Mother sues Basalt doctor for son’s wrongful death | VailDaily.com

Mother sues Basalt doctor for son’s wrongful death

BASALT — A Basalt orthopedic surgeon is being sued for his alleged negligence that led to the death of a Carbondale man in 2012. A five-page complaint, filed Wednesday in Pitkin County District Court, accuses Dr. Thomas Moore of failing to recognize a patient's fatal medical conditions before he died abruptly. The patient, Hans Ayers, died Dec. 17, 2012, at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs. He was 48. Denver attorney David Dansky filed the lawsuit on behalf of Ayers' mother, Ursula, of Carbondale. According to the lawsuit, on Nov. 6, 2012, at Grand River Medical Center in Rifle, Moore surgically repaired a ruptured tendon in Hans Ayers' left knee, which was the result of a work accident. Moore put Ayers' left leg into a long-leg splint, and on Nov. 20, 2012, the physician placed the leg into a full-leg cylinder cast, telling him to return in four weeks for a re-evaluation, the suit says. At Ayers' return visit on Dec. 17, 2012, Moore told him to remove the cast at home and return in two days for a knee brace, the suit says. But on Dec. 18, the lawsuit claims, Ayers woke up with shortness in breath and was transported by ambulance to Valley View Hospital. At 7:22 that morning, he was pronounced dead. Using clinical terms to describe the nature of the death, the suit claims that a postmortem examination performed on Ayers, by forensic pathologist Dr. Robert Kurtzman, revealed multiple medical problems with Ayers' left leg. Kurtzman also determined that Ayers died of deep venous thrombosis, which, in layman's terms, was a blood clot in the deep veins of Ayers' left leg. The clot resulted in bilateral pulmonary emboli, which essentially is a blockage to the lungs that can cause respiratory failure. "Reasonably careful orthopedic surgeons know that DVT (deep venous thrombosis) is a potential complication of orthopedic surgery on the legs," said the suit, which added that "On December 17, 2012, a reasonably careful orthopedic surgeon would not have permitted Mr. Ayers to remove his own cast at home." Ayers, according to his profiles on social-media websites, had worked as a heavy equipment operator for the Pitkin County Roads and Bridges Department. It's unclear from the lawsuit, however, if his injuries came while under the county's employ. The suit does not specify how much the plaintiff is seeking in monetary damages. Dansky and Ursula Ayers could not be reached for immediate comment on Thursday. A call to Moore's office was referred to his attorney, who also did not immediately return a telephone message. rcarroll@aspentimes.com

Broncos’ 2 first-rounders adjusting to NFL

DENVER, Colorado – Knowshon Moreno’s imagination, not his legs, ran wild as he recently choreographed a creative skit that earned him top honors at a touchdown celebration competition. Using the football as an imaginary chainsaw, the Denver Broncos’ rookie running back tugged on a string and then hacked down the goal post, even stepping aside as he pretended to give it room to tumble. Just don’t expect to see an encore performance in a game, which would draw a flag and the wrath of coach Josh McDaniels. But he’s got plenty of other moves – just as imaginative – stored away, waiting for their debut. First though, he has to find a way to get into the end zone. Moreno is currently running third behind LaMont Jordan and Correll Buckhalter as he absorbs McDaniels’ complicated offensive scheme. Although it’s early, Moreno, the 12th pick in the NFL draft six weeks ago, feels like he’s making progress. “I’m catching it, starting to get the hang of it,” said Moreno, who captured Upper Deck’s rookie touchdown celebration crown in Los Angeles last month by hauling out his hilarious stunt. “But at times I’m spinning a little bit.” Moreno isn’t deterred by taking a back seat to Jordan and Buckhalter, who’ve each been in the league for nine seasons. The talented tailback out of Georgia isn’t coming in with lofty expectations. Sure, he wants to start. But he’s biding his time as he grasps the terminology of this complex offense. “It’s still a learning stage for me,” Moreno said. “But I’m learning pretty well, learning from the vets, taking it in stride …. I think a lot of guys in the backfield can get the job done, any snap, anyone in that room. I’m trying to find my place and keep on learning.” Fellow first-round pick Robert Ayers is digesting the defense rather quickly. Ayers, the 18th overall pick, has been splitting time between the first and second teams through passing camp. “I think I’m doing pretty good,” Ayers said. “But there’s a lot of room for improvement.” With the Broncos switching to a 3-4 scheme, Ayers will play more of a hybrid role as he alternates between lineman and linebacker. He’s enjoying the challenge, even if it’s quite demanding with so many schemes to master. “One thing I’ve learned in this defense is you can do a lot of different things from a lot of different formations,” Ayers said. “We can call one play and depending on what the offense comes out, we can have five or six different things we can do. That’s the biggest thing, not just knowing the play call, but that your assignment can change mid-play. That’s the biggest curve for me.” With his relentless style of play, Ayers resembles fellow Tennessee product and former Broncos Pro Bowl linebacker Al Wilson. He even wears Wilson’s familiar No. 56 – not that it was on purpose. After the draft, Ayers asked for jersey No. 91, which he wore in college, but since that was taken, settled on 56. Once he realized it was Wilson’s old jersey number, he called Wilson to get his blessing. “He said it’s always good to have a guy from Tennessee representing him,” Ayers said. “I’m going to try to hold his number down and do the best I can. He told me just to play within myself, just give it all I got and I’ll be good. To hear that from him really meant a lot for me.” Ayers isn’t comfortable with the comparisons to Wilson, becoming fidgety when the subject was broached. “I could never be an Al Wilson whether I got his number, his cleats, whatever I put on of his,” Ayers said. “I’ll never be another Al Wilson. I’m just going to try to be Robert Ayers and play my game, and bring my type of intensity and do the things I do well …. That’s one of the things he told me, just be myself and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Each candidate is flawed

In last Saturday’s Vail Daily Jonah Goldberg opined, “… the real hints for how to choose a candidate should reside in the realm of judgment, philosophy, track record and temperament.” With that as a backdrop, I thought we might take a look at the less than positive aspects of the respective candidates. With Joe Biden we find plagiarism charges emanating from his law-school days when he was accused of having plagiarized five pages of a law review. However, Biden pleaded his case that he was unaware of the attribution rules and was permitted to retake the course. Senator Biden was also accused of plagiarism during the 1988 presidential primaries. After the charges were made he dropped out of the race. Sarah Palin has recently been investigated for abuse of power in connection with her former brother-in-law. The investigation was legitimate and Palin did not follow proper procedures; however, her accusers failed to address the real “Troopergate” issue, i.e. that this was a matter of public safety. Sarah Palin’s former brother-in-law had already tasered his own 10-year-old and allegedly threatened to shoot members of Palin’s family. Regardless of the alleged threats or the familial relationship, if Governor Palin hadn’t pushed to have her brother-in-law dismissed from the State Patrol and he subsequently tasered or otherwise injured someone else, her political opponents likely would have had a field day accusing her of “family favoritism.’” Two weeks ago the records of the administration of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) were released by the University of Illinois. They show an undeniable Ayers-Obama connection. In the mid-90s William Ayers made application to the Walter Annenberg Foundation for $50 million. The stated purpose ” as written into the language of the grant ” was to secure funds to “raise political consciousness” in Chicago’s public schools. After being awarded the money, Ayers chose Barack Obama to distribute it. Between 1995 and 1999, Barack Obama distributed that $50 million and raised another $60 million from various local civic groups. The disturbing part of this story is Sen. Obama’s adherence to Ayers’s philosophy of granting the funds not directly to the schools, but rather to “external” organizations like the American Community Organizations for Reform ” now ACORN. Reading, math and science achievement tests were not a significant part of the CAC grants. It was the schools’ success in promoting a radical political agenda that determined how much money they received from these external organizations. And that’s where Ayers gave Sen. Obama his first and only administrative job, which the senator held for 5 years. So the notion that Ayers was “just some guy in the neighborhood” as Sen. Obama claims, just doesn’t comport. Sen. Obama has misled the American people in his description of his relationship with Ayers as casual and arm’s-length; it should be emphasized that it was Ayers’s radical ideology, which was rooted in the teachings of leftist Saul Alinksy, that guided the distribution of CAC grant funds. Ayers has admitted bombing the U.S. Capitol building and the Pentagon. He told The New York Times in a Sept.11, 2001 article, that he “wished he could have done more.” In a 2002 Chicago Tribune Magazine cover story, there was a photo of Ayes standing in an alley stomping on the American Flag. So the notion that what Ayers did 40 years ago when Obama was 8 years old is of no consequence is a ruse. Like a leopard, Ayers hasn’t changed his ideological spots in 40 years. Some say the Ayers connection is guilt by association. Well, if one includes Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Father Michael Phleger along with Ayers, you begin to see a pattern of ultra-left and anti-American ideologies. As a sidebar, by running for president, Sen. Obama is implicitly asking the American public to trust his judgment in directing the federal government’s education spending for the next four years. We all know John McCain was involved in the infamous Keating Five scandal that cost the government $1.2 billion. So let’s go straight to the source, the Senate Ethics Committee’s Report. While the report was clear that John McCain “exercised poor judgment in intervening with the regulators” the committee found absolutely no evidence of wrong-doing. Bob Bennett, the attorney who headed the Senate ethics investigation recommended that McCain and Democratic Sen. John Glenn be dropped from the inquiry. According to Bennett (a Democrat himself), the Senate’s Democratic majority refused his recommendation “… because it would have taken the only Republican out of the inquiry.” This is a matter of Congressional record. Yes, issues are important, but times and issues change, leaving the little things like judgment, philosophy, and character to consider. Quote of the day: “For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” ” Winston Churchill Butch Mazzuca of Singletree is a regular columnist for the Vail Daily. He will be on vacation the rest of October. His next column is expected to run Nov. 6.

A backcountry slide takes a life

Shortly after Kent Roberg returned from his backcountry trip (see main bar), John William Jensen was killed in an avalanche nearby. The slide, and the devastation left in its wake, was visible from the route to Barnard Hut.While the author’s group was disorganized, scattered and generally under-educated about backcountry terrain, Jensen and his group were quite the opposite: Jensen was participating in an Aspen Expeditions Level II avalanche education course. Despite the experience and preparation of the group (initial investigation by the Aspen Times showed they had dug an avalanche pit before descending the pitch), the slide broke and carried Jensen 3,500 feet down a gully. An autopsy revealed he died of asphyxiation.One of a party of six in the Highlands backcountry Sunday, Jensen was the only skier caught in the slide.Initial reports from the scene on Sunday indicated Jensen had suffered grave injuries during the slide, but Pitkin County Coroner Steven Ayers said there was no significant trauma.”We were all kind of surprised,” Ayers said Monday. “There must have been something about his clothing that made it look like [he had broken his legs], but there was no fracture or anything. And the head trauma was mostly vomit and some facial swelling and bruising and abrasions” – injuries Ayers described as superficial.The avalanche, which was reported by a skier on top of Highland Peak at 2:45 p.m. Sunday, left Jensen at rest in the debris flow on a knoll above the floor of the Conundrum Creek Valley. It’s estimated he was buried for about 20 minutes before his party dug him out.Aspen Expeditions owner and guide Dick Jackson told the Aspen Times Monday evening that he had spent the day investigating the avalanche site.”We’re wanting to do a little bit more research to connect the dots here a little bit more before we make any statements,” Jackson said.An Aspen Expeditions spokeswoman told the Times on Monday: “We understand that efforts are being made to contact family members, and our heartfelt sympathy goes out to them.” Knox Williams, director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, said the backcountry conditions in Aspen on Sunday – moderate danger with pockets of considerable in areas favoring colder aspects – hadn’t changed much in the week preceding the fatal slide.On Sunday evening, Highlands patrol director Mac Smith said the party was one of at least four to exit the ski area boundary during the day. The Highlands ridge is frequented by backcountry skiers as is the Barnard Hut.Although the route to Barnard is relatively avalanche safe, the terrain which surrounds the route, and the hut, can be dangerous. Lost or disoriented, it’s easy to imagine one of the author’s group wandering into an avalanche-prone area.This story was compiled by the Vail Trail from Aspen Times stories by Tim Mutrie and Steve Benson.

Eagle Climbing and Fitness Center proposed at Chambers Ave. location

A proposal for a 15,668 square foot indoor climbing and fitness center at the Eagle Commercial Park has drawn enthusiastic support from town officials and residents. But an accompanying request to waive, reduce or defer fee payments for the proposal has netted a more divided response. Applicant Larry Moore has presented the proposal for a center that would include an indoor climbing wall, an indoor bouldering area, a coffee/juice bar, locker rooms, a fitness machine area, weight training equipment, fitness classroom space and an outdoor patio area. The Eagle Climbing and Fitness Center would be located just east of the Eagle Post Office at a parcel owned by Dave Dantas. Moore began bringing climbing competitions to Vail nine years ago and he believes there is robust climbing interest throughout the valley. "We believe this is an amazing project that will be a huge benefit to the town," he said. Moore noted the building has been specifically designed so it can host competitions and allow multiple uses. He said up to 300-participant events could be held at the facility. "It provides a wide spectrum of activities that can't be addressed by a climbing wall at a recreation facility," he said. But as he talks of bringing more people to town with the new center, Moore would like to see Eagle rethink various development fees that would be assessed on the project. Fee structure "Fees required of such a development are very significant," Moore noted. "The fees alone will range from $63,357 to $113,357. This does not include the additional fee for the building permit of approximately $14,358." The list of estimated fees Eagle could impose on the proposal include: Water plant investment fee — $15,400 to $36,400 Sewer plant investment fee — $22,000 to $52,0000 Street impact fee — $14,849 Fire impact fee — $8,346 Emergency medical impact fee — $1,762 Eagle Town Attorney Ed Sands noted that the town's various fees have been enacted to ensure that needed public improvements can be paid in part by the commercial or residential growth that spurs the need for them. He noted the fees are part of the town's municipal code and therefore, they cannot be simply waived without amending the code. "My inclination would be to go on the lower end of the fee scale, but not waive any of the fees," said Eagle Mayor Yuri Kostick. "The fact of the matter is that we have not done that in the past." "As much as it would be great if we could just waive these fees, there are impacts," said Eagle Town Board member Anne McKibbin. "The biggest problem I have with waiving fees is the next guy is going to come in and ask for it too," said Eagle Town Board member Doug Seabury But town officials did voice support for a plan to defer fee payments until later in the building process, noting it would give the developers additional flexibility during construction. "Deferral is an interesting option to consider, if we defer to a specific point in the development, TCO (temporary certificate of occupancy) for example," said Kostick. "TCO is general acceptable and it doesn't delay payment to a point after when it is needed," said town engineer Tom Gosiorowski. "But it puts us a little in the collections business, which we don't have experience in." After an initial presentation June 10, the town board asked staff to work out a deferral plan as part of the formal approval package for the development. That package was then unanimously approved by the town board on Tuesday. "I like this project and I think it could be really neat and what we need in Eagle," said McKibbin.

Wounded US veterans find healing in sports

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Losing his legs during a rocket attack in Iraq seven years ago left Heath Calhoun unable to fulfill his desire to serve his country. Representing the United States at the Paralympic Winter Games is helping fill that void. An Alpine skier, Calhoun was the U.S. flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies in Vancouver a week ago, and he finished eighth in the sit-ski Super-G on Friday. “My military service was kind of left incomplete; it was taken out of my hands by the explosion that took my legs,” Calhoun said. “So being able to represent my country on the world’s biggest stage is huge for me. It can also give me some closure from starting in the military to finishing up here as a Paralympian.” Calhoun, who was a squad leader for the 101st Airborne Division, is one of five military veterans among 50 athletes on the U.S. Paralympic team in Vancouver. That number is expected to grow by about 4 percent – to roughly one of every seven athletes – by the London Summer Paralympics in 2012 because of casualties to U.S. service members fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Bittersweet is a great way to describe it,” Calhoun said. “It’s horrible that guys are being injured on the battlefield, but it’s part of it and I understand that. And I also think it’s fantastic that the guys that are being injured are coming back and participating in sport, staying active.” The Paralympics started in 1948 as a rehabilitation tool for injured veterans of World War II. U.S. participation spiked after the Vietnam War. “Because we are in an engagement, no doubt we expect to see a surge in individuals that want to represent their country again,” said Charlie Huebner, Paralympics chief for the U.S. Olympic Committee. The Paralympic Adaptive Sports Program was started in 2008 by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and has helped more than 6,000 military personnel and veterans by creating programs in 113 communities, 31 military installations and 17 veteran facilities. As in the Olympics, only a few athletes reach the elite level in their sport, but the real goal is rehabilitation, both physical and psychological. “This has provided so much purpose and focus and discipline in my life,” said 29-year-old Army veteran Andy Soule, who won the first U.S. medal of the 2010 games with a bronze in biathlon pursuit on the opening day. “Getting into sports is one of the best things they can do, even if they don’t have the potential to compete at a World Cup or Paralympic level. Getting into sports of any type is incredible for a person with a disability.” Soule ran track in high school, but otherwise wasn’t much of an athlete. That changed after his legs were amputated a few inches above his knees after a roadside bomb detonated while he was a Humvee gunner in Afghanistan in 2005. He started with sports while in the hospital, trying wheelchair fencing, volleyball and hand cycling. Skiing came much later. Like Calhoun, Soule visits other injured soldiers to share his story. “One of the things I tell guys is how much sports have meant to me as far as staying active and as far as replacing some of that focus and discipline that I needed while I was in the military, giving me an outlet for that,” he said. Sports remain a big part of Calhoun’s recovery, particularly the mental aspect. “I kind of had a brain meltdown the first time I flew back home and experienced what life was going to be like as a disabled person,” he said. “But the more I learned and participated in sports, the more I was able to cope with my new life.” For veterans, another chance to represent the U.S. can be a big part of overcoming their wounds. Wheelchair curler Patrick McDonald lost his legs while on a U.S. military patrol in Korea in 1991 and chokes up just talking about the Paralympic opening ceremonies. “To put USA back on a uniform was great,” said McDonald, his voice cracking. “I teared up a little bit at opening ceremonies. Just because you are sitting in a chair or hopping on one leg, life isn’t over. When you have something like sports to reach out to and see other vets going through the same thing and make it to this level, the sky is the limit.”

Vail movie review: ‘The Soloist’

VAIL, Colorado Its occurred to most of us that every homeless person out there probably has a fascinating story. But looking into it just sounds like a dangerous idea. Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez did it he flopped right down on the sidewalk amid the crackheads and derelicts on homeless Main Street, L.A., and though he got some menacing looks, nobody raised a hand at him as he embarked on a mission to bring a homeless musician back into the roofed world. But all he wanted in the beginning was a good story.Though the point of Susannah Grants (Erin Brokovich, 28 Days) and Joe Wrights (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) adaptation of Lopezs tale of friendship with lost prodigy Nathaniel Ayers is a little convoluted, some of the performances mostly delivered by the extras in and around the homeless shelter are Oscar-worthy and the story is nonetheless fascinating.In the rapidly diminishing universe of print journalism (thanks for reading, by the way!), Lopez (played by Robert Downey Jr.) meanders through L.A.s seedier side in hopes of landing a riveting column idea. Under a statue of Beethoven he discovers Ayers (Jamie Foxx), lost in the lovely strains of his beat-up, two-string violin. During Ayers Rain Man-like, muttering monologue, Lopez learns that the vibrantly dressed hobo at one point attended Julliard (New Yorks prestigious school of musical arts). He thus makes Ayers the star of his column and stirs the hearts and minds of his readers. As he spends more time with Ayers, however, his new goal becomes finding a better life for the man to get him off the streets and attempt to make him a successful, recognized musician. He is convinced that all it takes is an apartment, a cello instructor and maybe some meds for schizophrenia. The story begins with Lopez crashing on his bicycle and going to the hospital. Its really not clear what the relevance is of this scene other than demonstrating that Lopez is a well-read columnist whose primary subject matter is his own life experiences. He writes about the crash and is inundated with sympathetic letters. The scene also shows that this is the chapter of his column leading up to the Ayers chronicles, and how the two initially establish their rapport because Ayers is embarrassed about his appearance and though Lopez isnt wearing a dirty construction vest or mismatched shoes found in a Dumpster, he does have an unsightly black eye and a bump on his head. If this were a full-fledged documentary, the lack of flow would be a little easier to digest. But since its a first-run feature film, a little more continuity might be refreshing. The story is interesting, but the movie is devoid of force. Its a snippet of the life of a middle class journalist more than the life of a homeless musician but at least the contrast of their respective domestic dangers (pesky raccoons digging holes in the backyard for Lopez, the danger of getting clubbed to death in his sleep for Ayers) is eye-opening, if not moving.

Ayers agrees to deal with Denver Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colorado – The Denver Broncos reached an agreement with first-round pick Robert Ayers, leaving Knowshon Moreno, the team’s top pick, as the only unsigned player from their 10-member draft class. In an e-mail, Ayers’ agent, Anthony Agnone, said the deal was essentially done, but the paperwork was still being finalized. The Broncos used their 18th selection to take Ayers, a defensive end out of Tennessee. With the Broncos implementing a 3-4 scheme, Ayers will play a hybrid role as he alternates between the line and linebacker. Moreno, a running back out of Georgia, was taken with the 12th overall selection.

Broncos linebackers applaud choice of coordinator

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Wesley Woodyard and Robert Ayers were taken aback by the hasty departure of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan in mid-January. However, the two young linebackers said Thursday that their emotions gave way to elation when the Denver Broncos promoted linebackers coach Don Martindale to defensive coordinator. Nolan left to accept a similar position with the Miami Dolphins. “They couldn’t have made a better choice because he (Martindale) is a player’s coach, who gets pretty loud, but in a good way,” Ayers said. “He knows when to talk to you and when to yell at you.” Martindale left a lasting impression during an interview prior to last year’s draft. “He told me don’t expect to come here and be an average player and play five or six years,” Ayers said. “He expected me to be a great player and be a dominant force in the NFL.” Neither Woodyard, a third-year inside linebacker, nor Ayers, a second-year outside linebacker, anticipated a change of scheme from the 3-4 alignment installed by Nolan. “We haven’t gotten into the schemes about what we are going to do,” Woodyard said. “I’m sure we are still going to run a 3-4.” And they hadn’t heard of any changes brought on by the release of veterans like starting inside linebacker Andra Davis. The team hinted that Mario Haggan would fill the void left by Davis on the inside, leaving a spot on the inside for Ayers, who made one start in 2009. “I don’t know the real reasons for the moves that were made upstairs,” Ayers said. “Regardless of who was on the team, I was planning on working to get better, improve my strengths and erase my weaknesses to become a complete player.” Woodyard will continue to be a situational player on defense and a key figure on special teams. He was voted a special teams captain a year ago. “I am a team player,” Woodyard said. “I will accept my role no matter what it is.” Martindale asked him to bulk up slightly in the offseason. Woodyard will play at 235 pounds instead of 228 this year. The Broncos are in the second day of their voluntary offseason conditioning program.

Lamb Cook-Off baaack for round four in Vail

Carol Moore is a self-proclaimed “lamb girl.” Moore, the owner of Carol Moore Interior Design, is a big supporter of the Taste of Vail and one of her favorite events is the annual Lamb Cook-Off, the kick-off event for the four-day culinary event. Each year Moore buys two full event passes to the Taste of Vail, which she shares with her employees and clients. Even better, the Lamb Cook-Off doesn’t even require an event pass; for $2 a sample, lamb and wine lovers can try offerings from 20 restaurants and 17 wineries this afternoon in Vail. “It’s amazing seeing the different ways lamb is prepared ” lamb burgers, different sauces. Then you have the different wine pairings too, and they have recipes all over the place. I just think its inspirational to go (to the Cook-Off) and think of lamb in a different format than you have before ” like maybe in a patty, which is more accessible for a single person who might not be inclined to buy rack of lamb or leg of lamb,” Moore said. In fact, that’s just the goal of the Denver-based American Lamb Board ” expose people to a meat they might otherwise pass over at the grocery store. “The Taste of Vail lamb cookoff has grown into an amazing event with 20 talented chefs developing incredibly innovative lamb recipes that really showcase one of the most lean, flavorful and versatile cuts of American Lamb ” the leg of lamb,” said Megan Wortman, spokeswoman for the lamb board, which donated 1,600 pounds of boneless leg of lamb to the event this year. Attendees and contributors aren’t the only fans of the event, nicknamed the “Lamb-Off.” Some of the chefs involved started developing their recipes months ago. Darrell Jensen and his team from Game Creek Restaurant took top honors at last year’s event for their braised lamb in a butternut squash cone. Under the leadership of Thomas Newsted, formerly of Zacca Za!, Game Creek also won first place the first two years of the competition. Though Jensen is convinced this year’s creation will even trump last year’s dish, he’s hesitant to reveal just how his team plans to prepare their allotted 10 legs of Colorado lamb. “Well, we’re going to take our lamb leg and make it into something familiar with tons of flavor; something very, very original,” Jensen said. Lamb is a very easy ingredient to work with, depending on the cut, Jensen said. “The leg can be a little strong in flavor but when you braise it, it mellows it out. But you also want to make sure you can still taste and know you’re eating lamb,” he said. The Lamb Cook-Off was the brainchild of Paul Ferzacca, owner of La Tour and Zacca Za! Ferzacca, along with Jana Morgan and David Sanchez, created the cook-off to infuse new energy in the Taste of Vail and offer an affordable event on the streets of Vail, Morgan said. The first year they had to practically beg the 13 restaurants involved to take part and many of them didn’t turn in their recipes until the last minute, if at all, Morgan said. This year she started asking the 20 restaurants (there’s five more on the waiting list with recipes in hand in case anyone backs out) for their recipes on March 4 and, as a bonus, she offered the first restaurant to turn in their recipe their choice of judging time. “There’s a whole strategy behind choosing your judging time,” which made the offer pretty attractive, Morgan said. Some chefs really want the judges to sample their food first, she continued. Chefs from Vail Valley Gourmet called her the day she sent out the e-mail. “They said ‘we have our recipe ” we’ve had it for a month.’ I didn’t have to hound one chef, everyone is taking it super seriously,” she said. To reward them for their efforts, there’s a bevy of prizes ” a 42-inch plasma television for first place, an HP laptop computer for second place, an Apple iPod touch for third place and a digital camera for the People’s Choice winner. A panel of experts will judge the samples based on presentation and taste in a blind tasting. May the best lamb win. High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.