Battle Mountain soccer game postponed due to Northfield bus sliding on Vail Pass
Northfield bus slides into snow bank coming down Vail Pass
EDWARDS — The school bus carrying the Northfield girls soccer team to its scheduled playoff game at Battle Mountain slid off Interstate 70 westbound at mile marker 189 into a snow bank on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Colorado State Patrol.
CSP trooper Gary Cutler said that the accident was reported at 4:50 p.m., and that there were no major injuries.
Wednesday’s 6:30 p.m. game was postponed.
A town of Vail bus went up the pass to get the Northfield team. According to Battle Mountain athletic director Gentry Nixon, the Eagle County Schools sent a bus and mechanic to help the visiting team.
Gentry added that the Northfield team was spending the night at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Vail.
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‘It’s a really scary thing’
Huskies coach David Cope, under his handle of @huskyteams, tweeted at 5:09 p.m. that “Tonight’s soccer playoff game, Battle Mt vs Northfield is off. Northfield Bus slid off road on Vail Pass. Everyone is safe. We wish them well and are glad they are safe. Details on reschedule to follow …”
Traveling in snowy weather, not to mention early- and late-season snowstorms, is standard operating procedure in the world of Colorado high school sports. Western Slope teams of every classification travel all over the state every season of every year.
“As a coach, you’ve spent so many hours driving across state on a yellow school bus,” said Cope, who has coached Battle Mountain boys soccer since 1993 and the girls’ team since 2004. “It’s a really scary thing. I’m just glad everyone’s OK.”
Cope said that Huskies soccer families offered to lodge the Northfield soccer players for the evening. With the Night Hawks staying at the DoubleTree, the Huskies team was heading over to the hotel with a card and treats, according to the coach.
As for the game …
With the caveat that everyone in Battle Mountain’s camp’s first concern is the well-being of the Northfield soccer team, the soccer game needs to be played at some point.
Nixon said that no decision would be made Wednesday night and that the earliest verdict would be this morning. In theory, the 4A state playoffs first-round games had to be completed by Wednesday with second-round matches on Saturday.
The first concern with playing today is whether the visiting Night Hawks and their families are comfortable with the situation after the accident. The second is that the National Weather Service says that a winter-weather advisory remains in effect through 6 p.m. today.
Battle Mountain can plow its turf, but will the Colorado High School Activities Association referees deem the field playable?
Were the game to be moved to Friday, the winner of Battle Mountain-Northfield would not play on Saturday at Silver Creek, which defeated Loveland, 7-0, Wednesday.
Nixon has been in contact CHSAA assistant commissioner Ernie Derrara during this situation with regard to assorted scenarios. Were the Huskies and Night Hawks to play Friday, CHSAA could allow an exemption for the second-round game to be played on Sunday — by rule, there are no games or practices on Sunday nor is player-coach contact allowed — or move the second-round game to Monday.
Complicating matters is that were the Huskies to win Friday’s hypothetical playoff game, Battle Mountain’s prom is Saturday night, so a Sunday game would likely not be the school’s first choice.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.