Remember the Alamo … sort of |

Remember the Alamo … sort of

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
Preston Utley/Vail DailyBerry Creek Middle School geography whiz Christoph Niederhauser is going to the state geography competition.

EDWARDS ” If you don’t know which country in northern South America was used as a major port in the Dutch slave trade, Christoph Niederhauser will gladly tell you it’s Suriname.

You could call Niederhauser a geography whiz. The eighth grader at Berry Creek Middle School recently competed at the state geography competition in Denver. He didn’t make it to the final round, but it’s rare for someone from our area to make it there at all, teacher Mitch Foss said.

Niederhauser loves geography because he’s traveled his entire life. His father is from Switzerland, and he regularly visits there with his family. He’s traveled through Europe and been to the Bahamas. He spent some of last summer in Prague. He became naturally familiar with world cultures and has a first-person understanding of how countries are different.

“The food is a lot better in Switzerland ” everything isn’t high-calorie and fatty,” Niederhauser said. “In Prague, I see that people work really hard there, they have good values in their work ethic.”

Niederhauser’s devotion to his Atlas prompted the Vail Daily to conduct a Jay Leno-esque experiment on the well traveled public in Vail Village. We nabbed five people for a geography quiz.

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We started with an easy question: what is the capital city of Colorado? Just testing the water, you know.

Five out of five people answered that one correctly, although Evan Snodgrass, who says he’s from Kansas, changed his mind twice from his first answer of “Colorado Springs.”

“That’s not right, is it?” he said, slapping his forehead. “I know it’s not Vail. Denver? Yeah, Denver.”

The next question was, “Where is the Alamo?”

Three people, including Snodgrass, knew it was in Texas. Beth Young knew it was in San Antonio and was a major battlefield in the Texas Revolution. Jan Hessel, a Front Ranger in for a few days, shrugged and guessed Arizona, then said “I don’t think I like these questions.” She didn’t answer anymore.

Then came an international question: where is the Louvre?

Young has actually visited the famous museum and knew it was in Paris. Snodgrass knew where it was, and so did Jennifer Burke of Grand Junction. Kane Kennedy of Edwards didn’t immediately know what the Louvre was.

“It sounds European,” was his guess, and that technically was correct.

Those were the simple questions. Then came one like Niederhauser had to answer at the geography bee. The Hague, home to the International Court of Justice, is a city on the west coast of which country?

It’s the Netherlands, but no one knew that. Geography bees are tough.

“I did OK though, right?” Snodgrass said.

Staff writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or

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