Common interests bring adventurous hearts together in the Vail Valley | VailDaily.com

Common interests bring adventurous hearts together in the Vail Valley

Jennifer Geisman
Special to the Weekly

Love — that heady, heart-swooning feeling at the core of a country song, the sweet nothings whispered on the chairlift. Who doesn't love falling in love? Many people move to Vail from all around the world and fall in love with the summer, the winter and their soul mates. When you live in a place you love, you discover like-minded individuals, which makes Vail the perfect backdrop for finding your one and only.

Falling in love

When you fall in love, your heart races, butterflies flutter in your stomach and your palms sweat whenever you're near "the one." According to Psychology Today, when you're in love, you often expand your interests to have more in common with your partner, trying new activities such as skiing, snowboarding or fishing. This rings true for couples in Vail. Most live here for the outdoor lifestyle and aren't afraid to try new things to meet their partners halfway.

Vail resident Laura Lieff learned to snowboard at 20 years old, which became one of the activities that she and her boyfriend, Brian "Wookie" Fleming, a former professional snowboarder, began to do together.

"He is constantly taking me on new adventures and encouraging me to explore outside of my comfort zone," Lieff said.

Sometimes falling in love will take you by surprise. Carolyn Stratton had a "meh" attitude about husband, Andy, when they first met in 1998 at The Red Lion.

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"I didn't pay much attention to Andy, as I just wasn't interested and my roommate had the hots for him," Stratton said. "We did chat at work, and I noticed he supplied me with many cocktails while I was working in an attempt to get me to go out with him. One day, I finally agreed to hang out, and honestly, we have been together every day ever since."

For others, love can hit you at that first encounter. For Julia Kozusko, it was her husband Matt's voice on her roommate's answering machine that first sparked her interest.

"I remember the first time I heard Matt's voice. He had left a message on our answering machine. I recall hearing Matt speak and thinking I liked his energy," Julia said.

Julia's first date with Matt was at the Breckenridge Alpine Slide in 1992, and her interest in his voice grew from there.

"I remember him getting in the back seat of the car and I turned around and thought he was cute. I still remember what he wore that day," Julia said.

Vail love stories

There is nothing more exhilarating than falling in love at 8,150 feet, and many couples find their love unique to Vail.

Avon resident Karissa McNiven met her boyfriend, Marine 2nd Lt. Andrew Kinard, at a Vail Veterans ski program last March. In 2006, Kinard, just six weeks into his first tour of duty in western Iraq, stepped on an explosive device during a routine patrol and lost his legs. But that hasn't stopped him from experiencing Vail's alpine community with McNiven.

"I always loved skiing before meeting Andrew, and his first time skiing after his injury was how we met," McNiven said. "I have witnessed Andrew really grow as a mono skier since we met. I feel pretty lucky to have this passion to share together."

For Nancy Cole and her husband, J.C., Vail is distinctive because it draws people together who love the outdoors.

"Most of our romantic moments have been outside here in the valley," said Cole, who has been married for more than 16 years. "Every year, we take the Centennial Lift up on our anniversary and spend the afternoon where we were married. We now bring our kids each year, and they love hearing how we met, where our ceremony was and how fun our reception was. We still watch our wedding video every year on our anniversary."

Newly engaged couple Euginnia Manseau and Brodie Seyferth, who met in Vail in 2010, said being in the mountains makes the moments you spend together more memorable.

"While you are falling in love with the outdoors, you are falling in love with each other," Manseau said. "There is so much to do together when getting to know one another in the Vail Valley."

For Lieff, living in the Vail Valley has had a big impact on her relationship with Wookie because for many years, the two lived in separate cities.

"We were constantly commuting and driving to see each other, which was really tough," Lieff said. "In September 2013, I moved up to Vail permanently, and we have lived together with our pup, Sedona, ever since. Additionally, living here has allowed us to cultivate an extensive network of family, friends and colleagues, and we are lucky to have each of those people in our lives. When we aren't working, we enjoy all the activities that make this town so alluring to people who vacation here."

The Strattons were married in August 2003 on the Vail wedding deck, and they remember it as a typical summer day on the mountain.

"There was a gigantic lightening storm during the ceremony, and consequently, they shut down the lift," Carolyn Stratton said. "We ended up having an impromptu reception at Eagle's Nest while we waited for the lift to reopen. Both our families to this day say it was the most fun wedding they have ever been to."

Vail first dates

As the saying goes, "when in Vail …" Skip the ho-hum dinner and a movie notion and embrace the Vail Valley to create your perfect first date. Whether it is a day on the slopes followed by apres romance or fly-fishing on the Eagle River, your first date can set the tone for your love story. Couples here often experience their first date doing something quintessentially Vail.

"Our first official hangout was on the top of the mountain," Carolyn Stratton said. "We both worked race crew back in those days to acquire a ski pass. I worked Mondays and (Andy) worked Thursdays. He switched his shift and at lunch he literally dragged me across the hill. We had some beer and cheese soup at Eagle's Nest and a lot of laughs."

Manseau and Seyferth's first date was on the hill, and Manseau recalled that it was imperative that she knew what kind of skier Seyferth was before she made any decisions about him.

"I only thought I would ski with (Brodie) for a few runs because I had already made plans that day," Manseau said. "But as the date progressed, I kept canceling my plans so we could end the day doing the Minturn Mile."

Cole and her husband crossed paths a few times in the 1990s and noticed each other at a friend's wedding. It wasn't until 1997 when they officially laid eyes on each other.

"We first met at Vendetta's," Nancy Cole said. "Yes, you can meet your future wife or husband in a bar."

Tell Us Your Love Story

The Vail Daily, TV8 and Signature Colorado are teaming up for the sixth-annual Tell Us Your Love Story contest. This year, the contest has a theme — “Powder Couple” — which should resonate with Eagle County residents, many of whom struck it rich in love right here in the mountains.

We’re looking for stories about couples who met on the slopes, fell in love on the slopes, got married on the slopes or for whom snowy places were intrinsic to their courtship in some way. Interpret the theme as you wish, but keep it to fewer than 500 words and include your phone number and a high-resolution photo of you and your love.

The top three stories will score prizes, including a 50-minute couple’s massage at Allegria Spa, a bouquet of flowers from Cedar’s Flower Shop, restaurant gift certificates or a signed copy of No. 1/100 of “Powder Couple,” the latest collectible print from Signature Colorado.

The best stories also will be printed in the Vail Daily, and the winners will be invited to share their story on TV8. Email submissions to kdriscoll@vaildaily.com and tswenson@vailresorts.com. Submissions are due by 5 p.m. Feb. 10.

Advice for lovebirds

• Share the burdens: When Matt Kozusko’s boss found out he proposed to Julia, he told him that he should agree “to always do the hard stuff” for his future bride. “That sounded very chivalrous, and I happily agreed,” Kozusko said. “At the time, I expected the ‘hard stuff’ to include help with pickle jars and carrying luggage, but over the course of 20 years, the score has certainly changed.”

• Surprise your love: Whether you’re dating, engaged or married for 50 years, small gestures of love go a long way. “I had just got back to the office and flowers were delivered from Brodie,” Euginnia Manseau said. “I tried on my wedding dress for the first time the night before, and his message in the flowers said, ‘Can’t wait to see my beautiful girl in her beautiful dress.”

• Don’t lose sight: Most people move to Vail by choice — not for a job, not to meet someone — but because they want to live in Vail. “Don’t forget why you landed in Vail, and don’t lose yourself,” said Brian “Wookie” Fleming. “Remember why you live here and why that works for your relationship.”

• Schedule dates: Life can get in the way of your hot and heavy romance. Keep the passion alive and start dating again. At least once a week, spend time alone together to catch up and remember why you fell in love in the first place.