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We made noise in 2011, and so did nature

December 30, 2011

It’s a tiny little place in a remote part of the country.

Yet Mammoth has all the ingredients for a rich stew of colliding agencies—federal, state, county and local, plus extreme weather.

We have colliding interest groups. We have people who are passionate.

We have top-notch scientists working our water, woods and mountains. They take their findings back to their universities. Their colleagues marvel at the work they do here.

We have sport, too. Lots of sport.

We run, we ski, we ride, we backpack. We compete in Motocross. We ride road bikes.

Athletes flock here for all manner of high-altitude training and go out into the world and win championships.

These things hardly ever happen in chronological order, so rather than create a month-by-month review, we did the logical thing—break down 2011 by category.

Here we go:

Running

There was much more than Morgan Uceny becoming No. 1 in the world in the 1500 meter and all of our other success of the Mammoth Track Club this past year.

Josh Cox shattered his own U.S. Record in the 50K by more than seven minutes in Phoenix last January.
Amy Hastings came in second at L.A. Marathon setting third fastest debut marathon time for U.S. women—three seconds faster for a debut, set by teammate Deena Kastor in 2001.

Five members of the U.S. team went to the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea (Jen Rhines ninth in 10k), along with Uceny, Scott Bauhs, Alistair Cragg and Hastings.

Rhines became the U.S. 15k winner and was the Half Marathon Champion.

Deena Kastor won the San Jose Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon, 20 months after having a baby. On the men’s side, Meb Keflizighi won in his San Jose Half Marathon.

Keflezighi took fifth in the ING NYC Marathon—the event he won in 2009—with a personal best time of 2:09.13.

Snowsports

Mammoth attracted some of the best biathlon athletes in the world, and then worked tirelessly to get the Lakes Basin course open in the face of heavy snow. We became the biathlon capital of North America, thanks to the work of Dr. Mike Karch of Mammoth Hospital.

John Teller won his first World Cup race in Ski Cross, and then followed it up with a gold medal in the Winter X Games in Aspen.

Kaya Turski took an X Games gold medal, defending her 2010 title in ski/slopestyle.

Tourism

Tourism Director John Urdi, working with the tireless Howard Pickett at MMSA, initiated new flights to San Diego and Orange County.

One day before the new flights began, Public Works Director Ray Jarvis engineered the opening of the new “Sprung Structure,”yet to be named) to handle the overflow of expected passengers.

Urdi unveiled a new, blue-and white town logo, now ubiquitous.

Recreation Commissioner Sean Turner (Bluesapalooza) helped organize the ad hoc Events Coalition with aim toward sharing marketing costs and common expenses.

Recreation

First and foremost, parks superintendent Dennis Rottner got the brand new ice rink going on time, and installed new playground equipment at Sherwin Creek Park just in time for the Fourth of July weekend.
Working with engineer Peter Bernasconi, Town Council approved final plans for the new Trail’s End Park. The shovels are to hit the ground this spring, with completion in the fall.

Recreation Director Stuart Brown began an expanded summer series of programs for kids, with lots of local participation by local merchants and professional athletes.

The Town

Police Chief Dan Watson organized a series of get-togethers and info sharing between the police and the Hispanic community. It was wildly successful by all accounts.

Maintenance Superintendent Dave Beck’s crew laid down the long-awaited re-paving of Meridian Boulevard, and used imaginative work by Public Works in re-paving the sidewalks and road on Sierra Park Road in front of the high school. This came out of the state’s “Safe Routes to Schools” money.

After an impossible period of time—decades, really—The Town Council passed a coherent policy and ordinance on the collection of Transient Occupancy Taxes. Typically, the town gets about a dozen applications of new businesses (landlords). By year’s end, the number was 55 and counting.

The Forest

It was an embarrassing spring when visitors showed up to go camping, only to find the campgrounds closed because of snow, and they had nowhere else to go—a real FUBAR if there ever was one.

Let’s not forget, but there was the 100th anniversary of Devils Postpile National Monument.

In November, a massive windstorm caused a Biblical treefall in the Lakes Basin, bringing down as many as 400 trees, and probably more.

Weather

There was a record snowfall.

There was short spring, lovely summer and rain, rain, rain in September.

Wildfires? What wildfires?

Mono County

In Bridgeport, it was all about re-districtring. It got to be pretty gnarly there for a while.
But it was not as gnarly as the mayhem in the Eastern Sierra Community School District, whose shenanigans earned an investigation by the Mono County Grand Jury.

The Ski Area

We have yet to see a lot of the changes because of the snow situation, but MMSA rebuilt Chair 5 into “High-Five Express.”

There was the horrendous accident when a snowcat ran over a snowboarder. It was impossible to count all the ambulances in the Chair 2 parking lot.

Business

In spite of a short summer and the recession, sports retailers did well, others not so much as visitors held on to their dollars.

Even so, the Red Lantern Chinese restaurant opened, a much-anticipated dining experience for which locals couldn’t wait.

Chef Matt Toomey opened a new joint in 80|50, which itself fell into new management (Auberge Resorts).

Star-crossed condo units at the high-end Tallus opened after a long closure.

MMSA took over Sushi Rei for a Japanese-fusion experience in the Village.

A new cookie place, Mimi’s Cookie Bar, opened on Old Mammoth Road.

No one came up with a solution for parking at the Village.

But the biggest business event of the season was something that never happened: Vons averted a strike.

Narrowly.

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