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I-70 westbound lanes at West Vail reopen

The westbound lanes on Interstate 70 at mile marker 173 at West Vail are open as of 9:11 a.m. Wednesday after being closed for about an hour because of a rock slide in Dowd Junction. Drivers are urged to use caution in the area.

Radamus leads U.S. to team parallel slalom gold medal at FIS World Alpine Ski Championships

River Radamus brought home his first global championship medal on Tuesday, leading the U.S. to the mixed team parallel slalom gold medal at the 2023 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships in Meribel, France.

The Edwards skier joined Tommy Ford, Nina O’Brien and Paula Moltzan to take down Poland, Italy and Canada in the first round, quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. In the final, the U.S. won a thrilling 3-2 victory over the defending world champions from Norway to claim the country’s first world championship medal in the mixed team parallel event.

“It’s incredible — It’s my first medal,” Radamus said. “I haven’t had the success I’ve wanted to on the World Cup but to have it in my first event as a team, it makes it even more special to me.”

“It’s a pretty nice Valentine’s Day,” said O’Brien, who was featured in the Vail Daily’s “Fracture Friday” series after recovering in Edwards from leg fractures suffered in the 2022 Olympics.

“I think it feels a bit unbelievable, but six times sweeter to share with my teammates for sure. We absolutely didn’t expect it. I mean, I felt really good about the team and knew we were skiing fast, but I think anything can happen in parallel so there’s really no expectations ever.”

River Radamus, left, and Italy’s Alex Vinatzer speed down the course during the mixed team parallel event at the World Championships in Meribel, France on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023.
Marco Trovati/AP photo

Canada defeated Austria, the 2022 Olympic gold medalists, in the small final to win the bronze.

In the big final, Nina O’Brien opened with a battle against Kristin Lysdahl. Despite getting caught in a gate’s panel midway, the American maintained her composure and took a 0.13-second win.

Radamus went second against Alexander Steen Olson. The American was consistent all day and held a slight advantage over the Norwegian throughout, but Olson was able to pull back time in the final gates on the red course — which had been skiing fast in the finish throughout — for a 0.04-second win.

Moltzan and Thea Louise Stjernesund would finish in a perfect tie in the third spot, giving both teams a point. Andrew Dampf of the Associated Press reported that Moltzan, who raced most of last season with a broken hand, broke her left hand again in the final run.

“Paula gave absolutely everything on that run. It was pretty inspiring,” Radamus said. It was part and parcel for a team whose narrative was somewhat defined by injuries.

“We’ve all gone through the ringer a bit,” said Ford, who suffered a concussion, damaged ligaments and the meniscus in his right knee, broke his tibial plateau and hurt his wrist during a devastating crash on the giant slalom course in Adelboden, Switzerland, two years ago.

“We heal up and we can still ski and really I’m grateful to be here, and I think everyone else is, too.”

All eyes were on Ford, who faced Timon Haugan to break the tie. Haugan, however, would make things relatively easy for the American. The Norwegian tried to push out of the gate early and tripped over his skis, giving the American a clear path to the 1.5-second victory.

“I didn’t see him out of the corner of my eye,” Ford later told the Associated Press.

“I knew he was fast, so I was just like, something must have happened. But I wasn’t going to let up at all.”

“We all had strong skiing and I had faith in them and I just put down the best skiing I could,” he continued. “It just shows that we have some depth and we train together, travel together all the time and we’re pushing each other and it’s fun to actually work together and build a time.”

“I love this team; all these people have been pushing so hard for this for a long time, so to finally reach the summit with this team is really special,” Radamus added. “For Tommy to have to clutch up in the end there, I think he’s so steady, always so even keel, doesn’t let the moment get to him. And he was able to execute and perform there, which is really cool.”

When asked if he felt this medal could serve as a career launch pad, Radamus continued, saying, “I’ve been chasing a medal for a long time. I’ve come up short often but I’ve had to accept that if I’m not enough without it, I won’t be enough with it.”

“This is a really special day, but I’m sure in a year I’ll have to watch the videos to remember it, you know,” he continued. “So, I have to make sure I keep alway looking forward, keep striving for more and understand that no one race is going to put me where I want to be.”

Radamus continued his world championship program later Tuesday afternoon, placing eighth on the red course to qualify for Wednesday’s individual parallel final.

Tommy Ford and teammate River Radamus, right, hug after competing the mixed team parallel race at the World Championships, in Meribel, France.
Marco Trovati/AP photo

Shiffrin notches World Cup victory No. 84 in Kronplatz

KRONPLATZ, Italy — One might surmise that the exhilaration, along with the mental and physical exhaustion of a record-breaking sporting performance as Mikaela Shiffrin achieved Tuesday, might all be too much to deliver a repeat performance less than 24 hours later. Then factor in time-consuming interviews with media, both onsite in Italy and linking back home with the U.S., mingling with adoring fans, and a high-energy, evening awards ceremony and bib draw held in Brunico, about a 30-minute drive from the Kronplatz racing venue. There was barely time for a well-deserved Italian dinner.

Shiffrin was once again stellar on the demanding Erta giant slalom race hill — one that she absolutely loves — charging to World Cup victory No. 84 on Wednesday. She won the race by a staggering 0.82-second margin of victory ahead of Norwegian Ragnhild Mohwinkel. The Edwards racer clocked the fastest morning run by 0.51 seconds over Swedish Olympic GS champion Sara Hector and then posted the third-fastest afternoon run on her way to another impressive win in the Italian Dolomites.

The most decorated U.S. World Cup ski racer ever elaborated upon her time-consuming, post-record-breaking race activities, obligations, and lack of a full night’s sleep.

“Yesterday was pretty exhausting — after the race we got back to the hotel at four and then left again at five for a couple of interviews and then the bib draw and awards, which is very exciting, but it takes quite some time,” Shiffrin told reporters, after her 84th World Cup victory on Wednesday.

A crown is placed on Mikaela Shiffrin’s head after she won an alpine ski, women’s World Cup giant slalom, in Kronplatz, Italy, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. A day after securing record victory No. 83, Shiffrin added her 84th win on Wednesday in another giant slalom on the same course.
Alessandro Trovati/AP Photo

“Got back at the hotel at 7:30, quick dinner, tried to get to bed as soon as possible, of course watched a little bit of the night slalom in Schladming. Then I woke up at midnight and I was like ‘where are my Goldfish?’ I was snacking at 3 a.m., 5 a.m, I was so hungry. Then at breakfast, I didn’t want to eat because I was too nervous. Then I thought, ‘Why am I so restless cause what is there to prove? What’s going on — it’s just that your mind is kind of never shutting off.’ I was pretty tired finally waking up this morning and coming out here to race.”

Still, all of the grueling rigors of being the consummate champion that she is couldn’t stop Shiffrin herself from once again proving that she is utterly unflappable, performing in a league all of her own.

“I feel like I executed better today — my second run yesterday, both runs of course, but the second run especially was pretty on point,” she said. “It took quite a bit to keep attacking (today) and to do so with good dynamic skiing, so I’m super happy with the day.”

“Mikaela — what she is doing these days, she’s making history every day,” said Norway’s Mohwinckel, runner-up in Wednesday’s GS. “Technically, her skiing is superb. It’s amazing.”

Two victories and a monumental record over two days in the Northern Italian Dolomites resort of Kronplatz, in addition to her triumph here in 2019, Shiffrin couldn’t offer greater praise.

Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after winning an alpine ski, women’s World Cup giant slalom, in Kronplatz, Italy, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.
Gabriele Facciotti/AP Photo

“I love it here – it’s one of the most interesting giant slaloms that we ski and when it’s like it was prepared as it was these past two days, there’s nothing like skiing on this hill,” she said. “It’s like going on a roller coaster, but you have control, kind of.”

Overall, it was a satisfying day for the Stifel U.S. Alpine team in Kronplatz. Paula Moltzan finished seventh, 1.97 seconds behind Shiffrin’s two-run winning time of 2:03.28. Nina O’Brien — who has been trying to regain her confidence since suffering a nasty crash at the Beijing 2022 Olympics — finished tenth, her best World Cup result in more than two years.

Shiffrin revealed that she was able to enjoy a little bit of celebratory Italian red wine, of course with an accompanying dinner after her exhausting day. “We had some really good special pasta with swordfish and vegetables, and this kind of variation of risotto with some sort of a beet, foamy burrata something, all really good … and a tiny little bit of red wine, shhhhhh,” she said, hoping that reporters wouldn’t disclose her choice of beverage to the world.

Further pressed about her choice of red wine over the abundant and popular Prosecco that the region of Italy is renowned for, Shiffrin was blunt, and funny.

“When you get prosecco and/or champagne sprayed on you it starts to smell a lot like wet dog and it becomes something that you don’t really don’t want to drink,” Shiffrin said, referring to the numerous on-mountain, post-race victory celebrations that she has become quite accustomed to. “If you ask any of the athletes, I don’t know if it’s any of our favorites.”

Mikaela Shiffrin speeds down the course during an alpine ski, women’s World Cup giant slalom, in Kronplatz, Italy, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.
Alessandro Trovati/AP Photo

It’s onward for Shiffrin and the U.S. tech squad to Špindlerův Mlýn in the Czech Krkonoše mountains, the venue at which she began her World Cup career in GS and slalom races, just days before her ‘Sweet 16’ birthday, in March 2011. Shiffrin and challengers will race back-to-back slaloms at the Czech resort on Saturday and Sunday.

If all goes as well for Mikaela, as it did in Kronplatz, she could potentially equal Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark’s all-time World Cup victories benchmark of 86 on Sunday, skiing on the race hill where it all began for her 12 years ago.

“I have quite a lot of history with Špindlerův Mlýn, she says with a chuckle, trying to execute the difficult pronunciation. “It’s one of my favorite places to race, probably because it was my first World Cup race. I have memories with my Dad there, both times we skied there, so I think it will also be a little bit difficult to go back this time. I have to say that I’m looking forward to it.”

Follow Brian on Twitter- @Brian_Pinelli

I-70 eastbound reopens following wildland fire in Dotsero

A wildland fire caused I-70 eastbound in Dotsero to close Sunday.
Eagle County PIO/Courtesy photo

UPDATE (9:20 p.m.): I-70 has reopened eastbound, please drive safely.


UPDATE (8 p.m.): Crews are on the scene, and the fire is holding at 1-2 acres without any threats to homes or property, according to an update from the Eagle County PIO Facebook page.

Gypsum Fire Protection District is working in unified command with BLM Colorado Fire with a good initial knockdown,” according to the update. Officials hope to get I-70 eastbound going again momentarily. “The fire is holding at 1-2 acres and no homes or property are being threatened. I-70 westbound is now open and crews are working to open one lane eastbound I-70 soon.”


Interstate 70 is closed eastbound in Dotsero due to a wildland fire south of the road at milemarker 132, according to an EC Alert sent out at approximately 7:09 p.m.

Motorists are asked to use caution in the area, expect delays and please move over for responders.

This story will be updated.

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 and River Radamus place fourth in final Olympic Alpine event

Mikaela Shiffrin (right) of the USA defeats Rebeka Jancova of Slovakia in the first round of the mixed team parallel.
Michael Kappeler/AP Images

While the casual sports fan might assume the Olympics always represent who sits atop a sport, those involved know how fickle the quadrennial event can be when it comes to producing expected results.

“It’s not easy to win, ever,” Mikaela Shiffrin stated in a promotional video on the Olympics website prior to the Games.

The prescient words from the three-time World Cup overall champion have proven painful over the last two-and-a-half weeks. On Sunday, however, one more chance was given to the 26-year-old to win. Her fellow Edwards-based teammate, River Radamus, did everything in his power to get the local pair on the podium, but in the end, there was no pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow course at the Yanquin Alpine Skiing Center.

After 25 mph wind gusts blasting the frigid slopes in Beijing forced Saturday’s event to be moved to Sunday, Shiffrin was given an extra day before her sixth and final event of the Games, joining Slovakian Petra Vlhova as the only athletes to have contested every Alpine event at a single Olympics.

Shiffrin was hoping to tie Julia Mancuso for the most total Olympic medals by a female American Alpine skier. Radamus, whose fourth place in the giant slalom stands as the best individual Vail snowsport athlete performance in Beijing, was also hungry to step up one place and earn his first career Olympic medal. Both joined the powerhouse U.S. squad of Paula Moltzan, Tommy Ford, Luke Winters and A.J. Hurt.

The mixed team event, new in 2018, involves teams of two men and two women going head-to-head in a knockout format. Individuals race down identical runs, with winners earning a point for their team. After all four athletes have competed, any ties for advancing to the next round are broken by total aggregate time.

Switzerland took the title in the Pyeongchang debut, with Austria in silver and Norway bronze.

The Americans were flawless in the first round, winning 3-1 over the Vlhova-less Slovakians (the slalom gold medalist departed the Games early because of injury). Starting with Shiffrin, who used a great start to immediately gap Rebeka Jancova and cruise to a 0.64 second victory, the U.S. followed with a Radamus win and a Paula Moltzan 1.45-second drubbing to go up 3-0 before Ford narrowly lost.

In the quarterfinal, Moltzan led off, running in the blue course, which ran safer and faster all day. The Minnesota-native, who grew up skiing on Buck Hill, just like Lindsey Vonn, did her job, defeating the decorated Federica Brignone by 0.56 seconds.

River Radamus skied flawlessly in the mixed team parallel event on Sunday in Beijing.
Alessandro Trovati/AP photo

Luca de Aliprandini, the best Italian skier, went off the course against Tommy Ford, earning the Americans a surprising second point. Up 2-0, Shiffrin, on the slower red course, lost to Marta Bassino by just 0.02 seconds, putting the pressure on Radamus. The Vail skier delivered, defeating Alex Vinatzer by 0.76 seconds.

In one semifinal, Norway, fresh off an upset of France, battled Austria, eventually falling to the Alpine powerhouse on time.

In the other, Shiffrin opened against Lena Duerr of Germany. On the red course, the American barreled out of the gate, taking an early lead, but Duerr gained separation on the seemingly advantageous bottom drop specific to the blue course, winning by 0.10 seconds. Radamus evened things up, winning his heat by 0.76 seconds despite a slight fumble out of the gate, embracing Shiffrin at the bottom.

Paula Moltzan leads Petra Hromcova of Slovakia during the mixed team parallel skiing event at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Sunday.
Luca Bruno/AP photo

Both Moltzan and Germany’s Emma Eicher fell in their dual, but Eicher made it farther down the course, earning the point and a 2-to-1 lead. After Tommy Ford lost in the fourth run, hopes for a medal hinged on a win against Norway in the bronze medal competition.

Moltzan bounced back right away, defeating Maria Therese Tviberg to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. Norway’s Fabian Wilkens Solheim defeated Tommy Ford by 0.94 seconds to tie things up as Shiffrin waited to go, the pressure on once again. Skiing aggressively, Shiffrin couldn’t overcome the red course curse, putting the Americans down 2-1.

In their final chance, Norway’s Timon Haugan fell before the final gate. To his left and in the lead anyway, Radamus did everything he possibly could, skiing aggressively to finish in 24.04. With the tiebreak coming down to the team with the faster female time, owned by Norway’s Thea Louise Stjernesund, it was Norway winding up with the bronze.

“It’s heavy. Those are the sort of moments you work your whole life for,” Radamus said about his final run to NBC.

“Falling short like that stings, but I thought I really focused well and attacked as hard as I could.”

“I get that people will say we came up short, but to have this depth on our team, competing in a European-dominated sport, all of us, with these guys skiing so strongly,” Shiffrin said, pausing to address Radamus directly on the broadcast.

“River, we’re watching you at the bottom there. The fact that you were skiing so strongly and even gave us hope — that’s the biggest win you could ever give us.”

“My teammates are what carried me through these Olympics,” she stated.

In the final, Austria defeated Germany on time to claim their first gold in the event.

Tess Johnson places third at Tremblant, Canada World Cup mogul event

Tess Johnson competes in the qualifications of a freestyle skiing World Cup moguls event in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022.
Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP

World No. 1 Jakara Anthony opened the door, and Ski and Snowboard Club Vail athletes Tess Johnson and Elizabeth Lemley put their proverbial feet in it.

Competing in her first career World Cup, the 15-year-old Lemley qualified for the super final and finished as the second American and fourth overall, while teammate Tess Johnson inched closer to a second U.S. Olympic team bid with her second podium finish of the season, placing third.

“I’m feeling really happy, I just had so much fun today, and I’m really proud to land on the podium after a stressful Christmas and only two days of training,” Johnson told reporters at the finish line. “I took it one run at a time and just focused my attention toward my queues. I also want to congratulate Liz for such an incredible debut. We were only 0.01 points apart, so in a way I share this success with her. It’s always so fun to ski in a Supers with teammates.”

Lemley, who earned two second-place finishes in the individual moguls and won the dual moguls event at U.S. Selections in Winter Park in December, was first to go in the super final and posted a score of 79.24.

“I had a ton of fun today,” Lemley told U.S. Ski and Snowboard.

“All of my mental thoughts were really good. I think the course was fabulous and it’s always great to ski a nice course. Everything about (today) was fun, and I just felt really strong.”

Anthony, fresh off her sweep of the dual and individual moguls at the most recent World Cup in Alpe d’Huez, France, was late to her landing off of the first jump. She couldn’t recover, and her score of 77.40, as well as American Olivia Giaccio’s 77.04, had the youngster in pole position with just four athletes remaining.

Those four would ski cleanly, however, with Japan’s Anri Kawamura posting a winning score of 81.76 on the final run, besting France’s Perrine Laffont by 0.33 points and kicking the World Cup rookie off the podium. Johnson’s second third-place finish in a row could be significant in the Beijing Olympic selection process.

Jaelin Kauf and Hannah Soar have already secured two of the objective Olympic spots on account of their second- and sixth-place rankings, respectively, on the FIS points list. The final objective selection, to be determined by an athlete’s best finish at one of the designated tryout events, currently belongs to Giaccio courtesy of her victory in the Ruka, Finland, opener Dec. 4. Johnson needs a win Saturday in Tremblant or in one of the two events in Deer Valley, Utah next weekend, to force a tie with Giaccio for the final objective spot.

If both athletes were to possess a first-place finish, the second-highest point result from one of the mogul tryout events would be used. Johnson now has two third-place finishes, while Giaccio’s second-best finish is her sixth-place from Friday.

SSCV’s Kai Owens, who also has a top-three finish in a qualifying event (she was third in Ruka, Finland, on Dec. 4), did not compete in Canada.

On the men’s side, no athlete was ranked in the Dec. 14 FIS points list, meaning the three selections will come from athletes who acquire at least a podium finish in one of the qualifying events. So far, the best result in one of the designated events is a fourth-place finish by Cole McDonald at the Alpe d’Huez, France dual moguls event.

According to the selection procedures, “If no U.S. athlete has had one (1) top three result, in the Tryout Events, then any remaining quota slots will be evaluated under Discretionary Selection Procedures in Section 2 or the Remaining Team Nomination Criteria in Section 3.”

Dylan Walczyk, another SSCV alumnus, competed in Tremblant as well, placing 11th as the second American, behind Nick Page in seventh. In the current World Cup overall moguls standings, Walczyk is now the fourth American, 16th overall, just seven points behind of Page, who had trailed him before the competition but now sits in 14th.

Three more tryout mogul events remain: one in Tremblant, Canada, Saturday, and two more in Deer Valley, Utah, next weekend. The Team USA Olympics team nomination is set for Jan. 18.

I-70 reopened eastbound in Eagle

I-70 eastbound at milemarker 147 has reopened in Eagle after an hour-long safety closure.

Snowy conditions have made for slippery roads on the eve of Thanksgiving. As travelers come into town and skiers hit the mountains, motorists are advised to drive with caution and keep an eye out for hazards.


I-70 through Glenwood Canyon reopens Tuesday afternoon following flood warning

Interstate 70 is under another safety closure in both directions through Glenwood Canyon Tuesday afternoon, with a flash flood warning in effect.

A flood watch was issued earlier Tuesday and was upgraded to a warning shortly after 3 p.m., with heavy rains predicted above the Grizzly Creek burn scar.

The closure is in place between milemarkers 87 (Rifle) and 133 (Dotsero) eastbound, and between 133 and 116 westbound, according to a Colorado Department of Transportation news alert.

“The safety closure is in place to protect motorists from the potential of flash floods, mudslides, rockfall or other hazards that can be triggered by heavy rains at the location of Grizzly Creek burn scar area,” CDOT said in the release.

The closure will remain in place through the duration of the Flash Flood Warning, which is forecast to end at 5 p.m., CDOT said.

“If a debris flow or mudslide occurs, motorists should be aware that I-70 will be closed for a longer period of time to allow maintenance crews to clear the highway.”

In that case, motorists are advised to take the northern alternate route through Steamboat Springs via state Highways 13, 131 and 9 and U.S. 40, or they may wait out the Flash Flood Warning and safety closure.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

UPDATE: Cost of 12-day-old Sylvan Fire nearly $5M

6 p.m. update: EAGLE — The Sylvan Fire is on its heels, but it’s certainly not finished nearly two weeks since igniting south of Eagle in the White River National Forest near the popular Sylvan Lake State Park.

For a large wildfire that quickly became the top priority incident in the Rocky Mountain region due to threats to watersheds and power lines, things have mostly broken the right way.

“Between the weather and being able to get resources when we needed them, things went very well,” said Michelle Kelly, a public information officer with the Rocky Mountain Fire District. “There was more good work out there today. The rain didn’t hit until later. They’ve been able to get direct hand line and have been working to get some more containment. There have been no real issues. They’re not finding a lot of heat still out there.”

Assorted trucks and trailers are set up at a camp near Sylvan Lake State Park. The Sylvan Fire is 58% contained and more rain fell on the fire Friday.
Special to the Daily

As the weather warms up and the area dries out, however, that could change.

“They’ll keep watching it,” Kelly said. “As we move into more of a drying trend, we’ll have a presence out there.”

Earlier this week, Rob Powell, the operations section chief on the fire, called the rain a blessing for Eagle County in a Facebook video. He described the fire activity as “smoldering, skunking around due to the rain.”

More rain fell Friday, but Kelly said some of the heavier precipitation seen throughout the valley missed the fire area.

The fire’s size remains at 3,792 acres on Friday, nearly six square miles. It is 58% contained. There are 389 personnel working the fire, according to the most recent Thursday update on fire’s Incident Information System page, down from a peak of 425.

Moving in, moving out

Those personnel numbers will continue to decline as the Rocky Mountain Type I Incident Management Team turns over control of the fire to a local team by 7 p.m. Saturday.

Kelly described that transition in detail Friday.

“We go through and evaluate what processes we would recommend, operations ideas, logistics for the firefighters that are continuing to work here, as well as recommendations for getting information to the public about the fire,” she said. “We just had our transition meeting, where we get into a brief history of the fire and what the team is leaving in place.”

She also said the local Type III team taking over the fire shadows the Type-I team leading up to the transition, which is set to take place at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Costs add up quickly

The cost of the fire, as of Friday, was estimated at $4.9 million and counting. Kelly said the bill will be footed by U.S. Forest Service funds, since the fire is burning in the White River National Forest.

That covers everything from the money paid to personnel on the ground to those in the air, as well as equipment costs, food costs, lodging costs, gas, and anything else you can think of when it comes to such a large-scale effort.

“Everything is accounted for,” Kelly said. “The finance section tracks every order number and everything that’s ordered is paid for, every person that’s working, the food we eat, the lodging.”

One of those order numbers: the large machinery that has been ordered to clear out some of the most hard-to-reach areas of the fire, particularly on the southeast corner of the blaze where Kelly said the terrain wasn’t safe to send in hand crews.

One of the pieces of logging machinery being used is a Timbco feller buncher, which grabs onto a tree and brings it down with a hot saw. The work is fast, and other equipment is used to grab the fallen timber and deck the logs for hauling away.

“Up near the powerline road, down in that area, it’s unsafe, full of snags and a lot of heavy timber that’s real dense,” Kelly said. “The equipment has a cage, so if a tree falls, the likelihood of it smacking an operator is very small.”

Firefighters ask for the public’s support in steering clear of the area. There is still fire and firefighting activity throughout the area.
Special to the Daily

As firefighters continue to manage the ongoing fire activity, the team managing the fire asks that out of the interest of public and firefighter safety, people continue to stay out of the area.

Sylvan Fire at a glance

Location: Eagle County, White River National Forest in Sylvan Lake State Park, 16 miles south of Eagle

Size: 3,792 acres

Fuel: Spruce-Fir

Cause: Suspected lightning, still under investigation

Date of Ignition: June 20 around 3:15 PM

Firefighting Personnel: 394

Containment: 50%

Though lightning is suspected as cause of the fire, the incident is still under investigation.

For the latest information about pre-evacuation or evacuation notices or fire restrictions on non-Federal lands, visit ECemergency.org. Officials are also reminding the public that wildfires are a No Drone Zone, and if you fly, they can’t.