November 26, 2014

Resorts like Aspen Snowmass are attracting an increasingly affluent bunch.     Photo: Aspen Snowmass/Flickr

Winter Sports: Only for the Rich?

Recent report shows rise in affluent skiers

A report commissioned by the National Ski Areas Association suggests that skiing is increasingly becoming a sport for the wealthy.

As the Denver Post reports, the survey found that the number of skiers with household incomes over $100,000 increased from 45% in 2006-2007 to 56% in 2013-2014. Skiers with household incomes under $50,000 dropped from 30% to 19% over the same period.

The NSAA report is based on data gathered from 87 U.S. resorts, which purportedly hosted 31.9 million of 56.3 million U.S. skiers and snowboarders last winter.

“Snow sports participants continue to skew significantly more affluent than the general U.S. population,” the report states.

While single-day ski passes have become notably more expensive in recent years, there are still ways to score a deal. As Evan Reece, CEO of Liftopia, told the Denver Post, “If customers buy in advance, they will be rewarded by doing so,” he said. “It’s very easy to understand. You wouldn’t wait until the last minute to buy an airline ticket.”

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GoPro drones will allegedly go on sale for between $500 to $1,000.     Photo: YouTube

GoPro to Start Selling Drones

Will reportedly release its consumer UAV "late next year"

GoPro will start selling consumer drones “late next year,” according to anonymous sources cited in the Wall Street Journal.

The UAVs from the action camera maker will reportedly be multirotor helicopters designed to carry a high-definition camera. GoPro aims to price the drones from $500 to $1,000—less than half the price at the low end of the popular and easy-to-fly $1,300 DJI Phantom 2.

The drone news comes about six months after the GoPro IPO in June. One of our big questions is that the company makes almost all its money from selling cameras that cost upwards of $400. With new stockholders to please, is moving into the growing consumer drone market an attempt to diversify GoPro’s offerings or to turn the action cam behemoth into the dominant force of the aerial photography industry?

We’re already big fans of the company’s cameras, including the new Hero 4. Whether GoPro can successfully break into the consumer drone market currently dominated by DJI and Parrot remains to be seen.

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SeaWorld employees were attempting to help a young sea lion that had wandered beneath some cliffs.     Photo: Michael R Perry/Flickr

SeaWorld Rescuers Threatened by Hecklers

Rocks thrown as workers attempt to help sea lion

A SeaWorld animal rescue team was threatened by onlookers while attempting to retrieve a stranded sea lion earlier this week. KTLA reports that on a trip to the end of Santa Cruz Avenue in Ocean Beach, California, where a 1.5-year-old sea lion had wandered into the sand beneath some cliffs, SeaWorld employees heard disapproving murmurs from hecklers above them. At a certain point, someone threw a rock.

“Thank goodness it didn’t make contact, but it definitely created a hostile environment where we no longer felt safe,” Kortney Sanders, who took part in the rescue, told KTLA. “It’s really disappointing. It kind of breaks my heart.”

Returning to the beach about an hour later, this time in the company of several San Diego police officers, SeaWorld employees ultimately succeeded in retrieving the sea lion and bringing it to their critical care unit. The animal has since been diagnosed with a fever and severe pneumonia.

SeaWorld employees told KTLA that they’ve been exposed to heightened levels of harassment from the public following the release of Blackfish, the 2013 documentary that openly criticized SeaWorld and the treatment of orca whales kept in its care. (The documentary was produced, in part, by CNN.)

Outside’s July feature on the experience of animal care workers at SeaWorld explored the trials and successes of caring for captive animals.

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"Overall this killing contest remains a black eye for Idaho," Lynne Stone, director of Boulder-White Clouds Council, said in a statement.     Photo: John Flannery/Flickr

BLM Reverses Decision on Idaho Wolf Hunt

Conservation groups sued to prevent permit

Under pressure from lawsuits filed by wildlife and conservation groups, the Bureau of Land Management has pulled its permit to Idaho for Wildlife to hold wolf and coyote hunts on public lands.

In early November, the BLM initially approved the hunting permit, which would allow up to 500 hunters to participate in Idaho for Wildlife’s annual predator derby. The goal of the competition is to kill the most wolves and other wildlife for cash prizes; it would have been the first time the event was held on public lands. During the public comment period leading up to the decision, the BLM received tens of thousands of letters criticizing the event, according to Reuters, but approved it anyway. “We are aware of the social controversy regarding this event,” Joe Kraayenbrink, BLM district manager in Idaho Falls, said in a statement. “However, from our analysis, we could not find significant conflicts with other environmental resources that would prohibit the competitive event from occurring.”

Idaho for Wildlife head Steve Adler told Reuters that the backlash against the hunt was just critics trying to restrict constitutionally protected gun rights and portray the group as “Idaho rednecks out to kill as many animals as we can.”

Soon after the decision, WildEarth Guardians, Cascadia Wildlands, and Boulder-White Clouds Council filed a lawsuit against the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, alleging that the contest “violated federal law and was otherwise arbitrary and capricious.”

The BLM buckled and withdrew the permit, but it’s not a total win for the conservation groups. The Idaho Statesman reports that the Lewiston-based Idaho for Wildlife said it will simply hold the hunt on private lands like it did in 2013. The group offered $1,000 prizes for killing the biggest wolf and most coyotes.

“While it’s good to see the BLM withdraw their permit, overall this killing contest remains a black eye for Idaho,” Lynne Stone, director of Boulder-White Clouds Council, said in a statement. “These are our public lands and we should share them together peacefully and respectfully with wildlife.”

WildEarth Guardians said the groups will press on with their lawsuit against the Forest Service, charging the agency with failing to analyze the killing contest’s impacts and compelling it to block similar prize hunts on public lands in the future.

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