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Sports Briefs

Staff Reports

Rumors have been flying about Vail local and Olympian Chad Fleischer, but the World Cup downhill racer says he wants to dispel all doubts about the status of his career.”I never had any plans for not racing another season,” Fleischer says. “From the second that I was laying on the snow, with my ski boot up next to my ear, my plan has been to go through to the 2006 Olympics in Turin (Italy).”Fleischer finished 10th and 16th in World Cup downhills in Bormio, Italy, before rupturing multiple ligaments in his right knee during a World Cup training run in Wengen, Switzerland, Jan. 10 of this year. Four knee surgeries later, many suspected the 30-yrear-olds career was over. But the 20-year Vail local says he’s training hard to overcome his injury and get on snow with the U.S. Ski Team when they come to Beaver Creek for training in early November.”I never skied as well as I did just before this injury,” says the two-time U.S. downhill champion. “If it had happened two weeks earlier, maybe I would be retired right now, but as an athlete you wait your entire life to have that feeling, and I worked to feel that way for a week. There’s no way I’m giving that up now.”Fleischer, who is a patient of local orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Steadman, admits that his knee is, “the worst knee injury that Dr. Steadman has ever worked on.” And that list of knees includes Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis.”I don’t want to get myself into a Terrell Davis sort of situation,” Fleischer says. “At what point does it make sense, and at what point is it absolutely stupid? I want to be in that gate, ready to go and ready to win the race again.”Patience and perseverance, he says, will be his allies during the recovery process. Fleischer does two hours of knee-specific rehabilitation every day, along with a regimental diet and workout in order to be ready to race this season. But he won’t be back to top form, he says, until the 2003-04 season.Ortiz top American at world trail running championshipsAnita Ortiz is a wife and mother of four, a kindergarten teacher at Eagle Valley Elementary, and now, officially, one of the top trail runners in the world. The 38-year-old Eagle local finished 11th at the World Mountain Running Trophy in Innsbruck, Austria Sept. 13-14, making her the top American finisher in the event’s history. She finished the all-uphill, 9.2-kilometer race with a time of 56 minutes, 57.4 seconds, 4:40.8 behind Russian winner Svetlana Dimidenko.Ortiz’s quest to become a top international racer kicked off a year ago. She won all three national qualifiers (in Alaska, Vail and New Hampshire) to become the top-ranked U.S. woman and one of four selected to compete in Innsbruck. She also set a record for her age group at the Pikes Peak Ascent half marathon. Even with her national success, Ortiz was surprised at the quality of the international field.”I remember thinking, ‘My god, look at all the muscles. I can’t believe there are this many women in this good of shape,'” she said. “It was very intimidating. I really felt like I didn’t fit in.”True to form, Ortiz had a slow start and excelled on the steep, technical climbs. But passing runners at the Trophy Cup, she found, was a matter of tenacity.”It was a pushing and shoving match,” she said. “I was being pushed, flat-out shoved, and people were throwing elbows. It was cutthroat. It was so different than here, where everybody is so nice.”Ortiz says snowshoe racing has been the secret to her recent success at the national level. Friend and Vail native Cait Hilmer lent Ortiz snowshoes and watched her four children (Amelia, Amanda, David and Acacia) so Ortiz could race on snow last winter.Ortiz is one of a handful of runners at the international level that still lacks sponsorship. Although self-promotion is difficult for Ortiz, the Beaver Creek Resort Company helped to pay some of her race expenses.Skate Park dismantled Oct. 7Vail’s only skate park was dismantled and moved to storage to make room for parking and to keep the wooden ramp structures out of any potential snow. The only remaining skate park in the valley is the permanent cement park in Gypsum. The Vail Recreation District is still offering a skateboard clinic through Oct. 21 on the three-foot mini pipe located at 20 Below in the Vail Youth Center. The clinics take place on Mondays from 4 to 5:30 p.m.; cost is $75 or $55 for VRD taxpayers. For more information, call (970) 479-2292.

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