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At least 17 people died at Colorado ski areas during the 2022-23 winter season

At least 17 people died at Colorado ski resorts in the 2022-23 ski season, an increase over previous years and above the seasonal average but still below the grim record of 22 fatalities set in the low-snow season of 2011-12. 

Colorado ski resorts do not report deaths or injuries. This year’s statewide count comes from requests made by The Colorado Sun to coroners in 16 Colorado counties with ski areas. 

There were at least nine skier and snowboarder deaths at Colorado ski areas in the 2021-22 ski season, down from at least 11 fatalities in the 2020-21 ski season. Ski areas across the country reported 57 fatal accidents in the 2021-22 ski season, up from 48 in the 2020-21 ski season.

There were also two teenagers killed while sledding in the closed Copper Mountain halfpipe after the resort was closed for the night. There were at least four deaths resulting from medical issues. Five people died after colliding with a tree. And at least two people died after falling into deep snow, like a tree well. And 16 of the season’s 17 deaths inside ski resort boundaries were men.

Read more from Jason Blevins at The Colorado Sun.

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Berenson: Unleash happiness in 2023

In the beautiful community of EagleVail, home to more than 3,000 residents, there are six neighborhood parks, a baseball field, a soccer field, a small pond and beach, and a rolling 18-hole golf course, which, seven months of the year, is a snow-covered wonderland of open space. In other words, there are ample walk-to options for each resident who wants to recreate outside.

Unless that resident is a dog, that is. Because in EagleVail, there’s also a 30-year-old rule that all dogs must be on a leash at all times, in all public spaces. So, if you live in EagleVail and have a dog, and you want to exercise your dog freely and joyfully — play catch with a frisbee, or go for a hike or run, for example — you have to get in your car, drive to Edwards or Vail, and do it there.

Even if you live steps away from a park that is otherwise empty, and that no one else will be using for hours. This situation is not only unsustainable (in the true definition of the word “sustainable”), it hurts both our human and canine populations. Most of all, it makes no sense.

It’s important to clarify that advocating for the right for dogs to run and play off-leash does not mean advocating that dogs run wild. All responsible dog owners believe that being off-lead is a privilege, not a right. Dogs should be under control at all times, for their own safety and the safety of others. People have the right to walk, run, ride, ski and hike without being unexpectedly approached by a dog, no matter how “friendly” that dog is.

In the 10 years that my husband and I have lived in EagleVail, we’ve respected the spirit, if not the letter, of the EagleVail leash rule. Like our dog-loving neighbors, we’ve played catch with our dogs in our pocket park in early mornings or late afternoons, often meeting up with other neighbors doing the same thing with their dogs, always leashing up when necessary. This created a wonderful connection between neighbors, and was a significant quality-of-life benefit of living here.

Then last summer, BOLD (the property management company our POA board pays to oversee enforcement of our rules) asked Eagle County Animal Control to start patrolling our neighborhood regularly, and ticketing every dog owner with a dog off-lead. It didn’t matter if they were playing catch in an otherwise empty park, training on an otherwise empty soccer field, or hiking together on an otherwise empty golf course. Tickets were issued.

Many of us were upset by the abrupt enforcement of this rule, and the challenge it created to responsibly, adequately and legally exercise our pets.

So a petition was started, proposing that our rule aligns with Eagle County Law, which allows for either leash or voice control. In less than two weeks it had over 400 signatures. But when the petition was presented to the POA board, along with a request to bring the issue to a property owners’ vote, the board declined to address it, and the topic was dismissed.

Cities much larger than EagleVail have found ways to safely and responsibly provide dog owners walk-to opportunities to exercise their dogs off lead, under control and at minimal expense. Certainly, if we work together, we can come up with a reasonable and sustainable solution here in our little mountain community, one that suits responsible dog owners as well as it suits people who don’t want to be approached by unleashed dogs.

In Boulder, for example, there are parks designated OK for dogs who have green tags to be off-lead. To get the green tags, the city requires owners to pay a fee and undergo a short training, during which the definition of “voice control” is made clear (dogs come to owners the first time they’re called, and obey them when there). Dog owners who complete this program are held accountable; a ranger can approach any owner and say, “Call your dog.” If the dog doesn’t come, the green tag is confiscated, and the owner is issued a citation. The program is funded by the fees the owners pay.

And in San Jose, California, certain schoolyards and parks are designated off-lead friendly for certain hours of the day — for example, before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. This allows people to access the open space within walking distance of their homes and creates the opportunity for neighbors to meet and talk while their dogs play together. It also makes clear to everyone when and where off-lead dogs will be playing and running, eliminating unexpected encounters.

Either of these options is much preferable to creating a designated dog park in EagleVail, which has been proposed by some but is not a good solution. Running a dog in a circle in a crowded, fenced-in area doesn’t afford the opportunity to exercise along with them, and aside from this, getting to that dog park would require car trips for most residents, as well as the community-funded expense of creating a parking lot and enclosing and maintaining the area. 

And again, not only is that unsustainable, it doesn’t make sense.

The bottom line is this: EagleVail is not a privately-owned business, run by a CEO who makes the rules. We are an active, creative community of hikers, runners, snowshoers, cross-country skiers and cyclists, and lots and lots of dog owners. Sharing our mountain activities with our off-leash, voice-controlled dogs is one of the joys of living here. And we all have voices that matter. So maybe it’s time we made those voices heard.

Madeleine Berenson is a ski instructor and writer whose pieces have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wine Spectator, and The MOTH podcast, among others. Her email address is madeleine.berenson@gmail.com.

ECO Transit winter schedule begins Nov. 27

ECO Transit’s Winter 2022-23 schedule will begin on Sunday, Nov. 27 and remain in effect through Saturday, April 15, 2023.

Important fare and schedule updates for the Winter 2022-23 schedule include: 

  • Expanded express service in the morning between Vail, Avon, Edwards, Eagle and Gypsum on both the Highway 6 and Valley routes
  • The addition of three new stops on the west end of the Valley Route between Gypsum and Dotsero: Highway 6 at River View, Highway 6 at York View, and Highway 6 at Riverdance
  • The return of the seasonal Vail/Beaver Creek Express, offering a limited-stop connection between the Vail Transportation Center and Beaver Creek Village
  • Introduction of a new Military Discount: All Active Duty Military and Veterans are eligible for $2 rides (if purchased with cash on the bus) and $1 rides if purchased through the mobile app. They also qualify for a 50% discount on all other fares purchased on the mobile app. 
  • Printed youth and senior passes purchased at ECO facility will cost $30
  • Youth and senior passes purchased through the mobile app will remain $25/year
  • Youth and senior single-ride cash fares purchased on the bus will increase to $2
  • Youth and senior tickets purchased through the Mobile App remain $1
  • Seasonal Vail/Beaver Creek Express will be $4

All schedules are available for review at www.eaglecounty.us/transit. For help with trip planning, please visit www.transithub.com, call 970-328-3520, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @rideecotransit.

Download the ECO Tickets app on the Apple Store or Google Play to purchase all fares.

Steamboat fishing guide reels in potential record trout in North Routt

It is not every day in the fishing world that you come across a Rainbow Trout that could earn you a Master Angler Award. It is even less common to reel in a record-breaking Rainbow as you are heading back to shore.

Brady Wettlaufer accomplished both feats after reeling in a 26.5 inch, 12.5 pound Rainbow Trout at Steamboat Lake to earn a potential lake-record on Monday, Aug. 8. 

Wettlaufer, owner of Steamboat Fishing Adventures, was out on Steamboat Lake with a couple clients. He had guided four trips already that day on Steamboat Lake and was exhausted.

He was on his way back to the dock and decided to throw out a line in the shallows of the lake to end his day. 

Eventually, Wettlaufer hooked a trout, reeled it in and noticed something in its mouth before releasing it back in the water. 

“I caught a Rainbow and when I was getting it out of the net, it regurgitated a small, what looked like a perch-pattern minnow, and so I switched to a dynamic perch-pattern minnow and it wasn’t a few hours later and I hooked that fish,” Wettlaufer said. 

One of the coolest qualities of an angler, in Wettlaufer’s opinion, is having the ability to read the water and read the fish. 

By identifying any trends like what they’re doing and what they’re eating, you can match that with your fishing techniques and according to Wettlaufer, it can pay dividends. 

Wettlaufer and his client high-five after releasing a potential record-breaking Rainbow Trout back into Steamboat Lake on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022.
Brady Wettlaufer/Courtesy photo

Changing his lure made all the difference and immediately after hooking the fish, he could tell he was in for a battle. It took somewhere between eight and 10 minutes, but for Wettlaufer it was time well spent. 

“It took out line like crazy and actually spooled me and got all the way out,” Wettlaufer said. I “threw the boat in reverse and was able to reverse on it and gang up on him a little bit and kept tension on him the whole time. It was just picture perfect and then kicked the boat in neutral and kept tension on him and before you knew it, there he was in the net.”

Wettlaufer caught a glimpse of the trout’s profile while reeling it in with his new Eagle Claw rod and said he got weak in the knees. He had never seen a fish so massive.

The lure was hooked deep in the corner of the fish’s mouth and ran down the side of its face. This made it easy for Wettlaufer to remove the hook and get the fish back into the water as quickly as possible. 

“With a fish having a mouth that big, I’m surprised he didn’t inhale it but I’m happy that he didn’t because I was able to get it out really quick and then not handle it as much and get him back out into the water,” Wettlaufer said. 

Before releasing it, Wettlaufer took some pictures and videos, got measurements on it and weighed it with the scale he had on board. 

He submitted the necessary information to Colorado Parks and Wildlife which is in the verification process of confirming the fish as a record breaking Rainbow Trout in Steamboat Lake.

Wettlaufer says that the CPW has no record of any larger Rainbow Trout being caught in Steamboat Lake but says the confirmation process could take a while. 

Having fished so many times in the reservoir, Wettlaufer noticed several trends with the strategies that other anglers use in the lake. They often jump in their boats and head to the far side of the lake to fish.

Wettlaufer believes the dock area is an extremely overlooked place, especially because the shallow waters are where trout are able to feed on crayfish and minnows. It only goes about three feet deep, but can result in catching massive trout.

“I have been fishing these waters for 22 years, seven years professionally, and never have I seen a Rainbow like this,” Wettlaufer said. “It’s the largest trout I have ever seen, it’s the largest trout I have ever put my hands on.”

Meghan Tierney reflects on a crazy season following Europa Cup overall win

Now relaxing in Eagle, local snowboarder Meghan Tierney is taking some time to reflect on the crazy end to the 2019-20 season.

Sick and convalescing in Austria, Tierney had to make a dramatic exit from Europe in March as her season came to an abrupt halt. She then returned home to one of the country’s coronavirus hot spots, with an infected parent and a lot of uncertainty about what would come next for her.

But when the dust had settled, she learned that she herself had only been infected with strep throat— not coronavirus — and the early end to the competition season had secured her the overall victory in the Europa Cup, a coveted achievement in snowboard cross racing’s especially competitive European Continental Cup.

Eagle resident Meghan Tierney at the 2019 FIS World Championships Pacifico SBX Qualifiers on Thursday, Jan. 31. Tierney finished 24th.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard | Special to the Daily

‘Switch it up’

The Continental Cup level is a step below the World Cup; in North America the Nor-Am circuit is the Continental Cup of choice for many aspiring World Cup racers.

But after winning the Nor-Am overall in 2014, Tierney found the transition into World Cup difficult for a teenager trying to adjust to the top level of competition. While Tierney was a regular on the podium in Nor-Am competitions, in most World Cup races she did not make it past qualifications into the quarterfinal competition of 16 racers.

Heading into the 2019-20 season, Tierney decided to take her competition to a competition level some consider to be between Nor-Am and World Cup, the Europa Cup.

Tierney said the decision was mainly driven by the amount of competitions and courses available in Europe.

“I just felt like there was more opportunity to get on snow in Europe, and it was fun to ride with the European riders, switch it up,” she said. “And the courses for Europa cup this last year were really great, so I think that was a good choice.”

Feeling ill

Tierney raced in Austria, France, Switzerland and Germany before ending the season with a World Cup race in Spain on March 7.

The Europa Cup training proved helpful, as she ended the season with her best World Cup finish in more than two years.


Tierney left Spain for Austria, where she became ill with strep throat. She recovered in a hotel room a few days, then got word that the rest of the season had been canceled.

“I got an email saying the borders were going to be shut down coming in from Europe, so I packed everything and left the next day,” she said. “Thank God my mom works for United, she was able to get me out.”

Tierney’s mother is a gate agent at the Eagle County airport. She became infected with coronavirus during the height of the spread.

“She recovered and now has the antibodies,” Tierney said of her mother.

Meghan said she had suspected perhaps it was coronavirus and not strep throat which had made her ill in Europe.

“Shockingly enough, I got the antibody test and it came back negative,” she said.

Multiple podiums

A few weeks later, Tierney learned she had been nominated to the U.S. Ski Team’s development team once again for next season. The team for athletes ages 23 and younger.

“My goal for this season was just to improve, and I was able to do that,” she said. “As long as I can keep improving I think I’ll be in good shape.”


In highlighting Tierney’s achievement along with several other U.S. snowboarders this season, Andrew Gauthier with the U.S. Ski Team wrote that the future of the U.S. Snowboard Team looks bright.

“When looking back on a season, performances on the World Cup level are important, but not the whole picture,” Gauthier wrote. “In a sport that progresses at a rapid pace, the athlete pipeline is critical to developing the future.”

For athletes in that development pipeline, however, getting to events, and getting through a competition season can be difficult. In addition to the help she receives from her parents, Tierney says she’s lucky to have some sponsorship help from health and wellness company Xendurance.

But she could use more help, as well.

With three podium finishes in Europa Cup events during the abbreviated 2019-20 season, Tierney hopes potential sponsors will see her as an opportunity to have their logo on future podiums.

“My main goal for next season is going to be consistency,” she said.

Man suspected of stealing SUV from Vail valet at knifepoint faces June trial

EAGLE — A man accused of stealing an SUV at knifepoint rejected a plea deal and will take his chances at trial.

Evan Reichert, 33, decided he’d rather stand trial than agree to a plea deal for 24 years in prison. If convicted he faces up to 48 years behind bars. His trial is scheduled to begin June 1, 2020. Reichert remains in the Eagle County jail.

Reichert, who has been convicted of multiple felonies, will be tried as a habitual criminal.

What police say happened

Reichert landed back behind bars on July 5. He is accused of threatening a Vail Marriott valet with a knife, forcing that valet to move — still at knifepoint — to where Reichert could get the keys to a 2019 Chevrolet Suburban registered to a guest from Texas. Reichert allegedly drove away in that stolen Suburban and crashed it into the back of the neighboring Ritz Carlton hotel — the next hotel up the street.

The 911 call from the Vail Marriott came into the Vail Public Safety Communications Center at 8:20 p.m on July 5, Vail police said.

Vail police officers were on the scene in moments.

Police say after Reichert crashed the SUV, he abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot, running back into the Marriott.

Law enforcement officers from several agencies surrounded the building and immediately started a systematic search.

Marriott guests were asked to stay in their rooms or shelter in place during the search for Reichert. The Marriott was hosting a Bravo! Vail event attendees were asked to stay in the Marriott’s ballroom during the search.

Police found Reichert at 10:30 p.m. near the rear of the Marriott at the bike path along Gore Creek.

Besides attempted murder, kidnapping and aggravated motor vehicle theft, Reichert’s other charges range from assaulting a police officer to property damage, stealing a scooter and a bicycle and driving that allegedly stolen vehicle on a driver license that had been revoked because he is also a habitual traffic offender.

Reichert’s criminal habit

Reichert’s 37-page criminal record started in 2005 in Florida with larceny, narcotics, burglary, probation violations, and other crimes, prosecutors said.

He migrated to Colorado in 2011 where he added to his criminal record with an August 2015 conviction for aggravated motor vehicle theft, according to the list of charges against him.

He was sentenced to six years in prison but asked to be placed in community corrections — sort of a halfway house where prisoners can hold a job in the community and return when their workday is done. Reichert lasted 26 days in community corrections before he walked away — making him an escapee from Colorado’s state prison system.