The sporting life of 2005
Sarah Schleper, Lindsey Kildow, Toby Dawson, Daron Rahlves and Bode Miller, Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves.And that was 2005 just on the snow. There was no shortage of memorable moments. Yes, the local girls made good with Schleper winning her first World Cup race at the World Cup Finals in March, while Kildow continued her ascendance. In freestyle, Dawson thrilled us by winning at World after breaking his foot a few months before. The Bode Miller-Daron Rahlves Show continued at Birds of Prey in unbelievable fashion.Yet there were equally great moments from the high schoolers. Battle Mountain had an epic fall season, winning state in girls cross country and regional or league titles in boys cross country, volleyball and boys soccer. Here’s to Eagle Valley and knocking off the big kid on the block, Palisade, to win its first 3A Slope football crown.Speaking of Eagle Valley, Brad Gamble was a one-man wrecking crew in track and field last spring. It was one heck of a 2005.For more, read on:n March 12 – “I’m a winner.” – Sarah Schleper finally does it. After 10 years on the U.S. Ski Team, Schleper picked up her first World Cup win. And what better place to do it than in the World Cup Finals slalom In Lenzerheide, Switzerland?
“I’ve always wanted to win a World Cup and now I’m a winner,” Schleper said. “It’s probably one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever had. Between runs, I just tried to stay cool. I didn’t want to stress. Janica (Kostelic) said to me before the run, at the start, ‘Is this your first time leading after the first run? Your first time in the hot seat?’ I don’t know if she was trying to psyche me. I had so many butterflies.”But it was a good course for me, a tight second run, and good snow … and everything worked out.”n Dec. 2-3 – Flip-flop – In the 2004 Birds of Prey downhill, Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves became the first two Americans to go 1-2 in alpine skiing’s premiere discipline. In 2005, they put on an amazing encore. In November, Rahlves called his shot saying that he would reverse the podium in this year’s DH. Daron was true to his word.To top that, Miller came back the next day in giant slalom with two hair-raising runs to win. Rahlves made it another storybook finish for the Americans on home snow, taking silver. Toss in Ted Ligety’s bronze in slalom on the final day of Birds of Prey 2005, and the Americans out-medaled the mighty Austrians, 5-2. For those of us who covered the 1999 World Alpine Skiing Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek – where the Americans tanked – we still think The Four Horsemen are riding.n Nov. 4 – Ain’t it great to be a Devil? – In football at Eagle Valley, it usually is, especially in 2005. And arguably the highest point in a season of many highlights came when big, bad Palisade came to town on the final Friday of the regular season. The visiting Bulldogs have made the 3A Slope their fiefdom, until that fateful night when Eagle Valley delivered a haymaker on Palisade.In front of a packed house at Hot Stuff – we think that parking was available in Dotsero – the Devils crushed Palisade, 40-24, to win their first league title at the 3A level. Coming into the game, Palisade had allowed all of 48 points in its previous nine games.Head coach John Ramunno and company went on to smack around Cherokee Trail in Round 1 of the state playoffs before falling to Steamboat Springs in the quarterfinals. At 10-1 in 3A, this has to go down as one of the finest Eagle Valley football teams in the school’s history.n March 20 – Turning bronze into gold – Toby Dawson has been making his mark on the World Cup freestyle circuit the last five years with five moguls wins since 2001. But this year’s World Championships in Ruka, Finland, has got to be his best moment to date.
In the 2003 Worlds, the Vail native picked up bronze in both moguls and dual moguls. In 2005, he didn’t even have a spot in the dual moguls at Worlds until teammate Nate Roberts decided to sit out the race.Dawson made the most of his opportunity. He struck gold with a heli-X and a cork-7.”Only one medal this time, but I turned those bronzes into gold,” Dawson joked afterward. n Oct. 29 – Top dogs – At Battle Mountain, the ladies are the champs. Battle Mountain girls cross country brought home the school’s first state title since boys skiing did so in 2001. The championship is also the school’s first non-skiing title since the 1992 boys track team.Your 2005 state champs are Jen Bowles, Erika Ghent, Molly McGee, Christa Ghent, Leslie Peterson, Marit Johnson and Whitney Allard. The team was coached by Rob Parish, who probably still hasn’t gotten off cloud nine, as well as Kelli Witter and Ashley Weaver.”It’s just like the best feeling ever. It’s almost like a dream,” Erika Ghent said. “For us, it hasn’t sunken in yet.”You can wake up, Erika.n Aug. 15-Nov. 12 – Legends of the fall – What in the world got into Battle Mountain this fall? With the exception of soccer, Huskies athletics had been the laughing stock of the 4A Western Slope. Not any more. Boys soccer made it back-to-back titles and advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time. Volleyball won the 4A Slope and made the final four of the state tournament. The last time the spikers won league was in 1998, and they’ve never come close to the semifinals. Yes, girls cross country won state, but don’t forget the boys and girls teams also won regional titles.
n Dec. 3 and 17 – Wins No. 2 and 3 – Lindsey Kildow continued to emerge as the so-called “next Picabo Street.” That may be too high of a bar for the Vail World Cupper, but Kildow logged her second career win with a downhill triumph at Lake Louise, Alberta, Dec. 3. We “watched” that race via the Internet at the media headquarters at Red Tail Camp between runs of Miller’s and Rahlves’ GS. The American press cheered the win, while the Euro media groaned. Good to see there’s no bias in the media.Win No. 3 came just two weeks later when Kildow and Caroline Lalive went 1-2 at a DH in Val D’Isere, France.Kildow had a disappointing performance at Worlds by her standards – fourth in downhill, fourth in the combined and ninth in super-G, but expect her to go big at the Winter Games at Torino, Italy, in February.n June 23-29 – From sea to shining sea – You could take an airplane from San Diego to Atlantic City, N.J., but that’s too easy. Biking it – relay-style’s a whole lot more fun. Eagle County had two winning teams in the Race Across America (RAAM). Mike Janelle, Toph Leonard, Jimi Mortenson and Brian Smith cruised through the country in 5 days, 18 hours and 15 minutes to win the men’s four-man relay division.Locals Linda Guerrette, Michelle Keane, Wendy Lyall and Kerry White were the only women entered in the women’s competition, but no matter. They finished in 7 days and 42 minutes. Most importantly, the ladies raised money for those suffering from pediatric AIDS.n May 20-21 – The Gamble prophecy – When Chris Gamble finished rewriting the Eagle Valley track and field record book in 2001, he told me that his twin brothers, then in eighth grade, would surpass him. I laughed.I shouldn’t have. One of those twins was Brad Gamble. The kid wrapped up a downright ridiculous career at this year’s 4A state meet with a state title in the 300-meter hurdles, this after four golds and a team state championship at the 3A meet the year before. In all, the younger Gamble racked up a staggering 14 state medals in four years.The 2A state track meet saw Vail Christian shine. Leslie Peterson, Molly Brooks, Molly McGee and Rachel Glandorf set a school record in the 1,600 relay. For Glandorf, now at NCAA track power Baylor, it was the fifth state medal of her career. Glandorf graduated from Vail Christian with five track medals, four all-league basketball awards, three all-league volleyball awards, two all-state honorable mentions (volleyball and basketball) and a partridge in a pear tree.
Glandorf also gave me one of the most memorable quotes of my journalism career. It’s always bugged me when athletes praise God after winning a Super Bowl, but when Scott Norwood’s kick sailed wide right to lose the big game, you didn’t hear a peep.After the state meet where she didn’t win a coveted gold, Glandorf said to me, “If you win, you praise the Lord. If you lose, you praise the Lord.”Very classy, Rachel.n Feb. 26 – Not again – It is simply inconceivable to explain what has happened to Huskies hockey in the Frozen Four down in Colorado Springs. In 2002, Battle Mountain lost the state title in double overtime. In 2003 and 2004, Kent Denver sent the Huskies packing in the semis in excruciating fashion.This year’s state final took the Huskies into a new dimension of agony. Battle Mountain rolled into the state final with a 22-0 mark. Scoreless after two periods, Barrett Chow took a penalty which led to Air Academy’s game-winning goal in a 2-0 victory.Chow was despondent after the game, thinking that he single-handedly had denied his brother, Austin, the state crown. Defiant even after the game after hearing the Kadets celebrate in a nearby locker room, Barrett screamed a few choice words at Air Academy in anguish before breaking down again.As I wrote in a column the next day, Barrett, it wasn’t your fault. Don’t ever carry that scar with you. You win as a team and lose as a team, and the Huskies did a lot more of the former in the 2004-05 season.Austin Chow, Brad Myers and Casey Kleisinger, in that order, were the top-three scorers in the state. And for those of you in the Battle Mountain community who continue to blame Austin for losing the state-title game, we have a technical newspaper term for you – morons.
n Feb. 26 – A Skimeister at last – Battle Mountain’s James Stevenson (Class of 2001) chased the Skimeister, awarded to the best all-around high school skier in the state, for four years, but never got it. His younger brother, Grant (Class of 2005), chased it for another three years.In 2005, the Stevensons finally got their Skimester. With James home from college to watch and parents, Mark and Lee, also in attendance, Grant finally got the holy grail at this year’s state meet in Summit County.So where does the Skimeister go in the Stevenson household?”Probably right up in Grant’s room where James can see it every time he comes in,” Mark joked.n After a great 2005, we’re ready for another year of memories in 2006. We in the Vail Daily sports department can’t wait to tell you all about it.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14630 or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado