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OFF LIMITS

Pop culture: Sacre bleu! Comsat, owner of the Nuggets, apparently thought of everything--including how to wrangle tax concessions out of both the city and the state--when it planned to build a giant arena in the Platte Valley. Everything, that is, but this: The very name of the place is a slur against the ice-hockey team that will one day play there. In exchange for an estimated $60 million in naming rights from the soft-drink company, the arena will be known as the Pepsi Center--which could translate into Comsat skating on thin ice with the Nordiques' current fans. In Quebec, current home of the team that will make the move to Denver, "when the English want to be as obnoxious as possible, they refer to the French speakers as `Pepsis,'" says Charles Coleman, an ex-Quebecer now living in Littleton. And Coleman knows whereof he speaks: A native Canadian, his father wrote the history of the Stanley Cup. According to Coleman, the "Pepsis" insult takes a jab at the Quebecois concept of gourmet dining: a Pepsi and a Mae West (the French equivalent of Twinkies).

Just wait until Aramark starts charging $7.95 for the same combo.

Look out below: The flurry of hype was falling faster than snow on Vail Pass at last week's annual meeting of Colorado Ski Country USA. The programming included a keynote speech by presidential-race dropout Jack Kemp and a talk by Phil Burgess, the head of the Center for the New West who just happens to live in Maryland. But the professional snow job couldn't obscure the fact that a few hazards lie ahead for the booster group. Last year, for example, Ski Country enjoyed its record season--but only because a keen-eyed reporter pointed out that the group had failed to add to its statistics totals from Wolf Creek, at the time the only Colorado ski area that didn't belong to Ski Country. This year's ski season (pending some last-minute numbers from an unusually snowy June) ranks third--and that's counting skiers from both tiny Wolf Creek and king-sized Aspen, which announced its resignation from the organization in April. Aspen's defection could mean the loss of big bucks as well as skier numbers; Ski Country's income comes not just from dues, but also from sales of the $10,000 all-area gold passes that sell particularly well in Aspen. "While we are disappointed by their decision," said Ski Country head Douglass Cogswell at the time, "it's business as usual for us."

But it's left some unusual problems--such as whether Ski Country will continue to list statistics for Aspen. The group's board is currently wrestling with the sticky question, says a spokeswoman: "That's what having a board of directors is for."

Tunnel vision: DIA's underground train--and thus, most passengers--came to a halt for an hour one day last week, but you didn't read about it in Denver's dailies. Instead, there was a brief report on Channel 4 news delivered by anchorwoman Reynelda Muse, who, in an odd bit of life imitating art, also happens to be the official voice of the airport train.

Another familiar figure from DIA popped into town this week: former airport director George Doughty, whose stumping for Mary DeGroot certainly ranks as one of the most incongruous appearances in a very incongruous campaign.

 
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