10 most fascinating people here | VailDaily.com

10 most fascinating people here

Elizabeth Chicoine

I watched Barbara Walters’ special, “The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2005.” Hands down, my favorite was Dakota Fanning. As I watched I wondered, who are Vail Valley’s 10 most fascinating people? Not able to afford a Barbara Walters survey, I compiled my own results to share. And in Barbara Walters’ style, I will keep No. 1 a secret until the end of this list. Do not cheat. Read in order!Of course, this list is biased. Many other deserving people should be on this list. It is, however, reflective of a mother’s view of our valley’s most fascinating people. Who matters to moms?Let the countdown begin …No. 10 Anita Ortiz – Elite Athlete, World Class Trail RunnerLet’s start out with a loss for words. How does this mother of four, wife, teacher and elite athlete do it all? I tried to feature her in a story about a year ago, and my editor at the time thought that she had been featured too much. Are you kidding me? She is the No. 1 role model for “Moms Rock!” No. 9 Artie Davies – Social Events Manager, Vail Valley FoundationIf you want to make a social event a grand success, find Artie. He is the equivalent to an orchestra conductor for the Vail Valley Foundation. His baton to conduct an event works magic. The mission for the foundation reads, “Vail Valley Foundation provides leadership in athletics, cultural and educational endeavors to sustain and enhance the quality of life in the Vail Valley.” Good souls work for the Foundation.No. 8 Kevin Foley – Vail Town Council MemberAny kid at Red Sandstone back in the late ”90s would applaud the fact that Kevin is back with a vote in Vail politics. He was instrumental in approval for playing fields at the public school. Kevin is grassroots in getting families to move back to Vail. I applaud him. Besides this, he hails from Worcester, Mass., my grandmother’s hometown. Writer’s bias on this one!No. 7 Nancy Ricci – Principal, Red Sandstone Elementary How to describe Nancy? She is a nose-to-the-grindstone leader and expects the same from her staff. She inspired me as a teacher and a mother. A leader in her field, Nancy also knows how to prioritize family. She is a part of a team of faculty that runs “the best little elementary school in the High Country!”No. 6 Toby Dawson – Vail’s Premier Freestyle SkierThis boy I know through his mom. I guess that at age 27, he may have a hard time being called a “boy.” But I am pushing 40 and I remember him roaming the halls of Red Sandstone back in the late ’80s when I worked as a teacher on staff, along with his mom, Deb. Toby is a Vail Olympian. His Web site for the Winter Olympics 2006 reads, “Dawson more awesome still.” I have no doubts, Toby. But I am most proud to read that you are a peer counselor for adopted Korean children. You, Toby, have it all together!No. 5 Sarah Schleper U.S. Ski TeamTorino, Italy, will be taken by storm when Sarah hits the course this winter. Vail is home to another amazing Olympian. Sarah Schleper is recovering from back surgery in Austria. But she’s one to watch. Of course, this mom remembers her as Johnny’s older sister. Another graduate of Red Sandstone Elementary, Sarah is Vail’s own Picabo Street. See what those all-school-ski days can lead to! What a shame that Eagle County schools cut them back years ago to only two days per year. Too many tests to prepare for, so dare we take time out to offer future Olympians a day on the slopes to discover a sport? No. 4 AnonymousAny woman in Vail fighting cancer is my hero. We are all beside you, loving you, and cheering you to victory.No. 3 Courtney Somes – College StudentMy college-age girlfriend has taught me about overcoming obstacles. She overcame dyslexia and is a freshman at a leading college in the U.S. She’s taught me a lot since our introduction when she was entering second grade and I was her tutor. You go, girl! Watch out world, here comes one tough, smart woman. I think that Courtney has a lot to teach all of us about how kids learn. No. 2 Dan Conzelman – Second Grade Teacher, Vail Mountain SchoolThe faculty of Vail Mountain School (K-12) is exceptionally talented and dedicated. Experience this year has led me to highlight the talents of “Mr. C.” Have you seen a river shocked before? Do you like to keep worms in your cubby at school? These are the adventures that second graders enjoy in Dan Conzelman’s class at Vail Mountain School. Dan is the gifted, once-in-a-lifetime teacher you pine for your child to have once in his/her school career. He is the Magic School Bus teacher that we all dream of meeting. Dan meets the criteria of fascinating in every way.Drum roll … Barbara Walters declared her No. 1 a big mystery. My No. 1 is somewhat of a surprise, too. This person may be sitting right next to you as you are reading this paper.No. 1 A father, son or daughter, anyone in public service or in the militaryDid 9/11 change you? Many of us watched the news after Sept. 11, 2001, and made testimonials that we would change course due to this abhorrent attack. We would cast aside our selfish tracks, and we would alter course to make meaning of this blatant attack on American lives and beliefs. But how many of us followed through on such prolific statements? Many did make changes. They joined the military, sacrificed and are heroes. I commend them.But who are they in the Vail Valley? Do we know the people who are public servants, who are in the National Guard and military from our valley? Do we remember to appreciate them and their families? I know that it is easy to forget what is going on to serve and to protect us while we sleep or go about our busy routines. But I know that my husband is out there at night helping all of us on a local level. People’s children are in Iraq striving to make peace and to protect our free society. These are the people who fascinate me. But what about you? When I watched Barbara Walters and thought about her list, I agreed with some and thought, “get real” with others. Tom Cruise? Oh bother! Hardly fascinating, yet oh so arrogant.And then there’s Camilla Parker Bowles as Barbara’s No. 1 pick. Hmm, not sure how I feel about this one. According to Barbara, she feels Camilla deserves this top honor because of her devotion to Charles from the day that they met. Au contraire, I still see Camilla as the other woman. But I look at Camilla from the perspective of Charles and Diana’s children. This so-called devotion was close to an affair in my mind. At the least it was an emotional affair. Hardly deserving qualities for a fascinating woman, in my opinion.Kudos to Barbara for choosing Lance Armstrong. Wow do I agree with her on that one. He said that even beyond achieving an unprecedented seventh Tour de France victory in 2005, he is most proud of being a cancer survivor. Well said, Lance. You are indeed, fascinating.So, as you wander along the I-70 corridor up and down the valley this week, I suggest you play this mind-game about whom you would choose to be among Vail’s 10 most fascinating people. It’s a good exercise in appreciating our local talent and contributors.Elizabeth H. Chicoine of Eagle writes a weekly column for the Daily. She can be reached at echicoine@centurytel.netVail, Colorado

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