| VailDaily.com

Water smart tips to protect, preserve and enjoy this natural resource

The spring runoff has started and this exciting time of year offers a great reminder to consider ways to protect, preserve and enjoy our creeks and rivers. These finite resources are the lifeblood of our community. Gore Creek is one of the defining features of Vail, running through the community from Vail Pass to Dowds Junction, where it meets the Eagle River. The Eagle is a tributary of the Colorado River, which supplies much of the water the American West depends on.

Over the past two decades, we’ve seen declining snowfall and water supplies in the region. As we watch the water in our rivers and creeks start to rise this spring, it’s important to remember that our region had an average snowfall this winter. It felt like we had a lot of snow, but we were back to historically average conditions. One good snow year won’t be enough to resolve the water quantity issues that have been facing the West since this drought began in 2002.

Spring runoff is a great opportunity to remember ways residents and visitors can safely recreate while protecting and preserving this natural resource.

  • Safety first: Don’t underestimate the power of rivers. We anticipate a big runoff this season. Small to medium size creeks can see 60% of their annual water volume in the 6-8 week spring period. For example, Gore Creek runs at about 10 cubic feet per second (cfs) at low points in January but at runoff it can peak as high as 2,000 cfs. Water conditions can change from day to day so make sure you know the flow of the river before making plans to recreate. People need the right skills and equipment to safely play in and along our waterways. Dry and wet suits and personal flotation devices are a must. If you aren’t an experienced boater, book a trip with one of Vail’s many outfitters who are professionally trained to navigate mountain waterways. Keep an eye on children and pets around water — it’s not only swift but incredibly cold this time of year.
  • 10 Feet for the Creek: A new ordinance in the town of Vail was created that impacts landscaping near Gore Creek. 10 Feet for the Creek is a new rule that creates a 10-foot buffer zone where mowing and vegetation removal are not allowed. The ordinance is designed to protect plants that live in and along the creek, filtering runoff, shading the creek, creating habitat, and preventing erosion.
  • Protect our waterways: The Eagle River Watershed Council’s (ERWC) mission is to advocate for the health and conservation of our waterways in Eagle County. This local nonprofit organization provides locals and visitors with several ways to get involved to help protect, clean and mitigate impacts to our local streams. Visit ERWC.org to learn more about ways to get involved that range from the annual highway and river cleanup events to volunteer planting and restoration activities.
  • Use water wisely: The ERWC, Eagle River Water & Sanitation District and Eagle County Conservation District all offer water efficiency resources and programs. In our area, less than 20% of water used for irrigation is returned to our streams. The Water & Sanitation District recommends conducting an outdoor water audit to determine the efficiency of your irrigation system. They provide step-by-step guidelines on their website to help residents better understand how efficiently they are using their water and how they might be able to save more water and spend less money on irrigation.
  • Fresh rocky mountain tap water: As a headwaters community, Vail has some of the best drinking water in the world — visitors and locals alike are encouraged to ditch single-use plastic water bottles and opt for fresh Rocky Mountain tap water.

Each spring as the snow melts, our community reawakens as a summer playground for rafting, biking, hiking and so much more. These practical tips not only help us protect where we play but remind us of important ways we can shift our daily practices to protect our natural resources for locals and guests to enjoy long into the future.

Peter Wadden is a watershed health specialist for the town of Vail. The Discover Vail monthly sustainability column is a project of the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council, which is responsible for marketing the destination during the non-winter months.

Sole Power Green Commuting Challenge kicks off on Memorial Day

The Sole Power Green Commuting Challenge returns to the Eagle Valley starting this Memorial Day, Monday, May 29 and continues through Oct. 9.

The Sole Power Challenge is free and encourages active commuting in the Eagle Valley, which is a healthy option not only for people but also for the environment. Participants get outside, get fit, reduce their carbon footprint, save money and have fun.

The program relies on the honor system and participants may count any trip if they have a destination and the ride, walk, skate or run is not purely recreational. The goal is to use “sole” power and support active transportation instead of motorized options, so if a participant would have otherwise driven, taken the bus, motorcycle or other motorized vehicle, the trip counts. The program includes two seasonal challenges. 

Businesses and individuals take part in the program to improve personal wellness and do their part for climate action. The website’s tracking platform is a great opportunity for wellness programs around the valley as well as an opportunity for friendly challenges between local businesses.

Over the past 12 years of the program, 2,431 participants have logged over 454,000 miles.

2022 was a record-setting year for Sole Power with 341 participants logging nearly 56,440 miles and over 51,740 pounds of carbon reduced from the atmosphere. The 2023 goal is to top 60,000 miles.

Sole Power hosts monthly happy hours with free or discounted beverages, and the season is capped off with an end-of-season party. Every participant is eligible for a free Sole Power T-shirt designed by Kind Design. In addition, several other community sponsors have donated prizes such as hotel stays, gift cards to restaurants and bars, bike tunes, hats, custom messenger bags, commuting gear and more. Prizes will be given away each week throughout the challenge to anyone who has logged a trip that week. Any Sole Power participant who logs 20 or more trips throughout the challenge will be eligible to win the Grand Prize at the end of the 2023 challenge: a QuietKat e-bike donated by the Eagle-based manufacturer.  

Head to SolePower.org to register and begin tracking miles.

Check out the Eagle Valley Sole Power Facebook page or follow @EVSolePower on Instagram for updates on Sole Power happenings throughout the summer. For more information, visit SolePower.org or contact Beth Markham, environmental sustainability manager for town of Vail at bmarkham@vailgov.com

Current and former Ski and Snowboard Club Vail athletes named to U.S. Ski and Snowboard Alpine, cross-country, freestyle and snowboard teams

Numerous current and former Ski and Snowboard Club Vail athletes have been nominated to 2023-24 U.S. Ski and Snowboard squads.

Mikaela Shiffrin (Edwards, CO; Burke Mountain Academy/Ski & Snowboard Club Vail) headlines the women’s Alpine A team and is joined again by the up-and-coming Paula Moltzan (Prior Lake, MN; Buck Hill Ski Team/Ski & Snowboard Club Vail/University of Vermont). Shiffrin and Moltzan went 1-2 at the Semmering, Austria slalom in December, the first 1-2 World Cup finish for an American duo since 1971.

On the men’s side, River Radamus (Edwards, CO; Ski & Snowboard Club Vail) will lead the A team and Kyle Negomir (Littleton, CO; Ski & Snowboard Club Vail) has been nominated to the B team. Finally, Allie Resnick joins the C team and Hunter Salani, Emma Resnick, Kjersti and Liv Moritz and Kaitlin Keane were all nominated to the D teams.

Former SSCV Nordic skier Haley Brewster, who competed at the World Junior championships in Whistler this January and claimed 12th and 13th-place finishes at the NCAA championships in Lake Placid at the end of the season, was named to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard development team.

Kai Owens competed for the U.S. at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games.
Francisco Seco/AP photo

SSCV is well-represented on the moguls side, with Tess Johnson, Kai Owens and Liz Lemley all earning A team spots. Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athletes Olivia Giaccio and Jaelin Kauf will round out the A team’s Colorado contingent, with former SSCV athlete Dylan Walczyk being named to the men’s team.

Brooklyn DePriest, Evan Wrobel and Hahna Norman were all SSCV athletes who received nominations to the U.S. rookie slopestyle snowboard team. 

Chris Laske, SSCV’s director of freeski and snowboard programs, said it’s been an honor coaching those three over the last few years.

“Watching how much work they put in on and off-snow every single day is really inspiring,” Laske stated. 

“There were so many sacrifices made to reach this level of snowboarding, not to mention what they put their bodies and minds through on a daily basis to learn new tricks. I can’t say enough good things about these kids. They all have good grades in school, great personalities, and are some of the hardest working kids on our team. To say I’m a proud coach would be an understatement.”  

Brooklyn DePriest after taking second place at the Stoneham NorAm big air event on March 15.
SSCV/Courtesy photo

Six Eagle Valley Climbing and Fitness climbers are headed to the Division 4 championships

Eagle Climbing and Fitness has qualified six climbers to the Lead/Top rope Division 4 championships in Albuquerque on June 3-4.

Dylan Hewitt, Ella Regjo, Iris Sheldon, Reese Manley, Sofia Salazar and Waylon Larson all placed within the top 13 at the Region 42 championships — which covers southern Colorado, most of Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle — on May 13 at Gripstone Climbing in Colorado Springs. If they can place in the top 13 at the divisional meet, which will add Region 41’s best, they would advance to the USA Climbing national championships July 9-16 in Salt Lake City.

“We had a really strong showing at regionals and a lot of athletes there,” said coach and gym owner Larry Moore, who had 24 athletes qualify for regionals and saw 21 compete.

One of the days’ bright stories was Manley, who finished 12th in the female youth A age group.

“A year ago she wasn’t even walking without crutches,” Moore said of Manley, who suffered a bad ankle injury requiring an almost year-long recovery.

Reese Manley’s year-long comeback from an ankle injury was redeemed with her 12th-place finish in the female youth A competition at the Region 42 championships on May 13.
Eagle Climbing and Fitness/Courtesy photo

At the competition, the first-time divisional qualifier acknowledged the transformation to her coach, remarking, “a year ago I couldn’t even walk on my own.”

Hewitt continued to impress, leading the group with his sixth-place finish. It could have been higher, too.

Each athlete faced three problems, each of which they were given four minutes and one attempt to complete. Hewitt topped his first problem and was salivating as he scanned the second.

“He was really excited about it because there was a big jumping move in it,” Moore said.

“And he got so excited down low, before that move, that he misread a hold and slipped off really, really low.”

Normally an even-keel athlete, Moore said Hewitt was a bit emotional after the mistake, but rallied in a most impressive fashion.

“And we can’t really talk to him because he’s in the competition still, but I just kept saying, ‘you got one more, you got one more,’ to try to get him focused on the next one,” Moore recalled.

Hewitt raced to the top of the third problem on his first try.

“He sent it,” Moore continued. “If he had done as well as he could have on that second one, he would have been on the podium for sure.”

Eagle Climbing and Fitness Region 42 results – May 13

(name, place, age group)

Nora Pyle, sixth (FYD)

Iris Sheldon, seventh (FYB)

Ella Regjo, eighth (FYC)

Sofia Salazar, 11th, (FYC)

Brynley Velez, 11th (FYD)

Reese Manley, 12th (FYA)

Violet Voboril, 14th (FYD)

MaryBeth Friery, 15th (FYA)

Tallulah Beauchamp, 15th (FYD)

Brynn Lindal, 16th (FYB)

Eva Klesner, 19th (FYC)

Lakelynn Wahouske, 22nd (FYC)

Hayley Morahan, 24th (FYC)

Dylan Hewitt, sixth (MYC)

Greyson Gibson, sixth (MYD)

Waylon Larson, 11th (MYC)

Elliot Gray-Lopresti, 14th (MYA)

Braiden Weber, 17th, (MYD)

Logan Weaver, 19th (MYC)

River Gallegos, 20th (MYD)

William Larson, 22nd (MYD)

Sheldon and Regjo, who placed seventh and eighth in female youth B and youth C categories, respectively, are starting to become regular top-10 customers.

“She’s been doing really well in all the USA climbing and ASCL events; so really excited for her to be going again,” Moore said of Sheldon.

“Same with Ella; she went to divisionals in bouldering and now she’s going for rope climbing as well, so she’s another up-and-coming star for our team.”

Larson and Salazar both placed 11th in the respective male and female youth C age group. Larson was the only member of Eagle Climbing’s junior talon team to qualify beyond regionals.

“He’s just a little phenom,” Moore described. “He’s super strong, super motivated.”

Several of Moore’s youth D age-group athletes also placed in the top-13, which would have qualified them to the divisional round in past seasons.

“As USA climbing has grown and become an Olympic sport, we no longer have the youngest athletes move beyond the regional level,” Moore explained. “The premise from Europe is you don’t want to push the youngest kids too hard in competition realms at too young an age or else they burn out easier.”

Instead, the youngest climbers have been invited to culminate their campaigns at the USA Climbing Youth Festival, held in conjunction with the national championships, but a couple of weeks earlier (June 24-25). Moore is excited for his athletes’ opportunities to work with USA Climbing coaches and championship-level route setters.

“They get to do mock competitions and learn about how the setting works and how to read things,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity in lieu of nationals and gives them something to look forward to as well.”

In Albuquerque, the best from Region 41, which only encompasses Colorado’s front range — a testament to its rich talent pool — will compete alongside Region 42 qualifiers. Moore said Region 41 is the strongest in the country and includes several nationally-ranked competitors.

“Divisionals for our kids is like nationals for most because they’re going up against the best of the best,” he said. “It’s a really tough move to get beyond divisionals in our division.”

The competition will be the final one for coach Max Donovan, who is leaving to join the Peace Corps. His last official competition was the regional qualifier back in April, but Donovan — a nationally-ranked climber as a youngster himself — came to Colorado Springs anyway. He made similar travel plans to be in Albuquerque next week.

“He was so committed; he’s been an incredible coach,” Moore said of his head route-setter.

“He just brought a really strong competitive element to the setting with his background and has very intimate knowledge of what competition-style setting is like and climbing as well. He brought a ton to this team, so we’re sad to lose him but excited for his new adventures.”

Waylon Larson qualified for his first division 4 climbing event by placing 11th in the Lead/Top Rope Region 42 championships on May 13 in Colorado Springs.
Eagle Climbing and Fitness/Courtesy photo

Results and photos from the third week of Vail Recreation District Whitewater Race Series competition

Women’s raft (overall place, rider 1, rider 2, raceTT time)

  1. Natalia Gray, Robyn Jennsen – 1:42
  2. Jamie Blume, Kerri Karcz – 1:31
  3. Kate Kalamon, Meg Dean – 1:41
  4. Elizabeth J. Martin Dilley, Caroline Davis – 1:42
  5. Elena Bethmann, Hallie Jaeger – 1:47
  6. Jackie Dillon, Jessica Kane – 3:01
  7. Charlotte Hanks, Gabriella Lubbers – 3:13

Men’s raft (overall place, rider 1, rider 2, raceTT time)

  1. John Anacito, Cole Bangert – 1:12
  2. Tyler Lombardi, Chris Schultz – 1:13
  3. Jermiah Williams, Rob Prechtl – 1:09
  4. Nate Dumais, Dan Keorber – 1:13
  5. Jennifer Hodgkiss, Juice- 1:16
  6. Joel Richards, Brock Johnson – 1:20
  7. Wesley Zittel, Garret Sapyta – 1:20
  8. Christopher Schmidt, Joe Glassman – 1:25
  9. Charlie Barnes, Bobby Ecker – 1:28
  10. Jeff Dougherty, Malcolm McCandless – 1:30
  11. Neal Clawson, Stephen Ross – 1:30
  12. Joe Newton, John Luikert – 1:34
  13. John Mark Seelig, Matt Norfleet – 1:47
  14. Joseph Mullins, Sarah Lane – 1:54
  15. Caleb Maloney, Calen Golas – 1:56
  16. Joe Oakman, Nick Haller – 2:11
  17. Scott Lang, Matt Moore – 2:21

Women’s kayak (overall place, rider, raceTT time)

  1. Tessa Prince – 1:17
  2. Natalia Gray – 1:15
  3. Karen Skrutch – 1:44
  4. Baby Bella Borski – 1:55
  5. Jennifer Hodgkiss – 2:00

Men’s kayak (overall place, rider, raceTT time)

  1. Derrick Dreyer – 1:06
  2. Mike Duffy – 1:09
  3. Joe Giglio – 1:11
  4. Cole Bangert – 1:08
  5. Rob Prechtl – 1:09
  6. Jeremiah Williams – 1:10
  7. John Anacito – 1:11
  8. Sawyer Blair – 1:11
  9. Matty Coughlin – 1:12
  10. Timothy Friday – 1:13
  11. Karl Borski – 1:21
  12. Jason Hutto – 1:21
  13. Ken Hoeve – 1:25
  14. Chris Johnson – 2:00
  15. Parker Stacks – 1:25
  16. Chris Brunjes – 2:15

Women’s SUP (overall place, rider, raceTT time)

  1. Jennifer Hodgkiss – 1:34
  2. Men Wall – 1:28
  3. Kerri Karcz – 1:30
  4. Jamie Blume – 1:35

Men’s SUP (overall place, rider, raceTT time)

  1. Jeremiah Williams – 1:12
  2. Jim Callen – 1:22
  3. Rob Prechtl – 1:23
  4. Michael Chebatoris – 1:25
  5. Eli Gerstien – 1:28
  6. Ken Hoeve – 1:33
  7. Chris Johnson – 1:37
  8. Ace Ace – 1:48
  9. Ryan Frey – 1:53
  10. Justin Selbach – 2:28
  11. Andrew King – 2:27
  12. Joshua Colley – 2:27

Alternative Wellness: Mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily’s Tricia Swenson searched the valley for alterative wellness modalities that are lesser-known and have proven benefits. Follow this series and take steps to improve your well-being and see which offerings work for you.

You may see a lot of people walking around with crutches, casts or slings this time of year. After a long ski and snowboard season prone with injuries, many locals and guests get their surgeries done once the season has ended if they can. You may also hear about a way to reduce inflammation post-surgery and mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy is one way you may be able to recover faster.

Harrison Brown, owner of Recovery Lab Vail in Lionshead offers cutting-edge recovery modalities such as Normatec compression boots and IV therapy to the general public but he also offers mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy. To break it down, “hyper” means high, “baric” means pressure so this is the use of ambient oxygen in a pressurized environment. Your body’s tissues need a sufficient amount of oxygen to function. The tissues must have even more oxygen to survive. Mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen your blood can carry.

“In the mild hyperbaric chamber you are going down to 1.3 atmospheres, which is just below sea level and we are only pushing the ambient oxygen which is the same 22% oxygen that we breathe every day, except we are pushing 10 times more of that oxygen into your body that your respiratory system would be able to do on its own,” Harrison said.

Mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the use of ambient oxygen in a pressurized environment of 1.3 atmospheres. Increased pressure allows for oxygen to dissolve and saturate into the blood plasma.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

The list of ailments mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help improve is long, but it does help reduce inflammation, expedite wound healing, increase the body’s ability to fight infection, severe concussion protocols and traumatic brain injuries. Many people who have tried it relay that it also improves sleep.

“Sometimes people will come in thinking they’re helping a certain area of their body and then realize that, ‘hey, my knees are less achy’ or ‘I’ve been sleeping so much better after doing this,’ because there are so many benefits from this,” Brown said.

For those recovering from surgery and going to physical therapists, the results are distinctive.

“I went to the recovery Lab to use the mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy a few days after surgery to reconstruct my ACL and my meniscus. Initially, I was going to the hyperbaric chamber almost daily. I did that for the first couple of weeks and then started to space them out after that. From my first post-surgery appointment and on, my surgeon was shocked at how quickly my knee swelling was going down.

I would 100% recommend the hyperbaric chamber to others. To be honest, I was skeptical at first. Never having surgery before, I wasn’t sure how things like swelling worked and how long things took to progress, etc. But once my surgeon told me the lack of swelling was incredible I knew it was working it’s magic!”

J. – Recovery lab Vail client

Brown has also seen remarkable results with a client who has gout.

“Gout has been a constant struggle for me, causing intense pain and discomfort in my joints. I had tried various medications and lifestyle changes, but nothing seemed to provide long-lasting relief. That’s when I came across hyperbaric chamber therapy and decided to give it a try.

I started my sessions in the hyperbaric chamber with cautious optimism, not knowing what to expect. To my surprise, almost immediately after my session, I began to notice a significant improvement in my gout symptoms. The pain and swelling in my joints started to subside and I could move more freely without discomfort. It was truly remarkable how quickly the hyperbaric chamber therapy had a positive impact on my condition.”

H. – Recovery Lab Vail Client

Another client of Brown’s had a total colectomy two years ago and started mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy one year ago. A total colectomy removes your entire colon and the majority of your large intestine.

Someone suggested I try mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy and in my condition I thought, ‘I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.’ After a total colectomy, you go to the bathroom, a lot. The first thing I do when I go into a new building is figure out where the bathroom is. Committing to the mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been super helpful and I feel more confident being away from a bathroom for longer periods of time. I know another person from the valley who has it and she started about a year after I did and she is seeing benefits, too. My doctor down in Denver said ‘whatever you are doing, it’s working for you.’

Friends noticed I had improved skin tone and I noticed my vision improved. I can’t speak highly enough about it. It is magic, but it is not a ‘one and done’ type of thing, you must commit but it is worth every penny!”

T. – Recovery Lab Vail Client

What’s it like getting into the chamber? It reminded me of a small tent and Brown explains how it all works and once you are zipped up, that’s when the pressurization starts. If you are fine with “clearing your ears”- similar to how you adjust your ears when taking off or landing while you’re flying in an airplane – you’ll be fine as the pressure reaches 4 PSI which equates to 1.3 atmospheres.

For those who feel claustrophobic, the team at Recovery Lab talks you through the process and lets you know that you have full control of the situation and that they are there for you the whole time.

“It’s been a joy of mine to work with those people because the amount of benefit that they will get from the mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy, if they can work through that small mental issue, is going to be more beneficial if they didn’t do it at all,” Brown said.

Vail Daily reporter tries out the mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy at Recovery Lab Vail.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

I did the one-hour session and it was so relaxing. I didn’t go to sleep, but Brown said many of his clients do. But you are in such a relaxed state and that alone can help you feel better once you get out. They give you an eye mask and headphones so you can listen to NuCalm, a neuro-acoustic software that facilitates putting you in a state between alpha and theta which allows you to completely relax.

For more information on mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy, visit RecoveryLabVail.com.

World Cup notebook: Shiffrin wins Beck International Award at U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s annual Service to Sport Awards

After a season that saw her become the winningest Alpine skier in history, Mikaela Shiffrin earned U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s highest athletic honor given during its annual Service to Sport awards. Shiffrin was the recipient of the Beck International Award, “presented to a competitor based on outstanding performance in international competition during the past season.”

In addition to recording her record-setting 88th-career win in Are, Sweden, last March, Shiffrin claimed the overall crystal globe for the fifth time and also won her seventh slalom and second giant slalom globes. This winter, she won a gold medal for the sixth-straight world championships; the next best by any athlete is four straight.

Shiffrin, who also won U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s 2023 Alpine Athlete of the Year award, won the Beck International Award in 2014, 2017, 2019 and 2020 as well. Her record of five wins is tied with Phil Mahre (1977-1981) for the most ever. Cross-country ski superstar Jessie Diggins, who won the country’s first Olympic gold in 2018 and first individual world championship gold medal this February in Planica, Slovenia has won the award four times, the second most for women or men.

According to her social media page, Shiffrin recently returned from Maui, where she spent time windsurfing and dryland training with her boyfriend, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.

“Gonna miss getting catapulted off my rig on the daily and accidentally drinking the entire ocean in a session only for it to pour out my nose later in the day, but duty calls!” she posted on Monday. “Now it’s time to do more training in other parts of the world! Like… home… hahah.”

Owens and Radamus hit the slopes for some spring skiing

Kai Owens, who suffered labrum and ACL injuries at the end of the 2022 season, was back on snow for the first time in February and has enjoyed spring skiing in Utah and Vermont this spring. Her Instagram showed photos of her heading up Killington Mountain on April 27 with fellow Olympian Hannah Soar, and Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah on Wednesday.

Edwards’ River Radamus dug out his childhood camera to document his spring skiing adventures.

“In some ways, spring training is my favorite time of the year,” he posted on social media a week ago.

“Absent the baggage of expectations, anything and everything feels possible. I feel most like a kid again; focused only on the joy of pushing limits and experimentation. … I brought (my camera) to spring camp this year to try to capture the nostalgic feeling of ski camp with my friends. Lucky to make these memories with these guys.”

FIS Games are coming in 2028

The number of non-global championship years is being reduced.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) announced its plans to hold a quadrennial, 16-day competition for Olympic and Paralympic snow sports with around 100 medal events starting in 2028. The FIS Games will be held in the one year every four-year cycle that does not include an Olympics, Paralympics or world championships for snow sports.

“The FIS Games will be the greatest of all snow sport events; a landmark celebration bringing the FIS family together as never before,” stated a May 23 press release.

“Just as aspiring athletes have watched the Olympics and Paralympics for decades and dreamed of greatness, so the FIS Games aim to inspire a new generation of skiers and snowboarders,” continued the federation’s bidding guide. Bids will be accepted until Nov. 1, with the 2028 host announced in the spring of 2024.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard integrates para teams into athlete roster

U.S. Ski and Snowboard announced the integration of the U.S. Para Alpine Ski Team and U.S. Para Snowboard team onto its roster Tuesday, a move it called “a significant step forward in promoting inclusivity and equal opportunities within winter sports,” in a press release.

“Since the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) took over the management of Para Alpine skiing in 2010, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard organization has been committed to creating a more unified approach to snow sports,” the release states.

“The integration of the U.S. Para Alpine Ski Team and U.S. Para Snowboard Team into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard landscape further solidifies the organization’s dedication to providing comprehensive support and resources to all athletes, including elite coaching, sport science, sports medicine, high performance staff and education opportunities, along with access to the USANA Center of Excellence.”

SSCV’s Audrey Crowley races in a giant slalom event in Vail earlier this season.
Mark Studness/Courtesy photo

SSCV’s Audrey Crowley was a U.S. Paralympic D-team member last season and Vail’s Thomas Walsh won a silver medal at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

“I’m excited to see how this goes,” Walsh tweeted Wednesday regarding the announcement.

Erik Leirfallom was named the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Para Sport Director. Since 2016, Leirfallom has been the high-performance Para Alpine race coach at Park City’s National Ability Center. Prior to that position, he was the Alpine World Cup race director for the International Paralympic Committee and was a coach for the U.S. Para Alpine Ski Team from 2007-2010.

“By combining the management and resources for both the able-bodied and Para teams, we aim to enhance training programs, talent identification and grassroots development initiatives for all athletes,” stated Anouk Patty, U.S. Ski and Snowboard chief of sport.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife reduces big-game hunting licenses and shortens season dates

A harsh winter, particularly in the northwest corner of Colorado, has caused Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to make “unprecedented big-game hunting license reductions” and shorten some season dates, according to a May 23 press release. At the May Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting, CPW staff approved the following regulations after presenting the Deer, Elk, Pronghorn and Moose Limited License Recommendations and State of the Herds Update:

  • CPW is issuing 236,600 licenses for deer, elk, pronghorn, moose and bear. These license changes include a reduction of 32,000 (-12%) limited licenses from last year. 
  • Statewide, CPW is issuing 12,600 (-12%) fewer deer licenses than last year. For the northwest region, it’s a reduction of 12,800 (-33%) deer licenses.
  • Statewide, CPW is limiting 107,700 licenses for elk, down 15,400 (-12%) licenses from last year. 
  • Archery licenses for hunt code E-E-004-O1-A and muzzleloader licenses for hunt codes E-E-004-O1-M and E-E-014-O1-M have been reduced by an additional 25%. Only the number of licenses issued has changed. Dates for archery and muzzleloader season in these hunt codes remain the same.
  • The Commission shortened the season dates for over-the-counter elk licenses in the Severe Winter Zone for the second and third rifle seasons (hunt codes E-M-000-U2-R and E-M-000-U3-R). The season dates have been shortened to five days (Oct. 28, 2023 – Nov. 1, 2023, and Nov. 11, 2023 – Nov. 15, 2023) if hunting in GMUs 3, 4, 5, 11, 12, 13, 14, 23, 24, 131, 211, 214, 231, 301 and 441. Season dates will remain the same for all other eligible GMUs statewide. 
  • The Commission also finalized regulations modifying the big-game license allocation for black bear, deer, elk and pronghorn from 65% for residents and 35% for nonresidents to 75% for residents and 25% for nonresidents for most hunt codes for those species effective for the 2024 big-game seasons. High-demand hunt codes remain at 80% for residents and 20% for non-residents.

Big game manager Andy Holland divided his presentation at the commission meeting into two parts: first discussing the “Severe Winter Zone” — which includes specific game management units (GMUs) in the northwest corner of Colorado (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 211, 301, 441, 214, 201, 131, 231, 22, 23, 24) — before talking about the rest of the state.

According to the press release, the snow conditions experienced from Rangely to Steamboat Springs and the Wyoming state line were the most severe seen in 70 years. Heavy storms and strong winds buried elk, mule deer and pronghorn food sources under hard-packed snow.

“CPW staff hosted weekly meetings to evaluate snow conditions and observe how it was impacting the survival rates of GPS-collared animals in the area,” the release stated. It was based on these findings that the CPW recommended reductions in the aforementioned GMUs.

The Severe Winter Zone, where elk, pronghorn and deer populations suffered as a result of a historically harsh winter.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Courtesy photo

“This winter has been historic in many ways,” Darby Finley, Meeker area terrestrial biologist, stated in the release. “These recommendations were not easy to make, and we know they will impact more than just CPW, including hunting opportunities and local economies. However, we believe these substantial reductions in licenses will allow herds to recover as quickly as possible.”

The “Severe Winter Zone” is notable for having some of the largest elk herds in the nation. The survival rates were the lowest CPW has ever documented and even below what CPW previously thought was possible.

“These reductions are designed to offset or account for the additional mortality from the severe winter,” Holland said.

“These are our largest and most productive herds in the state and these are the largest license reductions our agency has ever made, to my knowledge, in the history of wildlife management in Colorado. We’re making these drastic changes now so these herds can grow as quickly as possible to offset the mortality that happened this summer.”

The process for CPW’s annual license setting.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Courtesy photo

Mule deer fared somewhat better than elk and pronghorn in the region, but the high prevalence of chronic wasting disease has impacted the population’s resiliency, according to the release. CPW was prompted to reduce male and either-sex deer licenses as a result of those factors as well as the already decreased population seen over the last several years.

Pronghorn fared the worst during the winter, and wildlife-vehicle collisions increased as the animals found relief from deep snow along roadways.

Turning to the rest of the state, Holland noted the “Severe Winter Zone” as being a “specific, historically severe low-elevation winter snowpack situation.”

“For the rest of Colorado, outside the severe winter zone, it’s pretty much business as usual. We’re setting license recommendations to our herd-management objectives,” he said. “For the rest of the western slope, this winter was above average in severity, but our deer, elk, pronghorn and moose survival rates are either average or slightly below average. So it’s a totally different situation between the severe winter zone and the rest of the state.”

The impact on Eagle County is visible in recommendations for the northwest region, seen in the photos below. All limited deer licenses will be reduced by 33%, with elk and pronghorn reductions established at 23% and 49%, respectively. Moose licenses will increase statewide, 7% in the northwest, and bear licenses will decrease by 3% in the region.

The 2023 big game license recommendations for deer are seen above. The reductions, especially in the northwest region of the state, are the result of harsh winter conditions severely impacting the population.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Courtesy photo
The 2023 big game license recommendations for elk, pronghorn, moose and bear.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Courtesy photo

“This winter is a great example of why CPW sets license quota recommendations in late spring,” said Brad Banulis, northwest region senior terrestrial biologist. “By using the data and biological information we collect from late fall through early spring, we can evaluate conditions and make the best license recommendations to meet herd management objectives.”

During the public comment portion of the May commission meeting, Jennifer Burbey, president of Colorado Outfitters Association (COA) mentioned that many of COA’s members have reported they are voluntarily rescheduling or canceling their services and hunts in response to the winter kill.

“While we are in business to provide hunting services, supporting ourselves and our employees, at our core, we must conserve the very animals that feed us in perpetuity,” she said before requesting that a mandatory hunter survey be attached to every license issued in the northwest.

“The sheer amount of data gleaned from that survey will add to a precise and efficient recovery, while the current random survey will always leave room for guesstimate.”

While COA supports the proposed reductions, Burbey said she expects the loss of life to not end with the spring storm cycles.

“Another reasonable point that cannot be left unsaid,” she continued.

“The northern bubble of the Ditmer (et al., 2022) map is the only wolf release area currently available. The wolves released will have no idea that their preferred prey base is struggling. The release and additional pressure of yet another unknown predator to these prey could be the tipping point to not recovering.”

Skier visits at Arapahoe Basin rose compared to last season but remained lower than when the ski area was on the Epic Pass

Skier visits at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area rose 9% this past season compared to the previous winter but remain significantly lower than when the ski area was on the Epic Pass, COO Alan Henceroth said in his 2023 State of the Basin blog post.

This 2022-23 winter season, skier visits reached only 75% of what they were during the 2018-19 season, a time when Arapahoe Basin was last on the Epic Pass, Henceroth wrote. This year’s number of visits helped the ski area remain within its comfortable carrying capacity, Henceroth said.

The 2022-23 season at Arapahoe Basin started early with an October opening, though the completion of the new Lenawee Express was five weeks late. Those first few weeks were a “tricky period, slow with guest visits and crazy difficult with final lift construction,” Henceroth wrote. Lenawee opened mid-December.

This season also marked the first time since 2020 that the COVID-19 pandemic did not play a major role, Henceroth wrote. There was plenty of A+ skiing this season, he said, making it a little hard to believe that snowfall was a little below average this year.

With an overhauled employee compensation and housing plan in place, Arapahoe Basin remained fully staffed all season, Henceroth said. Both the Steilhang Hut and Il Rifugio had their first full seasons since recent construction and remodeling, he wrote.

Meanwhile, of the 204 days the ski area was open prior to April 30, there were nine days when parking became a challenge, Henceroth said. Parking is the ski area’s best measure of whether ski visits remain within a comfortable carrying capacity, he said.

A major goal for the upcoming season is to reduce the number of days when parking becomes a challenge, Henceroth said. Arapahoe Basin will continue to limit daily ticket sales and limit Ikon Pass visits to 5 or 7 days, he said.

The ski area will also limit season pass sales and has added the Value Pass for next season to drive people away from the busiest days, Henceroth wrote. Expansion of employee parking carpool programs and the continuation of the Early Riser Lot carpool or pay parking program should also help, he said.

This story is from SummitDaily.com.

Val Constien learns injury from Diamond League event worse than expected

Val Constien wasn’t gunning for a second Fracture Friday story on purpose.

A week after announcing her new Nike deal — and chronicling her substantial comeback from a post-Tokyo Olympics injury — Constien lined up to race in her first Diamond League meet in Doha, Qatar.

Riding the confidence of claiming her first-national championship at the USATF indoor nationals earlier this year, the Battle Mountain alumna was forced into a heartbreaking DNF after landing awkwardly in the water pit on the second lap of the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

“Unfortunately, on water barrier two, I landed funny and hyperextended my knee,” she posted on Instagram following the race. “It was very painful, and I had to retire from the race. Hopefully, in a few days, I can begin training again!”

It turns out, the injury was more substantial. This past Monday, Constien said what she thought was a sprain was actually a season-ending torn ACL.

“Obviously, this is a major disappointment. This season was shaping up to be my best ever,” her post read.

“But, being sad and asking myself, “What if” isn’t a positive use of my energy. I’ll be getting surgery soon and have to take some time away from running. Adversity has only ever made me stronger. 2024 better watch out! All jokes aside, I’m very nervous. Wish me luck!”

Get the top stories in your inbox every morning. Sign up here: VailDaily.com/newsletter

Constien received warm messages of support from the running community in the comment section. Crested Butte native and fellow CU alumni Emma Coburn, a 10-time U.S. national champion and 2017 world champion in the steeplechase, wrote, “Dang it, so sorry to hear this, Val. You’ll be strong and ready for 2024!”

Other Olympians and international stars who wished the 27-year-old a speedy recovery included Rai Benjamin, Courtney Frerichs, Emily Infield, Elise Cranny, Trevor Bassitt, Abby Steiner and Kara Goucher.