Monday’s Bindu Memorial 5K will also honor Nick Courtens
Annual run is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Maloit Park in Minturn
An annual event organized by Nick Courtens will take place on Monday, and will double as a party in his honor.
The annual Bindu Memorial 5K run is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Maloit Park in Minturn and will gather the community to engage in something that was very important to Courtens’ life — outdoor recreation. Courtens was a coach for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, which described him as a significant contributor to the freeski and snowboard community.
Courtens died May 21 in a whitewater rafting accident, but many of his friends knew him from time spent skiing together in Vail. That’s how Courtens got to know Bindu Pomeroy, the Bindu Memorial 5K namesake who died in a snow immersion accident in the East Vail backcountry in 2018. Pomeroy was often called the Mayor of East Vail, and if that metaphor were to be extended, Courtens would be a member of the council.
“I don’t know anyone who would speak anything other than good things about (Courtens), especially when it came to coaching,” said Bryan Finocchiaro, who often skied with Courtens.
Finocchiaro lived with Pomeroy, which is how he got to know Courtens. Pomeroy was a teacher at Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, and Courtens and him were connected through their mutual relationships with SSCV and Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy.
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When Pomeroy died, Courtens made a priority of carrying on his legacy, setting up a GoFundMe site that provided the seed money to start the Bindu Spirit award, a scholarship for Eagle County high school students pursuing academic and athletic excellence. The effort raised enough to give away three scholarships in its first year, and continued to grow in the years that followed, bringing those who knew Pomeroy together every year for events like the scholarship giveaway and the Bindu Memorial 5K.
Vail photographer Scott Bellow said their friend group was based on skiing, but when Pomeroy died the group became even more close-knit.
While most of their skiing revolved around the backcountry, Bellow said one of his most memorable days skiing with Courtens occurred on the lift-served terrain of Vail Mountain on Feb. 7, 2020, when Vail Mountain recorded 17 inches of new snow overnight.
“We got early ups on Vail, we were first to drop in on North Rim and all of that stuff,” Bellow said.
Bellow took several memorable images of Courtens on that day, which Finocchiaro said Courtens enjoyed sharing with him.
“That photo, every time it came up, he’d always shove it in my face and say ‘I didn’t have to hike to get this, I just took the chairlift,'” Finocchiaro said with a laugh.
Vail skier Ryan Kipp was one of the people who grew closer to Courtens following Pomeroy’s death.
“We both had such huge holes in hearts in the shape of Bindu, we just really committed to remembering Bindu by doing the things he’d love to do,” Kipp said. “So we’d ski a lot together, really focusing on kids. I’d go ski with Nick during his Saturday ski coaching, I’d join the group, and we’d try to really commit to honoring the energy of people like Bindu, who had a passion for the mountains and really cared about the future of kids.”
Kipp became a co-organizer of the Bindu Memorial 5K along with Courtens, and said the Monday event will contain a special celebration in honor of Courtens, giving all who knew him even more reason to get together as Courtens was hoping for a good turnout at the event and enjoyed getting everyone together.
“We all agreed that’s what Nick would have wanted,” Kipp said.
The first Bindu Memorial 5K started as a result of a senior project from Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy graduate Caroline Jones, who had Pomeroy as a teacher.
“He taught me to find inner peace with myself as well as something called ‘Live Aloha’,” Jones said. “‘Live Aloha’ isn’t just a greeting in Hawaii, it means that by having kind, patient, sympathetic, loving actions we can individually and collectively improve our community.”
Sam Bennett, who taught at Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy along with Pomeroy, said Courtens was instrumental in helping to carry on the 5K after Jones got the first one going.
“It’s always been a chance to get together, honor Bindu and do something positive in the community,” Bennett said. “And so this year, we see it as that and something more, because obviously, Nick has been integral to the success of it. I’ve worked with Nick, Ryan Kipp, Jon Adgate, Bryan Fino, all of his bros, to make this event possible, and now Nick’s gone, so we’ll use the event this year to honor both Bindu and Nick.”