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Win land, help St. Vincent Hospital

What would you do if you won land in Colorado?

The St. Vincent Hospital Foundation is hosting the Colorado Land Rush and raffling off a forested .46 parcel of land in the Pan Ark Estates subdivision south of Leadville. Raffle tickets are $75 plus fees. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced at the Leadville BBQ & Brew Festival in downtown Leadville on June 22 at 4 p.m. and you don’t need to be present to win

Sound too good to be true? Land ownership could be a reality and in buying a raffle ticket, you are actually helping to support rural healthcare services in Lake County

After nearly closing the facility in 2015, St. Vincent Hospital is celebrating its 140-year history and will break ground on a new state-of-the-art facility later this year. The funds raised from the Colorado Land Rush land raffle will be used to help purchase a new CT scanner, which enables doctors to diagnose head and neck injuries, find internal organ damage and stabilize patients. Whether the patients are treated in Leadville or need to be transferred to a trauma center, detailed imaging from a CT scanner is critical.

Situated in the shadows of some of the state’s 14,000-foot peaks, the Leadville area boasts majestic views, hiking, biking, fishing, rafting, skiing and other outdoor activities.

What would you do if you won land in Colorado? The possibilities are endless for outdoor recreation and it’s a place for you to call home.

To purchase a raffle ticket or tickets, go to www.coloradolandrush.com. To learn more about St. Vincent Hospital’s new facility and extensive history, please visit www.leadvillehospital.org. Act fast, the winner will be announced at the Leadville BBQ & Brew Festival on June 22 at 4 p.m.

30 festivals/events coming to Vail Valley before Opening Day 2019-20

Hot Summer Nights

Hot Summer Nights is a free concert series held at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail on Tuesday evenings starting in June. (Photo by Justin Q. McCarty)
Justin Q. McCarty

Held on Tuesday evenings throughout the summer at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, the free Hot Summer Nights concert series is perfect for a picnic on the lawn. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and the concerts start at 6:30 each Tuesday starting in June.

Series tenure: Started in 1987

More information: Visit www.grfavail.com

Vail Jazz Festival

The Vail Jazz Festival is celebrating 25 years this summer with 10 weeks of music starting in June. (Photo courtesy of Vail Jazz)

Going big and celebrating 25 years this summer, the Vail Jazz Festival is a 10-week program featuring the best in jazz music from around the world. The Vail Jazz Festival consists of six distinctive series that run from June through September, including Vail Jazz at Vail Square; Vail Jazz Club Series; Vail Jazz Party during Labor Day weekend; Vail Jazz at The Market; Vail Jazz at The Remedy; and Vail Jazz at The Riverwalk.

Series tenure: 25th annual event

More information: www.vailjazz.org

Bravo! Vail Music Festival

The Bravo! Vail Music Festival brings world-class orchestras to Vail starting in June. (Photo Special to the Daily)
Special to the Daily

Held June 20 to Aug. 4, the Bravo! Vail Music Festival features four of the world’s greatest orchestra returning to Vail to take up residence. These internationally renowned musicians and acclaimed soloists perform powerful classical masterworks and other programs in the Rocky Mountain setting.

Festival tenure: 31st annual event

More information: Visit www.bravovail.org

Vail Summer Bluegrass Series

In June and July, the Vail Summer Bluegrass Series brings free performances to Solaris in Vail, featuring headliners Trout Steak Revival (June 26); Jeremy Garrett, of the Infamous Stringdusters (July 3); Hackensaw Boys (July 10); and The Lonesome Days (July 17). Shows are from 6 to 9 p.m.

Series tenure: Sixth annual event

More information: www.vailbluegrass.com.

Vilar Performing Arts Center Summer Series

The Vilar Performing Arts Center at Beaver Creek is an intimate 535-seat venue. The Vilar Center’s summer lineup starts in July.
Townsend Bessent | Daily file photos

Located underneath the ice rink in Beaver Creek Village with no bad seats in the 535-seat venue, the Vilar Performing Arts Center has a summer schedule filled with Grammy winners, acrobats and more. The series kicks off July 2 and runs through Aug. 24, featuring The Mavericks (July 7); Toots & The Maytals (July 26); Buddy Guy (July 30); and more.

More information: Visit www.vilarpac.org

Whistle Pig Vail

The second annual Whistle Pig Vail will bring comedians and musicians to Vail throughout the summer. (Photo Special to the Daily)
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

After a successful inaugural year bringing high-profile performers to the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Whistle Pig Vail returns with another impressive lineup for summer of 2019. Whistle Pig Vail kicks off with comedians Steve Martin and Martin Short (July 14); followed by the Trey Anastasio Band (Aug. 12-13); Steve Miller Band & Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives (Aug. 14); Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (Aug. 19); before concluding with Gary Clark Jr. (Sept. 5).

Series tenure: 2nd annual event

More information: www.grfavail.com

Bonfire Block Party

A two-day street party in downtown Eagle, the Bonfire Block Party returns May 31 to June 1. (Photo by John-Ryan Lockman)
John-Ryan Lockman | Special to the Daily

The Bonfire Block Party features three stages on the streets of downtown Eagle for the two-day festival, Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1. When the music stops in the streets, late-night shows will go down at Bonfire Brewing in Eagle featuring local bands. The lineup includes Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue; Railroad Earth, North Mississippi Allstars; The Lil Smokies; and more. On Sunday, June 2, there’s also a closing concert and brunch at the Sunday Sayonara event.

Series tenure: Fifth annual event

More information: Visit www.bonfireblockparty.com

ShowDown Town

The free ShowDown Town concerts take place in Eagle Town Park Thursdays and begin in June. (Photo Special to the Daily)
Zach Mahone | Daily file photo |

For seven weeks on Thursdays from June 27 to Aug. 15, ShowDown Town is a free concert series in Eagle Town Park during the summer. Picnics are welcome for these laid-back community events.

Series tenure: 22nd annual event

More information: Visit www.vvf.org/showdown-town

Vail Film Festival

The Vail Film Festival brings Colorado and world premiers to Vail in August. (Photo by Anthony Thornton)
Anthony Thornton | Daily file photo

The 16th annual Vail Film Festival returns Aug. 15-18. Founded by the Cross brothers, Sean and Scott, the festival stays at the forefront of trends in film, usually focusing on women throughout the industry. The festival features some big names as well as impressive others to learn. Many films are Colorado premiers, and some are world premiers each year. Categories include features, shorts, documentaries and more.

Series tenure: 16th annual event

More information: www.vailfilmfestival.com

Farmers markets

Farmers markets take place across the valley during the summer, starting in June. (Photo by Zach Mahone)
Zach Mahone | Daily file photo

Entering its 18th year on East Meadow Drive, the Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show returns Sundays, June 16 to Oct. 6. Celebrating its 21st season, the Minturn Market is Saturdays, June 15 to Sept. 7. The Edwards Corner Market returns Saturdays, June 15 to Sept. 21. In 2018, both Gypsum and Avon got in on the market scene with week-day markets.

More information: Follow the farmers markets on Facebook

Vail Craft Beer Classic

The Vail Craft Beer Classic combines outdoor adventures, educational seminars as well as food and beer in June. (Photo by Steve Peterson)
Vail Craft Beer Classic

In its third year and gaining momentum, the Vail Craft Beer Classic returns June 21-23, featuring outdoor adventures, educational seminars as well as food and beer pairings. Outdoor adventures include a fly-fishing excursion with a brewer and cruising Vail Pass via bicycle with a brewer; seminars include cooking and pairing, chasing trends, tales from the taproom and more.

Festival tenure: Third annual event

More information: Visit www.vailcraftbeerclassic.com

Gourmet On Gore

Gourmet on Gore brings world-class wine, beer and spirits to Vail during Labor Day weekend. (Photo Special to the Daily)
Nate Day | Special to the Daily

A Labor Day weekend tradition in Vail, Gourmet on Gore brings world-class wine, beer and spirits together with culinary creations from Vail’s top chefs Aug. 30-Sept. 2. Events at Gourmet on Gore include a tasting tour; open-air tasting; kids culinary corner; and more.

Festival tenure: 12th annual event

More information: Visit www.gourmetongore.com


Oktoberfest in the Vail Valley starts in September with more events throughout October. (Photo Special to the Daily)
Special to the Daily

The best thing about Oktoberfests in the Vail Valley is they start in September. Across the valley, Oktoberfest celebrations are spaced out up through October, making more chances to get in on the Bavarian celebrations. Oktoberfests in the Rocky Mountains usually include stein-holding competitions, keg bowling and more.

Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival

The annual Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival combines Beaver Creek’s very own culinary talent, exclusive wines and outdoor venues during the Colorado summer. The event returns Aug. 8-11 and includes wine dinners, farm-to-table dinners and more.

Festival tenure: 13th annual event

More information: Visit www.beavercreek.com

Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival  

Blues, Brews & BBQ at Beaver Creek is May 24-26.
Daily file photo

Helping launch summertime at Beaver Creek, the Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival returns the weekend of May 24-26. The event includes live music, a backyard barbecue competition and more, all with the views of Beaver Creek Mountain.

Festival tenure: 16th annual event

More information: Visit www.beavercreek.com

Vail Dance Festival

The Vail Dance Festival brings dancers from all backgrounds together for collaborative performances starting in July. (Photo Special to the Daily)
Special to the Daily

Returning July 26 to Aug. 10, the two-week Vail Dance Festival brings together some of the best dancers from all types of backgrounds and styles, pairing them together for some creative and memorable performances. Performances are at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, the Vilar Performing Arts Center at Beaver Creek and the Avon Performance Pavilion.

Festival tenure: 31st annual event

More information: Visit www.vaildance.org

Fourth of July

The Fourth of July Parade through the streets of Vail draws a good crowd each year, so get your spot on the parade route early. (Photo by Chris Dillmann)
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Vail America Days is the annual Fourth of July celebration in Vail, featuring a parade through town as well as fireworks. Get your spot on the parade route early. Beaver Creek also hosts an Independence Day celebration, and one of the largest fireworks shows in the state takes place at Nottingham Lake in Avon each year.

GoPro Mountain Games

The GoPro Mountain Games features hundreds of athletes competing in spectator-friendly sports, as well as experiences for kids to dip their toes in adventure sports. The Mountain Games are June 6-9. (Photo by Chris Dillmann)
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

The country’s largest celebration of adventure sports, art and music returns to Vail June 6-9. One of the biggest weekends in Vail all summer, the spectator-friendly GoPro Mountain Games features hundreds of athletes competing in a variety of competitions. There’s also live music, Dock Dogs and more.

Event tenure: 19th annual event

More information: Visit www.mountaingames.com.

Vail Arts Festival

The Vail Arts Festival brings in a variety of artists from 22 different states in June. (Photo Special to the Daily)
Dominique Taylor | Weekly file photo

Celebrating 35 years in 2019, the Vail Arts Festival is a three-day celebration featuring over 80 artists showcasing digital art, glass, metal works, wood, mixed media, ceramics, paintings, photography, sculpture, jewelry and more. Artists come from 22 different states showcasing their best work. The festival, held at Lionshead Mall and Arrabelle at Vail Square, returns June 21-23.

Festival tenure: 35th annual event

More information: Visit www.vailartsfestival.com

Beaver Creek Art Festival

The Beaver Creek Arts Festival brings in artists from 30 different states in August. (Photo Special to the Daily)
Daily file photo

The weekend of Aug. 3-4, the Beaver Creek Art Festival brings in local and national artists from 30 different states, showcasing their works including glass, paintings, jewelry, pottery and more.

Festival tenure: 32nd annual event

More information: Visit www.artfestival.com

Art on the Rockies

Art on the Rockies returns in July and features over 100 artists from across the nation. (Photo by Chris Dillmann)
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

The weekend of July 12-14 brings more than 100 artists from across the nation to Art on the Rockies on the grounds of Colorado Mountain College in Edwards. The outdoor showing features a variety of art, and prices, and is free to attend. There’s also food and beverages available, a free children’s are area and silent art auction benefitting the Vail Valley Arts League.

Festival tenure: Sixth annual event

More information: Visit www.artontherockies.org

Vail Rotary Duck Race

The annual Vail Rotary Duck Race returns Labor Day weekend in Vail, with a chance to win $1 million. (Photo by Chris Dillmann)
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

It’s not every day you get a chance to win $1 million. Well, each Labor Day weekend in Vail, the annual Vail Rotary Duck Race offers that chance. The No. 1 fundraiser for the Vail Rotary Club has people adopt ducks and send them down Gore Creek. The first duck across has a chance to win the million dollars, and other prizes are awarded.

Event tenure: 21st annual event

More information: Visit www.vailrotary.com

Beaver Creek Rodeo Series

The Beaver Creek Rodeo Series takes place on Thursday nights starting in June. (Photo by Zach Mahone)
Zach Mahone | Daily file photo

Thursday nights are rodeo nights with the Beaver Creek Rodeo Series, returning June 20 to Aug. 15 to the scenic rodeo grounds in Avon. Classic rodeo events include bronc riding, team roping, barrel racing and, of course, bull riding. Join the action yourself by signing up for the calf scramble, mutton bustin’ or burro racing.

Series tenure: 17th annual event

More information: Visit www.beavercreek.com

Eagle County Fair & Rodeo

The Eagle County Fair & Rodeo dates back to the 1940s and returns in July. (Photo by Townsend Bessent)
Townsend Bessent | Daily file photo

Dating back to the 1940s, the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo returns July 24-27. It’s a celebration of Eagle County’s Western heritage complete with PRCA Rodeo, concerts, exhibits and a 4-H Club livestock auction. The county rodeo takes place at the Eagle County Fairgrounds.

Event tenure: 79th annual event

More information: Visit www.eaglecounty.us/fairrodeo

Vail, Beaver Creek Restaurant Week

Twice is nice when it comes to Vail, Beaver Creek Restaurant Week. Taking place May 26-June 2 and again Sept. 27-Oct. 6, participating restaurants are serving a wide variety of prix fixe menus starting at $20.19. Be prepared to try a new restaurant or return to your favorite spots for a night out.

Event tenure: Seventh annual event

More information: Visit www.diningataltitude.com

Minturn Concert Series

Returning to Little Beach Park and Amphitheatre in Minturn on Thursdays starting July 11, the Minturn Concert Series presents free family-friendly shows. Performances are from 6 to 8 p.m. outside at the amphitheater.

More information: Visit www.gominturn.com

Avon Live Free Concert Series

On Wednesdays starting June 19, Avon Live Free Concerts in the Park return to Nottingham Park & Pavilion in Avon. Music starts at 5:30 p.m. and takes place rain or shine. Food trucks are also available.

More information: Visit www.avon.org

Man of the Cliff

Man of the Cliff competitions are adjusted for people of all ages and abilities to encourage participation.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Calling all lumberjacks and jills — the 11th annual Man of the Cliff is slated for Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12-13. A fundraiser for First Descents, Man of the Cliff is an outdoor, rugged event for all strength and ability levels. Wood chopping, keg tosses, axe throw, spear throw and more fill Nottingham Park in Avon, and all for a good cause.

Series tenure: 11th annual event

More information: Visit www.avon.org

Eagle Mushroom and Wild Food Festival

Enjoy a weekend of foraging, educational seminars and food and drinks Aug. 2-4. The Eagle Mushroom and Wild Food Festival will help attendees explore, identify and eat mushrooms.

More information: Visit www.eagleoutside.com

Taste of Vail’s Fall Wine & Food Classic

Taste of Vail presents the Fall Wine & Food Classic Sept. 20-21, featuring wines from the Southern Hemisphere and food from local chefs.

More information: Visit http://www.tasteofvail.com.

Battle Mountain’s Cope defends pond skimming title for third straight year

GOLDEN PEAK — Three-time defending champion Casey Cope is still the top pond skimmer in Vail after a performance that would impress the best slopestyle skiers competing today.

Actually the best slopestyle skier competing today did see the run, and he was really impressed.

Alex Hall, X Games gold medalist from Park City, Utah, competes in Sunday’s World Pond Skimming Championships at Vail’s Golden Peak.

Olympian Alex Hall, of Park City, Utah, competed in Vail’s annual World Pond Skimming Championships on Sunday in an appearance that surprised all who follow the sport of freeskiing.

But what was even more surprising was that Hall, who won both on the Dew Tour and at the X Games this season, did not win the competition.

After making it through to the semifinal with ease, Cope’s final run through the pond was very similar to Hall’s in that both skiers rode through the water backward, in what’s known as switch stance.

While Hall went off the jump in the forward and performed a left-spinning 180 to hit the water switch, Cope hit the jump switch and remained backward throughout the pond.

For extra speed, Cope got a little help from two skiers at the top who pulled him for more speed. Hall was one of the skiers. 

“That was awesome,” Hall said of Cope’s run. “I met him at the top, he’s awesome, he’s hilarious and he’s really good at it.”

Cope’s “zero spin,” airing off the jump and landing switch, was deemed to be the better trick on the day and Cope — who also won Vail’s pond skimming championships in 2018 and 2017 — was able to stand atop the podium again this year.

“I think I definitely had the home crowd advantage,” Cope said. “He’s an X Games gold medalist, but I had kids in my class … rooting for me.”


Cope said after winning the pond skimming event in 2017 and 2018, he was no longer trying to win, he just wanted to put on a good show.

Casey Cope celebrates after his final run during the World Pond Skimming Championships at Golden Peak on Sunday. Cope took first place for the third year running.

“So I thought I’m gonna hit it backward, that’d be a fun thing to try,” he said.

With Hall bringing a level of legitimacy to Cope’s pond skimming reign in a big way on Sunday, Cope said he could have never imagined the outcome.

“I still can’t believe it,” he said after the event.

Danny Grabel, who won the Best Splash award on Sunday, may have put it best.

“It’s about the first contest Hall hasn’t won this season,” Grabel said with a laugh.

Grabel also pointed out that Hall was not wearing his “lucky sweater,” a fashion choice Hall became known for this season when he won X Games wearing the sweater.

Cope is a senior at Battle Mountain High School who plans on attending the University of Colorado in the fall. When he won the pond skimming event for a second time last year, Cope was awarded an Epic Pass, which he scanned some 60 times this season.

He said he had been looking forward to the pond skimming event all year, but had no idea what was in store. Cope said he didn’t know Hall was competing until he recognized him at the top of the venue.

“I look over and I’m like wait, that is a pro skier, that man was in the Olympics, that man won an X Games gold medal, he’s one of my idols, I’ve been watching his edits for years,” Cope said. “He was right there.”


Hall made a last minute decision to join in the competition on Sunday. He said he was in town skiing with friends in Breckenridge and, after watching videos of last year’s event, decided to try out this year. 

When Hall showed up, the signup was full, but he was allowed a late registration, he said.

“Spur of the moment,” Hall said. “Usually smaller stuff is more fun, the big stuff gets scary some times so it’s fun to switch it up, and I’ve never done a pond skimming event before, so it’s fun.”

Langely McNeal, of Idaho, disco dances during the pond skimming championships at Golden Peak on Sunday. McNeal took first place in the women’s competition.

If Hall had not decided to join in the competition on Sunday, the most decorated snowsports athlete by a long shot would have been Idaho ski cross racer Langely McNeal, who also competed in X Games and had a five-year career on the World Cup from 2008 to 2013. McNeal’s disco-era outfit, coupled with her effortless style over the water got her into the finals and earned her the first-place female award on Sunday.

Fan favorite Edmund Doogan who, at 80 years old, skimmed the pond nearly to the end after a massive air into the water, was awarded the Best Performance by a Skier, Best Performance by a Snowboarder was awarded to Kelby McManus, Joseph Neff won the Pepsi Performance Award and Peter Woroniecki was deemed the Show Stopper presented by Oakley.

Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek opposes Colorado’s new red flag gun law

In a lengthy statement posted to Facebook on Friday — the same day Gov. Jared Polis signed the so-called “red flag bill” into law — Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek strongly expressed his opposition to HB 1177, the state’s new Extreme Risk Protection Orders law.

The law, which allows family members and law enforcement officials to petition a judge to allow for the confiscation of firearms from someone deemed a danger to themselves or others, was backed in testimony to the legislature by Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger and received favorable votes from both local state lawmakers — Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and local prosecutor and state Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon.

Van Beek tepidly supported the proposal last year before it was killed in a Senate committee. This year, with Democrats regaining control of the Senate by a slim margin, it passed 18-17 and was signed into law by Polis on Friday.

“I guess in general concept I support it as a tool,” van Beek told the Vail Daily last year. “I have some reservations because it really comes in on peoples’ rights, so I have some hesitation with that. I’m somewhat comfortable with the concept that it’s consistently reviewed by the courts on a regular basis.”

Concerns over constitutional rights

That comfort level for van Beek clearly went away with this year’s version of the bill, although this is his first official statement on the red flag bill during the current legislative session. The Vail Daily has been requesting a comment from the sheriff since March 6. His primary concern with the current version of the law is that it violates the U.S. Constitution.

Van Beek also now opposes the method of granting and executing an ERPO, which he says could escalate problems with someone who’s mentally unstable. And he opposes the judicial process set up for that person to get their guns back — saying it presumes guilt before innocence and puts far too much burden on the accused before they have been charged with or committed a crime.

“Removing the guns in a constitutionally questionable manner, without notice, denying the accused the ability to defend charges, then requiring medical services that are not available, in order to reinstate private property rights, afterward, is like putting a Band-Aid on the probability of a wound, and not allowing its removal until an injury has occurred,” van Beek wrote in his 3,100-plus word Facebook statement. “In other words, the entire process is ludicrous.”

Van Beek compares the current law to Steven Spielberg’s 2002 science fiction thriller “Minority Report” in which Tom Cruise plays a police officer in charge of a PreCrime unit that tries to stop suspects from committing crimes based on the predictions of psychics.

“If a person is truly in a mental crisis, this aggressive approach will create even greater stress, possibly resulting in a violent overreaction, as their personal property has been taken, without a crime ever having been committed, and done so with no warning or ability to defend themselves against the charges, making the new standard … guilty until proven innocent!” van Beek writes.

Henninger, who also testified in support of the law last year, referenced a West Vail bar shooter who had his guns returned to him by a judge despite numerous warning signs before he ultimately opened fire in 2009, killing one and wounding several others.

Mixed law enforcement reaction

Van Beek, who says more than half the sheriffs in Colorado oppose the law, said he attempted to have his concerns addressed during the legislative process over the last few months but that his calls were not returned.

The bill has the support of numerous law enforcement officials, including Henninger and Republican Sheriff Tony Spurlock, who lost a deputy in Douglas County to a mentally ill man whom family members had repeatedly warned police about. The law is named after that slain Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy, Zach Parrish.

Republican Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler drew serious heat from the right when he supported last year’s bill while unsuccessfully running first for governor and then for attorney general. He flipped on this year’s version of the bill, opposing it in legislative testimony. Democrat Phil Weiser, who beat Brauchler for AG, supports the current red flag law.

The law was sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex was killed in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting by a man that mental health professionals had serious concerns about before he opened fire, killing 12 and injuring 70.

“It’s been 351 Friday’s since Alex was murdered. I know how this is going to save lives and I know how hard everybody has worked these past 351 Fridays,” Sullivan said. “I struggle with the price that we paid to get where we are today. We still have more work to do.”

Last year’s version of the bill was sponsored by former Republican state Rep. Cole Wist, who lost his seat last fall due in part to opposition from gun-rights groups. This year, besides Sullivan, the bill was again sponsored by Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver.

“This is a moment of progress. Today, we did something that was difficult and that is going to save lives,” House Majority Leader Garnett said in a press release. “We are a state and country that counts on officials to uphold the rule of law.

“We have come a long way in this state since Columbine, and this is a law that will hopefully prevent a future Columbine or help prevent a future family from going through a tragedy.” 

According to House Democrats, 14 states have enacted ERPO laws (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington). They claim that at least 29 other states and Washington, D.C. have considered ERPO laws, and the U.S. Senate held a hearing  in March. 

Vail Valley trail stewardship group starts season with new name, executive director

It’s true that the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance could probably use a few full-time employees, but it’s going to start with just one.

Ernest Saeger

Newly-hired Executive Director Ernest Saeger hit the ground running on Wednesday, his first day on the job, discussing the full docket of trails activity the group will manage over the coming months.

Trails in open space areas in the town of Avon and the town of Eagle open next week — assuming they’re not too muddy to ride — and a robust Adopt-A-Trail program, which performs maintenance activities on many of those trails, is just one of the many groups the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance oversees.

Saeger was a longtime volunteer before becoming the executive director.

“The programs we’re managing, the grants we’re receiving, have grown exponentially over the last few years,” Saeger said. “It’s always been the goal to get to this point, but the Adopt A Trail program, for example, is just one of the programs we oversee and has grown from 30 trails to 40 trails, to 46, to 50 trails and now it has expanded to include a trail ambassador program to help with education on trail closures and how to respect wildlife.”

Soft-surface specialists

Formerly called the Vail Valley Mountain Biking Association, group president Jamie Malin said the growth of the group prompted the name change.

“On 20 percent of the trails we manage in the Adopt A Trail program, mountain bikes aren’t even allowed,” Malin said. “We wanted to communicate what we’re more about, which is soft-surface trails in general.”

Saeger said the many volunteers the group attracts probably won’t be surprised to hear about the name change.

“Trails are for everyone,” Saeger said. “Whether it’s biking or running or dog walking, a lot of people love to go out on the trails. And they’re a big economic driver, as well, for all the visitors that we have coming to the valley.”

One of the group’s main goals was something few thought was possible — new trail construction on US Forest Service land.

After the Forest Service closed the popular Whiskey Creek trail which helped connect Eagle-Vail and Minturn (cutting through sections of non-Forest Service land, making management difficult), the group sprung to action, asking what it would take to reroute a trail through Forest Service land only, allowing the valley to remain connected through an Eagle-Vail to Minturn nexus.

Forest Service officials said first someone would have to relieve them of their normal trail maintenance responsibilities, which had fallen behind due to a lack of resources.

The Adopt a Trail program was formed, and that hurdle was cleared.

Next, a $26,000 mini excavator, along with a full-time operator of that machine, would be required to get a new trail built in that area.

Funds were raised, the machine was purchased, and a new position was created to run the mini excavator.

Trail construction began last summer, and a grand opening of the new trail — known as Everkrisp — is expected to occur in the coming months.

“We hope to have it open in early July,” Saeger said. “We’re going to try to have a big party.”

Upcoming events

That party is just one of the many events Saeger will help organize through his new role, which will be as much an event planner position as a political figurehead at council meetings and other gatherings where trails are being discussed.

Volunteers work on the new Everkrisp trail between Eagle-Vail and Minturn in October. Volunteer numbers on the trail during 2018 were the highest the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance has seen in the four years the group has been tallying volunteer figures.
Hailee Rustad | Special to the Daily

Currently, Saeger is planning an annual spring kickoff party for May 7 at the Vail Brewing Company.

After that, a “FunDuro” race on June 1 as part of the Eagle Outside festival will raise money for trail work this summer and also introduce people to the discipline of mountain biking known as “Enduro,” which has grown in popularity in recent years.

The Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado will collaborate with the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance on June 29 and 30 in a final push to get the Everkrisp trail ready; anyone wanting to help work on that trail is encouraged to join that group at https://www.voc.org/project/everkrisp-trail-construction-minturn.

The Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance will also kick off its regular Wednesday night trail work sessions in May, where a revolving cast of local trail enthusiasts puts their talents to work with hand trail construction efforts — this year the main priority will be the Everkrisp trail until it’s ride ready.

“We’re hoping, through this role, I’ll be able to help everyone take on these already successful programs and push them even further,” Saeger said.

Deer Valley wants to better manage crowds after first year of Ikon Pass

Deer Valley Resort is known for its well-groomed runs and high-end experience. But this season, that’s not what had many skiers buzzing at the end of a day on the slopes.

Parking lots overflowed and many skiers complained of longer-than-normal lift lines as visitation numbers peaked. Resort leaders say multiple factors contributed to the high numbers, but the resort’s inclusion on the new Ikon Pass from Deer Valley’s owner, Alterra Mountain Company, unmistakably played a role. Next year, the resort hopes to better regulate the crowds.

Coleen Reardon, director of marketing for Deer Valley, said the resort was up 12 percent in visitation compared to previous years, which is a significant jump. Still, she said, the resort only hit its cap of 8,500 skiers on the mountain on six days, and all of the days were over the holidays. That stat was on par with previous winters.

Although the resort did not hit its cap later in the season, Reardon said visitation remained high during periods that are generally slower for the resort. March, for example, was one of the resort’s busiest months during the 2018-19 season. Reardon said snowstorms and the timing of spring breaks around the country contributed to the high visitation.

She also said the numbers peaked when Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood canyons closed because of heavy snowfall or intense wind.

The near-constant flood of skiers was evident in the parking troubles the resort encountered, causing a dispute with City Hall earlier this month. The city allows the resort to use Deer Valley Drive for overflow parking from the Snow Park Lodge lots on 10 percent of the days the resort is open during a ski season. This year, the resort exceeded its permitted days, which amount to approximately 12 or 13 days, and has said it used the street for overflow parking 27 times.

After City Hall prohibited the resort from using Deer Valley Drive for parking, the resort briefly encouraged guests to park at the China Bridge garage near Main Street and use public transit to arrive at the resort and also directed skiers to park at Treasure Mountain Junior High on the weekends. Reardon said the change worked well, but the resort plans to work with the city before next winter to find a more efficient and long-term solution.

She said that could include more overflow parking and transit that goes straight to the resort. The resort also wants to have a better plan for snow removal, because Reardon said snow covered up approximately 100 of the resort’s parking spots.

As for the cap on the amount of skiers allowed on the mountain, Reardon said it can be difficult to determine an exact number when counting skiers at the resort. Typically, the resort combines anecdotal information from workers on the mountain, past data from visitation numbers and the quantity of day passes sold in order to count skiers.

This year, the calculation included the amount of Ikon Pass holders who were required to stop at the ticket office to get their passes scanned for the day. Ikon Pass holders have a limited amount of days at the resort. Deer Valley season pass holders are allowed to access the lifts without checking in.

Reardon said without RFID gates that scan every guest’s pass before they get on a ski lift, the exact number of skiers at the resort can get skewed. She said Deer Valley realized the importance of RFID gates, which use radio-frequency to scan ski passes, after seeing the consistently large crowds this season.

The resort plans to install RFID gates in the summer.

“We will be able to better control the numbers on the mountain,” Reardon said. “We don’t have a lot of data right now, but we will next year.”

The gates will also allow the resort to see what areas of the mountain have the most traffic and where the resort should focus its renovation projects.

Reardon said some guests were upset with the crowds, particularly those who have been skiing at Deer Valley for years and are used to short lift lines. But, she said, it is hard to place the blame for the packed mountain on one factor alone. Not only was Deer Valley on the Ikon Pass this year, the resort also had more than 300 inches of snow and the U.S. economy is doing well, she said.

“Being a part of the Ikon Pass, I’m not going to say it wasn’t busier. It sure was, but we felt like the mountain handled it well,” she said.

She said the pass was beneficial because it attracted new guests who had never visited the mountain before.

“We are thrilled about the new guests that are visiting us, they really love us,” she said. “It’s been fun to see the new folks experience Deer Valley and our product.”

She said being part of Alterra Mountain Company allows the resort to make bigger investments in its technology — such as the RFID gates and planned digital signage at the resort’s base — and future improvements to the resort’s infrastructure. She said the resort plans to update its day lodges to add more seating in the near future.

“Being family-owned we didn’t have the resources to really invest in expensive technology,” she said.

LOOK: Vail Resorts billboard in Park City vandalized

Someone vandalized a Vail Resorts billboard in Park City with graffiti, apparently over the closing weekend of the ski season of Park City Mountain Resort, one of the Colorado-based firm’s properties.

The billboard, located on Park Avenue north of the Main Street core, advertises the firm’s Epic Pass season-pass product. The Epic Pass provides skiers and snowboarders access to mountains under the ownership of Vail Resorts or those resorts with agreements with the company to accept the Epic Pass.

The vandals used spray paint to write the words “Vail Sucks” and “Coummity Last.” The word “Coummity” is likely a misspelling of “community.” The vandals also put the number “4719” on the billboard in spray paint, an apparent reference to the Sunday closing date of PCMR.

There is frustration among some Parkites about the closing date. There is an argument that there is sufficient snow on the slopes to remain open at a time the number of out-of-state skiers and snowboarders would be expected to drop sharply, reducing lift lines and the number of skiers and snowboarders on the runs. PCMR, though, set the closing date months ago.

Neither Vail Resorts nor PCMR immediately provided a comment. The Park Record was unable to immediately reach the Park City Police Department for comment.

In Vail, celebrate National Biomechanics Day like few others can

VAIL — Few towns can celebrate National Biomechanics Day like we can.

And there’s reason to celebrate. The studies being undertaken in the Steadman Philippon Research Institute’s Biomotion Lab in Vail may soon impact your life in the field of injury prevention.

You can learn all about what the scientists at the local institute have been up to by visiting their open house in celebration of National Biomechanics Day on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., but we’ll also give you a sneak preview.

Involves humans, not robots

While they’re located on the floor, force plates are the cornerstone of any modern biomotion lab. Force plates help quantify balance as people stand on them, mimicking the motions they make in sport.

The data gleaned from the advancements in force plate technology has led to a wealth of knowledge in the field of biomechanics.

But force plates have their limits, and that’s where the researchers at the Steadman Philippon institute have been turning their attention over the last year. With the best potential research field imaginable right out their front door on Vail Mountain, Sarah Wilson, Kimi Dahl and other research scientists yearned for a way to take the force plate mobile.

As it happens, the advancements in mobile foot sensor technology has come a long way in recent years, driven by the study of diabetes and the way it affects nerve conduction and sensory feedback through the foot.

One of the Steadman Philippon Research Institute Biomotion Lab’s new systems is a pressure sensor placed inside of ski boots. These sensors showed how much pressure was being distributed throughout the ski boot while participants skied down Vail Mountain.

This, coupled with a shin sensor and a pair of shorts which can measure the activation of the hamstring muscle in relation to the quad, has taught researchers a lot, Dahl said.

In getting people in the lab to look at their findings, Dahl said she hopes to celebrate the fact that the research is thanks in part to a helpful community of volunteers here in Vail.

Wednesday’s open house will be the second in what researchers are hoping becomes a long tradition of annual events.

Last year, visitors “were seeing our fliers looking for volunteers, but they might have been hesitant to participate because they thought we were going to turn them into bionic robots,” Dahl said with a laugh. “By letting people come in and see it, it makes it more accessible.”

This year, “we only have one study that we’re actively recruiting participants for,” Dahl added.

Equipment mods vs. injury risk

Using those community volunteers, coupled with the new mobile sensors, the research institute’s field studies will be of particular interest to boot fitters and equipment wonks.

“We think small changes in how someone balances could be related to injury risk,” Wilson said. “We’re trying to figure out if there’s simple equipment-based modifications that people can make … that might help reduce injury. We’ve primarily been looking at changes to canting and heel lift, which are things that you typically do to the ski boot, that can change how much pressure you have on the tip of the ski or how much pressure you have on your medial or lateral edge of the ski.”

Curious Nature: Crows are curious, creative creatures to be admired

We have all seen their mysterious black figures soar across the sky and heard their loud “caws” from near and far. But have you ever thought about why crows seem to be everywhere in North America?

These birds belong to the Corvid family, known as some of the smartest birds in the world. Corvids include crows, parrots, jays, rooks, ravens, and magpies, a rather common bird around our valley. With large brains and the ability to work together, crows, in particular, have been studied and admired for their intelligence and ubiquitous nature.

There are 40 species of crow and they are found nearly worldwide. The species we see most around the valley is the American crow. Why are they so successful? Certainly, it has to do with their incredible ability to problem solve — for example, a group of crows figured out how to filter food from sand by using mesh wiring. We also have to credit their high level of understanding of the natural world around them — crows will participate in “anting” themselves by allowing ants to collect in their feathers in order to ward off unwanted parasites.

But we also have to acknowledge their outstanding ability to work together as a team. Crows, and many other Corvids, are very social birds. This is why we hear so much cawing when we see a group of crows — they communicate with one another constantly in order to optimize survival.

If you ever get a chance to witness a crow “funeral” you’ll see firsthand some of their unique social habits. During these events, up to 40 crows will gather together around the deceased, cawing loudly. They do this, some researchers argue, to understand how the bird died and how to prevent more deaths in the future.

As vocal as these critters can be, crows are significantly much quieter around their nests in an effort to stay hidden. Crows will typically stay within the same area where they were born. This is because they grow up memorizing their surroundings and also because they work together to survive with their families.

Crow pairs will typically mate for life and along with their offspring make a collective effort to raise newborns. After about two years, a pair’s offspring will go to start their own families — but may still roost with their parents.

The crow’s value of community plays a huge part in their success as a species. They learn and will teach each other good cache hiding spots, areas with plentiful food, and what other animals are threats and how to ward them off.  Surprisingly, crows can even recognize the faces of people who have wronged them.

Researchers found that, when they wore human-like masks and disrupted a group of crows and they later came back wearing the same mask without posing a threat, the crows would mob them. Researchers then found that the group of crows who were threatened would also teach other nearby groups about the enemy.

This was not only taught but remembered — researchers found that, after nearly five years, if an individual wearing the original threatening mask approached the same group, they would be mobbed. Just like we learn and teach certain things for our own survival, like looking both ways when crossing the street, crows apparently do the same in their own unique quest for survival.

Tessa Cafritz is a naturalist at Walking Mountains Science Center. Since she started working there last summer, she has become fascinated with the local corvids. From the Stellar’s Jay to the humble Black-Billed Magpie, Tessa has enjoyed observing and learning about the valley’s intelligent and admirable bird species. 

Accident on westbound I-70 near Minturn cleared

The incident at MM170 WB on I70 is cleared, both lanes are open. Please drive safely.