Big kids play musical chairs for charity | VailDaily.com
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Big kids play musical chairs for charity

Matt Zalaznick

That’s why we play musical chairs.

And Saturday at Beaver Creek, we –we, being dozens of Vail Valley adults and their children, along with a few visitors –played musical chairs. And we didn’t just play for the thrill of proving what speedy sitters we are, but for a good cause—the Vail Valley Charitable Fund.

“We trained extremely hard for the last 24 hours. We had chairs set up in our living room,” said Vail resident Jennifer Mason, who was out in the third round. “I thought being small would help, but I got pushed out of a chair.”

After all that training?

“It was a huge disappointment,” Mason said.

The Vail Valley Charitable Fund helps people who live and work in the valley facing expensive medical crises. Fifty percent of Saturday’s proceeds go to Gypsum resident Ronda Lee, a Gypsum Creek Middle School teacher and a single mother who is battling a rare form of cancer.

The children’s event was low key but competitive.

“I sat down in the chair, but he had more of the chair, so I was out,” said 7-year-old Ben Hymes of a close shave with his friend Wil Nolan, 6. Nolan, however, went out in the next round.

Both boys said they had fun, but said skiing was more fun than musical chairs.

“Snowboarding’s more fun than skiing,” added 6-year-old Brett Murbach.

Brothers Ethan and Sage Smith, both 12, of Eagle finished at opposite ends of the competition.

“I came in first and he came in last,” Ethan said.

“But I’m a better snowboarder,” Sage said. “The musical chairs was just back luck. Plus, I didn’t really like the music.”

The music playing during most of the children’s match was a giddy song about alligators. Ethan Smith’s philosophy on musical chairs was simple.

Stay focused, don’t lose confidence. …

“It just depends where you are when the music stops,” he said.

But the competition in the adult match was ferocious. There were no elbows or cross checks, but there were a few tumbles and a lot of guys ended up in a lot of girls’ laps.

Which meant they were disqualified.

“I was doing well and I was making my way around no problem, but then I sat in this girl’s lap and it was all over,” said Andy Chasin, a former local who now lives on the Front Range.

Organizers set up a winding chair course that Chasin, and many others, said was one of the most difficult musical chair courses they’d ever seen.

“It was tricky, the straightaways were OK but the hairpin turns at the end were tough,” Chasin said.

A popular technique for not getting caught without a chair was the stutter step made famous by 1930 American Musical Chairs Olympic gold medalist Buzz Stutterstep.

“This was a tough course,” said Avon’s Evan Miller. “The sunlight coming out of the west and the beer –that combination made it pretty tough.”

(Note: Adults received two free beers with their $20 entry free.)

Many adults were nervous before the competition, having not played musical chairs for years.

“I played with my daughter at a birthday party a few years ago,” said Jennifer Wagner, an adult competitor from Gypsum. “I think the size of your bottom is a big factor.”

Wagner said she doesn’t follow professional musical chairs.

“I don’t really see it much on TV,” Wagner said.

Some adults said skills in other sports would translate to the fast pace of musical chairs.

“I play tennis and that’s a lot of lateral movements,” said Mary Ellison, of Edwards, who competed with her daughters, Hannah and MacKenzie.

Mike Esposito, another adult competitor, was the picture of composure and determination before the game.

“I haven’t won anything in quite some time, so I think I’m due,” Esposito said.

(Note: Esposito was not due. He did not win.)

And those who were out of the contest early shouldn’t have been disheartened. There were some pros out there. Adult winner, Bryan Justice –a University of Colorado student from San Diego –said he’s been competing professionally for several years.

“I’ve been working the pro tour for six or seven years now,” a thrilled Justice said. “Next week I’m going to Vegas for the world championships.”

Justice, who said he just came up for the closing weekend of ski season, took home $1,000.

“It’s all about foot position,” Justice said.

The Vail Daily’s two entries in adult musical chairs finished approximately 29th and 134th, out of about 65 competitors.


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