Vail athletes busy with worldly vision | VailDaily.com

Vail athletes busy with worldly vision

Ryan Slabaugh

Who knows? Maybe they’d be resourceful and turn their skis and poles into a plow and find those hearty Nordic skiers to pull the farm tools. Soon, a thriving community would exist. People would again be looking to leisure.

Mountain bikes would be adapted for the plains. Running shorts would return to fashion. The fleet of Camelbacks would have the natives stomping and shouting, “It’s called a canteen, you dang-stinkin’ pansies…”

And off we’d go, the little small town with worldly vision.

Take this week for example. Monday, three of our locals, Josiah Middaugh, Ingrid Middaugh and Anita Ortiz, were competing in Italy at the Snowshoe World Championships. For the first time, the United States decided to send representatives, five to be exact, three of which came from Vail, a hip pocket full of athletes.

Today, two local snowboarders, Stacia Hookom and Eden Roa Serina, are traveling to Austria for the Snowshoe World Championships. Hookom not only has a chance at being on the podium, but also has a chance to win a championship.

And don’t forget about Sarah Schleper, who’s touring Europe on the World Cup alpine circuit, and finished fifth last weekend, her best performance.

Then there’s freestyle-skier Toby Dawson, who recorded a huge win on the World Cup tour this winter, never mind all the ex-pros in the valley, who have set the stage for all the newcomers.

Which brings me to Wednesday of this week and my excursion to the Cascade Club in Vail. There, inside the gym, the U.S. Disabled Ski Team was playing basketball. Monte Meier, a 13-year veteran of the team, took the ball from head coach Alan Bender, dribbled the length of the court, and laid the ball in.

“It’s not my forte, basketball,” Meier said. “My fast break, surprisingly, went in.”

The U.S. Disabled Team has been training in Vail off and on this season (see the story, page A2), and will be competing Saturday and Sunday in a super-G in Breckenridge. They’ll stay in Summit County for a downhill competition Wednesday and Thursday. But for now, they’ve enjoyed the hospitality of the Vail Valley, including: the hill time, given to them by Vail Resorts; equipment and staffing, supplied by Ski and Snowboard Club Vail; and cheap lodging, courtesy of the Cascade Club. It’s a new era for the team, and they’re looking more and more at Vail as a home. Legend Sarah Will, who lives in Vail, recently retired from the team, after sweeping all four events at the Paralympics in Salt Lake City last winter.

“I think, for a lot of these guys, the Salt Lake City Paralympics were the zenith of their careers,” coach John Cole said. “This is a new crew, for the most part. We’re out there looking for the next Sarah Will.”

One thing’s for sure. He probably won’t have to look too far.

Ryan Slabaugh is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555 ext. 608 or at rslabaugh@vaildaily.com.