Ski town roundup: Judge rules Park City emails don’t indicate fraud
Vail Resorts donating to flood relief
Vail Resorts Inc. announced today it will make an immediate $100,000 contribution to flood-relief efforts on Colorado’s Front Range.
The company also will donate $1 for every season pass sold in Colorado and expects that will more than double its overall contribution. The company will work with local officials to identify organizations that need the funds and will post the final breakdown of its donations on the EpicPass.com website.
— Daily News staff report
Judge rules Park City emails don’t indicate fraud
PARK CITY, Utah — The 3rd District Court judge presiding over the lawsuit between Park City Mountain Resort and a firm under the Talisker Corporation umbrella ruled this week that PCMR does not need to turn over a series of emails sought by the Talisker side.
In a two-page statement, Judge Ryan Harris said the emails are protected under attorney-client privilege.
Vail Resorts is overseeing the Talisker Corporation’s side of the lawsuit as part of a long-term agreement to operate Canyons Resort. The agreement could be extended to include the terrain at PCMR depending on the outcome of the lawsuit.
The Talisker Corporation side had sought the emails last week, arguing that they could show that there was a deliberate attempt by PCMR to commit fraud. Attorneys for Talisker Corporation had argued that there is an exception to attorney-client privilege when information involves the possibility of a crime being committed.
“Stated another way, the content of the emails is not indicative of any intent on the part of the Park City Parties to seek or obtain legal advice” that would enable or aid in criminal activity or fraud, Harris said in the statement.
The emails were sent in 2011 as PCMR was attempting to renew the lease of much of its terrain, which is under the control of the Talisker Corporation firm. The lawsuit, filed by the PCMR side, centers on whether the lease was renewed. The Talisker Corporation side sought 21 emails.
In a prepared statement, PCMR President and General Manager Jenni Smith said she is “pleased with the Court’s decision.”
In an interview, John Lund, the lead attorney for Talisker Corporation, said he will continue to investigate the 2011 letter that PCMR believed was its renewal of the lease. He said the emails were sought as potentially further evidence that the PCMR side backdated the letter.
“We have a clear case that they deliberately backdated the letter . . . and have admitted as much,” Lund said.
He said the judge’s ruling on Tuesday “doesn’t affect our position.”
The judge issued the ruling at the start of a critical time in the case when depositions are scheduled to start. Smith’s deposition, which will be the first in the case, is set for Wednesday.
— Park Record
Plane crashes near Jackson Hole, kills 2
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — Two people from Loveland, Colo., died in a small plane crash south of the Jackson Hole Airport on Wednesday. Russell Kamtz, 67, and Carol Kamtz, 65, died in the crash, Grand Teton National Park officials said.
“The Kamtz’s are survived by their two children,” officials said in a statement.
The small single-engine RV7 plane was flying south of the airport around noon when it banked a little to one side and took a nosedive straight into the ground, said Cole Murray, who works construction at the airport. No flames or explosions accompanied the crash, according to Murray.
A Jackson Hole News&Guide reporter at the scene described the plane as a “twisted wreck.” The crash site is in Grand Teton National Park. Debris littered the sagebrush near the main scene, which was closed behind a perimeter of yellow caution tape. The crash site is about three-quarters of a mile south of the airport and 100 yards east of Spring Gulch Road, according to News&Guide staff observations on the scene. About a minute after the crash, emergency responders began showing up, Murray said.
According to the manufacturer’s website, the plane is a “sport plane” that seats two adults, both of whom can control the plane. The National Transportation Safety Board has been contacted to begin its investigation of the crash, which will be done in conjunction with park rangers.
— Jackson Hole News and Guide
Calif. to preserve Tahoe environmental agreement
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Senate is sending Gov. Jerry Brown a bill to preserve a 45-year-old agreement with Nevada governing the sensitive environment in and around Lake Tahoe.
The scenic lake straddles the California-Nevada state line in the high Sierra and is a major tourist draw.
The bill ratifies a revised bi-state Tahoe Regional Planning Compact, duplicating a bill already signed into law by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.
Nevada had threatened to withdraw from the compact in 2010 in a dispute over how the states decided on conservation protection.
State officials reached a compromise to amend the compact to require the agency that enforces the compact to take economic considerations into account. In return, Nevada agreed to remain in the compact.
California senators approved the bill Tuesday, 37-0. It already had gained Assembly approval.
— The Associated Press
Seth Wescott denounces Russian law
PORTLAND, Maine — Russia’s new law banning gay “propaganda” could end up tarnishing the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, two-time Olympic gold-medal winner Seth Wescott said.
Wescott on Wednesday criticized the International Olympic Committee for selecting Sochi to host the 2014 Games, saying the city hadn’t proven it had the ability to hold the event. The new Russian law that prohibits the promotion of “nontraditional” sexual relations could further sully the completion, he said.
“The human rights stuff that’s going on, there’s a potential for it to be an incredibly negatively-overshadowed Olympics,” he told The Associated Press.
Wescott, who lives in western Maine’s Carrabassett Valley near Sugarloaf ski resort, won gold medals in snowboard cross in the 2006 and 2010 Olympics.
Wescott, 37, said he has sufficiently recovered since undergoing knee surgery in April to attempt to qualify for the upcoming Olympics during races in December and January.
In an interview, Wescott and Alex Tuttle, another Olympic snowboard cross hopeful from Carrabassett Valley, said Sochi didn’t appear to be prepared for the Olympics when they visited there last February, and that they’re concerned there will be a lack of snow for snowboard events.
The buildup to the Feb. 7-23 games has also been overshadowed by the Western backlash to the gay-rights law, which has been denounced by activists and President Barack Obama.
The IOC has said athletes can express themselves before the Olympics and outside the games’ venues, but that it doesn’t want the games themselves used as a platform for demonstrations.
Wescott said he has female friends in snowboarding who are gay.
“They’re wonderful human beings, and I think for them to be discriminated against is a crime,” he said. “They should be able to be who they are and compete proudly. They represent our country incredibly well and they don’t need to be the object of that kind of criticism and negativity.”
— The Associated Press
Telluride looks to boost fall tourism
The Telluride Tourism Board is bringing back its all-digital, Gold Season marketing campaign in an effort to boost fall tourism in the region. The $15,000 campaign features the taglines “Strike Gold” and “Solid Gold,” recalling Telluride’s mining history, and photos of the box canyon adorned in bright yellow aspen leaves. The banner ads focus on tablets, since that’s the device many people use to do their travel research, said TTB Director of Marketing and Public Relations Annie Carlson.
“We are really targeting our drive markets and primarily Denver,” Carlson said. “We are also hitting Summit County, Grand Junction, Vail and we have a little bit of advertising for the Dallas market.”
The ads, which target wealthy empty nesters and affluent suburban couples with young children, can be found on Color/Blackdenverpost.com Color/Black and its mobile and iPad sites and yahoo. The campaign, which started Monday, will run through Oct. 18.
Tourism board officials hope the Gold Season marketing campaign will do the same thing it helped accomplish last year — increase room occupancy rates and sales tax in what is traditionally a slower time of the year. According to TTB, lodging occupancy rates were up about 17 percent for October 2012 over 2011 in Telluride and Mountain Village.
— Telluride Daily Planet
Winter seats to Yampa airport to remain flat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The board that oversees the funding of winter air service at Yampa Valley Regional Airport said last week that the supply of airline seats to and from Steamboat this ski season will stay flat during another grim year for the airline industry.
But board members of the Local Marketing District told the Steamboat Springs City Council the situation would be far worse if voters here had not approved in 2011 a new tax that will support the service with an extra $1.1 million in revenue this year.
“If that (money) was not available, we would have far less air service available to us this coming winter. It’s as simple as that,” board member Rod Hanna said, adding that Steamboat remains at the mercy of the airlines. “It’s a very difficult environment.”
The Local Marketing District’s praise of the tax came after City Council member Sonja Macys asked if the new revenue stream was working.
Local Marketing District Treasurer Bill Stuart said although airline bankruptcies and mergers continue to make it harder to secure more service, the tax indeed has stopped the decline in seats.
“We have stopped the decline, and we are in a position to move back where we were,” he said. “For what it costs the community, we get a very good return.”
Hanna added that he has heard Steamboat’s tax is being viewed in some other Colorado resort communities as a model for success.
The Local Marketing District also went over the upcoming winter flight schedule that will see new flights from Seattle, more seats to and from Los Angeles and Newark but fewer seats from Chicago.
“What we did this year is really tried to match the capacity with the demand so we have more peak seats, and we have fewer off-peak seats,” Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Airline Program Director Janet Fischer said.
As an example, she said the number of seats from Houston will remain flat but a larger aircraft will fly out of the city on Saturdays.
“The positives this season are Seattle, Los Angeles, Newark and rearranging Dallas and Houston for the capacity to better meet the demand on peak days,” Fischer said. “The Chicago flight is the main minus in terms of capacity.”
Service to Chicago is slated to go from a 160 seat 737-800 from the past ski season to a 76-seat E175 narrow body jet, resulting in a 40 percent drop in seats.
— Steamboat Pilot & Today
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