Mountain News: Disabled ski instructor dies in Iraq battle 

The continuing war in Iraq is getting closer to the idyllic ski valleys of the West.

Compiled by Allen Best

WINTER PARK, Colo. — The continuing war in Iraq is getting closer to the idyllic ski valleys of the West. Quietly, in the small mountain towns, young men are wondering about the fate of their former high-school classmates who somehow are now in Iraq.

There’s good reason for fear, as was revealed in the death of Mike Bloss, a ski instructor for the disabled at Winter Park. Bloss had been in Iraq working for a firm that was providing security. Hours before his death he had e-mailed to friends, alerting them to the danger he was in.

"We are expecting to be overrun tonight, and we may have to fight our way to a safe haven," he wrote. "Unfortunately, all the safe havens are already under attack," he added.

Bloss, 38, had been in the Welsh special forces and had once served in battle-torn Northern Ireland, notes The Denver Post. Having suffered a debilitating foot injury while in the military, he showed great understanding of the needs of disabled skiers. Sources at Winter Park suggested that Bloss took the job as a way of helping subsidize his skiing lifestyle.

Ski jumps to be replaced

WINTER PARK, Colo. — It’s official. Instead of catering to a few dozen ski jumpers, a niche market of extreme skiers if there ever was one, Intrawest is putting its resources into beginners.

The old ski jumps at the mountain base are being dismantled this summer so that the beginner area, now consisting of one acre, can be expanded five-fold. Some of the jumps will be relocated elsewhere at Winter Park, but the larger jumps will not, as it would cost $1 million to do so.

Intrawest has also started grooming some hitherto notoriously difficult bump runs at Winter Park in the interests of making skiing easier for the masses. It gained a 50-year management contract to run the resort beginning last year.

Ski jumping fans say that Intrawest’s contract with the City of Denver, the ski area owner, specified that Intrawest would "continue in good faith to provide programs and special consideration that benefit the City’s and other youth to at least the same extent as was provided" before Intrawest took over. But Gary DeFrange, the ski area manager, said the wording does not mean that the resort has to continue exactly the same youth programs. The Forest Service, as the land manager, agrees with Intrawest’s position.

New signs of pollution in Rockies

ESTES PARK, Colo. — The word "pristine" gets used with monotonous regularity when describing Rocky Mountain National Park. But new evidence suggests it’s a relative word.

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