MRA Launches Crowd Funding Campaign
The Mountain Riders Alliance recently launched a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo to raise $10,000 to get their Manitoba Mountain project in Alaska off the ground. If completed, Manitoba would have three surface lifts powered by a micro-hydro plant that would access a frontside of family-friendly beginner terrain and an additional 10,000 acres of hike-accessible, big-mountain skiing for roughly $40 a day. MRA recently partnered with Maine's Mount Abram in order to work on best practices and provide a working example of their ideals. If you support MRA's vision for the future of skiing, there are donor options ranging from $10-$2,500 with various perks available. Check it out at www.indiegogo.com/SupportTheFutureOfSkiing.
Chairlifts for Energy Storage
The problem with weather-dependent renewables like wind and solar is that they can't guarantee a consistent flow of energy. They need a way to store the energy they create. Bill Gates has invested in Energy Cache, a company that has taken a stupid-simple approach to the problem by taking a nod from the ski industry.
The company uses chairlifts to move piles of gravel to the top of a hill when energy is being produced, then uses gravity to generate energy by running the chairlift in reverse to power a generator. Maybe ski areas could run the chairlifts at night (when energy is cheap) and stockpile all of last year's unsold powder skis at the top of the mountain, then download them during the day, using their massive heft to put energy back into the grid?
If you thought SkiLink—the Utah project that proposes to link the Canyons to Solitude through a wide swath of pristine wilderness—was a bad idea, you'll love the Navajo proposal to drop a gondola into the bottom of the Grand Canyon. On the other hand, with cliffs hundreds of feet high, the Grand Canyon is ripe for the odd snowstorm which would allow the best pros to shred sandstone lines that would make Brian Head, Utah, look as challenging as Connecticut.
Town of Mammoth Settles $43 Million
It appears the town of Mammoth Lakes has recently reached a settlement agreement with the Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition development firm. MMLA had sued the town for $43 million for breach of contract surrounding the pair's plan to develop the airport. In 1997, the town of Mammoth Lakes gave MMLA development rights to build a hotel and combined residential/retail project at the airport in exchange for completing a series of airport improvements, namely lengthening the runway in order to enhance Mammoth's prospects as a destination resort. However, when the FAA pulled their grant money for the town after finding out about the development plans, the town cancelled the project. MMLA then sued for breach of contract, which the town mistakenly thought they were insured against. While details remain vague, there is a notable sigh of relief in the Eastern Sierras, albeit one the Mammoth Times consider "wrapped in the clothing of defeat."
Red Bull Drops Tanner Hall
In as big of a shakeup as we get in the world of athlete sponsorships here in skiing, T-hall and Red Bull parted ways. Reactions to our (my) reporting of the situation has ranged from anger at Red Bull, justifications from a business angle, doubt and/or confidence in Tanner's ability to stay on top of the ski game, and claims that I'm turning Powder into a TMZ-like spaz of garbage. What do you think?