Steamboat jury acquits Senegalese man of rape |

Steamboat jury acquits Senegalese man of rape

Allen Best/Special to the Daily

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – A key question in the Kobe Bryant case, at least among journalists from outside the area of the alleged rape, has been whether Bryant, a black man, can get a fair trial in the Vail-Eagle area, where few black people live.

While the jury, so to speak, remains out on a trial in Eagle, the jury in a somewhat parallel case in Steamboat Springs has returned its verdict. In the Steamboat case, a 26-year-old woman accused a 35-year-old man of rape. The man, although not identified by the Steamboat Pilot as black, grew up in the African country of Senegal.

Both the woman and the man, who has lived in Steamboat for 11 years, agreed that they met at a party last May, that they danced and talked, then later walked on a trail.

Along the way they held hands, talked and kissed. They paused once, and the man -who has a wife and children in Senegal – then touched the woman in a sexual way, but stopped when she told him to stop.

Then, lingering in a dugout at a baseball diamond, they talked and kissed.

What happened next is where the stories diverge.

The woman says the man pushed her onto the bench and raped her, despite her repeated commands of “No.” The man’s side of the story was that they had sex until she told him no, at which point he complied with her wishes.

Collateral evidence went both ways.

Two witnesses, one a friend and the other a police detective, testified that the woman was “very scared” and “uptight” later that night. But the woman conceded that she didn’t scream or cry for help, she wasn’t physically injured, and that her clothes were not ripped or dirtied.

The jury – eight men and four women – were not convinced of the woman’s story “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and acquitted the Senegalese man. While the ethnicity of the jurors was not identified, the Steamboat area overall is more Caucasian than the Vail area.

Gay Ski Week future in doubt after founder dies

WHISTLER, B.C. – Whistler’s Gay Ski Week, described by Pique newsmagazine as the largest gay and lesbian ski week in North America, is in doubt because of the death of its founder and organizer, Brent Benaschak. Last year the event drew 3,500 people.

Benaschak arrived in Whistler in 1992 to open a bed and breakfast, and he divided his time between Whistler and Fire Island in New York.

Aspen – the Whistler of Canada?

WHISTLER, B.C. – Don’t the Hollywood types know that they’re supposed to go to Aspen? Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake were in Whistler during the holidays, causing some ruminations in Pique newsmagazine about Whistler becoming the Aspen of the North. But perhaps the columnist in Whistler had it wrong; perhaps it’s the Vail of the North. The actress/singer couple was also seen in Vail this year, as was Timberlake-ex, Britney Spears.

Crested Butte boasts of the “best corduroy’

CRESTED BUTTE – If you get a bit of whiplash trying to keep up with Crested Butte’s marketing message, you’re not alone. Four years ago the resort was hosting the X Games. Last year it was boasting of being the UnVail. This year, reports the Crested Butte News, it has “Colorado’s best corduroy.”

Gina Kroft, the resort’s spokeswoman, said the focus on the groomed product is in keeping with the ski area’s growing emphasis on the family market. The amount of grooming doesn’t seem to be changing, but the advertising of it is.

The six or seven snow groomers have a collective 150 years of experience and, says slope maintenance director Dale Massey, the slogan is “not something they’re afraid to try to live up to.”

Intrawest studies future of snow-sliding industry

WHISTLER, B.C. – Intrawest has launched a study intended to yield insight into the future of lift-aided snow sports – skiing, it used to be called – and hence how it should focus its energy and money. The only certainty is that the sport won’t be the same as it is now.

“Looking back 15 years, the typical user was a skier in a one-piece ski suit with long, narrow skis,” said Arthur DeJong, the manager of mountain planning and environmental resources for Whistler-Blackcomb. “Things have changed a lot. It’s been a revolution.”

DeJong told Pique newsmagazine that the study will help guide expansion of lifts and terrain at Whistler-Blackcomb while making better use of existing infrastructure through new technology and the better management of resources. It will, he said, take into account issues like global warming.

Among the things Intrawest is trying to figure out is why the Japanese market at Whistler has dropped 40 percent. It also wants to better forecast how problems being experienced in the air travel industry will affect the resort business.

The study seems to be rife with numbers. For example, demographers project that 20 percent of young North Americans will remain single for most of their lives, reducing the family market while creating a new market with different needs. Also, Intrawest is eyeing South America and Asia, which are expected to grow by 2 billion people in the next 50 years as prosperity there creates potentially new skiers.

Another aspect of the study claims the most frequent activity for 18- to 24-year-olds is computer games. And youth obesity has doubled in the last 20 years.

Intrawest expects to complete the study by summer, and DeJong speculates that “it might be in our best interest to share this, or part of this, with other resorts out there.”

Skiers, boarders quarrel in the Teton backcountry

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – This quarrel between skiers and others is along the lines of whether you put the toilet seat up or down, or if you let the toilet paper wind from the top or bottom. But at Teton Pass, the gap between Jackson, Wyo., and Driggs, Idaho, it’s obviously getting tense.

Backcountry skiers get annoyed with post-holing hikers, even snowshoers, creating lumpy trails, because it reduces the ability of skins – the material used on skis to go uphill – to get traction and hence avoiding sliding backward. To encourage separate trails, one skier posted a trailhead sign that said, “PLEASE! Keep the boot prints separate from the skin track. This’ll make travel easier for everyone!”

A few weeks later, the sign was gone, replaced by another: “Nobody here owns the snow! It’s a temporary medium! Walk or ski where you like! If you have a problem move to a new location or town!! Your elitist attitude is not needed!!!!?”

One hiking snowboarder told the Jackson Hole News that he is annoyed by the attitudes of backcountry skiers. “Get out of your ski-Nazi mentality,” he said.

As for the sign that replaced the original – it proved to be a temporary medium, too. A week after being posted, it was removed.

Bullets and words fly in case of loose moose

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah – Jack Fenton was gladdened to discover a yearling moose was munching on a wreath hanging from his front door in a rural subdivision near Park City. About an hour later he was anything but glad when a neighbor across the street shot the moose, but also sent an errant bullet thudding into Fenton’s house.

“This is a town that practically worships moose,” Fenton told The Park Record. One of Fenton’s neighbors, Genaro Aremendariz, disagreed, saying that the moose was a threat to children and property.

The shooter, who wasn’t identified in the story, could face charges of killing protected wildlife and shooting in a subdivision.

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