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Vail Rec District offering spring indoor co-ed volleyball league

In addition to its spring volleyball league, Vail Recreation District offers open gym volleyball weekly. It also offers open gym basketball, gymnastics and pickleball. (Special to the Daily)

The Vail Recreation District continues to announce spring and summer programming, with its spring indoor co-ed volleyball league starting Wednesday, March 17. The league goes through May 19 with matches at Homestake Peak School’s main gyim in EagleVail.

Registration is available at www.vailrec.com/register.

This league will follow reverse co-ed rules — games will be played at women’s net height. Game times are at 6:30, 7:30 or 8:30 p.m. Teams consist of four people with at least one female on the court at all times. Team cost is $230 in-district and $260 out-of-district.

COVID-19 protocols will be in place, including limiting the number of participants to 20 people. Masks must be worn at all times, including while playing. Visit vailrec.com for a full list of protocols.

Looking to practice before league play starts — or want the benefits of playing volleyball without the commitment? Open gym volleyball takes place on Fridays at the Red Sandstone Elementary School gym in Vail from 6:15 to 9:15 p.m. Cost is $5 per person (10-day passes are available for $40) and no preregistration is required.

The Vail Rec District also offers open gym basketball, gymnastics and pickleball; visit vailrec.com for details and dates.

For more information on leagues and open gyms, visit vailrec.com, call 970-479-2280 or email sports@vailrec.com.

Battle Mountain bags Palisade in playoff hunt

Battle Mountain's Alden Pennington drives to the hoop against Palisade Tuesday in Edwards. Pennington hit a half-court shot at the buzzer before half on her way to a career-high 21 points during the Huskies’ 56-42 victory over Palisade. (Chris Dillmann
cdillmann@vaildaily.com)

EDWARDS — Battle Mountain girls basketball finally bagged the big game for which it was hunting.

Yes, the Huskies have won their fair share of games this season, but had come up short against the best of the 4A Slope … until Tuesday.

Alden Pennington and Gabby Caballero made it rain from beyond the arc and the Huskies’ defense stood tall as Battle Mountain picked off Palisade, 56-42, Tuesday afternoon.

“It was important after a tough loss against Rifle,” Huskies coach Jim Schuppler said his team’s game on Saturday. “When our starters stay out of foul trouble, we’re a handful. When you’re facing a team with three 6-footers, it’s always going to be tough.”

But Battle Mountain shot over Palisade’s height and, perhaps most importantly, scrapped with Bulldogs in the paint to preserve an early lead.

From way downtown … Bang

One kind of got the feeling it was going to be a special night when Caballero hit from Vail Christian on her first 3-point attempt of the night with 6:14 left in the first quarter.

Battle Mountain's Gabby Caballero goes for a shot against Palisade Tuesday in Edwards. Caballero finished with 21 points as the Huskies beat the Bulldogs, 56-42. (Chris Dillmann
cdillmann@vaildaily.com)

“Once you hit the first one, you start to feel comfortable,” Pennington said.

That was apropos for Pennington because she promptly hit two 3s in a 32-second span and was probably feeling quite nice after that.

As impressive as all the 3-point bombs were — and they were — Battle Mountain won this in the paint. Yes, the 3-pointers are an efficient way of scoring, but Palisade has a way of shoving the ball down another team’s throat with their size.

The Huskies held their ground on Tuesday, making big stops and corralling lots of rebounds. Brava to Mia Bettis, Gianna Carroll and Augustine Hancock.

“That was our whole pregame talk,” Schuppler said. “ Toughness and battling for the ball.”

Every time Palisade got close and the Bulldogs got to within 25-24 with 2:19 left in the half, the Huskies had a response. In a scary moment, Caballero was involved in a collision late in the second quarter and seemed to have sustained a right-shoulder injury.

Without Caballero, all Pennington did was hit a Hail Mary at the buzzer to put the lead back at 28-24. And just for good measure, Pennington hit another 3 with three seconds left in the third quarter.

By that time, Caballero returned and was causing all sorts of problems for the Bulldogs. Battle Mountain worked the lead back to 10-plus points in the fourth quarter and Carroll popped a 3 that served as the dagger.

Pennington and Caballero both had 21 points. That’s a career high for Pennington. That’s a career high for Caballero … for this week so far. (We kid because Caballero had 41 against Summit last week.)

Playoff picture

COVID-19 has changed the bracket from 48 to 32 teams, and the rating-percentage-index isn’t the only determinant for playoff qualification — and that’s good as we’ll see.

Battle Mountain's Augustine Hancock passes the ball Tuesday in Edwards. Hancock and the Huskies take on Glenwood Springs in the regular-season finale on Saturday. (Chris Dillmann
cdillmann@vaildaily.com)

This year, CHSAA willl be using RPI, the Chsaanow.com Poll, Maxpreps.com rankings and Packard ratings.

Battle Mountain was sitting at No. 32 in the RPI before beating Palisade. A win over the 8-3 Bulldogs should be helpful, but the Huskies would rather be in the mid-20s by the end of the week.

The Chssanow.com poll is voted on by coaches statewide, but only goes to 15 teams. Battle Mountain is not ranked. The Huskies are No. 32 in the Maxpreps.com ranking. Just like RPI, that standing was before the Palisade win and one really doesn’t want to be sitting on No. 32 as the week progresses. Packard has Battle Mountain No. 36.

Schuppler, naturally, has been monitoring all the polls and feels that if the Huskies win on Saturday against Glenwood, they’ll get their ticket.

“I’m not looking,” Caballero said. “I have enough faith in this team.”

Vail Christian basketball dumps Soroco

Vail Christian's Jesse Gonzales scores 16 points in a 66-53 victory over Soroco on Monday night. (Chris Dillmann
Daily file photo)

OK, maybe it’s time for a new strategy.

The first-quarter lead is apparently highly overrated for Vail Christian basketball. Visiting Soroco raced out to 19-11 first-quarter lead on Monday night before the Saints rallied for a 66-53 victory Monday night in Edwards.

To review the last three games, Vail Christian is 2-0 after getting housed in the first quarter against West Grand and Soroco, but 0-1 in games in which they take double-digit, first-half leads against Meeker.

In times of such great confusion — say, like having a global pandemic — it’s nice that Vail Christian basketball makes sense.

We’re thinking that, from a Vail Christian point of view, that Saints should just give the Vail Mountain School 15 points to start Thursday’s game at 7 p.m. in Edwards and that they’ll be all set. (OK, probably not the greatest idea.)

Speaking of the Vail Mountain game on Thursday, VMS, Vail Christian and Meeker all sit at 5-1 atop the Northern Division of the 2A Slope. VMS holds the golden ticket.

If the Gore Rangers beat the Saints on Thursday, they advance to Saturday’s title game against the South champ. Vail Christian needs Rangely to beat Meeker on Thursday — go Panthers; the game game is in Rangely — and a win over VMS to win the division.

Oh, yeah, the game

It may not mean as much to the current players as it does to the staff, fans and alumni, but beating Soroco is always a good thing. It’s also a great bounce-back after a deflating loss to Meeker. Young teams, like the Saints, need to learn how to rebound from tough losses.

Jesse Gonzales led another balanced scoring effort with 16 points. While it’s just one game, one of the themes of this shortened season has been finding “the guy,” by which we mean, who’s the guy to whom the Saints go to in crunch time?

In the past, it’s been the usual suspects — Robbie Bowles, Sebastian or Alec Moritz — but this edition has yet to find that person. Gonzales, based on his varsity experience which is more than most from last year than his teammates, not to mention his talent, could be the candidate.

We are not declaring Gonzales the solution to everything, just that he might step into that role. It’s something merely to ponder.

Sean Boselli, meanwhile, is doing a little bit of everything. He had seven points, eight assists and six rebounds against the Rams. Every team needs a jack of all trades like Boselli.

Quinn Downey also chipped in 13 points. It’s nice to see the sophomore contributing more and more. Also on the Downey front, Connor had 10 points. Leo Rothenberg added 12.

The super stat of the night was that Vail Christian was 19-for-26 from the line, and 23 of those shots came in the second half. Always knock down the chippies, boys.

Del Bosco returns to ski-cross World Cup podium

Canada’s Chris Del Bosco, right, celebrates with teammate Courtney Hoffos after they finished second in Sunday’s mixed-team, ski-cross World Cup team event in Bakuriani, Georgia.

Canada’s and EagleVail’s Chris Del Bosco returned to the podium of a ski-cross World Cup.

Racing with teammate Courtney Hoffos, Del Bosco helped Canada 2 win the silver medal in the newly-formed, mixed-team ski-cross team event on Sunday in Bakuriani, Georgia.

“It feels awesome. The guys kept it tight to give the girls a shot. It was all on her, she fought all the way through the final,” said Del Bosco in a press release from Alpine Canada.

Stoked to keep the @canadaskicross podium train 🚂 rolling in the inaugural@fisfreestyle Ski Cross mixed team event with…

Posted by Chris Del Bosco on Sunday, February 28, 2021

Del Bosco, 38, who has 10 World Cup wins to his name, as well as a gold medal from the 2011 worlds in Deer Valley, Utah, not to mention a 2-time X Games champ, has struggled with a myriad of injuries since his spectacular crash during the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. (Quite frankly, we are awed that Del Bosco is still competing after that spill, and it’s not the only one from which he has emerged. Check out the 2010 Olympics.)

Del Bosco’s latest setback was a ruptured Achilles tendon in August during training. The ski-cross vet said in a Facebook post at the time that he did consider retirement, but “about 30 seconds” later, Del Bosco realized he wanted to take a shot at what would be his fourth Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022.

The comeback this season was frustratingly slow, but did include a season-best, seventh-place finish in Idre Fjall, Sweden, on Jan. 23, but Sunday was his first podium since winning in Val Thorens, France, Dec. 7, 2017.

It takes two

Fun day on the hill! Stoked to share the podium with ya Courtney in the first ever team event 👊🏼 Thanks for all of the support Canada Ski Cross and Alpine Canada Alpin

Posted by Chris Del Bosco on Sunday, February 28, 2021

So how the heck does one do team ski cross? Actually, it’s quite like the old American Ski Classic held every spring here. In Sunday’s event, the men competed first, racing like a normal World Cup, followed by the women.

The kicker is that the gates at the start for the women, and the second heat, only drop based on the results of the previous men’s race. Take the quarterfinals. Del Bosco finished second, 0.64 seconds behind France 1.

Ergo, in the women’s race, the gates dropped for France 1 0.64 seconds before they did for Canada 2’s Hoffos, but Courtney did the job erasing that deficit, and sending their team to the semis.

Del Bosco and Hoffos ended up in the Big Final and finished just a combined 0.36 behind Switzerland 1, Jonas Lenherr and Fanny Smith

“I battled it out in the heats to give Court a chance and she came through every round to finish up 2nd,” Del Bosco said in a Facebook post.

Del Bosco’s silver is the 27th World Cup podium of his career. Big D has the weekend off before returning to competition in Sunny Valley, Russia, next weekend.

Eagle Valley hoops return, beat Huskies, 50-30

Eagle Valley's Eric Hasley works the baseline againt Battle Mountain Monday in Edwards. (Chris Dillmann
cdillmann@vaildaily.com)

The Devils still remembered how to play basketball.

It apparently still involves dribbling, shooting, passing and the like.

Battle Mountain's Anders Schmidt drives to the hoop against Eagle Valley on Monday in Edwards. The Devils beat the Huskies for the season sweep. (Chris Dillmann
cdillmann@vaildaily.com)

After a two-week layoff due to COVID-19 protocol, Eagle Valley boys basketball returned to action with an emphatic 50-30 win over archrival, Battle Mountain, on Monday night in Edwards.

“We haven’t had a single practice, a single team anything,” Eagle Valley coach Justin Brandt said.

“It was super fun,” the Devils’ Eric Hasley said. “It was so great being back, hanging out together as a team and just playing well.”

The Battle Mountain's dance team lights it up during halftime Monday during the second round of Devils-Huskies boys’ basketball in Edwards. (Chris Dillmann
cdillmann@vaildaily.com)

The Devils last played on Feb. 13 at Summit and were set to play Rifle three days later. At 9 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 15, the evening before a planned game against Rifle, Eagle Valley got the call that it was quarantined.

And so they waited for two weeks and reassembled on Monday. And just like powdered eggs, one adds water and, voila, we’ve got a basketball team again.

“Let’s be honest, we’ve been preaching the national guard, train on your own,” Brandt said. “I’m really proud of them bringing this sort of effort.”

Battle Mountain basketball has three games left in the season — Palisade, Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs this week. (Chris Dillmann
cdillmann@vaildaily.com)

There was the sloppiness one would expect from a game between a team that had been sitting for two weeks and another that is struggling.

The Devils (3-4 overall and 2-4 in the Slope), nonetheless, had some sparkly moments, including building a 13-3 advantage during the first quarter.

Carlos Sanchez and Nikko Von Stralendorff started the game with 3s. Sanchez added another 3-point play, while Hasley, who was just instant energy on the court on Tuesday, and Matt Garvey also added buckets.

With this being the first of four game this week — Eagle Valley is smashing as much as it can into the final week of the regular season — coach Justin Brandt starting subbing in liberally to save his players’ legs.

Fans take in Monday’s Eagle Valley-Battle Mountain basketball game in Edwards.

Eagle Valley is at Steamboat Springs on Tuesday then home for Glenwood Springs on Friday and Summit on Saturday. Brandt figures that the Devils need to have a very good week to make a playoff push. Get the brooms out, boys.

At 0-11, it is getting dark for Battle Mountain. The Huskies finish the season with Palisade tonight, at Steamboat Springs on Thursday and home for Glenwood Springs on Saturday, desperately searching for that first win.

 

Meet your student-athlete: Battle Mountain’s Alden Pennington

Alden Pennington, senior, Battle Mountain girls basketball

How is Battle Mountain basketball’s Alden Pennington a senior?

“I don’t know. It went really fast,” Pennington said.

In fairness, Pennington moves pretty quickly be it in cross-country, basketball or track and field.

In addition to being the shooting guard for the Huskies, Pennington is the rarest of commodities at Battle Mountain, where long-distance runners seem to grow on trees: A sprinter.

Yes, it’s basketball season, but we can’t help mention that Pennington helped Battle Mountain to the state meet in the medley and the 800-meter relay back in 2019 when track and field was last contested. (We look forward to its return later this year.)

On the hardwood, Pennington is one half of a terrific back court with Gabby Caballero. If either of these two go off during this final week of the regular season, Huskies fans will be cheering.

Oh yeah, and rock chalk, Jayhawk.

For more on Pennington, read on:

Parents: Pam and Dan Pennington.

Siblings: Crosby, 25, and Nell, 21 — “Nell went to Battle Mountain and ran cross-country for three years.”

OK, how crazy is running coach Rob Parish? “He’s not that crazy. He just wants everyone to do their best. He has high expectations, which is a good.

What do you like about basketball? “It’s more fun being in a team sport. You’re not thinking about just you, but all five players on the court. It’s different than running.”

Goal for this week: “As a team, obviously winning as many games as we can. More importantly, we have to stay together as a team because these games are going to be tough.”

Best sports memory: “Winning league (in 2019).”

Can the Huskies win the 4A Slope in 2021? “I think it will be tough. I’m not looking at the standings. I don’t want to jinx it.”

Most embarrassing moment: “Cross-country, I braided my hair back, but the pin fell out and I was running with may hair all crazy, flying all over the place.”

What’s basketball coach Jim Schuppler like? “He’s super supportive and has high expectations. He will do absolutely anything to help you get where you want to be, which is good.”

Favorite subject: Sports physiology.

College plans: “I going to Kansas. I signed up for registration (on Friday).”

Family history at Kansas: Both my parents went there and so did my older sister Crosby.”

How are the Jayhawks going to do in the NCAA Tournament? “Unfortunately, this year not far.”

Favorite Jayhawk: Perry Ellis.

Career plans: Occupational therapy — “I want ot work specifically with kids with disabilities and help them be more efficient with their daily activities.”

Favorite social media: Instagram.

Favorite food: Fettuccine Alfredo.

Favorite drink: Lemonade.

Favorite pizza slice: Pepperoni

Favorite music: Country.

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? Pine.

Powder day. The mountain of your choosing is open only to Alden and her posse. Where do you go? “Vail, Blue Sky Basin.”

COVID is over. You can travel anywhere in the world. Where do you go? Italy.

You’re ruler of the world for one day. What do you do? “The first thing that comes to my mind is universal health care.”

Meet your student-athlete: Eagle Valley’s Branden Vigil

Branden Vigil, junior, Eagle Valley basketball

First of all, welcome back to Eagle Valley boys basketball. You might remember them from such previous episodes as, “Starting the season 2-0,” and “Beating Battle Mountain in the league opener, 72-40.”

After a two-week “break” for COVID-19 precautions, Eagle Valley calls on Battle Mountain tonight at 6:30 p.m.

As such, we got to know junior Branden Vigil —No. 10 in your virtual programs and No. 1 in your hearts.

Vigil is an Eagle Valley Guy, which we are making an official title. His mom, Megan, is an Eagle Valley alumna. Vigil is a quintessential three-sporter in Gypsum — football, basketball and baseball. And as Vigil has grown up playing, he has collected teammates as he proceeded through the ranks.

Most importantly, Vigil’s grandma apparently makes some awesome tacos.

Read on for more on Vigil:

Birthday: Sept. 28, 2003.

Parents: Daniel and Megan Vigil.

What’s fun about basketball? “It’s hanging out with the guys and making those friendships and the competitiveness. I’m just a really competitive person and basketball brings it out.”

What was it like growing up here playing hoops? “It’s been so fun. At Eagle Valley Elementary, Erich (Petersen), Eric (Hasley) and I became good friends. Then I went to Gypsum Creek Middle and met Carlos (Sanchez), Bryan (Martinez) and Matthew (Garvey). And then we’re all in high school.”

Goal for the season: “We’re trying to make a playoff push.”

Best moment in basketball this year: “Probably our Battle Mountain game. Everyone was having fun celebrating.”

Best athletic moment in high school: “My favorite moment was my freshman year when I got to travel for the playoff game against Conifer. We had a big upset win.”

Most embarrassing moment: “Sophomore year, I went to throw the ball in and I ended up throwing it out of bounds.”

What’s coach Justin Brandt like? “He’s a really good guy. He always calls and checks in on me and my family. He’s always pushing us to be the best we can be. He always wants us to be thinking of the future, like how we’re going to act when we’re married. He’s connected to all of us. He’s not just our coach.”

Favorite subject in school: History.

Favorite social media: Instagram.

Favorite video game: NBA 2K — Plays as Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards.

Favorite food: “Grandma makes elk tacos. Meat and cheese, no hot sauce.” (Editor’s note: Sounds good.)

What do you put on your pizza? Canadian bacon and mushrooms.

Favorite teams: Denver Broncos and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Favorite athletes: Peyton Manning and Westbrook.

Will the Broncos return to winning? “Yes, they will. I’d get a new quarterback. I’d go all in for (Houston Texans’) Deshaun Watson and I’d probably fire our head coach (Vic Fangio).”

Favorite music: Country.

Favorite artists: Luke Combs and Morgan Wallen.

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? Aspen.

COVID-19 is over. You can travel anywhere in the world. Where do you go? Maui.

You’re ruler of the world for one day, what do you do? “I would try to solve problems around the world.”

Lindsey Vonn Foundation hosting free virtual camp March 6 for youth across the country

Retired U.S. ski racer Lindsey Vonn smiles at the finish area during a World Cup race in Austria on Jan. 24 following an impressive transition to the broadcast booth this year. On Saturday, March 6, Vonn will be helping hundreds of youth across the country with a free online camp from 3:30 to 5 p.m. (Marco Trovati, AP)

The Lindsey Vonn Foundation is helping youth nationwide get excited about staying healthy — from online safety to fitness — with a free Zoom event on Saturday, March 6. Designed for girls ages 11-14, #STRONGgoals is open to girls of all ages, as well as boys.

The virtual camp is March 6 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Sign up at www.lindseyvonnfoundation.org.

About the Event

“The Lindsey Vonn Foundation is proud to present our #STRONGgoals Virtual Camp hosted by Lindsey Vonn,” the organization’s website says. “The camp will help build healthy habits for this new year! The camp is free for those who register to join.”

Guests will include Olympic gold gymnast Laurie Hernandez, speaking about mental health; event sponsor Chase presenting an online security talk; and Vonn’s own personal trainer, Alex Bunt, leading a fitness exercise.

#STRONGgoals will teach girls life changing habits and goals to stay healthy and happy in 2021 and beyond. In conjunction with their very own LVF #STRONGgoals workbook, the program will focus on fitness, safety online and mindfulness.

  1. Fitness: Girls will join Lindsey Vonn in an exercise warm-up session led by professional fitness trainer Alex Bunt.
  2. Online safety: A custom curated social media and online safety talk will be presented to the girls by the tech-gurus at JP Morgan Chase; this talk seeks to educate and protect kids for life online.
  3. Mindfulness: Our final segment will open up to a discussion on mental healthy with Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez. Hernandez and Vonn will have a conversation to help guide girls in the importance of self-care and positive self-talk.
  4. The online camp will close with a Q&A with Vonn. Parents are welcome to sit in for the entire one-and-a-half hour camp or to join their daughter with Lindsey for the Q&A and closing remarks at 7 pm. A virtual workbook will be provided via email following registration so parents can follow along with their kids during the camp or review the materials with them afterward.

Notes for the event:

  • The Lindsey Vonn Foundation created this program for girls ages 11-14 but girls and boys of any age are welcome to join.
  • This event requires some physical activity. Organizers want to make sure everyone is safe and healthy. If you are not able to do physical exercises, you can sit this portion out.
  • What to wear: Casual, exercise clothing recommended.

Scholarships

The Lindsey Vonn Foundation is also accepting applications for its scholarship program, helping children 10-18 years old financially in-need pursue their passions.

Enrichment scholarships, up to $5,000, are for STEM, after-school, art, dance and academic programs. The Sports Matter scholarships are for all sports scholarships and are available up to $15,000.

To apply, visit www.lindseyvonnfoundation.org. Applicants will need one letter of recommendation if asking for $5,000 or less, and two letters of recommendation if asking for more than $5,000. Applicants will also need to write an essay about why they need a scholarship and include their family’s household income to qualify.

Kirk’s Corner: Focus on the reps

At the heart of sport success is having clear and simple principles. Foundational to athletes becoming the best they can be is a focus on repetition.

When we look at the most successful U.S. athletes in skiing, one consistent attribute is they were able to accumulate more quality time on-snow. The quality of training is equally important as volume because skiing is a highly technical skill sport where the efficiency gained from enhanced technique supports being able to train more runs with less fatigue and risk of injury.

While many focus on the number of competitions, what is most important is the ratio of training to competition. For younger athletes in the developmental phase, training is more important than competition. Racing less allows for more days of training during the winter. Many mainstream sports are attempting to counteract the trend toward too many competitions and loss of practice time. What is most important are the “touches” and time spent in practice. This provides an even greater advantage over the long term.

I have included an excerpt from Mikaela Shiffrin’s letter of support for the Golden Peak expansion and the surface lift to elaborate on this point:

“The dedicated training hill and surface lift that serviced exactly the length of that trail allowed us to get the maximal amount of training we possibly could out of a two hour session. It was so incredibly efficient that we could attend school, and still get immeasurably more training in than probably anywhere else in the country. At most ski areas, I figure in a two-and-a-half hour training session, I spend about seven minutes actually training. Some ski areas it’s more like three to four minutes training in a two-and-a-half hour session. We got off the lift, skied a few feet and started running the course. I could fit 12-16 runs in one training session and since performance is directly related to time on snow and time in gates, it was a huge advantage to me during key developmental years. People wonder how I started my first World Cup race at only 15 years old, and was able to win the overall WC title at 22, this is a key part of the answer. The quality of the training (and the coaching I received growing up) I received, with the perfect length trail, surface lift to accommodate it and focused environment was essential to my development and success. It’s no secret and it’s not rocket science. That little training arena was far superior in efficiency to what I have experienced anywhere else in this country or internationally for tech training. I had the most productive experience per hour possible and was able to progress to the World Cup at a young age. That trail was our gym and we made the best use of it that we possibly could.”

It is now widely recognized that an emphasis in youth sport which is primarily competition based is deleterious to long-term athletic development. One year Shiffrin only competed in 11 races — what was she doing instead of racing? Leveraging the time on-snow practicing.

Many sports now have an emphasis on fewer competitions and practices featuring more touches and higher speed execution than the norm for games. With soccer there is futsal played with a smaller, harder ball indoors or on firm surfaces, in a smaller space with fewer players. In both hockey and soccer there has been a trend to practice within a more confined space with fewer players which allows more touches and higher pace. In skiing we can train shorter courses allowing for higher volume by reducing the fatigue of full length courses and setting training courses with quicker tempo and tighter distances between gates. Kids want to compete, it’s a big part of what attracts them to sports; they also are motivated by improvement and becoming better at their chosen sport. The point is to reduce the amount of practice emulating games to what is necessary and better leverage practice for more repetition and quality.

Several final points are that there is a diminishing return to practice once there is fatigue; the gains from work come during the rest/recuperation following, and that we now understand there are opportunities for gains outside of the physical practice through visualization and feel imagery. Once there is physical or mental fatigue to the degree execution falls off, practice becomes counterproductive. Repetition is desired but only to the point where the execution is of high quality. In Colorado, our elevation is a factor as there is greater fatigue. The gains from the work are realized during the rest and recovery.

Kirk Dwyer is the executive director and alpine program director of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.

Meeker rallies past Vail Christian in 2nd half

Vail Christian's Theo Moritz launches a shot against Meeker Saturday in Edwards. The Saints led at the half, but fell to Meeker, 51-48. (Chris Dillmann
cdillmann@vaildaily.com)

EDWARDS —Vail Christian boys basketball played three superb halves of basketball this weekend. Unfortunately, the Saints needed four halves.

The Saints led, 18-8, after the first period and, 34-21, at the half, but lost to Meeker, 51-48, Saturday night suffering their first league and throwing the Northern Division of the 2A Slope into chaos.

Vail Christian's Jesse Gonzales drives to the hoop against Meeker Saturday in Edwards. Despite a tough . loss to the Cowboys, the Saints face Soroco on Monday at home. (Chris Dillmann
cdillmann@vaildaily.com)

Vail Mountain, Vail Christian and Meeker all have one loss atop the standings. The Gore Rangers, who took care of business on Saturday at Walden beating North Park, 62-30, and the Cowboys are 5-1 with Vail Christian at 4-1.

And down the stretch they come. Vail Mountain, Meeker and Vail Christian are tied atop the standings with one week to go. (Screen grab)

The Saints knocked West Grand (4-3) out of the race on Friday by beating the Mustangs in Kremmling. Vail Christian was hoping that Friday’s West Grand win would carry into Saturday. It did, but not for the full 32 minutes.

And, yes, it was a strange night for both the Cowboys and Saints. The refs did get involved, but not with controversial calls on the floor. In the third quarter, some fans got tossed (not unusual) as well as the athletic trainer, who was sitting on Vail Christian’s bench at the time. (In 24 years of covering Vail Valley preps, the author has never seen that.)

“All the air went out of the building for whatever reason and we lost the momentum,” said Vail Christian coach Sheldon Kuhns, who was slightly purple after the game. “We’re the younger team. They’re the senior-laden group. Tempo got us the lead and then all the air went out.”

Vail Christian's Vinny Nowicki goes for a layup Saturday in Edwards. (Chris Dillmann
cdillmann@vaildaily.com)

However one thinks of the officiating, the Saints committed costly turnovers, were in foul trouble and eventually came apart. High school basketball teams don’t win games by scoring only 14 points in the second half.

After Meeker outscored Vail Christian, 18-6, during the third quarter, the Saints’ Vinny Nowicki fouled out to start the fourth quarter. First off, no one feels worse than Nowicki, so this is not piling on the junior. Kuhns just said after the game that Nowicki brings the Saints a spark and that they missed him during that fourth quarter.

Despite crazy-making nature of the loss, Vail Christian fans are not advised to use the north doors of the gymnasium to jump into the Eagle River. The Saints are still alive to win the Northern Division. They play Soroco on Monday for non-Senior Night — to use an appropriate Yiddish phrase which applies to a Christian school, the Saints have bupkis when it comes to seniors.

If the Saints beat Soroco, they still have a shot against VMS on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Vail Christian’s girls took care of Summit, 36-26, Saturday afternoon.

If you’re wondering why the 2A Saints were playing the 4A Tigers, well, Meeker’s girls are in COVID-19 quarantine and Vail Christian still wanted a game. Coach Tim Pierson let his fingers do the walking and found out Summit was free. Cool.

Grace McCurdy won her blackjack hand for third time in four games, putting up 20 points. (Always stick on 20, Grace.) Zoey Barela had 15.

Vail Christian (5-3 overall and 2-2 in the Slope) finishes the season Monday against Soroco.