies would lead to a drop in tourism to the United States.
In fact, there were fewer visitors from most regions of the world, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce National Travel and Tourism Office.
Canadians were the exception. Their visits to the United States were up 5 percent.
Hot tempers in Steamboat about returning wolves
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Colorado began talking about restoring wolves in the 1990s, and in 2004, evidence that at least one had loped down from Colorado turned up on I-70 west of Denver. It had been hit by a car.
More have followed, but the Sierra Club and allied environmental groups would like to pick up the lobo pace with reintroductions in western Colorado.
Last week 100 people showed up to hear Sierra Club ecologist Delia Malone make the case for restoring wolf packs. “Our singular goal is to return wolves to Colorado. We want to do that because we know we will restore Colorado’s natural balance if we can do that,” said Malone, in a report by Tom Ross of Steamboat Today.
The evidence for why Colorado should get wolves is found in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, where wolves were first reintroduced in 1994.
Changes, broad and wide, have benefited biodiversity, she said. Predation of wolves on elk in Yellowstone has ended overgrazing and allowed willows to grow back along stream banks. This riparian revegetation has in turn allowed smaller animals to flourish.
“The beaver are coming back, there is more waterfowl in the streams and beaver ponds, we’ve seen the recovery of cutthroat trout, amphibians, and pronghorns, all with the return of the wolf,” she said.
Not all were persuaded. One protest came from a rancher who makes ancillary income by guiding elk hunters.
“We’re talking about peoples’ lives, and you’re talking about a damned dog,” said one. “You’re ruining peoples’ lives just so you can see a wolf running through the snow. To me, that’s pathetic, absolutely pathetic.”
Malone, reported Steamboat Today, countered that hunters in Idaho and Montana have found increased successes since wolves were reintroduced there. Unlike human hunters, who go for the trophies, wolves cull the sickly and elderly animals.
No panic as snow late to arrive to Colorado Rockies
TELLURIDE, Colo. – Telluride opened last week, two weeks after its originally scheduled opening, a reflection of the warm weather and lack of snow. In Aspen, the ski area operator this week was serving dinner three nights to lift-ops and other seasonal employees who hadn’t been able to work yet because of low-snow conditions.
Time to panic? In Aspen, those early-season soup kitchens had been conducted at least 6 times in 15 years, and probably more.
In the San Juans, nobody was sounding alarmed when the Telluride Daily Planet went asking questions.
“We’re not concerned about a late start,” Elena Withers, store manager at BootDoctors. ”It’s unfortunate, but it’s happened before,” she said.
“If we’re looking at the same thing in January that we’re looking at now, we’re all going to be in trouble,” said Neil Hastings, director of marketing at Mountain Lodge, a hotel at Mountain Village. “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Michael Martelon, chief executive of the tourism board, pointed out that last year Telluride had the second most snowfall since opening in 1972. “It’s still a beautiful place,” he said. “It’s our ability to roll with the punches here.”
Vail pumping $66 million into more uphill capacity at Whistler
WHISTLER, B.C. – Vail Resorts has announced it will spend $66 million during the next year to increase the uphill capacity at Whistler Blackcomb.
The company, according to Pique newsmagazine, will add a 10-person gondola that will be able to move 4,000 people per hour. Two new lifts will also increase capacity incrementally over existing lifts.
“It’s not about packing people on the mountain. It’s about making the experience better for people that are already there,” said Peter Sonntag, the general manager for Whistler Blackcomb.
For now at least, Vail won’t be pursuing an indoor water park at the base of the mountain, an idea announced two years ago by prior owners. The idea, in part, was to provide rainy day activities for visitors.
Why won’t Amazon make house calls during Christmas?
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Crested Butte prefers to get busy around Christmas time, but not the way it has been of late. The post office, which is two miles away from the ski area, is located on Elk Avenue, the town’s location of shops, restaurants, and so forth.
Lately, as people have begun to buy Christmas gifts online instead of at retail stores, this has resulted in Amazon sending merchandise through the U.S. Mail. Ergo, that means lots of people showing up at the post office to pick up packages.
One suggestion of mayoral candidate Jim Schmidt was to contact Amazon, “to see if they could have their deliveries made to houses instead of the post office.”
Dara MacDonald, the town manager, has done just that, telling Bezos that many places in rural America do not have home delivery of mail.
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Results of a nonscientific survey essentially show an even split between places that say the pedestrian days have resulted in an increase in sales and those that say they haven’t.