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Gear Up

Learn about next season's ski gear this season without getting anywhere near the Elvis Chapel of Love. Log onto http://vegas.skimag.com. and read about the latest equipment and trends from the annual Snowsports show in Las Vegas, Nev., (March 9-13). With the snow industry gearing up for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics in February, manufacturers are pushing more products-and innovations-than usual onto ski-store shelves, hoping to ride an Olympic-sized buying wave. Ever envied a snowboarder for the comfort of his footwear? Rossignol and Salomon are leading a trend toward "soft alpine boots," which promise to provide skiers the support they need coupled with the comfort of a hiking boot by replacing hard plastic with pliable materials. In skis, shorter continues to be better. Most manufacturers are lopping another 5-10 cm off their lengths, as a philosophy that started in slalom skis spreads into other ski types. And as the move toward ski/binding "systems" continues, you may soon be unable to buy a company's skis without also buying its bindings. SKI staffers will be covering the show and reporting on next season's coolest gear at http://vegas.skimag.com.

Win A Ski-Town Bar

Next time you ski Crested Butte, Colo., you could end your day by walking into your own après-ski bar. The owner of the slopeside Bison's bar and restaurant is holding an essay contest to give the business away.

Located at the base of the mountain, Bison's seats 150 people, and features a fireplace, pool tables, a bar and an outside deck. The original $250,000 asking price was dropped to $100,000 last year, before the seller turned to a contest to move the business. "After a few bad snow years, our skier numbers have been down. We weren't getting the interest we had hoped for," says Dona Gross, a real-estate agent who represents the property.

The contest rules are simple: Write an essay on "How I would make the Bison's the No. 1 slopeside restaurant in Colorado." The entry fee is $100, with 10 percent being donated to the Western State Search and Rescue Team. Entries, no longer than 500 words, must be submitted by April 1, with the winner's words to be posted on the contest's website (www.winabar.com) on the last day of Crested Butte's ski season, which is scheduled for April 8.

After nearly 10 months, only a few dozen people have entered the contest, though from a far-ranging field: Illinois, Oklahoma, Ohio and Texas, along with a few Crested Butte residents. If the essay contest doesn't lure 1,000 entrants, the registration fee will be returned. For contest information, go to www.winabar.com.

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