Mountain News: 

Steamboat jumping on plastic

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — A new era dawned in Steamboat Springs on Sunday with the baptism of a new 75-metre all-weather ski jump at Howelsen Hill, the city’s 90-year old ski jumping venue.

The Steamboat Pilot and Today’s Tom Ross reported a loud "thwack" as the first jumper, Davis Miller, touched down on the green plastic surface and skidded into the wet sod beyond, followed quickly by a dozen young ski jumpers.

Program director Todd Wilson, himself a product of the Winter Park jumping program, was philosophic. "Would Tiger Woods be the champion he is if he’d only played golf six months of the year?" he asked in justifying the creation of a plastic jump.

John Fetcher, the 93-year-old founder of the Steamboat ski area, reported mixed emotions. "I’m sort of mad at the Europeans for making it necessary," he said. "This is really a winter sport." He added that he thinks youngsters should not be pushed to specialize in one sport.

And what would Carl Howelsen, who introduced Colorado to ski jumping, have thought? Ross points out that Howelsen was an all-season jumper himself. Turning from his vocation of brick-laying, Howelsen got a job with the Barnum and Bailey Circus. There, working under the big tent, he demonstrated ski jumping from a 100-foot ramp greased with Vaseline – in all seasons.

How sustainable is that?

KETCHUM, Idaho — Ketchum recently was the site of a conference devoted to maintaining sustainable communities. While sustainability has been justified for everything under the sun, in this context it was about reducing environmental impacts.

After hearing former Aspen-area resident Hunter Lovins talk, one of the audience members, Steve Hogan, a restaurateur, was motivated to write an op-ed piece for the Idaho Mountain Express.

Noting the construction of a 30,000-square-foot house near Ketchum this year, he said it makes "absolutely no sense that we even consider allowing these types of non-sustainable homes in our high-desert valley." He added that builders, architects, and contractors he spoke with seemed to agree in their dislike of such extravagance, but that they must listen to what their customers want.

It’s not just a matter of private property rights, he went on to explain, but also of public pollution. "Consider that the average home produces three times more pollution than the average car," he explained. "Now multiply that times a home that’s 15 to 20 times larger than the average one."

He urged Ketchum and its suburbs consider mimicking the Green Points program adopted 15 years ago in the university city of Boulder, Colo.

Aspen a shining star

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