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Preps April 20: Aspen girls lacrosse stays perfect, records fall in track

The Aspen High School girls lacrosse team refuses to be beaten. Facing a solid Conifer team Saturday on the AHS turf, the Skiers rolled to a 17-7 win to stay perfect on the season. Unranked Conifer dropped to 9-3 overall, while No. 9 Aspen improved to 10-0. Other than a 14-10 win at Air Academy, all of Aspen’s wins this season have come by at least 10 points.

The Skiers next play Wednesday at Eagle Valley before hosting Arapahoe on Saturday.

The AHS boys lacrosse team took care of business this weekend on its two-game road swing, winning 18-6 at Durango on Friday and then beating Montrose on Saturday, 20-2.

Ranked No. 8 in 4A entering the week, the Skiers improve to 6-4 overall. Next up, Aspen will travel to Grand Junction on Thursday and to Telluride on Friday. The GJ game had originally been scheduled for Tuesday in Aspen.

Aspen girls soccer crushes Faith Christian in playoff rematch

In a rematch of a 2018 playoff game, the Aspen High School girls soccer team made easy work of Faith Christian on Saturday, winning 10-1 at Iselin Field. The two teams had played in the first round of the 3A playoffs last season, Aspen winning 1-0 in overtime.

Saturday’s rematch was a different story. Aided by two own goals, Aspen led 5-0 at halftime. Sophomore Kelley Francis scored three goals, while five others also found the back of the net. Francis has scored at least three goals in four straight games and has 26 on the season. She set the school’s single-season record as a freshman last spring with 32.

Faith Christian, which had come from behind to beat Basalt 4-3 in overtime on Friday, fell to 5-6 overall after Saturday’s loss. Ranked No. 4 in 3A this week, Aspen improved to 9-2 overall and extended its winning streak to seven games.

The Skiers next play Tuesday at Grand Valley (6-3) before hosting Roaring Fork on Thursday.

Aspen girls tennis takes two wins at Snowmass Club

The Aspen High School girls tennis team went 2-0 over the weekend in its final home matches of the season.

Friday at Snowmass Club, the Skiers beat Paonia, 6-1. Mary Williams (No. 1) and Karina Keller (No. 3) both rolled to easy singles wins, while No. 2 player Macy Hopkinson lost a 3-6, 4-6 contest.

The No. 1 and 2 doubles teams both won by default, while the 3 and 4 teams cruised to easy wins, as well.

Saturday, again at Snowmass Club, Aspen beat Cedaredge, 6-1. Williams, Hopkinson and Keller all won their singles matches, losing only a combined two games between them. AHS went 3-1 in doubles play against the Bruins, losing at No. 1 doubles after a tiebreaker.

The Skiers have one more match remaining in the regular season, a trip to Dawson School on Friday. Regionals are the following week.

Aspen baseball still winless after loss to Coal Ridge

The Aspen High School baseball team fell into a 4-0 hole after half an inning en route to an 8-2 loss against visiting Coal Ridge on Saturday at Crawford Field. The Titans improved to 5-8 overall while AHS fell to 0-12. The Skiers next play Tuesday at Gunnison.

School records fall in track for Aspen and Basalt

The Aspen and Basalt High School track and field teams competed at the Coal Ridge Invitational on Friday in New Castle, with a school record falling for each.

For Basalt, senior Megan Maley broke the school record in the girls 800-meter run with a time of 2 minutes, 22.55 seconds. She won the race in a sprint finish against Vail Christian’s Kendelle Smith (2:22.96). Maley’s time should vault her into the top 10 in 3A for the event. She also finished third in the 400-meter dash.

For Aspen, the girls 4×400 relay team set a new school mark of 4:16.57, a five-second improvement over the previous record. It was a nearly 30-second improvement over their seed time.

The foursome of Kendall Clark, Zuleika Hanson, Laurel Yule and Maggie Woodrow, all underclassmen, took third in that race, finishing about a second behind Moffat County and Cedaredge.

Also of note for Basalt was sophomore Sierra Bower, who won the mile with a time of 5:18.33, which shaved more than two seconds off her previous best mile time this spring. Bower also finished fourth in the 800-meter run.

For the BHS boys, Rulbe Alvarado was second in the 200-meter dash (23.55) and Ben Williams fifth in the 110-meter hurdles.

Aspen also had a winner with Nicholas Galambos taking first in the boys mile in 4:49.68, a nine-second improvement over his seed time. He’ll likely need to shave another second or two off that time to make the field for the state meet.

The AHS girls had three fifth-place finishes with Clark (800), Julisa Ruiz-Vega (100-meter dash) and the 4×200-meter relay team. The BHS girls 800-meter sprint medley relay also took fifth.

The Basalt girls finished seventh as a team, while Aspen was 14th. The BHS boys finished 15th and the AHS boys 19th.

Aspen Junior Gents rugby wins big over Cherry Creek

The Aspen Junior Gents rugby team rolled to a 60-19 win over Cherry Creek on Saturday at Willits Field. It was the fourth win in a row for Aspen, which is now 4-1 overall. They are scheduled to have one final home game next weekend.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Olympian Tom Jager, wife Becky, take over as Aspen Swim Club coaches

After a lifetime in and around the pool, retirement wasn’t quite as eventful as Tom and Becky Jager may have envisioned. So, after only nine months away, they decided to get back into it by taking over as the coaches of the Aspen Swim Club.

“We’ve been married 30-something years and that was the first time we didn’t have a team we were responsible for and lo and behold we missed being part of it,” Becky said earlier this month from their home in Glenwood Springs. “It’s a different ball game. This is the happy, beautiful side of swimming. That’s refreshing.”

The Jagers began coaching the team this spring, taking over for Gordon Gerson, who was pushing a decade as the club’s coach before deciding to step away. A cardiologist in the Roaring Fork Valley, Gerson wanted more time with the family and stumbled upon the perfect replacements in the Jagers.

Over the course of a handful of months, Gerson and the swim club’s board, which is predominantly made of parents of the swimmers, convinced the Jagers to take over. It was quite the find, considering their impressive background in the sport.

“It was great to have a year off. For us, swimming has always been a part of our lives,” Tom said. “What a great opportunity to have. This is a lot more low key than a (Division I) job. For me, this is natural.”

THE RESUME

Most recently, Tom had been the head coach for the women’s swim team at Washington State University in Pullman, having taken over the program prior to the 2011-12 season. He officially left in June.

Prior to coaching the Cougars, Tom had restarted the swim team at the University of Idaho, in nearby Moscow. The Jagers also had owned their own club team and know plenty about coaching at all levels, and certainly have an affinity for the mountain lifestyle.

“We just saw a lot of similarities with that type of community feel with the Aspen program, and that’s a tribute to Gordon and those parents,” Becky said. “They are connected through the sport.”

Becky, who was a college history professor, also moonlighted as a swim coach. Her background is impressive in its own right, including when she helped coach Tom when he was at his peak. One of the most decorated swimmers in U.S. history, Tom won seven Olympic medals, including five gold medals in relay events, dating back to his first in the 1984 games. He also competed in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.

“What I felt I learned from the sport of swimming is the process is important,” Tom said. “If you want to be good at something, that consistent, daily drive and the focus is really important. Swimming can be that foundation.”

One of the greatest sprinters in American history, Tom broke the long course 50-meter freestyle world record on six occasions. His best time of 21.81 seconds, set in 1990, held for nearly a decade. He also won two world championships in the event (1986, 1991).

A native of Illinois, Tom was a star swimmer at UCLA, where he won six NCAA championships. He’s in the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

HOME SWEET HOME

The Jagers, who have two adult sons, have been coming to the valley most of their lives. They’ve had their home in Glenwood for five years, although prior to retirement only used it sparingly.

“My favorite pool in the world is Glenwood Hot Springs, and I’ve been all over the world and I’ve seen a lot of them,” Tom said with a laugh. “It seems like a good place for an old guy to retire.”

They learned of the club through their neighbors, whose niece had been a Speedo. It was hardly an instant yes, but over time the idea of returning to coaching grew on them.

Then, after getting the chance to coach the swimmers one afternoon as a sort of trial run, the decision was made.

“They were really engaging and super polite,” Becky said of the kids. “They worked so hard to try and do exactly what we said. They seemed very, very coachable. Clearly Gordon has got them to where they really respect and listen to the coach. So once we met the kids, we were like, ‘We can do this.’”

TAKING OVER

The program Gerson built over his nine years in charge is undeniably stellar. Despite its small size, the Aspen Swim Club has been able to hold its own against larger clubs, at least in terms of individual talent.

He helped send numerous swimmers to college, including current Aspen High School senior Davy Brown, who is headed to Colorado Mesa University. Prior to Brown, there was Kennidy Quist, now at Harvard; Emily Driscoll, now at Occidental College; L.J. Fetzko, now at Hawaii; and Kelli Callahan, now at Puget Sound, among others.

Led by Quist, the AHS girls swim team, made with many of the club swimmers, won the 2017 state championship under coach Kathleen Callahan.

Not that the Jagers want this to influence what they plan to do.

“I don’t want to come in with any preexisting ideas or anything, because that’s in my experience the best way to start a job. Be fresh. Everyone is fresh to us. Everyone has a clean slate, which is great,” Tom said. “What Gordon has done in a small town, to build this program up with the swimmers that he has, is really great. We are really appreciative that he would entrust it onto us.”

The Jagers certainly inherit plenty of young talent, including eighth-grader Lillie Boggs, who is proving to be one of the best long-distance swimmers for her age in the state’s history.

However, getting swimmers to college would only be the icing on the cake to the sort of program they hope to run.

“In college, there is a lot of tension. This is my 51st year in swimming, so I get to choose whether I want the tension or not. With kids and swimming, they want to be there,” Tom said. “Some of them go on to be great musicians, great teachers, some of them go on to be great swimmers, but they all have this swimming in common. We enjoy that. It helps both of us. It’s a great opportunity for us to give back and be a part of it and not just drift away into nowhere land. It keeps us connected with the community.”

The Aspen Swim Club’s first meet with the Jagers will be May 3 to 5 in Thornton.

SO, CAN THEY SKI?

It’s an important question when living in the Roaring Fork Valley. Considering they also have a ski condo near Schweitzer Mountain Resort in northern Idaho, the short answer is yes.

At least, Becky is pretty good. Tom’s skills are questionable.

“Tom says he is a beginner, but he has been skiing for a long time,” Becky said. “He just doesn’t enjoy it as much as the rest of us.”

To which Tom responded, “Everyone needs a good equipment man.”

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Now a national champion, Faulhaber talks about surprise season in ski pipe

This was supposed to be a feeling out season for Hanna Faulhaber, not so much one to conquer the competition.

Oh well.

“Going into Rev Tour, me and my coaches were, ‘We’re going to go experience it, not really expect much.’ Then as the season progressed it got better and better,” Faulhaber said. “It all built up and made my confidence level go up.”

A freshman at Basalt High School, the 14-year-old Faulhaber recently completed her first season competing at the FIS level, where she predominantly is a halfpipe skier. Expectations were realistic, for lack of a better word, for Faulhaber entering the season. After all, there’s no reason to think a newbie to the FIS stage could compete with kids that have four or five years of experience already.

Then, she started winning. She won the women’s halfpipe contest on Feb. 12 at Copper Mountain, a Revolution Tour event, for her first major victory. Only a few days later, she finished third at the Aspen Freeskiing Open, a Nor-Am Cup event, which was arguably a more impressive result than her Rev Tour win.

On top of it all, she also competed in January’s FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Leysin, Switzerland, where she finished sixth in the finals.

To cap it off, Faulhaber competed in the USASA National Championships earlier this month at Copper Mountain, where she won the women’s halfpipe contest for her first national championship. She even took third in the slopestyle contest a day later.

While FIS requires athletes to be at least 14 to compete, USASA events, including nationals, do not have those age requirements, allowing Faulhaber to have competed at nationals last year.

“It meant a lot because last year it wasn’t as good,” Faulhaber said of winning this year. “I hit my head a little bit and then the ski patrollers grabbed me and said, ‘You have a concussion,’ and they would let me go in the pipe again but wouldn’t let me compete. It was quite a redemption this year.”

Faulhaber also battled with a concussion this year, hindering her learning the trick that set her apart at nationals, a flare, which is basically a backflip with a small rotation. She landed the trick for the first time in competition at nationals.

“There were a few girls that were doing a flare. But just a week prior to going to nationals I decked the halfpipe and fell back in and got a concussion doing a flare,” Faulhaber said. “I started doing it in the bag in December to get to snow in January. I would also slip out onto my hip so I gave it a big break and then came back to it and started landing it, then got concussed.”

Healthy at nationals, it all came together. Now she will look toward her second season at the FIS level with even more possibilities out there. She plans to compete in many of the same events, but could add something a bit bigger, such as the Copper Grand Prix, or other similar Nor-Am or World Cup events. She’ll also compete at the New Zealand Freeski Open. Faulhaber’s mother is from New Zealand, a place she has been many times, but this would be her first significant competition there.

Faulhaber said for her to compete at that higher level she will need to work on getting more air.

“Amplitude is a big one,” she said. “I have a problem with speed checking, because I’m a little nervous going into a trick. I speed check and then I lose amplitude as the run goes on.”

Just something else for the rising star to conquer.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Clubhouse Chronicles: Looking ahead to the summer at AVSC

Last week, we celebrated the end of our competitive season with our annual awards banquet. We recognized community members for their hard work, great results and strong character.

It was nice to gather and reflect on all that’s gone on in the past couple of months, a time during which athletes and staff were constantly on the go, bouncing around the continent, and in some cases, the world. It’s always nice to hit pause and appreciate all our teams have accomplished, but unsurprisingly, after a brief respite, our athletes are eager to get back into the mountains and push themselves and their peers!

We are looking forward to a great summer at AVSC. Summer is a fun time for us — full of cross-training, exploring our backyard on bikes, foot and more. We build strength, we work with new coaches and teammates, and some of us will travel far afield in search of snow. Much of this training is intentional, building toward starting our winter season on the strongest foot possible. Yet it’s also a time to try new things, work on our general athleticism, explore our surroundings and have a lot of fun. We have an awesome lineup of programs to keep local athletes of all ages busy, whether they’re currently enrolled in an AVSC program or not.

We are excited to be celebrating our 10th summer of mountain biking at AVSC. This summer, we are offering four levels of programming, starting with free introductory programs and continuing all the way up to a full-fledged mountain bike team, which will compete in the Aspen Cycling Club mountain bike races as well as the Aspen Snowmass Enduro series. A developmental program will bridge the gap between the two. On top of the technical skills honed, bikers at all levels will learn about bike maintenance and safety, environmental stewardship, and our local trail systems.

Last year was our first offering free introductory mountain bike programming, thanks in large part to a fleet of bicycles donated by Giant; we’re excited to build on that this summer in Carbondale and Aspen. AVSC’s mission is to provide all youth in the greater Roaring Fork Valley the opportunity to excel as athletes and as people through winter sports — biking in the summer is a natural extension of that effort. Our coaches inspire our athletes to excel, chasing passions and developing grit while becoming a part of our mountain community and culture. Whether on snow or dirt, the value and ethos of the experience remains the same.

The competitive bike team will be coached by Sari Anderson (our Spring Gulch Bill Koch Youth Ski League director), a former professional mountain bike and adventure racer who has many (multi-sport) endurance titles under her belt, including a U.S. Mountain Bike Marathon National Championship title. Sari is excited to provide high-level training, take our competitive bike program to the next level, and offer some special clinics such as women’s-specific rides.

Beyond mountain biking, we have many summer programs both at home and abroad. Thanks to Aspen Skiing Co., our freestyle and snowboard athletes will work on air awareness at Buttermilk Glacier, the training park that is built out of the leftover snow from X Games. Our eldest alpine athletes are headed to Norway to train with Lars Kristoffersen, father of Henrik Kristoffersen, Olympic medalist and 2019 World Cup champion. We have trampoline and ramp camps at the Hildebrand Sideyard Project at the AVSC clubhouse, a favorite of Olympic silver medalist Alex Ferreira. There are fitness camps geared toward our Nordic athletes (starting at age 10) that anyone — Nordic athlete or not — is welcome to join.

Check out www.teamavsc.org/summer to register or learn more.

Clubhouse Chronicles is a twice-a-month, behind-the-scenes column written by the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club during the winter months. It runs in the Friday Outdoors section.

Third-quarter momentum carries Steamboat boys lacrosse past Aspen in pivotal non-conference game

Neither side with much of an advantage midway through Wednesday’s top-10 matchup, the opening minutes of the third quarter proved crucial in a key win for the Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse team against one of its main non-conference rivals.

“These guys are doing a really good job of responding in the third quarter, which is just huge for a lacrosse game to steal that momentum out of halftime,” SSHS coach Jay Lattimore said. “That was definitely the turning point in the game.”

A goal by Steamboat’s Jacob Gilbertson not even two minutes into the second half broke a tie and helped carry the Sailors to an 8-6 win over Aspen High School on the AHS turf. Ranked No. 8 in Class 4A this week and looking for an important RPI boost, the Skiers struggled to find the net after halftime against No. 7-ranked Steamboat.

Trailing 2-0 roughly midway through the first quarter, Aspen answered with back-to-back goals by Robbie Fitzgerald and Tyler Ward in less than a minute to draw even. Steamboat’s Ryan McNamara followed with a goal only 20 seconds after Ward’s equalizer to make it 3-2 SSHS after a quarter.

The defenses settled in throughout the second quarter, but Fitzgerald still managed to score twice more, his second of the quarter giving AHS a 4-3 lead with just over four minutes remaining until the break. McNamara’s second goal about 90 seconds later made it 4-4 at halftime.

“We just kind of kept our composure,” Lattimore said. “We were forcing it a lot in the beginning and kind of beating ourselves up a little bit. So we just kind of slowed it down a little bit and tried to play the lacrosse we know we can play.”

Steamboat outscored Aspen 3-0 in the third quarter to take a 7-4 lead. Aspen’s Dominic Lanese got one of them back, scoring with about eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but the offense couldn’t find a way to get any closer. Steamboat put the game away with a Jackson Lynch goal with a touch over two minutes remaining.

Ward put in one more in the closing minute for the final 8-6 margin.

“We were by far the better team. The story of us is we play great at the beginning and we tend to get a little sloppy and make some mistakes,” Aspen coach Tommy Cox said. “We are growing as a team and I think if we were to see this team again it would be a completely different score. It’s crazy how a couple of mistakes can change the tune of the game.”

Steamboat improved to 10-3 overall with the win, one that keeps the Sailors in contention for a possible top-five seed in the 4A playoffs. Steamboat plays at Eagle Valley on Thursday before closing out the season May 3 against Vail Mountain.

“It’s just huge. We want to get to 12-3 and we just made it a little easier on ourselves to get there,” Lattimore said. “We needed two non-conference wins. The three non-conference teams we lost to are top-six teams in the state, so we didn’t want to slip up here in Aspen.”

It was a missed opportunity for an Aspen team that fell to 4-4 overall and remains on the playoff bubble with only a couple of weeks to go in the regular season.

“Like I said, come out hard and we will continue on with growth every day,” Cox said. “We just got to come out and learn from today and move forward.”

Aspen next heads on the road for games at Durango and Montrose on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Preps April 16: AHS girls soccer, lacrosse roll to easy wins

Now 10 games into the season, the Aspen High School girls soccer team seems to have finally settled into its lofty preseason expectations.

“I feel like we are less nervous,” AHS senior Ellie Oates said. “Last year and the first few games I was definitely really nervous, and I’m not as nervous in these recent games and that’s definitely helped.”

Playing much like the team that made the 3A state semifinals last spring, the Skiers rolled to another win Tuesday, this a 7-0 romp over visiting Coal Ridge on the AHS turf. It was 3-0 at halftime and never all that competitive.

Sophomore Kelley Francis led the way with three goals, while Oates had two. Junior Payton Curley and senior Clara Maxwell each chipped in a goal.

Zulieka Hanson and Ella Trane split time in net to help the Skiers to their fourth shutout in five games, and third straight.

“We’ve been communicating more,” AHS senior Jasmin Hanson said of the defense. “We’ve been trying to work on who gets the ball, who has players, and then who is going to go up with the ball and pass to the midfield. So we are trying to connect with the midfield.”

With the loss, Coal Ridge fell to 4-5-1 overall and 1-2 in 3A Western Slope League play.

Ranked No. 4 in 3A this week, Aspen improved to 8-2 overall and 5-0 in WSL play. The Skiers have won six straight, all coming since spring break.

Next up will be a Saturday morning home game against Faith Christian (4-5). The last time the Eagles came to Aspen was for the first round of the state playoffs last May, Payton Curley’s overtime goal giving AHS the 1-0 win.

Faith Christian also plays Friday at Basalt.

ASPEN GIRLS LACROSSE HANDLES GRAND JUNCTION

Much like its being doing all season, the Aspen High School girls lacrosse team made easy work of its opponent on Tuesday, beating Grand Junction 19-2 on Iselin Field in Aspen. The Skiers scored 11 goals by halftime and both of the Tigers’ goals came late when the game was well out of hand.

Charlotte Howie had a team-high five goals for Aspen, while Kylie Kenny and Sabrina Turbidy each had three. Six others had at least one goal. Howie also led the team with four assists.

Grand Junction fell to 4-6 overall. Aspen, ranked No. 9 in the state this week, remains perfect at 8-0 overall. The Skiers next host a struggling Montrose team on Thursday before a big non-league home matchup with Conifer (8-2) on Saturday.

BASALT BASEBALL GETS FIRST WIN, BEATS ASPEN

The Basalt High School baseball team got its first win under coach Rob Smith on Tuesday by beating rival Aspen 8-0 on the BHS field. The Longhorns scored three runs in the first inning and five in the fourth for the shutout win.

The teams had intended to play a doubleheader and got through six innings of the second game, Basalt leading 5-0, before it was called for darkness. Smith said the team was still waiting to hear from CHSAA on whether the second game score would stand or if the game would need to be completed.

Without factoring in the second game, the win improved Basalt to 1-6 overall, while Aspen fell to 0-10.

AHS GIRLS GOLF STRONG IN RIFLE

The Aspen High School girls golf team competed Tuesday at Rifle Creek Golf Course, hosted by Rifle High School. The Skiers finished third as a team in the 10-team tournament behind winner Grand Junction and Palisade. AHS senior Zoe Guthrie shot an 18-over 90 to finish in third place. Rifle’s Masi Smith and Grand Junction’s Brittlynn O’Dell each shot 10-over 82. Aspen’s Avery Hirsch shot 99 to tie for eighth, while Julia Higdon shot 109 to tie for 22nd.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Aspen Cycling Club gearing up for new season

As the new president for the Aspen Cycling Club, Andy Ralston finds himself in a bit of a dream role. The nonprofit organization is a consistent presence most Wednesdays during the summer in the Roaring Fork Valley, and Ralston enjoys bringing it to life.

“It’s super fun. You get to build a fantasy calendar of bike rides around Aspen and then actually make it happen, which is amazing,” he said. “People should just be able to show up on Wednesday night and have a friendly, easy reception and jump in and have a good time.”

The Aspen Cycling Club is gearing up for another season, with the first of 16 races scheduled for May 1. Those 16 events are split equally between road and mountain bike races.

To get everyone amped up for the fast-approaching season, the club will host a 6 p.m. kick-off party Wednesday at Home Team BBQ, located at the base of Buttermilk Ski Area.

“We are trying to give our racers a chance to meet the board, meet the sponsors, ask questions — give a little more of a human face to the club, so people can spot us at races,” Ralston said.

Then, on Monday, the club will host a free road racing skills clinic at 5:30 p.m. Led by local legend Dean Hill, the clinic will allow newbies and veterans alike to fine-tune their skills before the first races. The clinic is going to be held at the Aspen Motorsports Park in Woody Creek, barring any weather issues.

The clinic is part of the bigger plan of getting more people on bikes.

“That’s geared toward people who might be a little intimidated by road bike ricing, because it can be scary to jump in a pack of 20 riders for your first time and not really know anybody and you are moving fast,” Ralston said. “Dean is super tuned into that stuff, and he’ll give good, easy-to-digest advice.”

The first race of 2019 will be the May 1 Lower River Road Time Trial. While opening with a time trial is commonplace, in recent years the first event had usually been the Difficult Time Trial toward Independence Pass, but they decided to move it downvalley due to the unreliable weather this time of year.

The first mountain bike race is scheduled for May 15, the Prince Creek Circuit near Carbondale. Many of the popular and established races are back, such as the Emma Roubaix, Sky Mountain Park mountain bike race, the Missouri Heights road race and the season-ending Maroon Bells Time Trial on Sept. 4.

Once again sponsored by The North Face, the Aspen Cycling Club also went through a visual rebranding this past offseason, with a new logo and new look for their website. As great as The North Face has been to the club, Ralston said they are still hoping to add more sponsors throughout the summer.

“It’s been a tough year in terms of fundraising and we are looking at ways for sponsors to come on, even during the season,” he said. “They don’t have to sign on preseason, and we are open to creative ideas for how people can support the club.”

Ralston, 30, replaces Tyler Newton as the club’s president. Ralston moved to the valley from New York City in 2014 and has been on the board of directors the past few seasons. He currently works as the business development manager for Backbone Media in Carbondale.

Ralston founded a bike racing club back in college, allowing him to learn about his love for working behind-the-scenes in the sport. He’s hoping to bring that same passion into his role with the Aspen Cycling Club.

“Tyler Newton was president for three years and kept the club in amazing shape. I’m inheriting something that is up and running really well,” Ralston said. “It’s awesome that we can present 16 of those races every year. But we also, with things like the skills clinic, want to make it easy for people who are new to bike racing to jump in. With Tyler, the club started off down that path and I’d like to continue in that direction to make it more accessible.”

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Colbert’s Prep Playbook: Taking stock of local track athletes with a month to go until the state meet

We are exactly one month away from the start of the state track and field meet — held May 16 to 18 in Lakewood — so I figure this is a good time to check in and see which of our local athletes have a chance at qualifying.

Coming off the excitement of the 2017 state meet, in which Aspen High School senior Sunday Abarca won his third straight state title in the 400-meter dash, the 2018 meet lacked any real contenders between AHS and Basalt. In fact, Aspen didn’t have anyone qualify.

But the 2019 meet is shaping up to be much better. Both teams have a few podium hopefuls with a couple having a shot at a possible top-five finish. So, with four weeks remaining until everyone convenes in Denver, let’s take stock of our area track stars.

All these numbers and rankings were taken from MaxPreps — which CHSAA uses for its own lists — and they seem to be fully updated after the weekend. Typically speaking, the top 18 in each event qualify for state.

GIRLS

First and foremost, the girls dominate this list of hopeful qualifiers, and none stand out quite like Basalt sophomore Sierra Bower (I believe I’ve brought her name up a few times in recent weeks). A quickly rising star in the world of distance running, Bower ranks fifth in Class 3A in the 3,200-meter run (11:24.59) and seventh in the 1,600-meter run (5:20.98). She is roughly 15 to 17 seconds behind first place in either event. Keep in mind she ran the 2-mile in less than 11 minutes at sea level last week when she competed in the prestigious Arcadia Invitational.

AHS junior Julisa Ruiz-Vega is worth watching. She currently is ranked eighth in the 100-meter dash (13 seconds flat), a time she hit this past weekend at the meet in Glenwood Springs. You might have seen her on the soccer field some this spring as well, as she is double dipping in both sports. AHS sophomore Zuleika Hanson, another soccer player, currently is 23rd in the 200-meter dash.

BHS senior Megan Maley (15th) and AHS sophomore Kendall Clark (18th) are both toeing the line in the 800-meter run, with Bower back in 28th. Both still have a lot of work to do in the 400 and Clark in the 1,600 to get to state.

Sticking with Aspen, the girls look pretty solid in a handful of relays. As of today, they would qualify in the 800 medley (seventh) and the 4×400 (15th). The 4×100 and 4×200 girls are right on the cusp, ranked 19th and 21st, respectively.

There seem to be two names worth mentioning here in regard to the field athletes. AHS junior Paige Quist is seventh in shot put, having hit a mark of 39 feet, 9.75 inches at the Glenwood meet. She needs to add another 5 feet to have a go at a state title. Then, Basalt junior Katie Bohannan is in the mix to qualify in both the high jump (currently 18th) and the pole vault (16th).

BOYS

This list isn’t nearly as long, with no Aspen or Basalt boys currently ranked in the top 10. Making a run at it, however, is BHS junior Ben Williams, currently 12th in the 110-meter hurdles (16.59), set over the weekend in Glenwood. He could have a chance at a podium come state. Williams also ranks 26th in the high jump.

Basalt also has a solid 4×800-meter relay team, currently ranked 13th. Other Basalt hopefuls include junior Rulbe Alvarado, who is 25th in the 200-meter dash, and senior Nathan Rivera, who is 20th in the pole vault.

Aspen’s only male hopeful seems to be senior Nicholas Galambos, who is 30th in the 800-meter run and 31st in the 3,200-meter run.

The next chance for the track athletes to improve their rankings will be Friday at the Coal Ridge Invitational.

Now, for some quick notes on the rest of the sports…

LACROSSE

First, let’s welcome the AHS boys back to the CHSAANow.com top 10. Preseason No. 5 in 4A, the Skiers dropped out for a few weeks but return at No. 8 this week. The AHS boys, 4-3 overall, host No. 7 Steamboat Springs at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The AHS girls lacrosse team dropped from No. 8 to No. 9 this week, for reasons I can’t even guess at. All they did last week was beat a very good Air Academy team on the road, 14-10, and beat Summit, 22-1 (no, I’m not missing a digit), to move to 7-0 on the season. The girls host Grand Junction at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in a league game on Iselin.

SOCCER

The Aspen girls soccer team is back where it started the season, which is ranked No. 4 in 3A. Two early-season losses at Grand Junction and Steamboat Springs are nothing but distant memories. AHS is 5-0 since spring break and outscored Basalt and Moffat by a combined 15-0 last week. They have a tough test Tuesday with a 4 p.m. home game against Coal Ridge (4-4-1) on the turf.

Basalt soccer had arguably its best result of the season Monday when it played to a 3-3 draw against visiting SkyView Academy, which is ranked No. 6 in 3A this week. I still believe the Longhorns are better than their 1-7-1 record shows, and Monday’s result proves that. BHS next hosts Faith Christian (4-4) on Friday. Faith just dropped out of the rankings this week, having been No. 10 in 3A only a few days ago.

BASEBALL

Something will have to give when Aspen and Basalt baseball face off Tuesday at 3 p.m. on the BHS field. In what could be their only meeting of the season, AHS enters 0-9 overall while Basalt is 0-6. Both reasonably young teams with new head coaches (although both of the coaches were former assistants), someone should get a much-needed confidence boost.

TENNIS

The Aspen girls tennis team won, 5-2, at Grand Junction on Monday. Shockingly, it was the first time competing outside this spring for the Skiers. The losses came at No. 1 and 2 singles. Karina Keller won at No. 3 singles, and AHS swept through doubles competition. Aspen plays Wednesday at Glenwood Springs.

The Basalt girls tennis team continues to seek growth in only its second varsity season. The Longhorns lost 6-1 at Glenwood last week and were slated to play Fruita on Monday and at Paonia on Wednesday.

GOLF

Aspen girls golf finished fourth among 3A schools and 11th overall last week in Grand Junction. They compete again Tuesday at Rifle. Avery Hirsch and Zoe Guthrie remain the hopefuls to qualify for the 3A state tournament, held May 20 and 21 at Eagle Ranch in Vail.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Preps April 13: Aspen girls soccer wins 10-0 over Moffat, BHS falls to Middle Park

Aspen soccer continues winning streak with rout of Moffat

The Aspen High School girls soccer team won its fifth straight game — all coming since spring break — with a 10-0 rout of Moffat County on Saturday in Craig. The Skiers led 9-0 at halftime and scored their 10th goal only a couple of minutes into the second half to end the game via the mercy rule. It was Aspen’s first mercy-rule win of the season.

As is the norm, sophomore Kelley Francis led the Skiers with four goals, while five others found the back of the net as well. Francis has 20 goals through nine games this season. As a freshman last spring, she set the program’s single-season scoring mark with 32 goals.

Moffat fell to 1-6 overall with the loss and 0-3 in Class 3A Western Slope League play, the lone win coming in the season opener at Rifle. Now 7-2 overall and 4-0 in WSL play, the No. 5-ranked Skiers will next host Coal Ridge (4-4-1, 1-1) on Tuesday.

Basalt girls soccer can’t find offense in loss to Middle Park

The Basalt High School girls soccer team hosted Middle Park on Saturday morning, falling 1-0 in a non-league game. The Panthers improved to 5-1 overall. They were effectively ranked No. 15 in the 3A media poll as of this week.

Basalt dropped to 1-6 overall and remained 1-3 in 3A Western Slope League play. The Longhorns are next scheduled to host SkyView Academy (4-3) in another non-league game at 3 p.m. Monday. The 3A Hawks entered the week ranked No. 9.

Aspen, Basalt baseball remain winless ahead of showdown

The Aspen High School baseball team traveled to Parachute on Saturday, losing 10-0 to Grand Valley. It was the first league game of the season for the Skiers, who fell to 0-9 overall. The Cardinals improved to 2-5 overall.

Also Saturday, the Basalt High School baseball team played at Cedaredge, losing 15-5 in its league opener. Basalt led 5-1 entering the bottom of the fourth inning, but gave up two in the fourth and 12 in the sixth to squander the opportunity. The Bruins moved to 5-10 overall, while Basalt fell to 0-6.

The losing streak will end for either Aspen or Basalt on Tuesday when the teams meet down in Basalt for a league game. The current schedule has varsity playing at 3 p.m. with junior varsity to follow. Barring any changes, this will be the only meeting of the season between Aspen and Basalt baseball.

Aspen lacrosse teams look ahead to next week after quiet weekend

Both of the Aspen High School lacrosse teams had the weekend off. The girls rolled to a 22-1 win over Summit on Friday to improve to 7-0 on the season. They are set to host Grand Junction (4-5) in a league game on Tuesday. The Tigers are 4-4 in league play, while Aspen is 3-0 and currently the only team without a league loss in the 11-team league.

The AHS boys had originally been scheduled to play at Steamboat Springs on Saturday, but that non-league game was moved to Wednesday in Aspen, with varsity tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. on the AHS turf. AHS is 4-3 overall after a 9-6 win over Summit on Thursday.

The Roaring Fork High School girls lacrosse team did play Saturday, beating Battle Mountain, 14-13, to improve to 5-1 overall. This is the first season for the Carbondale program at the varsity level.

Glenwood Springs sweeps own track and field meet yet again

When it comes to the Demon Invitational as of late, Glenwood Springs High School coach Blake Risner can count on his athletes winning it outright.

For the second straight year at Stubler Memorial Field, the Glenwood boys and girls swept the invitational on Saturday, as the boys cruised to a win with 190 points, while the girls pulled out the win late, thanks to senior Payten Spencer’s work in the discus, giving the girls 77 points to hold off Cedaredge.

The win for the boys marks the fifth straight year that Glenwood has taken the boys title, meaning the seniors on the boys’ team didn’t taste defeat at home in all four years competing at the varsity level under Risner.

Both Aspen and Basalt track and field teams also competed Saturday in Glenwood Springs, although complete results had yet to be posted as of press time.

—Josh Carney, Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Aspen girls tennis handles Vail at Maroon Creek Club on Saturday

The Aspen High School girls tennis team hosted Vail Mountain on Saturday at Maroon Creek Club, winning 6-1.

Usual No. 1 singles player Mary Williams was out of town, allowing Macy Hopkinson to play and win at the No. 1 singles spot, while Karina Keller won at No. 2 singles.

AHS swept all four doubles matches, led by the No. 1 duo of Addy Walson and Bliss Pekkala. The only loss came at No. 3 singles.

Aspen will next compete Monday at Grand Junction and Wednesday at Glenwood. Regionals are scheduled for the first week of May in Grand Junction.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Aspen’s Gorsuch, Bleiler headed to Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame in 2019 class

The Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame will grow by two Aspenites in October when Jeff Gorsuch and Gretchen Bleiler are officially inducted into its 2019 class. The organization and museum, based out of Vail, announced this year’s class on Friday.

The duo join a list of no less than 40 Aspen locals who already are in the snowsports hall of fame. Notable names include Bob Beattie, Chris Davenport, Chris Klug, Klaus Obermeyer and Spyder Sabich, among many others.

Gorsuch, who will go in as a “sports builder,” has run his family’s retail business for 25 years. A former ski racer himself, his philanthropy has long been felt throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, especially through his work with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.

“He is a huge part of what we do, right from the outreach and the equipment that he donates to give kids the opportunity to ski,” said Mark Godomsky, AVSC’s executive director. “Just an unbelievable community member and supporter of AVSC. I would guess there is nobody in Colorado supporting kids to get involved with skiing to the level that Jeff and his family are.”

Bleiler is one of the most accomplished snowboarders in American history. Competing in the halfpipe, she won four X Games gold medals and won Olympic silver at the 2006 Games in Italy. Since retiring in 2014, Bleiler has continued to be an Aspen fixture with many entrepreneurial and advocacy interests, including her work with Protect Our Winters.

“It just goes back to the tradition of this club,” Godomsky said. “It may be 2,600 kids that goes from beginners to Olympians, but over the course of time we have produced some of the best in the country and this is just another testament with Gretchen getting into the hall of fame. She came through the program.”

The rest of the 2019 hall of fame class includes Martin Hart of Steamboat Springs and Steve Raymond, who co-founded the Adaptive Spirit program and was a major fundraiser for the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team. Winter Park’s Jake Hoeschler will also enter as the 2019 Pioneer Hall of Fame selection.

The official induction ceremony will be held Oct. 26 in Vail.

acolbert@aspentimes.com