The top-5 local sports stories of 2022 |

The top-5 local sports stories of 2022

A lot happened — even outside the prep and World Cup realms

Spencer's pedal boat — a converted ocean row boat — has a unique, sleek design to help him 'bike' across the oceans on his circumnavigation of the globe.
Paul Spencer/Courtesy photo

As the lone sports reporter, I often feel torn between the prep world and the World Cup world. I’m sure fans of either think I favor the other — I’m doing my best!

Somewhere in the middle is everything else. XTERRA, GoPro Games, people who swim across large bodies of water, people who run across large swaths of land — and someone who is going to bike across both — these are the stories which, in my opinion, add the most unique fabric to our valley’s athletic tapestry.

I know I’m not doing justice to all of you every day master blaster’s and avante-garde underwater basket-weavers. All I can say is: we see you. (And if we don’t, drop us a hint and maybe we’ll punch up a story next year.)

No. 5: The Vail Yeti are the Vail Yeti

As a sports guy, I’m not a super fan of ruffling feathers via hardcore, investigative journalism. Who do I look like? Kelli Duncan? While we miss Kelli dearly, I don’t miss the drama that surrounded the Vail Yeti and the upstart Vail Snowcats, but it was certainly a big local sports story. What I am happy about is that it looks like everyone is happy now: new owner Kyle Forte aims to make the Yeti a “community-based hockey team that’s using our platform to uplift and promote local businesses and local nonprofits.” It’s one of the most affordable family-friendly, late-night entertainment opportunities in the area.

The Vail Yeti will play 19 home games in the 2022-23 season. Tickets are $10 online and $15 at the door. Kids under 12 get in free.
Vail Yeti/Courtesy photo

No. 4: Middaugh passes the baton to… Middaugh

When 18-year-old Battle Mountain graduate Sullivan Middaugh won his first XTERRA USA championship, beating his 15-time champion father, the moment was so storybook, it even warranted a follow-up column. What a beautiful, sunny day at Beaver Creek.

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Sullivan Middaugh crosses the finish in first place for the Xterra USA Championship Saturday in Beaver Creek. Middaugh edged out his dad, Josiah, who took second.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

No. 3: Gravel events make their debut, sort of

Bighorn Gravel gave hundreds of riders an all-encompassing Eagle County experience over the course of over 20, 50 and 85-miles of pristine riding in the area’s latest endurance event. Alexis Skarda came back to town to win the women’s race (she also won the mountain bike event at the GoPro Games), and Zach Calton won the guys race in under five hours. Jake Wells and Mike Brumbaugh perhaps inspired Mike McCormack to reimagine and reinvigorate the Vail 100. Unfortunately, on Oct. 1, a huge snowstorm caused the race to be canceled. More time for me to train and get in shape, I suppose.

Riders were greeted with expansive views, long-busting climbs, and exhilarating descents at this year’s Bighorn Gravel.
Linda Guerrette/Courtesy photo

No. 2: Connor Fields visits Eagle County BMX track

The first U.S. Olympic gold medalist in BMX visited the Eagle County BMX track in July, an appearance worth its weight in gold, as they say. The down-to-earth inspirational hero — who has made a full recovery from his devastating Tokyo Olympics crash — gave two 2-hour clinics to 40 riders total.

“The coolest thing about having him at the track is that he’s a big role model. It’s just cool to see him here and helping out the kids and stuff,” said 12-year-old Tiegan Stiebel.

2016 Olympic gold medalist Connor Fields chats with an athlete at a clinic at the Eagle County BMX track on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Eagle County BMX/Courtesy photo

No. 1: Crossing continents

How do you know if you’re really a true local? Have you crossed any massive geographic landscapes under your own human power lately?

This year, Off Piste Aquatics escaped from Alcatraz, swimming across San Francisco Bay, then Alessandro Cantele ran across Italy as part of some mid-run dare with his Battle Mountain cross-country teammates. Glenn Frommer biked across the entire United States, Charlie Janssen hiked the PCT, AT and CDT (which means he actually crossed the country, on foot, literally, three times) in less than 10 months, and to top it off, Paul Spencer made plans to, and I’m not even making this up: bike around the entire world, oceans and all. Do you need me to sit on the couch and eat my weight in Hershey’s kisses for you? Because that’s what I feel like doing.

Actually, maybe it’s time for a New Year’s resolution.

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