Even though it’s not happening in the Roaring Fork Valley this time, the biggest thing in the high country this first weekend of December will be–  World Cup ski racing.  The men return to Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey after a warm weather cancellation last year, and although it’s going to stay sunny and warm both here and in the Vail Valley, competitors and coaches alike have praised the work of Vail Resorts’ race crew in setting up what’s being called an almost-ideal set of courses.  The surface hard, icy, really fast, the way they like it, especially for Super-G and downhill.

There are a couple Roaring Fork connections…  2008 Aspen High School grad Wiley Maple plans to compete in both today’s Super-G and tomorrow’s downhill, hoping to have a good enough result to get officially added to the US Ski team, and perhaps get to compete in the South Korea Olympics in February.  Maple says he’s finally recovered from a string of injuries, feeling the best he has in 6 years.  The 27-year-old’s said to be a bit of a free spirit, a guy suited to the way the speed races run at the Beav.  Maple says it’s frankly kind of an American thing, that could be seen in his Aspen upbringing, versus the total race culture some teams like Norway have…

Coaching Maple and the other American speed merchants, another familiar face in these parts–  new US speed coach John McBride.  He also attended Aspen High, but back in the early 80’s…  and he formerly cdoached the Aspen Valley Ski Club team.  McBride sees a spark in Wiley Maple, so he invited him to train with the US team ths fall, giving him a discretionary spot.  The coach likes the potential there, despite all the injuries…

Thanks to intern and sports producer Madison Osberger-Low for today’s sound.  This morning’s Super-G  gets out of the gate at 10:45.  The downhill’s tomorrow morning at 11, and the weekend wraps up with a giant slalom Sunday.  The fastest man in the final downhill training run Thursday was Austrian Matthias Mayer, crossing the line in just under a minute 40 seconds.

There’s been some confusion in the first weeks of the new Grand Avenue Bridge in Glenwood Springs…   CDOT wants us to help clarify a thing or 2…  Turning right onto 6th Street from northbound bridge traffic has confused some drivers and created a hazard.  They’re going to re-stripe the surface to make it clear that you turn right toward the Hotel Colorado and the Hot Springs Pool from the wider farthest-right lane, not the right-hand one that could take you straight to the westbound I-70 on-ramp.  That should be taken care of soon.

Some of the work yet to be completed–  Monday night crews will start taking out old traffic signals at 8th & 9th Streets and Grand Avenue, and activating the new lights.  It won’t all be done at once—some 2 weeks will be needed, but that work’s going to be done overnight from 8 pm til 6 am.  There’s more to be done too–  take a look for that info at ksno dot net.

There’s a local and national group that says it’s going to bat for you, not for the rich, about taxes in Washington.  The Aspen Board of Realtors tells the Daily News it’s on board with the National Association of Realtors’ stance, opposing that new tax bill you’ve heard so much about.  If it becomes law, the extremely wealthy and corporations would get major tax breaks, but most middle-class Americans’ income taxes would go up, and the deficit would get more than a trillion dollars bigger.  Of concern to  the Realtors, it would also take away things that are currently incentives to buying a home.  Also troubling to the real-estate sellers, you would no longer be able to deduct state and local taxes, including property tax.  There were several overnight votes…  what’s going on with the bill should become more clear today.

There’ve been a LOT more people coming to see the upper valley lately.  The US Forest Service says visits to Maroon Lake were up 12%, to more than 320,000 for the summer of this year…  and the scenic area to view the Maroon Bells themselves saw some 285,000 visitors.

And remember you can get help signing up for Affordable Care Act health insurance policies for next year, TOMORROW at the Health & Human Services building next to Aspen Valley Hospital.  Mountain Family Health Services will be there to assist you from 9 ‘til 1.  If you want to make an appointment today, call 928-1614.