| VailDaily.com

U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Colorado’s presidential electors case. Here’s why the state thinks it will win.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear Colorado’s appeal of a federal court ruling  that allows presidential electors to ignore the will of the people and back whichever candidate they want.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold last October petitioned the court to hear the case, hoping to avoid potential legal and political chaos come November. Griswold has said the outcome affects “the very foundation of our nation.”

Weiser praised the Supreme Court’s decision, saying the case is “ripe for review” and that he’s hopeful the panel will rule in Colorado’s favor and not fundamentally alter the Electoral College, the U.S. system of electing presidents.

The situation dates back to 2016, when then-Secretary of State Wayne Williams removed a presidential elector who refused to vote for Hilary Clinton — even though Clinton won the popular vote in Colorado. In August, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Denver, ruled that the removal of the elector, Micheal Baca, was unconstitutional.

Baca, one of Colorado’s nine electoral voters, tried to cast his ballot for then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, instead of Clinton as part of an attempt by a handful electors across the country to block Republican Donald Trump from becoming president. But the 10th Circuit found that Colorado didn’t have authority to remove Baca as an elector, eliminating the state’s ability to bind electors to follow the will of Colorado voters. 

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

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Goalie Analysis: Colorado Avalanche could look into acquiring “King” Henrik Lundqvist

Jared Bednar expects goalie Philipp Grubauer to turn it around — just like he did last season. The Avalanche coach believes his No. 1 goalie to begin the season will bounce back from a mid-season funk and re-establish himself as a strength for a playoff-bound team.

But if that doesn’t happen, and the Avs aren’t convinced backup Pavel Francouz can carry the load, they might have a trade option in acquiring future Hall of Fame goalie Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers in a short-term marriage.

Lundqvist, 37, who has yet to hoist the Stanley Cup, is under contract through 2020-21, with an $8.5 million annual cap hit but just a $5.5 million salary next season. His contract would expire when Colorado begins paying big money to Gabe Landeskog and Cale Makar, whose current deals also end next season.

Currently, the Avs have the cap space and prospects/draft picks to entice “King Henrik” to waive his no-trade clause to a Cup contender in a move similar to when legendary defenseman Ray Bourque came to the Avs late in the 1999-2000 season. In search of the Cup heading into his 40th birthday, Bourque helped Colorado win it in 2001.

Lundqvist could be that guy for the Avs in 2020 or 2021, and the Rangers are undoubtedly looking at trading one of their three goalies. That’s not a typo — New York is carrying three goalies, including two young ones in Alexandar Georgiev, 23, and Igor Shesterkin, 24 — the latter of whom defeated the Avs in his NHL debut Jan. 7 in New York.

Read more via The Denver Post.

Burton US Open in Vail to feature modified superpipe

Continuing the trend of modified man-made snow structures for elite snowboarding and freeski competitions, the Burton U.S. Open at Vail Mountain next month will feature a modified superpipe and a revamped slopestyle course.

Earlier this week, Burton Snowboards announced the changes to this year’s superpipe and slopestyle courses for the annual men’s and women’s snowboard event scheduled for Feb. 24-29. For the superpipe, Burton has opted for a modified design that will split two halfpipes with roller transitions in the middle.

After dropping into the course, snowboarders will be able to get about three hits in a 13-foot mini-pipe featuring six-foot tombstones before transitioning to a standard 22-foot superpipe via a pair of roller transition jumps on skier’s right and left. Once in the 22-foot pipe portion, Burton officials said snowboarders should be able to land three to four more hits.

The course design is similar to last year’s Dew Tour modified superpipe at Breckenridge Ski Resort. U.S. Olympic gold medalist and freeski legend David Wise described that course as “pipestyle” — an homage to the modified superpipe course with transition features more commonly seen in slopestyle.

As for this year’s Burton U.S. Open slopestyle competition, the course is going heavy on flowy, choose-your-line transition jumps over one big booter jump after another. The course also will feature choose-your-line rail sections up top that mimic the kind of urban riding many snowboarders — including Silverthorne resident and Olympic big air silver medalist Kyle Mack — love to spend time on.

The slopestyle course will have two urban features up top, including one that includes a rail next to stairs and a second that includes a wall ride. After those two features, snowboarders will get to the transition portion of the course, where 13-foot and 22-foot radius transition jump features will allow for snowboarders to carve efficiently into and off of angled jumps. These are the kind of transition jumps that Red Gerard mastered to win gold at the Pyeongchang Olympics and at last year’s Burton Open.

Then the course will include a more traditional high-speed rail feature, the kind Summit County’s Chris Corning has mastered with his advanced version of a rodeo flip.

It all leads to the traditional booter jump at the bottom of the course, where riders like Corning, Gerard and Mack will send their biggest tricks as each of their run’s exclamation points, sliding to a stop in the corral where the fans will be in a frenzy.

Eagle Valley girls beat Palisade

And there was much happiness and rejoicing.

Eagle Valley girls basketball had not won a game since Dec. 13 — a 41-33 win over Conifer. Saturday, the Devils knocked off Palisade, 41-33.

“We’re changing the culture and learning how to win,” Devils coach Beth Raitt said. “Today was a great example of that.”

Sieairra Rivera led the Devils with 12 points. Kaitlyn Medina and Jasmine Fontana each had 10 points as Eagle Valley jumped out to a lead and never looked back.

The Devils (2-5) spent the week working on the press.

“We worked on pressing and the press break,” Raitt said. “ That got us tons of turnovers.”

Along those lines, senior Cody Eaton did a great job of leading the show at point guard.

In the nightcap, the visiting Bulldogs edged Eagle Valley boys basketball, 47-46.

First things first, Battle Mountain lost 68-44 to those Bulldogs earlier this month. Let’s be honest, that’s the first thing everyone in the county observes — comparing the scores between the rivals in advance of Feb. 4 in Gypsum.

“We started very well,” Devils coach Justin Brandt said. “We had a lot of energy. We had a bunch of turnovers in the third quarter and that got them back into the game.”

Foul trouble also hurt.

Bryan Martinez led Eagle Valley (3-5) with 13 points, while Carlos Sanchez had 12. Coach Brandt was also really happy with how Nando Vidurri played defense.

Both Eagle Valley teams continue Slope play with games against Glenwood on Tuesday in Gypsum.

Huskies fall at Fruita

Battle Mountain basketball lost tough one at 5A Fruita Monument, 60-42, on Saturday.

The Huskies (5-5) are home  Tuesday for Steamboat Springs.

Vail Christian hoops knock off Meeker, 70-51

EDWARDS — Vail Christian boys’ basketball considers games against Meeker to be quite the rivalry.

The Cowboys probably don’t think much about the Saints because, well, they’ve been pounding Vail Christian regularly for nearly the last 20 years.

That may be changing as Vail Christian won its third straight against the Cowboys, 70-51, on Saturday night in Edwards,

“For the last decade, they’ve been the class of our league,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “They’re well-coached and always disciplined, no matter what their talent level.”

Surprise

The Saints started slowly, the effect of a late night getting back from Rangely. However, that’s life on the Western Slope. On offense, Vail Christian wasn’t doing a good job of finding the lanes to the rim and, on the other side of the court, the defense was a bit leaky.

Give Meeker coach Klark Kindler and the Cowboys a little credit, too, for that slow start. Meeker came out in a 2-3 zone with a lean (wisely) toward the Saints’ Alec Moritz.

Kuhns, who’s coached 20-plus games against Meeker, had never seen zone from the Cowboys. Well played Coach K.

One way to score when you can’t drive to the hoop is to shoot over everyone, and Moritz did that to the tune of 29 points. That’s generally useful.

“We have to cut to the basket,” Moritz said. “We needed to start moving. Once we started moving, we got the open shots in the second half, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Meanwhile, Jamison Lee struck early and often with 19 and was sporting stylish light purple sneakers.

Defensively, the Saints call on Hayden Sticksel. He got Meeker’s Cole Rogers. As Sticksel took care of things there, Vail Christian settled down on the defensive end.

“You have to get around picks, get in his face,” Sticksel said. “You can’t give them an inch of breathing room.”

Seniors and sophs

While the Saints seniors lead, the sophomores are following.

“We kind of skipped a grade,” Moritz joked.

Sophomore Connor Downey did a nice job in the paint with eight points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Jesse Gonzales finished a 24-11 second quarter with a 3-pointer.

Meanwhile, the Saints defense tightened with senior Kaleb Williams even taking a charge during the second half. And Vail Christian was off and running.

Vail Christian, which was ranked No. 7 in the rating-percentage index, the ranking brought to you by Head of School Steve O’Neil, moved to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the 2A Slope.

Vail Christian girls basketball put forward a strong effort in a 57-40 loss to Meeker on Saturday.

Maddie Ellsworth had a big night with 15 points, while  Abby  Kuhns finished with nine and Grace McCurdy seven.

The Saints are at Basalt for a pair of nonconference games on Wednesday.

Vail demonstrators participate in Women’s March 2020

VAIL — Participants attached protest signs to ski poles and hockey sticks Saturday at the 2020 Women’s March.

The group marched from Vail Village to Lionshead chanting slogans that summarized their efforts, including “this is what democracy looks like” and “Cory Gardner’s got to go.”

Knowing demonstrations were happening across the country, Vail organizer Bobbie Ruh said she didn’t want to be a part of a town that didn’t have one. About 65 people participated.

“I promised my daughters I’d be active for them, so that’s why I’m doing it,” she said.

Veteran and Republican participants

Ruh said she is a retired attorney and registered Republican from Littleton who became politically active following the Columbine Shooting in 1999.

“We lost friends at Columbine,” she said, speaking on behalf of her daughters.

Ruh’s husband, Jim Ruh, participated as well, holding a sign that said “Veteran against Trump.”

Jim Ruh said after returning home from Vietnam, he immediately sought out higher education at the University of Michigan.

“My first day of law school, nine hours back, I met my wife,” he said.

Jim Ruh said he was demonstrating to support Bobbie, their two daughters and three granddaughters.

Bobbie Ruh speaks to a crowd gathered in Vail on Saturday for the 2020 Women’s March. The group walked from Vail Village to Lionshead displaying signs and chanting slogans.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Now living in Edwards, Bobbie Ruh said she often feels disconnected from the political process.

“I wish I could do more,” she said. “I write Cory Gardner, I write my senators … I think the Republican party has lost its voice of moderation, and it needs to get it back, and I personally think we need more people who feel like I do to join the Republican party and work at the primary level and the caucuses to get rid of these Trump (supporters).”

Women’s rights

Other demonstrators were less nuanced in their criticisms. Participants made references to the president’s involvement in crime, including hush money payments made to X-rated film star Stormy Daniels, as well as the numerous allegations of sexual assault that have been made against President Donald Trump.

Marching in her ski boots, Avon resident Kaile Wilson held a sign that said “sex offenders cannot live in government housing,” with a drawing of the White House and an asterisk citing the code of federal regulations statute she was referencing.

Activists take to Bridge Street in Vail Village on Saturday during the 2020 Women’s March.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Dr. Patricia Qualls, who was visiting Vail from California, said she was most concerned about right-wing efforts to roll back abortion rights. She said while much of her political worldview had been shaped by her experiences working with children in Romania in the early 1990s, she only recently became politically active again in the U.S. and wanted to participate in the Vail march while she was in town.

“Guys telling young women what they can and cannot do … it takes me back to those orphanages (in Romania),” she said. “I got complacent again, and took democracy for granted.”

Members of the group said they also plan on gathering on June 5 in the Wear Orange demonstrations, which seek to raise awareness about gun violence in the U.S.

VIDEO: Snowboarding Overlook Trail at Beaver Creek, a popular summer hike

Vail, greater Eagle County traffic alerts on busy Saturday following snowstorm

(12:08 p.m.) I-70 has reopened in East Vail. Please drive safely.


(11:30 a.m.): The right lane of I-70 at mile marker 179 near East Vail is blocked in the westbound direction. Expect delays and use caution in the area.

Valley Life for All: Overcoming the challenge of play for every child

As you become more aware of the unique challenges faced by many, a challenge that has probably not crossed your mind is the challenge of play.  Visit a playground and you will easily be aware of the lack of accessibility to all. Just for starters, a child or an adult in a wheelchair or with a walker cannot manage the gravel or shaving surface let alone use the equipment.

Play is a critical component of a healthy community. the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics states, “Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children.” The Journal further reminds us, “Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.”

We build places of play in our communities. We call these public parks and boast that they are free for all. But free does not mean accessible. Now we know better. Now we have the design understanding and equipment to open play to a segment of our community who has been watching from the sidelines. Universal design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.

And yet, the closest fully universal design park is as far away as Denver. It is time to build inclusive play into the fiber of our communities. Inclusive play is not about meeting “special needs” — it is about everyone being able to play, learn and interact together. 

My grandchildren live in a city with such a park, and it is their favorite place to play. Good universal design incorporates a variety of elements that engage a full range of senses and abilities and even elements that offer a break from over-sensory stimulation, which can be a welcome need associated with autism. And, yet, my grandkids love those quiet nooks as well. I think we forget how very much we are alike.

We have challenges as communities. It is the adaptations we make in our thinking, our attitudes and ultimately our actions that break down the barriers and create the new space of opportunity.

A friend said he often thinks about how five hundred or a thousand years from now when people look back at the space we occupied, he hopes they will see evidence that we were people who really cared about each other. He thinks — and I agree — that a playground designed for everyone will be such evidence.

Debbie Wilde is the executive director of local nonprofit Valley Life for All which works to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. Valley Life for All wants to hear your voice. Request a training or join the conversation at www.valleylifeforall.org or #voicability4all. Help redefine the perception of challenge.

Mikaela Shiffrin takes third in World Cup giant slalom in Sestriere; Brignone and Vlhova share win

Talk about a photo finish.

Italy’s Federica Brignone and Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova tied — down to the hundredth of a second — during Saturday’s World Cup giant slalom in Sestriere, Italy, with Mikaela Shiffrin 1-hundredth of a second behind in third place.

One would say Brignone and Vlhova beat Shiffrin by a nose, but even the average, non-Pinocchio-like nose might be too much of a difference.

It’s the 16th time that the women’s World Cup has had a tie for first and it’s not an unfamiliar position for Shiffrin. She and Vlhova were deadlocked on the top step during last year’s Maribor, Slovenia, giant slalom on Feb. 1. The previous occasion before that was Soelden on Oct. 24, 2015, also a GS, and it was Shiffrin and Anna (nee Fenninger) Veith.

“I think the level of GS is really high and today it was super cool to see so many girls going just really aggressive, just really good skiing,” Shiffrin said via FIS Soundcloud. “The surface, like Petra said, it was amazing preparation and it was really good for GS, so everyone was really going for it. It was motivating to see, but it was also not an easy race. In the end, it was 1-hundredth and third, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”

As for the third-place finisher being 1-hundredth of a second behind double winners, well, the most obvious example of such zaniness was the 1999 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships men’s super-G at Beaver Creek. Norway’s Lasse Kjus and Austria’s Hermann Maier tied with Austria’s Hans Knauss 0.01 seconds back.

A different year

While Shiffrin acknowledged that in the past she’s been on the right side of a 1-hundredths margin, Saturday may have been symbolic of the way the 2019-20 season has been going for her — still spectacular, but not as insanely successful as 2018-19.

Shiffrin still has a sizeable lead in the overall race, 946-713, over Vlhova. In 15 starts, Shiffrin’s won four times, been on the podium 11 times and in the top 10 in 13 of those outings. That is phenomenal by any measure, except when comparing it to last season, which is unrealistic.

“I said this almost every single race last year that it’s not easy,” Shiffrin said on Soundcloud. “It’s not easy to win and you can ask (Federica) and Petra from today. It wasn’t like they skied down and had a Sunday drive and then won the race. They were both skiing hard, really well.”

Brignone appears to be the skier to beat in the giant slalom this year. The Italian leads with 375 points, ahead of Shiffrin (314) and Italy’s Marta Bassino. What’s more, in five giant slaloms this season, five different racers have won GS races this year on the World Cup — New Zealand’s Alice Robinson, Bassino, Brignone, Shiffrin and Vlhova.

Last season, Shiffrin went 4-for-8 in GS races and earned 615 of 800 points possible in the discipline.

“Everybody’s motivated. Everybody wants to win,” Shiffrin said. “The most exciting thing for me is that people have stopped asking me, ‘Are you unbeatable?’ I feel like we’re all racing and it’s just normal now.”

The World Cup continues today with a parallel slalom in Sestriere.