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Vail Mountain School defeats Eagle Valley 12-6 in boys lacrosse

VMS coach Stephen Michel calls out instructions during the fourth quarter of a 12-6 win over Eagle Valley Saturday in Vail.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

Saturday’s battle between Eagle Valley and Vail Mountain School, ranked No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, in the RPI, had more than just local bragging rights on the line. With the 4A Western Slope League lead up for grabs, it was two lacrosse titans going toe-to-toe.

On their home field, the Gore Rangers brought the energy from the first whistle.

“Coach always has a pregame speech and those usually get us pretty fired up,” said Vail Mountain junior Max Vidal. Given the game’s importance, one could have expected a pretty powerful pep talk, but apparently the message was simple.

“It’s like, ‘hey, we’re defending our home,’” Coach Steve Michel said. “The seniors are the ones who got them going.”

The result: a convincing 12-6 win over a Devils team that came out slow and never looked in sync.

“We need to work on starting faster,” Eagle Valley captain Eric Hasley said afterward.

“Every game this season we’ve come out flat and good teams like VMS will capitalize on it.”

Eagle Valley’s Eric Hasley heads behind the goal as Vail Mountain’s Cole Pattison defends during Saturday’s game in Vail.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

The Gore Rangers did just that, scoring two first quarter goals before Hasley brushed off Cole Pattison on a wrap around score at the 7:01 mark to make it 2-1. Finding another chink in the VMS defense’s armor would be rare.

“We studied a lot of film and went over their offense a lot in practice yesterday,” Vidal said. “We kind of just knew exactly what they were going to do and shut them down.”

Mason Geller scored the first of his team-leading four goals 30-seconds later to make it 3-1. On the other end, Erich Petersen slipped, recovered and ripped in a score, bringing the Devils within one again. After that goal, VMS didn’t give the explosive Petersen another inch.

“We just made sure we put a long stick on them (the Petersens) and try to not slide from them as much as possible,” Michel said about the defensive approach.

Goals from Provencher and Peter Hughes put VMS up 5-2 after one quarter. Early in the second, Geller found the back of the net after a penalty was called on Josh Bissett for kicking a grounded Gore Ranger pole. “Is this what we’re going to do today? Just make mental mistakes?” an audible frustration floated from the Eagle Valley bench at that moment.

A 6-on-4 Mason Geller goal, courtesy of two Devils’ penalties on one possession, seemed to answer the rhetorical questions.

The second half opened up a coast-to-coast Beck Sapp goal to put the home squad up 8-3.

“That pole goal from Beck was huge,” commented Vidal.

In what was probably the sole bright spot for the Devils, Hasley and Julius Petersen scored back-to-back goals in a two-minute stretch to pull within three. The final 2:30 of the period, however, belonged to Vail Mountain.

The rangy Pattison, whose physical stick play flustered the Devils attackmen all morning, stripped Petersen and ate up half of the field before dishing it to Vidal for a score. Seventy seconds later, a beautiful give-and-go from Provencher to Vidal off another 2-on-1 fastbreak made it 10-5.

“We love to push the ball in transition and anytime we get our three attackmen working together, it usually works out pretty well,” Provencher said.

Mason Geller watches as Connor Provencher takes a shot in Saturday’s game between Eagle Valley and Vail Mountain School.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

With 20 seconds to go, the tandem coordinated an ESPN top-10 play of the week nomination. Provencher streaked behind the goal, launched an opposite field pass across his body and over the net to a cutting Vidal, who finished the sequence with a nasty behind the back score, his third straight.

“As a coach, I’m screaming ‘no, no, no,’ and then I’m screaming ‘yes, yes, yes!’” Michel said about the highlight reel.

Erich Petersen gets his stick repaired in the third quarter of Saturday’s 12-6 loss against Vail Mountain School.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

The wind was out of the Devils’ proverbial sails at that point, though the Petersen brothers did manage a pick-and-roll score with 5:34 remaining to salvage the 12-6 final. Still, the lack of cohesive ball movement, combined with the stifling Gore Ranger defense, sufficiently stagnated the normally potent Eagle Valley attack.

“We were playing pretty selfish out there once we got down,” Hasley lamented. “We need to start playing as a team again, moving more on offense on and off the ball.”

“They definitely have a few guys,” Provencher said of the Devils’ star players.

“We knew about them coming in. But at the end of the day, coaches said we trust our guys on defense to do their job, just make sure we’re playing smart, sliding correctly and everything, and we did that.”

Erich Petersen heads behind the net while Cole Pattison defends in Saturday’s game between Eagle Valley and Vail Mountain School.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily.

Despite the rough loss, Hasley found an optimistic element to the afternoon. “The positive is that we get ‘em again at home,” he said.

“We get to play this team again and hopefully come out as a whole different team.”

Vail Mountain heads to Aspen, who defeated the Gore Rangers in overtime March 24 — the Gore Rangers’ lone loss — on Tuesday. “They’re going to come to play,” Michel said of the Skiers, who gave the Devils all they could handle in an overtime loss in Gypsum on Wednesday. Provencher doesn’t anticipate any post-win letdown.

“I don’t think the guys will have any problem getting motivated for Aspen,” he said.

“We’re looking for revenge.”

Mikaela Shiffrin lets GS title slip to Worley

Mikaela Shiffrin speeds down the course during Sunday’s World Cup Finals giant slalom in Meribel, France on Sunday.
Marco Trovati/AP photo

MERIBEL, France — Mikaela Shiffrin’s standout World Cup season ended by letting the giant slalom title slip away to Tessa Worley on Sunday.

As the final racer of the women’s season, Shiffrin was the first-run leader with a 0.82-second advantage needing to win the race to clinch an unlikely victory in the giant slalom standings.

Instead, Shiffrin’s time was the slowest of the 24 second-run finishers and she placed seventh. She was 0.67 behind race winner Federica Brignone.

Mikaela Shiffrin sports a ribbon with the colors of the Ukrainian flag on her helmet during the World Cup Finals giant slalom in Meribel, France on Sunday.
Alessandro Trovati/AP

That opened the door for Worley and the 50 points she earned for placing fourth to end atop the giant slalom standings.

The day started with Sara Hector favored to add the World Cup giant slalom title to her Olympic gold medal, but the Swedish racer could place only 14th.

At age 32, Worley’s win was her first major title or medal for five years in her specialist event. She won the World Cup title and a world championships gold medal in 2017.

Shiffrin ends the season with the biggest prize in the sport — the overall World Cup title she sealed Thursday at the World Cup Finals meeting in the French Alps.

She raced Sunday with a ribbon in the yellow and blue colors of Ukraine’s flag attached to her helmet.

A season that risked being defined by zero medals from six events in China instead ended in triumph in the French Alps.

Shiffrin clinched the overall World Cup title Thursday with standout racing in the speed disciplines on back-to-back days at the weeklong season finals.

An expected duel at World Cup Finals with defending overall champion Petra Vlhová was settled with two races left in their favored slalom and giant slalom.

“It’s been some high moments this season and it’s been some really difficult moments as well,” Shiffrin said. “Ending it on a high (and) finding some really nice moments on the last races, that’s really important and very special.”

The fourth giant crystal globe trophy in her career, and first since 2019, lifts the 27-year-old Shiffrin to the level of former teammate Lindsey Vonn in World Cup history.

Only the six overall titles of Annemarie Moser-Pröll, the Austrian great who dominated downhill in the 1970s, stands above the two Americans.

It was a surprise win in downhill Wednesday that fueled Shiffrin to the title. She backed it up with a smartly judged second place Thursday in super-G to pull away from Vlhová, who failed to score points in either race.

Suddenly her Olympic struggles just a month ago seem like the distant past.

“Just this week, right now, I really enjoy skiing,” Shiffrin said, though also acknowledging more self-doubt before coming to neighboring Courchevel and Méribel.

It continued an up-and-down season in which five wins and 14 podium finishes in just 24 World Cup events made her inconsistent Olympics such an outlier.

It also included an enforced break because of a COVID-19 infection in December and still coming to terms with her father’s death in an accident at the family home in Colorado two years ago.

“This last week alone was some very low moments (thinking) I should just go home because I don’t think I truly have a chance,” Shiffrin said Thursday. “And somewhere we’re here now.”

Brignone, the 2020 overall champion, won the race 0.31 ahead of her Italian teammate Marta Bassino. Vlhova, who lost her overall title to Shiffrin this week, was third Sunday, 0.37 back.

France's Tessa Worley celebrates at the finish area of the World Cup Finals giant slalom in Meribel, France on Sunday.
Marco Trovati/AP

Shiffrin skis to eighth place in World Cup Finals slalom

Mikaela Shiffrin arrives at the finish area of the World Cup Finals slalom in Meribel, France on Saturday
Alessandro Trovati/AP

Relaxed and fast.

It’s hard to know the exact mantra Mikaela Shiffrin brought to Saturday’s World Cup Finals slalom, but with the pressure off after securing the overall title Thursday, it is a decent prognostication.

In the first run, it was also an accurate assessment of her skiing. Unfortunately, the six-time slalom discipline winner was behind the course the whole way down her second run, struggling to find her usual snappiness around the gates to finish in eighth place in the last slalom of the season.

Andreja Slokar of Slovenia, in just her 31st career World Cup start, earned a surprise victory, the country’s first in the event since 2014 and her first individual World Cup win ever.

The anticipated weekend showdown between Petra Vlhová and Shiffrin never manifested itself as the Edwards resident was runner-up in Thursday’s super-G and the Slovakian Olympic slalom gold medalist failed to score. The result locked up a fourth career overall globe for the 27-year-old American.

On soft snow and under sunny skis, Shiffrin skied to the fifth-fastest first run down the Roc de Fer course, 0.66 seconds behind leader Lena Dürr, while Vlhová was fourth with 0.48 to make up in the second leg. Winner of five of the eight slaloms this season, Vlhová clinched the World Cup slalom title before the Beijing Olympics.

Just like in China, Dürr and Michelle Gisin were 1-2 after the first run. At the Olympics, they wound up out of the medals. Making her 178th career World Cup start, Dürr was looking to win her first ever World Cup slalom.

Slovakia's Petra Vlhova speeds down the course during the World Cup Finals slalom in Meribel, France on Saturday.
Marco Trovati/AP

In her second run along a course set up by coach Mike Day, Shiffrin lacked her usual spring through the turns and appeared mechanical, as if she were still working through her slalom struggles from the Olympics. She lost time at each sector, ending the run 1.48 seconds back. Her second run was the just the 19th fastest of the day.

“In past races I’ve shown not much speed in these softer conditions,” commented Shiffrin to U.S. Ski and Snowboard.

“It’s something I didn’t have time to figure out before now, but now we have something I can really work on over the summer if we want to try and improve a bit on this kind of softer snow.”

Shiffrin is looking forward to tomorrow’s giant slalom.

“I’m optimistic; I think it’s a chance for me to again try to work on some things in softer snow,“ she said to U.S. Ski and Snowboard.

“Normally I won’t risk something unless I feel that there is something to get back from the surface. But I’m also watching all the other competitors when they’re skiing really well on these kinds of conditions, their movements and how they’re able to perform and I’m hopeful that I have the chance to perform like that as well.”

As the course deteriorated in the spring-like conditions, Vlhova struggled in her second run as well, falling to third, 0.81 seconds back. The corn snow skiing wasn’t great for Dürr either, as she skied the 16th-fastest second run to finish second overall (+0.48).

In front of a well-traveled Slovakian fan-base, a still jubilant Vlhová expressed satisfaction regarding her overall season.

“It’s really important because before the season we set the goal to achieve a small globe for slalom and we made it,” she told FIS reporters when asked what the season title meant.

“It’s amazing. It was a really tough season for me, but I have everything. I am Olympic champion, now I have small globe for slalom — it’s something amazing.”

Shiffrin’s 2021-2022 season successes

* Clinched 4th career overall crystal globe (tied for second-most of all time)

* Claimed 74th World Cup victory (third-most all time)

* 14 podiums (five wins) across three disciplines

* Broke record for most wins in a single discipline (slalom – 47)

In the men’s giant slalom on Saturday, River Radamus dropped seven places after his second run to finish his day in 20th. Radamus finished 15th in the giant slalom season standings, with 147 points. Marco Odermatt won the GS globe handily with 720 points, 267 points more than second-placer Henrik Kristoffersen

The women’s World Cup season ends Sunday with a giant slalom while the men finish with a slalom.

Mikaela Shiffrin speeds down the course during the World Cup Finals slalom in Meribel, France on Saturday.
Alessandro Trovati/AP

Mikaela Shiffrin finishes third in Are, Sweden World Cup giant slalom

Mikaela Shiffrin competes during the first run of the World Cup giant slalom in Are, Sweden on Friday.
Pontus Lundahl/AP photo

Petra Vlhova was in a league of her own at Friday’s World Cup giant slalom in Are, Sweden, winning by 1.24 seconds over Marta Bassino, but Mikaela Shiffrin, with a third place finish, maintained her lead over the Slovakian in the overall World Cup standings. Vlhova, the defending overall winner, now trails the 26-year-old American by 77 points.

“It’s quite important but I think it’s important for myself because finally after more than one year I come back and am on the top of the podium,” Vlhova told FIS reporters after her sixth win of the season across all disciplines.

It was the 118th career podium for Shiffrin, who won three-straight overall crowns from 2017-2019 and would tie Lindsey Vonn for the most ever by an American skier if she finishes the season on top. Austrian Annemarie Moser-Pröll holds the all-time record with six.

“I felt like my skiing (in the second run) had a bit more fire, and I had mostly hoped I wouldn’t move back a bit, so it’s quite incredible to have moved up a couple of places,” Shiffrin told Mackenzie Moran of U.S. Ski and Snowboard.

The Edwards resident was in sixth after posting a time of 1:15.59 in the first of two runs down the Olympia course. Vlhova was exceptional in her first run but lost approximately eight tenths of a second after a slight mistake in the final interval. She still held a 0.79 second margin over her American rival as the stadium lights came on for run no. 2. Though temperatures started at 5 degrees Celsius, snow conditions slowed down as the competition wore on, meaning the leaders skiing at the end of the second go around faced a slight disadvantage.

Skiing sixth-to-last, Shiffrin only lost 0.26 seconds through the first two intervals on the slow snow. She gained confidence through the flats and finished strong to take a 0.23 overall lead as Tessa Worley stepped into the gate.

The French skier had everything to race for after winning the giant slalom in Lenzerheide last weekend, a victory which united her with Annemarie Moser-Pröll (16) in second place on the women’s list for most World Cup victories in the discipline. The 2017 giant slalom discipline winner also trailed Swede Sara Hector by 55 points in the season standings heading into the event, the second-to-last GS of the season. The diminutive and powerful athlete lost considerable time at the top of the course, but earned close to a second back in the final two intervals to finish just 0.21 seconds behind the American.

Then, a big mistake from Swiss skier Michelle Gisin with five gates remaining pushed the two-time Olympic gold medalist out of the top five with Hector up next.

The door was open for the Swede, on her home snow, to clinch her first ever discipline globe. The 29-year-old, who also could have secured the title last weekend, skied out of the course three gates in to end her day with a disappointing DNF.

Bassino, the defending GS globe winner, put a clean run together to bump Shiffrin off the top step by 0.46 seconds. No one could match the Slovakian skier, however, who didn’t falter one bit in her second look at Olympia. Her aggressive, mistake-free skiing resulted in the giant 1.24 second margin.

The Are, Sweden World Cup giant slalom podium with (from left) Marta Bassino (ITA), Petra Vlhova (SVK) and Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)
Mathias Mandl/AP photo

“It means a lot because I felt really good. With these types of conditions I felt really strong and was able to ski really fast. First round, I did a few mistakes, but in the second round I did my best to ski a good line,” she told FIS.

“In the end, it was first place and I’m really happy.”

The venue has treated Vlhova kindly. At the 2019 World Championships, the last time the World Cup came to Are, she claimed the giant slalom title with Shiffrin earning the bronze.

A slalom will be contested in Sweden on Sunday before the World Cup wraps up in Courchevel/Méribel, France Mar. 14-20 with a full slate of events.

Women’s FIS Alpine World Cup overall standings

1. Mikaela Shiffrin, USA – 1,216

2. Petra Vlhova, SVK – 1,139

3. Federica Brignone, ITA – 931

4. Sofia Goggia, ITA – 851

5. Sara Hector, SWE – 742

Women’s FIS Alpine Giant Slalom season standings

1. Sara Hector, SWE – 522

2. Tessa Worley, FRA – 517

3. Mikaela Shiffrin, USA – 471

4. Petra Vlhova, SVK – 431

5. Marta Bassino, ITA, 276

 

Avon receives grant to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure


The town of Avon was recently awarded a $45,000 grant through the Colorado Department of Energy’s Charge Ahead program. The grant will allow the town to install five more Level 2 electric vehicle chargers in 2022.

The additional chargers will be located at the Avon Town Hall and on the south end of Lake Street. Avon recently activated two additional electric vehicle chargers at Beaver Creek Place (one DC Fast Charger and one Level 2 charger) with the funding assistance of a $44,000 grant from the Department of Energy’s Charge Ahead program. By the end of 2022, Avon will offer public access to nine Level 2 chargers and two DC Fast Chargers, capable of charging 20 electric vehicles at once. Traer Creek Plaza also offers public access to two Level 2 chargers.

Avon’s goal is to be a leader in supporting electric vehicle usage.

The installation of electric vehicle chargers in Avon helps support electric vehicle travel to the town from the Front Range and for travel across Colorado on Interstate 70. The transition to electric vehicles over the next 10-15 years has been announced by all major vehicle manufacturers. Construction of public infrastructure for electric vehicles is a high priority Climate Action policy adopted by the Avon Town Council.

“Access to EV charging stations is an important step towards supporting electric vehicles and maintaining Avon as a convenient destination for travel in the future,” Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes said.

The two electric vehicle chargers that were installed in 2020 reduced passenger vehicle greenhouse gas emissions by 15,000kg, which is the equivalent of planting 383 trees and letting them grow for 10 years. Avon expects that the expansion of electric vehicle chargers in 2022 will increase this greenhouse gas reduction by a factor of five. Access to Avon’s chargers is through the ChargePoint network.

Level 2 chargers are complementary while the DC Fast Chargers cost $0.15/kWh.

Questions may be directed to Eva Wilson, Avon Mobility Department, ewilson@avon.org, 970-390-2014.

Voluntary fishing closure lifted on portions of Upper Colorado River in Eagle County

A man wades across the swift-moving water while fly-fishing in the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs.
Chelsea Self/Glenwood Springs Post Independent

A portion of the voluntary fishing closure on the Colorado River in Eagle County was lifted Tuesday as flows have improved over the last few days.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife, on Wednesday, placed a full-day voluntary fishing closure on the Colorado River beginning at the Colorado Highway 9 bridge in Kremmling downstream to the Colorado Highway 13 bridge in Rifle. On Tuesday, that closure was lifted upstream of State Bridge.

Downriver at the Catamount Bridge Boat Launch, nearby resident Jack Bombardier has been monitoring flows daily throughout the summer.

In the past, Bombardier has personally called in low-flow conditions with a plea to release more water from reservoirs upstream.

This year, however, after the gauge at Catamount reached a low of 5.5 feet Thursday to Friday, flows began to tick up and by Saturday, the gauge was up a couple of inches.

Bombardier, in an email, said the key to the rising flows has been the Shoshone water call, “and its very senior 1,200 (cubic feet per second) water right.”

“Since that water right is satisfied by the combined flows of the Eagle and the Colorado, as the Eagle’s level drops the Colorado goes up by a corresponding amount,” Bombardier said. “Most years that delicate dance gets unnoticed because there is plenty of water in both. Kind of a zero-sum game that works to the Colorado’s detriment, while reservoirs are filling. But going forward this summer, there should be good enough flows on the Colorado, while if fish are suffering due to warm water, it might be on the Eagle or Yampa.”

As of Tuesday, the gauge at Catamount was above 6 feet, up 6 inches in just a few days. And flow volume there has nearly doubled, from as low as 625 cubic feet per second on Friday, to 980 on Tuesday.

Flows being monitored

Bombardier participated in a recent collaborative which carved out an agreement affecting flows on the Upper Colorado River, where the group decided conditions would need to be monitored, and metrics would need to be assigned to determine if the river was in good standing with the conservationist subset of the stakeholder group.

“Water managers on both sides of the Continental Divide spend a lot of time watching this stuff, from the snow levels and water content data at the Snotel sites, to the pool level at Lake Mead,” Bombardier said. “It’s all connected and in dry years like this, those interconnections are very apparent. We’ve only had three wet years in the last 20, so it’s time to stop calling it a drought, and to start thinking of it as the new normal and plan accordingly.”

Part of that planning happens in various guide shops across the community, like Bombardier’s Confluence Casting or Fly Fishing Outfitters in Avon, where owner John Packer must make game-time decisions based on flows.

Packer said he follows the Eagle River Watershed Council’s dashboard view of conditions at various locations throughout Eagle County via ERWC.org/live-river-gauges.

“And I sign up for their temperature alerts as well,” he said.

The dashboard view of conditions on the Colorado River at Catamount via erwc.org.
Special to the Daily

Dashboard view

In the mornings in recent days, even before portions of the voluntary fishing closure were lifted on Tuesday, Packer said he could see via the ERWC.org dashboard that conditions were improving on the Colorado.

“By Monday morning it was back into the green and the fishing was good once again,” he said.

Packer said he’s likely to continue guiding in the mornings only, as afternoons have been coming close to, or drifting into the yellow, which is an area “you probably don’t want to be out there,” he said, “for the health of the fishery.”

With 65 degrees serving as the cutoff between green and yellow, temperatures at Catamount were as close as it gets at 64.9 degrees on Tuesday afternoon at about 3:30 p.m.

“We’re not fishing much past noon, one o’clock,” Packer said.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in a Tuesday release, said they appreciate anglers’ patience and cooperation relative to implementation and removal of fishing closures.

“Other waters that may see closures in the immediate future include sections of the Colorado River upstream of the Williams Fork River confluence, the Fraser River, and the upper Yampa River,” Parks and Wildlife wrote in a release, issued Tuesday. “Anglers should be aware that most of the major rivers on Colorado’s Western Slope are experiencing adverse conditions heading into the hottest days of summer. Follow the Leave No Trace Principle to ‘Know Before You Go’ to the Western Slope this summer and check out conditions related to mandatory and voluntary fishing closures.“

Eagle County high school grads earn college credit at Colorado Mountain College

A group of graduates toss their mortarboards in celebration during the Spring 2021 commencement ceremony at Colorado Mountain College Vail Valley on May 7.
David Watson, Special to the Daily

In Eagle County this May, 37 high school students earned a certificate or degree from Colorado Mountain College. This is out of the 100-plus high school students that received a variety of certificates and associate degrees college wide.

Through the Colorado Concurrent Enrollment Programs Act, or CEPA, high school students can gain college experience, education and credits. This year, courses offered through this program have earned students associate of arts and associate of science degrees as well as certificates in emergency medical technician, early childhood education, nurse aide, basic welding and more.

According to Carol Carlson, the CEPA coordinator at Colorado Mountain College Vail Valley, high school students can take tuition-free concurrent enrollment classes, which allows them to explore their passions sooner, graduate from college early and save money.

“It gives them such a sense of confidence, accomplishment and pride,” Carlson said. “They get to take college-level classes when they might not have thought that they could even do that.”

Of the 37 high school students that graduated from Colorado Mountain College, 25 completed various certifications from the Colorado Mountain College Vail Valley’s automotive service technology program.

One such student is Eagle Valley High School senior Kalie Roybal who graduated in May with a Certificate of Completion in automotive service technology as well as in automotive transmissions from Colorado Mountain College.

She was introduced to the CEPA program through her cousins who previously participated in the program and enjoyed their experiences. After participating in the first courses the program offered, Roybal found a passion for automotive services.

“I’m happy I stuck with it and found out it was something I really like,” Roybal said. “It was a lot of real-world experience. It made me excited to start college and see how a college course is run compared to high school.”

June’s GoPro Mountain Games in Vail postponed to August

The Vail Valley Foundation, which owns and operates the annual GoPro Mountain Games, announced Monday the postponement of the annual mountain sports, music and lifestyle event until Aug. 20-23.

The event had previously been scheduled for June 4-7 in Vail.

The GoPro Mountain Games will still take place in Vail and organizers say they will stay as true as possible to the original free-to-spectators, four-day, multi-sport festival format. 

“The mountain community is strong and resilient, and although these are difficult times, we are confident that we can get through this together,” said Dave Dressman, Vail Valley Foundation vice president of sales and event director, in a news release. “Although we are disappointed this beloved project cannot take place during its normal June time frame, we hope the exciting news of the postponement to August triggers optimism for our mountain community that there will come a time when we can come together to once again celebrate the incredible spirit of mountain lifestyle in Vail.”

Dressman and the Vail Valley Foundation stressed that the health and well-being of all Mountain Games participants, athletes, spectators, staff, sponsors and partners would be paramount in the decision-making process as organizers looked ahead to the new August dates.

The Vail Valley Foundation, the town of Vail, Vail Resorts, GoPro and other key Mountain Games partners will consult with public health officials to make a final go/no-go determination on the August dates by June 1 at the latest.  

“If we get to a point where the new August dates are not viable, and/or hosting of the event presents health risks to anyone we serve, then at that time we will announce a cancellation of the August event,” Dressman said. “We hope that doesn’t happen, and we will remain optimistic, but the health of our mountain community, staff and all of our attendees is priority No. 1 for us.”

Organizers said that GoPro Mountain Games partners, athletes and sponsors were extremely supportive of the decision.

“This event speaks so much to the heart and soul of our community, and we’re proud to partner with the Vail Valley Foundation, Vail Resorts and all our community businesses and partners to do all that we can to keep this event on the 2020 calendar if conditions allow,” said Vail Mayor Dave Chapin in the news release. “For now, we’re optimistic that we will be all together, outdoors, enjoying the GoPro Mountain Games in 2020 during these new August dates. These games will be an important component of our recovery, not only economically, but more importantly, will lift us all up emotionally to show our resiliency in working together as a community.” 

A late-summertime event

Organizers recognized that water levels are much lower in August than in June, and that whitewater events will be impacted by this change.

“Whitewater athletes are a creative bunch,” said the Vail Valley Foundation’s Mac Garnsey, co-director of the event, in the news release. “We are going to work with them, and all our sport specialists, to see how we can keep this edition of the GoPro Mountain Games as close to the original as possible, but there simply is not enough water in Homestake Creek and Gore Creek to hold the exact same whitewater events that we have in the past.”

Vail Valley Foundation staff are currently working on plans with sport specialists across all 12 disciplines to determine what changes need to be made to events like fishing, climbing, DockDogs, trail running, mountain and road biking, disc golf, yoga, and the GMC Ultimate Mountain Challenge. They are also having open and honest conversations with sponsors, local partners, the Town of Vail, Vail Resorts, and other officials to shape the event to be as similar to the original as possible.

Finding a way to ‘rock on’

Music, too, is a big part of the GoPro Mountain Games, with three nights of free music at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, a venue that is also managed by the Vail Valley Foundation.

The music lineup is likely to remain largely intact, and organizers are optimistic about bringing the originally-scheduled lineup to the Ford Amphitheater for the August dates, including Bluegrass Superjam, Deer Tick, Andy Frasco & the UN, and Twiddle & Mihali.

“Additionally, we will continue to program live music in various daytime locations with the help of numerous local musicians who have built what is a thriving Vail Valley music scene,” Dressman said.

Athlete registration information

Athlete registrations for the June event will continue to be honored, said Sarah Franke, Vail Valley Foundation vice president of marketing & operations.

Registration will be temporarily paused on mountaingames.com, however, until such time as organizers can confirm the exact new dates and times for each event.

“For years, the GoPro Mountain Games, always held in early June, has been a celebration of the arrival of summer and the mountain lifestyle that comes along with the new season. We believe this will still ring true, even in August, as all of us reflect on how much we cherish any moment we are fortunate enough to enjoy these beautiful mountains,” Franke said. 

Athletes who have already registered for the 2020 event will be contacted to inform them of any changes to their selected event(s). Existing registrants can come and compete in the August event, push their registration to 2021, or receive a full refund on registration fees. Those who wish to continue supporting the event, even though they may not be able to attend, will also have the option to donate their registration fees to the nonprofit Vail Valley Foundation that hosts the event each year.

Organizers said they would soon have a more complete picture of what the new competitions, formats, courses, rules, and prizes, and that they would be in touch with current and former athletes and spectators with up-to-date information as decisions are made.

“We thank everyone for their patience during these difficult times,” Franke said. “As we adjust from an event in early June to one in late August, some of our events will be exactly the same, some will alter slightly, and others will change more significantly. We look forward to sharing some of our fun and creative ideas with the GoPro Mountain Games community in the coming weeks.”

Learn more about upcoming changes and stay up-to-date at mountaingames.com.