A Solution to the Tom Chapman Debacle

With all the recent press, most notably the in-depth Outside Magazine article, as well as last week’s “Free Bear Creek…Again” event presented by the Telluride Mountain Club, the Tom Chapman/Bear Creek debacle has been brought back into the Telluride spotlight. That’s not to say that the issue ever left left the public eye; it just seemed to have mellowed out a bit. Yet, even with all this discussion and support for backcountry skiing, no one has come up with a solution to reopen the access gates, until now. Though it may seem extreme, I say we settle it on the slopes. I’m talking about a winner-take-all, free-for all, just like in those 1980s and 1990s Hollywood ski movies.

Because when it comes down to it, the only way to solve a serious, ski-town issue is a top-to-bottom ski race. Just look at Hot Dog…The Movie, where Harkin Banks and his rebellious, Squaw Valley troop took victory over Rudi Garmisch and his evil Europeans in a crazy, Chinese downhill. Or what about Dave Marshak and his Section Eight hooligans in Ski School? They won control of Whistler after beating the rich, elite ski instructors (courtesy of a sweet cliff drop by Johnny Roland, might I add.)

Even the happy-go-lucky ski patrollers in Ski Patrol managed to win back their mountain from the paws of an evil, power-hungry developer who managed to sabotage relations between the ski resort and the Forest Service – an uncanny resemblance to the Telluride issue, don’t you think? Granted the movie did not end with a race, but it started with one, which counts for something.

So, instead of getting bogged down with all of the meetings, lawyers and political mumbo-jumbo, let’s take a tip from the movies and challenge those who closed the access gate to a race. All Telluride would need is a TJ Burke (Aspen Extreme) or Lane Meyer (Better Off Dead) to win the powder eight or K-12 competition. Heck, besides reopening Bear Creek, the competitor could also win the heart of the nerdy, local DJ or the French, foreign exchange student (especially if he skis on one ski!)

Of course, to make things fair, Chapman should be allowed to select the venue for the competition. But, with all this talk of land rights and unwanted trespassers, I’d recommend he hold the race within the ski area boundary.

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