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2023 Wrapped: The top stories of each month at VailDaily.com

Deion Sanders and Tracey Edmonds in Vail Jan. 21.
Instagram screengrab

Let’s take a trip through time and see what people were reading the most during each month of the year at VailDaily.com.

These stories were the most-read based on pageviews.

January

A month after being named the new coach at the University of Colorado, Deion Sanders made a trip to Vail where he snowmobiled and bought sunglasses.



In a social media post, Sanders said his recent visit to Vail with Tracey Edmonds was “unbelievable.” 

Sage Outdoor Adventures usually goes to great lengths to protect the anonymity of guests — especially high-profile clientele like Edmonds and Sanders — but the social media posts from the power couple on Sage Outdoor Adventures’ property quickly got out and started spreading around the Vail Valley.

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February 

Technically, Deion Sanders took the crown again in February, but the next most-read story was about schools on lockdown in neighboring Summit County.

On Monday, Feb. 6, the entire Summit School district went into lockdown after a caller reported they were outside the high school and armed with a bomb and AR-15 rifle, Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said. But law enforcement was quickly able to determine nobody was there.

The No. 3 story in February was more local, looking into a former Beaver Creek Resort manager detailing pay discrimination at Vail Resorts in front of a state Senate committee. 

Michelle Siemer, a former operations manager at Beaver Creek Resort, testified Tuesday before the Colorado Senate’s Business, Labor and Technology committee in Denver, saying she and other women faced gender-based pay discrimination while working for Vail Resorts.

March

Indy Pass founder Doug Fish devised a way to bring together independent ski areas in a large collective pass, but managing the idea required a dedicated back-end software system. Fish announced he had sold the company earlier this month.
Josh Laskin/Courtesy image

In early March, the Indy Pass, which offers a few days of access to a few dozen ski hills across the United States, announced changes. The biggest change was limiting sales of the pass, which previous holders had first crack at. 

April

Indy Pass drama continued into April, when after just 10 days of availability, the pass halted sales. 

May

Naomi Pena Villasano graduates from Grand Valley High School on Saturday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

A dramatic tale came to a head in late May, as told by the Post Independent in Glenwood Springs.

After being told by her school district that she couldn’t wear a Mexican-U.S. graduation sash, after pleading with school board members to reconsider, and after a U.S. District Court judge denied her motion in court, Grand Valley High School senior Naomi Peña Villasano was allowed to walk across the stage at her high school graduation ceremony.

June

A story shared from another site was the top story in June as well. 

Vail Daily readers proved interested in a Colorado Sun story outlying a court case about wading in rivers. 

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Roger Hill had no legal standing to argue the state’s rivers were public property if they were navigated for commerce in 1876.

The case produced hundreds of pages of briefings in the Colorado Supreme Court, with the Colorado Attorney General, recreational user groups, landowner advocates, environmental lawyers and state water guardians all wading in with perspectives on Colorado’s murky public access rules around rivers. 

July 

On Monday, Nov. 6, Vail Resorts filed an appeal of the Eagle County District Court’s decision that granted the town of Vail immediate possession of the 23-acre site known as Booth Heights.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily Archive

The Battle over Booth Heights got juicy in July, as a judge granted the town of Vail immediate possession of Vail Resorts’ owned site in East Vail

The order punctuated a long dispute between the town and Vail Resorts over a 23-acre parcel in East Vail. Vail Resorts owns the property and began planning to bring workforce housing to 5.4 acres of the site. However, the town — citing concerns over the critical role it plays as a winter habitat for the area’s bighorn sheep herd — voted to condemn the site last May. 

Later, it was determined how much the parcel would cost the town. In October, in a 5-2 vote, Vail Town Council approved the $17.5 million purchase of Booth Heights.

August

An elusive creature was captured on video in August, and Vail Daily readers couldn’t stop reading and watching. 

A Vail 4×4 Tours guide caught on camera a particularly muscular mountain lion swimming across the Eagle River before leaping up the hill and out of site. 

The video has nearly 100,000 views on YouTube.

September

Smoke fills the air Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023, on U.S. Highway 6 near Wolcott after a fire broke out between the highway and Interstate 70.
Colorado Department of Transportation/Courtesy photo

The Eagle River Valley narrowly avoided disaster in early September. 

When a car and a dump truck collided on U.S. Highway 6 at the west end of Red Canyon between Eagle and Wolcott, it sparked a wildfire that snarled downvalley traffic for hours and strained police and fire resources.

The Eagle River Fire ended up being about 27 acres and resulted in hours-long traffic jams in both Eagle and Gypsum, and affected first responders’ ability to get to other calls.

The blaze was put out relatively quickly, but still earned the spot as the No. 10 story of the year

October

Rory Swimm, 23, was killed Oct. 13 in Salt Lake City. The life of Swimm, a Montana resident who grew up in the Vail area, was celebrated in Edwards on Saturday.
John LaConte/Vail Daily

Following a tragic shooting in Salt Lake City, hundreds gathered in Edwards on Saturday to remember the life of Rory Swimm, 23, who grew up in Eagle County.

The large crowd, as demonstrated by a show of hands, came mostly from the Vail area and Bozeman, Montana, where Rory had moved after high school. A large number of attendees hailed from Salt Lake City, Utah, where Swimm was killed on Oct. 13.

Swimm was just days away from graduating from a welding program in Salt Lake City with plans to move back to Montana to pursue a welding career and to coach young skiers in a local program.

November

Eagle County’s elk population shows worrying signs of decline, but there are steps that can be taken to improve elk survival rates, if changes are made.
Jim Gonzales/Courtesy photo

As the year came to a close, VailDaily.com readers found themselves flocking, or herding, to a story about Eagle Valley elk. 

Many were probably surprised to read that Colorado wildlife officials say elk herd numbers may not be sustainable over the next 20 years.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is working on a 10-year herd management plan, and Eagle County contains portions of four “Data Analysis Units” in the study. Wildlife biologist Julie Mao told the county commissioners the most significant management tool is issuing hunting licenses to manage herd populations and the ratio of bulls to cows. But there’s no real way to manage cow/calf ratios in those herds. Those ratios are a long-term indicator of the health of a particular herd.

December

Years of debate, lawsuits and agreements came together at the end of 2023 as Colorado released five wolves in Grand County on December 18. 

“Whether you love wolves or whether you hate wolves, wolves are truly now a part of Colorado,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a news conference after the release. “We know there will be challenges ahead, but we will learn to coexist as we always have.” 

Days later, Colorado Parks and Wildlife released five more in Summit and Grand counties, bringing the total of wolves reintroduced to Colorado to 10.

Wolves coming to Colorado was deemed the Vail Daily’s No. 2 story of the year.


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