Will new seminar help boost Vail’s economy? | VailDaily.com

Will new seminar help boost Vail’s economy?

Special to the DailyMartina Navratilova.

VAIL, Colorado – Margaret Rogers will never again scoff when Jamie Stone has a big idea. Stone’s latest idea has morphed into something new for the Vail Symposium and may be a first step toward diversifying Vail’s economy.

Stone and her husband, John, are widely credited with being the prime movers in organizing the new Living at Your Peak event, set for its debut session in Vail starting Thursday. The three-day event will focus on both physical and mental health and wellness. People who attend will hear a keynote presentation by tennis legend Martina Navratilova, and individual sessions include cycling with Tour de France rider Freddie Rodriguez, watching Steadman Clinic surgeon Dr. Peter Millett perform surgery or running with noted runner Uta Pippig. Beyond those activities are sessions on meditation, healthy sleep and other topics. Participants also can work up a customized health profile and dine with some of the valley’s best chefs.

The athletes, doctors and academics at the seminar are all at the top of their respective fields, the kind of people you might not expect at the very first of any kind of event.

But, Stone said, the pitch to these various experts was actually easy.

“I just sent emails with ‘Want to come to Vail?’ in the subject line,” she said.

The idea for the Living at Your Peak event came when Rogers, a Vail Town Council member, and Stone were out hiking near the Stones’ Singletree home a couple of years ago.

Rogers said Stone asked what was going on in Vail at the time. Rogers then explained that the Town Council had just decided to try to help promote health and wellness programs as a way to diversify the town’s economy and create more good-paying, year-round jobs for residents.

“A couple of weeks later, Jamie said, ‘I’ve come up with a program,'” Rogers said.

Since the Stones had recently joined the Vail Symposium board, they were able to use that group as a launching pad for the event.

That program has consumed most of the Stones’ time for nearly two years now, and Stone is as enthusiastic about Living at Your Peak now as the day she started.

“It’s become our third child, in a way,” Stone said. “We’ve loved, nurtured it.”

While organizing the event – something the Stones hadn’t done before – either John or Jamie spend hours on the phone, talking to potential presenters, trying to ensure Living at Your Peak didn’t just get top people but the right people. And, Rogers said, there’s a list of several people who didn’t get invited to this year’s event but who will probably be asked to come next year.

The Vail Symposium for some time has focused on one-evening events. Living at Your Peak is a new experience for most of the people associated with the group. But board member Elaine Kelton has been associated with the Symposium since its founding in 1971 and said this three-day format will be familiar to the early participants.

“It was originally a three- or three-and-a-half-day program,” Kelton said. “We’d get 600 people up at Eagles Nest.”

The idea of those early symposiums was to look at broad issues through a local lens, Kelton said, with Vail leaders then acting on what they’d learned.

“It was part of building community,” she said.

That community-building idea could flower again with Living at Your Peak.

“It’s part of a vision of what we (in Vail) aspire to,” Kelton said.

Rogers for several years has touted Vail as a potential center for things Living at Your Peak will explore. She also believes the event could plant a seed of something bigger.

“It takes a while for events to catch on,” Rogers said. “I hope this one grows.”

And, she added, she’ll never again tell Jaime Stone, “Great – good luck with that.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.

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