On the Hill: Pickleball at Golden Peak | VailDaily.com

On the Hill: Pickleball at Golden Peak

On the Hill Summer, brought to you by The Steadman Clinic and the Steadman Philippon Research Institute, brings you a video report about a different High Country adventure every weekday. Today’s activity: Playing pickleball at the new Golden Peak courts On the Hill is shot with a GoScope Extreme 2X Telescoping pole mount, get 30% off your order at Go-Scope.com by using the following promo code: goscopevaildaily Report: Vail Daily reporter John LaConte talks with local pickleballers about the activity that’s been labeled “The fastest growing sport in America.” Pickleball players were recently gifted with four new courts at the Golden Peak tennis courts, confirming the growing interest in the sport in the Vail Valley. Over 50 locals, part time residents and visitors have participated in the drop in program offered every morning from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Golden Peak, and Avon has also built two dedicated drop-in courts, located adjacent to the Avon elementary school. Eagle-Vail recently striped two of their tennis courts, as well. Today’s forecast: Isolated showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. Mostly sunny, with a high near 73. South southeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent. — National Weather Service onthehill@vaildaily.com | “Like” us: facebook.com/onhillreport | twitter.com/onhillreport

Is Vail pickleball causing a racket?

VAIL — Pickleball proponents met with the Town Council at Golden Peak on Tuesday to show them their sport and the noise it puts out. After spending 30 minutes measuring the sound output the sport's whiffle ball makes when it hits a paddle, and the celebrations that occur when that ball hits (or misses) its mark, the police found it to be within the noise limit deemed acceptable by town code. "Everything has been in range for what it is supposed to be," said Mike Bindle, with the Vail Police Department. "The only time it went above was when the bus came by." According to town code, any noise which exceeds the allowable noise limit by 10 decibels must be sustained for one minute or more in order to be considered a violation, so the town of Vail buses won't be pulled off the streets as a result of their trips through the residential areas near Golden Peak. "All the ranges were right where they're supposed to be for residential," Bindle said. 'RUINS THE EXPERIENCE' The fact-finding work was initiated after residents complained about an incipient effort to replace the tennis court at Golden Peak with pickleball courts. "Noise level is high and ball/paddle pitch very disturbing — my balconies face the courts," wrote Mark and Noelle Mahoney, who own units in the Vail Trails East building. "Decorum is loud and unrefined." The complaints have not been limited to noise and an elimination of tennis courts, however. "Any expansion of pickleball is unimaginable!" wrote Marty Suarez, a property owner in the nearby All Seasons condos. "Noise, parking, trash and lack of bathroom facilities has created numerous problems for all the owners in this area." The Golden Peak facility currently has one tennis court and four pickleball courts. Pickleball players at Golden Peak can outnumber tennis players by 10-to-1 on any given day, but that's part of the problem, says pickleball opponent Damon Redd. "We played one time while (pickleball players) were out there and said never again," he said. "Playing next to pickleballers ruins the experience." COUNCIL IN A PICKLE Vail council members and staff were among those playing pickleball Tuesday as Bindle measured the noise output. "It seems a little more social (than tennis)," said council member Jenn Bruno. Council member Margaret Rogers said she was loving the sport. "If you play a couple games and there's people waiting, you sit out and somebody else plays," Rogers said. "So it's not like 'I've got my court for an hour, no cutting in.'" Councilman Dale Bugby said the doubles format of pickleball makes it a little more fun than tennis. "It's hard to get a good doubles match in tennis where all four people can play at the same level," he said. FAST GROWING SPORT The sport has been called a cross between tennis and its little brother, table tennis. There are kids leagues, but spend any time around the Golden Peak pickleball courts and you'll see it's their grandparents who have really taken to the sport. It's often called the fastest growing sport in America, with legions of tennis players switching to pickleball as age catches up with them. "I'm now full of arthritis, so I can't run and play tennis anymore," said Vail resident Joe Rink, 79, who was once a nationally ranked tennis player. "When I found (pickleball) … I found something other than golf to do." Jerry Stevens was working at the Vail Tennis Center in Ford Park when he was approached by Vail Recreation District Executive Director Mike Ortiz to help organize a pickleball league. "We had over 140 people sign up over the course of last summer," he said. "And that was just with me coming out three days a week for a couple hours in the morning." Stevens has been in Vail a long time. He helped start the Vail Rugby Club in the early '70s. "I've never seen anything that's taken off this quickly," he said. "Racket sports generally are flat, but pickleball is growing. All ages and all skill levels can enjoy it." FREE ACCESS When tennis players say the Golden Peak venue is currently not ideal for pickleball, they don't always receive an argument from pickleball players on that point. The Golden Peak courts have humps and bumps, and the players facing west have to contend with limited space and a fence against their backs. Last year, after the Golden Peak courts were resurfaced to accommodate pickleball, dangerous cracks started forming on the courts just weeks after the resurface. Complaints from the pickleball community are frequent. Stevens says pickleball's popularity in Golden Peak has come despite the less-than-ideal playing field. "You can imagine if they redo this and put in six nice, new courts in and have a nice facility, it's going to be popular," Stevens said. Opponents say if that happens, then there will be no more free access to tennis in Vail, as the tennis center at Ford Park charges a fee. Vail Director of Communications Suzanne Silverthorn said that's true at the moment, but only because the tennis courts at Booth Creek are closed awaiting renovation. "The two new courts at Booth Creek will come on line in late summer/early fall of next year," Silverthorn wrote in an email to the Vail Daily. "The courts will be free at Booth Creek Park." The Vail Town Council will continue to examine the issue and is welcoming feedback from the community. To solicit your comments, visit vailgov.com.

Vail Town Council approves pickleball courts

VAIL — Pickleball. The very name conjures images of a slightly frivolous activity. But a recent only-in-Vail controversy over where to play the sport also shows how recreation in town is evolving. The Vail Town Council recently approved a plan that will put six pickleball courts, parking and new landscaping at a town-owned site near the Manor Vail Lodge and essentially across the street from Golden Peak. The project will cost roughly $1 million, paid for out of existing funds from the town's real estate transfer tax. Work will begin in 2016. The new complex will replace what's there — one hard-surface tennis court and four pickleball courts. The pickleball area at the site has grown in just a few years. Vail Recreation District Director Mike Ortiz told the council that the district, which operates town-owned recreation facilities, started with two pickleball courts at Golden Peak in 2012 after being approached by players. "We hadn't really heard of pickleball, so we tried two courts to see if there was interest," Ortiz said. The response was "overwhelming," he said. That response led the district in 2014 to replace one of the two tennis courts at the site with four pickleball courts. "Pickleball players are organized, they're social — it's really a welcoming group," Ortiz said. "And it's the right demographic for Vail. It's players 55 and older — we're serving the right people with this game." Court Concerns The decision to build pickleball courts has drawn fire from some nearby homeowners, who complain about the noise and the activity at the courts. "We're concerned about parking, about sanitation issues and about people changing (clothes) in their cars," said George Tyler, an owner at the All Seasons condominiums and president of that property's homeowners association. Turning four courts into six will simply add to the noise, Tyler said. While Ortiz acknowledged that the sound from pickleball is different than tennis — pickleball uses paddles and plastic balls instead of racquets and felt-covered balls — town officials have conducted a noise study at the courts, and have determined that sound from the courts falls within the limits set by the town's noise regulations. The plan for the Golden Peak courts has also drawn some complaints about the loss of the hard-surface tennis court in the neighborhood. Courtney Klein, a representative of the Rams Horn condos, told the council that guests are regularly sent to the tennis courts in the summer. On the other hand, the recreation district operates eight clay courts at Ford Park, just a few minutes' walk away from Golden Peak. The clay-court tennis season is shorter than the season available on hard courts. On the other hand, renovations at Booth Creek Park will include two new hard courts. Those courts will be available by the fall of 2016. But tennis isn't as popular as it once was. Bill Suarez, a member of the Vail Recreation District Board of Directors, said the tennis courts at Golden Peak had seen declining use over the years. The plans for pickleball are the response to demand. "I understand that the people who live there have gotten used to what they've gotten (in terms of activity," Suarez said. "But we try to be the recreation provider for the entire community," Suarez said. Growing Enthusiasm And, it seems, a growing number of residents and guests are enthusiastic about pickleball. "It's tennis for octogenarians," resident John Snyder said at the meeting. "It's really rejuvenated me — there are a lot of benefits of the sport for people my age." Donovan Park Courts? While the town will build one new facility in 2016, pickleball in Vail may not be done growing. Some residents opposed to the Golden Peak site recommended looking into putting courts at Donovan Park. Mayor Andy Daly, officiating his last meeting with the council, recommended spending some time and money on investigating other sites for courts.

Vail picks pickleball plan Tuesday

VAIL — A public hearing will be held during Tuesday's Vail Town Council meeting to provide direction on future improvements to the Golden Peak Racquet Sports Facility, located at 461 Vail Valley Drive. The item is listed tenth on the meeting agenda, which begins at 5:15 p.m. at Town Hall. The discussion follows a site visit to the courts, held Oct. 20, during which council members experienced the growing sport of pickleball and evaluated potential neighborhood impacts while hearing from others about the need to retain hard-surface tennis courts. The Golden Peak courts are in need of reconstruction and currently include one full tennis court and four pickleball courts. The recently adopted 2016 town budget includes a $1 million line-item for improvements at the facility. Options include the conversion to six permanent pickleball courts or reconstruction of the current combination. The project would also include a proposal for 12 parking spaces on Chalet Road and improvements for disabled facility users. The courts are owned by the town and operated by the Vail Recreation District. The town's 2016 budget also incudes $2 million for renovation of Booth Creek Park, which includes two new tennis courts which will be available for play in the fall of 2016. The council had determined earlier to remove pickleball from a list of potential future uses at Booth Creek Park. Following Tuesday's direction by the council, the project will be designed and submitted for review by the town's development review boards with construction beginning spring 2016. To comment in advance of the public hearing, email the Vail Town Council, towncouncil@vailgov.com.

Telemark at Golden Peak

Vail’s Golden Peak pickleball grand opening is June 2-4

VAIL — Join the town of Vail and Vail Recreation District to celebrate the grand opening of the new Golden Peak Pickleball Center. From Friday to Sunday, players and spectators can immerse themselves in the game of pickleball with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, an exhibition game and pickleball clinics for all abilities. The pickleball center is located at 461 Vail Valley Drive. Parking is available at the Vail Village parking structure with quick access to the center via the free town bus. A ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Saturday will officially open the Golden Peak Pickleball Center. The facility was built last fall by the town of Vail where tennis courts were once located. Vail Mayor Dave Chapin will officially dedicate the new facility, with representatives from the Vail Recreation District on hand to talk about summer programming at the center. what is pickleball Pickleball, a paddle sport that is rapidly gaining popularity, combines elements of tennis, badminton and pingpong. With the creation of six courts at Golden Peak, this sport now has a scenic home at the base of Vail Mountain for pickleball enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels. Continuing the festivities Saturday, a pickleball exhibition will take place at 11 a.m. featuring Laura Fenton Kovanda and Scott Moore, two nationally recognized pros who will showcase pickleball play at its highest level. Kovanda is a 2016 U.S. Open two-time Gold Medalist and Women's Pro Doubles Finalist, 2017 Grand Canyon State Games Silver Medalist and 2016 Tournament of Champions Bronze Medalist. She also a world champion racketball player. Moore also has many titles under his belt. He is a three-time U.S. Open champion, 12-time National Pickleball champion and six-time Tournament of Champions title holder. He was named 2015 Co-Pickleball Player of the year along with his son and pickleball doubles partner, Daniel. Friday though Sunday, Kovanda and Moore will host a series of clinics designed for all levels of play. Two participants will win pickleball paddles courtesy of Paddletek. The clinic schedule is: • Friday 11 a.m. to noon: Rating clinic. 1 to 3 p.m.: Beginner/intermediate clinic. 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Intermediate/advanced clinic. • Saturday 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.: 4.0+ clinic. 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Intermediate/advanced clinic. • Sunday Noon to 2 p.m.: Beginner/intermediate clinic. 3 to 5 p.m.: Intermediate/advanced clinic. The Golden Peak Pickleball Center is owned by the town of Vail and programmed by the Vail Recreation District. Beginning today, a regular summer outdoor schedule will include daily drop-in times, clinics for adults and kids, tournaments and more. For more information, go to http://www.vailrec.com or contact Jerry Stevens at 970-471-3757, or pickleball@vailrec.com.

Snowmaking begins at Golden Peak

VAIL – This photo, taken at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 14, 2014, shows snowmaking operations have begun at the ski race training facility on Golden Peak. The snowmaking system at Golden Peak will allow for some of the best November ski race training in the world; in a few weeks professional ski racers from teams around the globe will visit Vail to take advantage of the man-made conditions, renting out lanes and hosting training sessions.

Women on Wine at Golden Peak

Throw together one group of 30 women in a beautiful restaurant. Add several cases of wine and stir. Sprinkle generously with a variety of artisan cheeses, fresh bread and fruits. Top off with gifts and prizes, bake for three hours and enjoy. That was the scene this past week at Larkspur Restaurant at Golden Peak where Beaver Liquors hosted one of its “Women on Wine” programs ” exclusively for the female persuasion, with wines presented by exclusively women sales representatives, and hosted by Michelle Courtney. This particular evening introduced wine maker Frederique Spencer from Sageland Vineyards and Larkspur’s Allana Smith ” who certainly knows her cheeses. Wines from Spain, New Zealand and Argentina were also featured at the event. For more information on the Women on Wine program, please call Michelle at 949-5040 or e-mail her at Michelle@Beaverliquors.com.

Vail Daily letter: Gold Peak or Golden Peak?

Who wants to weigh in on this one — is the correct name Gold Peak or Golden Peak? The latter has become the more popular usage, but there are those who say it was originally Gold Peak and should still be. Charlie Penwill

Pickleball picking up steam among Vail Valley players

VAIL – Pickleball may set outdoor records for the best game with the silliest name, and the most grins. Mike Keeler played it Wednesday for the first time, and left the court with a huge smile on his face. "It's easy on someone with knees like I have," Keeler said. Joe Link is among those trying to grow pickleball locally. "It's quick, it's a good workout and you don't have to move as much as you would in tennis," Link said. Link was a six handicap golfer before he turned to tournament tennis. He still works some tennis around his pickleball schedule. They play on the tennis courts across the street from Golden Peak. They have the courts 8:30 a.m. to noon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Monday it's open play. Anyone can drop in and try the game. Wednesday is pretty open too, and they spend some extra time teaching beginners. Saturdays they play as many games as they can. If that's not enough, G.R. Rufenacht is running games Monday nights at Avon Elementary School. Those games ran through last winter. Rufenacht is sort of the local pickleball Johnny Appleseed. He started by taping lines for the courts with blue painting masking tape. Local Jan Noel started playing when she was recovering from an injury and her doctor told her to learn something new. She picked pickleball. Professional soccer player and U.S. national team goalie Hope Solo loves pickleball so much that she built a court in her backyard. When we caught up with the local pickleball players, U.S. Ski Team standout Heidi Kloser was playing tennis with her mom, Emily on the neighboring court at Golden Peak and took a few swings at pickleball. It's part badminton, part ping-pong and part tennis. It doesn't put much strain on joints, and the courts are about a quarter the size of tennis courts, so you don't have to cover as much ground. Proliferating pickleball It's one of the world's fastest growing racket games, said Bob Seward, the Vail Recreation District's tennis director. "It's good for people who don't have quite the range they need to play tennis," Seward said. The Vail Recreation District started pickleball last year at Vail's Booth Falls courts. This year the Vail Recreation District has three pickleball courts on the Golden Peak courts. Some days they'll have a dozen players, other days they'll have two dozen chatting on the sidelines waiting for a spot on one of those three courts, Seward said. According to the USA Pickleball Association, it's played by an estimated 100,000 adults, more than triple the number in 2003. There are about 2,500 public courts in 420 locations across North America — 43 states and four Canadian provinces — 421 if you count the courts in Vail, which we do. In 2003 there were 150 courts in the whole country, said the USA Pickleball Association. The first national championship was played in 2009. In Saddlebrooke, Ariz., 450 people are in the pickleball club. The Villages in Florida has 100 courts. Summit County and Steamboat Springs have huge groups of pickleball players. About that name Pickleball was invented in 1965 in Joel Pritchard's backyard. The former congressman and some friends were sitting around after golf and put together a makeshift court using busted up badminton equipment and a whiffle ball. The name came from the Pritchard's cocker spaniel Pickles, who liked to chase the ball. The Pritchards built the first permanent court in their backyard. Pritchard died in 1997, at age 72. He was Washington state's lieutenant governor for eight years, 1988-1996. Some people remember that, but more people remember pickleball. Pop goes the pickleball The paddles make a distinctive pop sound when you hit the ball, which is music to players and din to those who don't. In some retirement communities, a few owners claim pickleball noise is destroying property values, according to the Wall Street Journal. A noise study found that pickleball popping spiked above 60 decibels. Temple University's civil engineering department says that's the level of background conversation in a restaurant and a window air conditioner at 100 feet. Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.