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September 21, 2013
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Ski Town News Roundup

Park City Mountain Resort secures right to expand lawsuit

The 3rd District Court judge presiding over the lawsuit between Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) and Talisker Land Holdings, LLC ruled on Wednesday that PCMR is able to claim that the resort was denied the right of first refusal on the Talisker land, which underlies much of the PCMR terrain.

Judge Ryan Harris also ruled that PCMR is able to add a point to the lawsuit claiming that there might have been a violation of the lease agreements on the Talisker side, which is the landowner, and PCMR when Talisker reached an agreement with Vail Resorts to operate Canyons Resort. That agreement could be expanded to include the Talisker land underlying much of PCMR depending on the outcome of the lawsuit.

“It’s a real important ruling,” Alan Sullivan, the lead attorney for PCMR, said in an interview afterward.

He said the redone lawsuit will also request an injunction prohibiting further transactions involving the land where PCMR operates. Sullivan said the PCMR side will likely add a party tied to Vail Resorts as a defendant as well as a firm called Flera, LLC, which controls the development rights at Canyons Resort. They will be added within seven days, he said.

The PCMR side has been interested in the details of the agreement between a firm under the Talisker umbrella and Vail Resorts since the deal was announced in late May. Under the deal, Vail Resorts leases and operates Canyons Resort with an initial term of 50 years. The Colorado firm said it put a long-term debt obligation on its balance sheet of approximately $305 million.

Sullivan said during the hearing the PCMR side wants to hold depositions with high-level people involved in the Talisker-Vail Resorts deal, including Talisker CEO Jack Bistricer and the chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, Rob Katz. He said he wants to learn how long Talisker and Vail Resorts were in negotiations and whether the talks started prior to the date in 2011 when PCMR was required to renew its lease.

“We are entitled to know that,” Sullivan said.

The lawsuit, filed by PCMR in the spring of 2012, centers on the resort’s attempt to renew the lease. The Talisker side claims the lease was not renewed.

Sullivan spent time talking about triggers of a right-to-first-refusal clause and said the deal with Vail Resorts was “studiously structured.” He said there is “equity interest” when a firm controls a property. He said Vail Resorts “for all practical purposes” owns or controls the land underlying PCMR.

— Park Record

Triathletes hit Tahoe

The North Lake Tahoe area is gearing up to host California’s first full-distance Ironman triathlon since 2001 — Ironman Lake Tahoe — which begins in Kings Beach in the wee hours of Sunday morning and wraps up 17 hours later in the Village at Squaw Valley.

It’s kind of a big deal. The race, which sold out all 2,600 entries in 19 hours, has drawn thousands of visitors to the area, providing a significant economic boost in a typically slow time of year. Athletes from 45 states and 14 countries will be represented.

“I think in a lot of ways it’s the perfect venue for us,” Keats McGonigal, race director for Ironman Lake Tahoe, said about the North Lake Tahoe and Truckee area, which has a contract to host the event for three years, with a two-year extension.

Like all Ironman events, it won’t be easy. McGonigal said the Ironman Lake Tahoe course is the highest in elevation among the 12 full-distance Ironman races in North America, ranging from about 6,200 feet at lake level to 7,200 feet atop Brockway Summit.

“Obviously the altitude poses an increased challenge for the athletes, and this course does have some good hills on the bike course that are certainly going to be a challenge,” Keats said.

After climbing out of the water at Kings Beach, fresh off a 2.4-mile swim around a rectangular course, athletes will take to their bikes for the next 112 miles. The bike course, which is circled twice, is a giant loop from Kings Beach through Tahoe City, along the Truckee river and through downtown Truckee, over Brockway Summit and back down through Kings Beach, past Tahoe City again to Squaw Valley. The race ends with a marathon-distance run, 26.2 miles, from Squaw to Tahoe City and back.

—The Sierra Sun

Telluride group helps fund Allegiant air service

The Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association on Wednesday agreed to give $75,000 to the Colorado Flights Alliance to help support Allegiant Air service to the region this winter.

The association’s board voted unanimously to approve the funding, which will come out of its 2013 budget. Before the vote, however, there were some questions from board members about CFA’s goals as well as homeowners in Mountain Village having to pay more to Colorado Flights Alliance than other residents in the area. (Mountain Village property owners pay taxes to the town as well as taxes to TMVOA, both of which help fund the flight alliance.)

“Most of the revenue in this town is from guests, and we hope we will have some conversation on that when it comes to getting double dipped,” said Colorado Flights Alliance COO Matt Skinner in response to the concern. “TMVOA has been somewhat of a peripheral [in terms of funding]. But we’d like to get them on as a mainstream, sustained funding partner.”

Allegiant has decided to return for a second season, and the low-cost carrier will be offering flights to and from Montrose and Phoenix, Ariz. and Los Angeles starting in December and running through the winter season.

With the funding, Skinner told the TMVOA board that the hope is for increased coordination between the two organizations to help with the broader goal of drawing visitors to the region.

Since last year, the Telluride Tourism Board has been partnered with the CFA, and they have been working with Telluride Ski & Golf to coordinate marketing efforts. Skinner told the board that he thinks the efforts are paying off as the region has grown over the past year in terms of air travel.

He said flight bookings for this coming winter are up over last winter’s bookings, with much of the increase coming from Allegiant’s flights.

Colorado Flights Alliance is a regional organization that uses its funds to guarantee and increase the number of flights, mainly from Denver and a few other states, in order to promote the local economy. The guaranteed flights ensure airlines will break even or turn a profit; otherwise the alliance will make up the difference.

Colorado Flights Alliance receives funding from Telluride, Mountain Village, TMVOA, Telski and other regional communities such as Crested Butte.

— Telluride Daily Planet

Wyoming’s grizzly graveyard

Grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone are running into trouble with humans at very high rates, and the bulk of lethal conflict is taking place in Wyoming, a new report shows.

About 91 percent of the 34 “known or probable” human-caused grizzly deaths that occurred in the ecosystem during 2012 took place in Wyoming, according to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s annual report. It was published online last week.

Wyoming accounts for perhaps two-thirds of grizzlies’ current occupied habitat in the greater Yellowstone area. The bears are protected under federal law and can be killed legally only for cause.

Statistics used in this story come from the study team’s report or the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s 2012 grizzly bear “job completion report,” released in July.

Measured by the 56 bears that had to be relocated or killed by wildlife managers, 2012 was the second-highest conflict year for grizzlies in the modern history of the ecosystem. The number of bears captured for management purposes topped out in 2010 at 75.

The third-highest year was 2011, when 46 bears were relocated or killed by wildlife officials. About half, or 16 of 34, human-caused grizzly deaths in the ecosystem were related to livestock depredation, according to the study team report.

— Jackson Hole News and Guide



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The Summit Daily Updated Sep 21, 2013 10:30PM Published Oct 9, 2013 04:31PM Copyright 2013 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.