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Trump’s EPA isn’t helping the climate

On Nov. 14, the Environmental Protection Agency held public hearings in Denver regarding the Trump administration's proposed rollback of the EPA's New Source Performance Standards. These standards were put in place to protect Americans from harmful methane pollution. I was there as a member of the environmental advocacy group Defend Our Future and, like so many other individuals from across the country in attendance, I testified against this proposal.

Weakening methane safeguards will be harmful to the health of everyone, but especially for those families and individuals who live in close proximity to oil and gas facilities. More methane emissions also will contribute to a worsening climate crisis.

The mastermind behind these rollbacks, acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, is an ex-coal lobbyist whose values clearly do not align with the EPA's mission to responsibility protect the health and safety of families. We have seen time and time again how selfishly dead set the Trump administration is on eliminating the legacy and positive strides the previous administration made in cleaning up our air and combating climate change. Every Coloradan should oppose this attempt at tearing down yet another important environmental safeguard. If Wheeler and Donald Trump succeed, the health of families across not only Colorado but our nation will suffer.

Sarah Winebrenner


A note from the West End

What is the deal with the Eighth Street bus stops? I've seen 15,000-square-foot houses go up in Aspen faster than this pair of three-sided shelters. It's been over six months, the lifts are turning, it's time. At least if no one is going to be working on them, I don't see why we can't get on and off the bus there.

Todd Wilson


Remembering Barb

Having recently dealt with the Basalt Regional Library, may I simply say: Boy do I miss Barb Milnor.

Dwight Ferren


Guest commentary: From Everest to Aspen, the end of ice sparks worry, inspiration

If you think our Rocky Mountain winters aren't what they used to be, you're right and it's not just because the Tippler disco ball is no longer spinning.

Average temperatures are rising. Snowpack has decreased by 20 to 60 percent since the 1950s, according to an EPA report. Our snow is melting 15 to 30 days earlier than it did 25 years ago, a report by the University of Colorado's Environmental Center states.

This doesn't mean we won't have epic powder days, but it does mean average global temperatures are increasing and this is evident in our local paradise.

On the other side of the Earth, mountain weather isn't what it used to be, either. In the Himalayas, glaciers are melting, rainfall is becoming more erratic, and there are questions about whether the "water towers of Asia" will continue to function as well as they have for millennia, keeping rivers flowing that provide drinking water for a billion people.

These mountain ranges are a world apart, but are united by a common problem: global warming. In both cases, majestic landscapes are showing unprecedented changes that human beings created, and that only human beings can repair. And on Dec. 7, we are bringing famed mountaineer David Breashears to the Wheeler Opera House to show dramatic images of Mount Everest and talk about global warming and mountains in a way that echoes right here in Aspen.

The event will support the Keeling Curve Prize, an Aspen-based effort to tackle our changing climate at its source, all around the world. The prize is named for the iconic Keeling Curve, which shows the steady increase of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere. It spotlights and awards prize money to the globe's most promising projects for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or sequestering carbon.

The effects of average global temperatures increasing are a call to action, and the hardworking individuals and organizations that enter the competition each year are reasons for hope. Winners have demonstrated a creative variety of approaches to keeping greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, from micro-grid hydropower, to grasslands restoration, to carbon pricing, to turning invasive plants into affordable biofuel for cooking and lighting. Winners have hailed from Africa, Asia and North America. Grassroots nonprofits, for-profit companies and university-based projects have won the Keeling Curve Prize.

It will take that kind of all-hands-on-deck mentality to curb the worst effects of climate change. As scientists on the United Nations's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently made clear, we are running out of time to act.

Like anyone else who has lived in these mountains for decades, we remember when ski season seemed more robust, when the mountains held the snow year-round, and when people skied the Montezuma Basin snowfield above Ashcroft in the summer. We wonder what is going to happen to this beautiful landscape and to the livelihoods of our global neighbors as the world continues to warm. We depend on these mountains, like they depend on theirs, and we want to protect the life they have given us.

There is power in that urge to protect, and we are not the only ones who feel it. Californians along with the people of the Roaring Fork Valley have experienced wildfires threatening places that have never burned so ferociously before. People in the southeast are seeing stronger hurricanes take entirely new paths and dump unprecedented amounts of water. The past four years have been the four hottest, globally, since record keeping began, according to the organization Climate Central, and people the world over want to do what they can to protect the places they love and the planet we need.

We invite you to learn more about how emissions, temperatures and change are affecting mountains from the Rockies to the Himalayas, and about the people working hard on climate solutions. Come join us Dec. 7 for stunning photography, sobering reality and a dose of inspiration.

Jacquelyn Francis is founder and director of the Keeling Curve Prize, which spotlights the world's most promising projects for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or containing carbon. John Wilcox owns the Pine Creek Cookhouse and Ashcroft Ski Touring, and has had a decades-long career in television sports and adventure filmmaking.

Austria’s Marcel Hirscher wins men’s World Cup slalom opener in Finland

LEVI, Finland — Away from the slopes, life has changed a lot for Marcel Hirscher over the summer.

On the slopes, not so much.

The seven-time overall champion posted the fastest time in both runs to win the season-opening men's World Cup slalom on Sunday.

After getting married in June and becoming a father in early October, Hirscher had recently been downplaying his chances for the new season, citing the changed priorities in his private life.

However, the Austrian was at his best on Sunday, edging Henrik Kristoffersen twice, and finishing the race 0.09 seconds ahead of the Norwegian.

"It's a big gift that it worked out," said Hirscher, who also had his offseason preparations hindered a year ago after fracturing his ankle in training.

"Last year the summer preparation was very special, and this year as well," he said. "Last year: injured, in a cast. This year: carrying our little son through the living room."

Hirscher and Kristoffersen, who were 1-2 in the discipline standings for each of the past three seasons, continued their slalom rivalry.

Their dominance was underlined once more as the rest of the field, led by Olympic champion Andre Myhrer of Sweden, was more than 1.4 seconds behind.

His third place made Myhrer the oldest skier to reach a World Cup slalom podium. At 35 years and 311 days, he beat the previous mark, set by Italy's Patrick Thaler in 2014, by four days.

Hirscher said he was relieved after leading Kristoffersen by 0.07 seconds in the first run.

"No matter what happens next, it's great and super to know that I am among the fastest," he said in-between the runs.

Clement Noel came closest, trailing by 0.38 in third, but the Frenchman skied out at a tricky passage close to the finish of the final run.

Many racers struggled at that point, and Hirscher said he was helped by teammate Michael Matt, who warned him over the team radio right after his run.

"Otherwise I could have easily lost those nine hundredths there," said Hirscher, who added 0.02 to his first-run lead over Kristoffersen.

Hirscher and Matt were two of five Austrians in the top 10, and Hirscher expected some of them to close the gap to him and Kristoffersen soon.

"There has been a generation change in the slalom team, and those guys are now definitely ready for podiums and victories," Hirscher said.

By coming runner-up, Kristoffersen kept a remarkable series going. Since the start of last season, the Norwegian has been on the podium of all 10 slalom races. Only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark had more top-three slalom finishes in a row — 12, in 1975-76 and again 1977-78.

Sunday's race was the first of the men's season after a giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, was called off due to bad weather in October.

Last year's winner, Felix Neureuther of Germany, skipped the race after breaking his right thumb in training Friday. Neureuther, who was set to make his comeback from a one-year break due to a torn ACL, flew back to Munich to undergo surgery.

The men's World Cup continues with speed races in Lake Louise, Alberta, next weekend.

Shiffrin wins season-opening World Cup slalom by huge margin

LEVI, Finland — Mikaela Shiffrin started the women's World Cup slalom season in the same way she ended the previous one — with a clear victory.

The two-time overall champion built on a first-run lead to comfortably win the traditional opening race in Finnish Lapland on Saturday.

Shiffrin defeated last year's winner, Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, by 0.58 seconds. Bernadette Schild of Austria, who posted the fastest second-run time, finished third, 0.79 off the lead.

Switzerland's Wendy Holdener, the runner-up to Shiffrin in the overall standings last season, was 0.85 seconds behind in fifth.

It was Shiffrin's 33rd career victory in a slalom, leaving her two wins shy of the World Cup record held by Austria's Marlies Raich — Schild's older sister.

"I felt well," said Shiffrin, who won seven of nine World Cup slalom events last season, including the final one in March by a massive 1.58 seconds. "I was really able to push."

On Saturday, strong winds in the upper part of the course forced organizers to postpone the race by 45 minutes and move the start gate lower down the mountain, reducing run times by 10 seconds.

"It wasn't a big problem," said Shiffrin, who opened the race wearing No. 1. "It was the right decision, for sure. It's windy."

Shiffrin dominated the opening run as only Olympic slalom champion Frida Hansdotter managed to finish within a half-second of her lead. While the Swedish racer and several others led Shiffrin at the first split time, nobody matched the American's speed in the steep middle section of the course.

"It's tough to be good at both," Shiffrin said. "There are some girls who are a touch faster than I was at the very top, but it's not so easy to have a good rhythm at the top and then a really good rhythm at the pitch, as well."

Hansdotter dropped to fourth after the final run, in which Shiffrin reacted quickly to avoid skiing out after a mishap.

"I had a little bit of a scary moment on the top of the pitch but kept fighting and made it to the finish. It was fun," said Shiffrin, who has won the slalom season title five times in the past six years.

"It's the first race of the season, so there are some nerves, there is some excitement. Nobody knows how fast they are. It's always a nice challenge."

Shiffrin also led this race after the first run a year ago but was edged by Vlhova, who was the only racer to beat her at a World Cup slalom last season. The only other race Shiffrin didn't win was in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, when she failed to finish.

Twice before, in 2013 and 2016, had Shiffrin won the race, where the winner is awarded a rather unusual prize — a reindeer. Shiffrin said she would name it Mr. Gru after a character from the animated comedy film "Despicable Me." She had called her other reindeers Rudolph and Sven.

Saturday's win gave Shiffrin an early lead in the World Cup standings after she placed third in the first giant slalom three weeks ago. She has 160 points — 60 more than France's Tessa Worley, who doesn't compete in slaloms, and 79 more than Holdener.

A men's slalom on the same course is scheduled for Sunday, and the women will travel to Killington, Vermont, for a slalom and a giant slalom next weekend.

Volunteers wanted for largest ski competition in Utah since Olympics

PARK CITY, Utah — It's about two months until the 2019 FIS freeski, snowboard and freestyle World Championships kick off Feb. 1 with snowboard cross on Solitude Mountain.

Organizers expect the International Ski Federation event, which is set to take place at Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort, to be the largest winter sports event in the Park City area in terms of spectator turnout since the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Putting on such a large production is going to require a lot of work, and a lot of help from volunteers. U.S. Ski and Snowboard is currently searching for more than 600 volunteers to help with the event.

By comparison, last season Deer Valley recruited 175 volunteers for the 2018 FIS VISA Freestyle International Ski World Cup.

To prepare for such a massive undertaking, Meg Horrocks, who oversees the volunteer effort across the three venues for U.S. Ski and Snowboard, started the search for volunteers in April.

"We wanted to capitalize on some of the resorts still being open and that winter mindset," she said.

Ever since then, she's been watching the numbers trickle in, with bumps in sign-ups when it snows.

"I could tell if it was snowing out there even if I hadn't looked at the radar," said Horrocks, who works remotely from Killington, Vermont.

She is hoping to have enough people to fill all 2,500 eight-hour shifts by Dec. 1, with orientation scheduled for mid-January. There are currently 340 volunteers registered for about 1,360 shifts.

Marilyn Stinson, who oversees Deer Valley's volunteer efforts, said she has received applications from places as diverse as Canada, Colombia and Europe, but she said the majority are from the Park City area, including some who come yearly.

"It's interesting because the volunteers that do come back year after year, they haven't seen each other since the year before, so it's kind of like a reunion," Stinson said. "They are reuniting not only with the athletes, but also the other people they have volunteered with the year before."

The volunteers also get perks – they accumulate two day passes redeemable at any of the three resorts, for the first four shifts they work, which is the minimum, then two additional passes for each two additional shifts. They also get uniforms, like winter jackets, that serve as functional memorabilia from the event.

But Horrocks said it's not just about the perks.

"When we ask people why they want to volunteer, of course they're going to say something we want to hear, but there is an excitement about, 'I'm proud of my community; I'm excited to show off my community; I've done it for X number of years and I love being part of it,'" she said.

According to Katherine Hughes, volunteer coordinator for Park City Ski and Snowboard— which is helping Park City Mountain find workers — the ideal candidate has plenty of free time and is thrilled for the event itself.

"Nothing can really trump excitement and enthusiasm," Hughes said. "If they have the excitement, the time to give, those are the two biggest qualities. But I would say enthusiasm is No. 1."

The time commitment can make it difficult to find volunteers, especially since most of PCSS's member families have two working parents.

Horrocks, who is the volunteer organizer for the Alpine Ski World Cup in Killington, said she usually sees a sharp uptick in volunteer registration in the last weeks before the event.

"But that might almost be too late," she said of the World Championships. "This is a much bigger event in terms of processing. We have to request accreditation."

Some will arrive as early as three weeks out to help greet and train other volunteers. The volunteers will be stationed in places as far as Salt Lake City International Airport, and as centrally as the aerials hill at Deer Valley, which will be home to the first team aerials competition at a World Championship.

In fact, the combination of events itself is something of a first, even though this is the third time Deer Valley has hosted the freestyle World Championships.

According to a press release from U.S. Ski and Snowboard, the 2019 World Championships will be the first in the U.S. to include all events across snowboard, freestyle and freeski disciplines.

When it comes, Horrocks said everything will be ready – from the slopes to security.

"We will not be short staffed," she said.

To volunteer, go to 2019worldchamps.com.

Events will run Feb. 1 to 10.


Roses and Thorns: Take down those campaign signs, it’s ski season already

• A rose goes to the city of Aspen's engineering department, specifically city engineer Trish Aragon and senior project manager, Pete Rice, for their dogged determination in providing information to the public about the months-long Castle Creek Bridge/Hallam Street corridor project. Those two have taken a beating from the public since the spring about construction happening at the entrance to Aspen. We're glad, as they are, for the project to be complete. Thanks for having a sense of humor and getting that beast done.

• Thorns to the political candidates and issue backers in the Nov. 6 election who haven't taken down their yard signs yet.

We think the signs have questionable value, but that's not the point here. The signs are visual pollution, pure and simple. And often times they are polluting public right-of-ways.

Get them taken care of, candidates and issue backers, before we start naming names. • A bundle of thorns should be delivered to robo callers representing a company called "Support First." They are inundating people in the valley with their ridiculous marketing calls selling whatever they can, whether it's hearing aides or energy efficiency upgrades for your home. If you get a call from 970-463-3070 out of Julesburg, Colorado, don't answer it! Or do answer it, and tell them to stick it where the sun doesn't shine.

• A repeat bouquet of roses to Basalt resident Laura Riegel. She earned roses in this column in July when she organized an impromptu "thanks" to the federal firefighters who flooded the midvalley to snuff the Lake Christine Fire as it burned on national forest. The event was a wild and emotional success that attracted several hundred people to Crown Mountain Parks on a day's notice.

Unfortunately, bad things sometimes happen to good people. Laura is facing a medical issue. Godspeed in recovery, Laura, and here's a proverbial rose in the meantime.

• Thorns to those bus riders who think it's OK to carry on a full-blown conversation with the driver while the bus is in motion. It happens more often that you'd think.

We're proud to live in a community where we see friends around town and in different places. But when the friend is driving a 25,000-pound machine and has the souls of other people in their control, let's let them focus on the road and not on the band you saw last week.

Recently, we saw a rider actually pull out his phone and show a picture to the driver, while the bus was driving 40 mph. Seriously.

• And finally, a bouquet of two dozen roses for all the mountain crews involved in getting Aspen Mountain open this weekend. Sure it's only five days early, but it's nice having something on the radar. And Snowmass is looking great as well. Nice work.

Have a rose or a thorn? Send them to letters@aspentimes.com (with Roses & Thorns in the subject line). We collect and publish a fresh bouquet every couple of Fridays.

Coal Ridge’s Kara Morgan is WSL player of the year in volleyball

Following a dominant senior season after returning from a knee injury that wiped her junior season out, Coal Ridge High School senior Kara Morgan ran away with the 3A Western Slope League's Player of the Year award, as voted on by league coaches.

Morgan was the top hitter for the Titans during the 2018 season under head coach Aimee Gerber, leading the Titans with 303 kills and 47 aces, adding a team-high 298 digs and 33 total blocks for Coal Ridge, which finished 16-9 (9-0 3A WSL), winning the league championship for the second straight year and the third time in four seasons, reaching the 3A regional playoffs where the Titans fell to Platte Valley in the championship game.

The standout senior led the league in kills by 76, had the second-highest hitting percentage behind sophomore teammate Taylor Wiescamp, and was second in the league in digs.

Along with Morgan, Wiescamp earned first team all-conference honors for the Titans after posting 203 kills, a .406 hitting percentage and 114 blocks. Senior setter Kenzie Crawford also earned first team all-conference honors for the Titans after finishing her senior season with a league-high 634 assists, adding 86 kills, a team-high 75 aces, 41 blocks and 159 digs.

Aside from the trio of Titans on the first team, Coal Ridge saw three others earn All-Conference Honorable Mention accolades.

Junior Lyanna Nevarez landed on the honorable mention team after recording 101 kills, 26 aces, 14 blocks and 178 digs for Coal Ridge. Senior Alexa Wiescamp also earned honorable mention accolades after posting 57 kills, 15 aces, 42 blocks and 66 digs.

Outside of Coal Ridge, the Grand Valley Cardinals saw senior Shaya Chenoweth and senior Kurra Hitt earn First Team All-Conference honors. Chenoweth finished her senior season with 125 kills, 24 aces and 161 digs. Hitt finished with 36 kills, 22 aces, 25 blocks and 38 digs.

Grand Valley junior Loghan Teter earned All-Conference Honorable Mention accolades for the Cardinals after posting a team-high 164 kills, as well as 28 aces and 174 digs.

The Roaring Fork Rams saw sophomore Letey Crownhart earn First Team All-Conference honors after finishing her sophomore season with 16 kills, 23 aces, 28 blocks, 164 digs, and 177 assists. Senior Gaby Santana earned All-Conference Honorable Mention accolades after posting 96 kills, 15 aces and 97 blocks.

The Cedaredge Bruins tied the Coal Ridge Titans for the most players on the First Team with three, as well as three players earning honorable mention accolades. Cedaredge coach Heather Dunbar earned the 3A WSL Coach of the Year award after the Bruins went 20-5 (8-1 3A WSL) finishing second in the league, while reaching the regional championship game where they lost to Resurrection Christian.

Rifle softball’s Kaitlyn Jackson signs with DII Adams State in Alamosa

Following an illustrious career for Rifle High School softball, Coal Ridge senior Kaitlyn Jackson, the daughter of Jimmy and Amber Jackson, is heading to Adams State University in Alamosa, where she'll join a Grizzlies program under the direction of head coach Dervin Taylor.

Jackson verbally committed to Adams State last October after Taylor offered her a scholarship at a camp in Alamosa. The Coal Ridge senior, who played for Rifle due to Coal Ridge not offering a softball program, signed her National Letter of Intent Wednesday afternoon at Coal Ridge High School in front of family and friends.

"Signing was kind of a relief," Jackson said. "It took a lot of stress off of not knowing if I wanted to go there or not. It's always been my dream to play college softball, so I'm just thankful for the opportunity."

During her senior season for the Bears, Jackson was the 4A WSL Pitcher of the Year for the second straight year. She also added four new school records this year for innings pitched (138.2), wins (17, tied for third in the state), strikeouts (169, sixth in state), and six home runs hit on the season, which tied a Rifle school record for a single season.

On the mound in her senior season, Jackson finished with a 2.88 ERA (12th in state), while hitting .452 with 32 RBIs, 12 doubles, three triples and a .945 slugging percentage. Jackson's 17 wins also helped set a school record for team wins in a season.

For her career, Jackson finished with a 3.19 ERA and 54 wins in 482.2 innings pitched. She added 523 career strikeouts and held opponents to a .253 batting average. Offensively, Jackson finished with a .368 batting average, 84 hits, 35 runs scored, 84 runs batted in, 29 doubles, five triples and 13 home runs. She also had a .462 on-base percentage for the Bears over four seasons.

"I really enjoyed my senior year with Rifle," Jackson said. "We got along great as a team, and it was fun to set school records and win all those games."

Now, Jackson will head to Alamosa to help the Grizzlies, which went 19-35 (14-22 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) during the 2018 season. According to Jackson, Taylor said she'd come in as a freshman and pitch, but if a position in the field opens up he'll try and get her consistent at-bats, as well.

"I'll be throwing innings early on for Adams State," Jackson said. "They're bringing me on as a pitcher, but he said if they have other positions open I will play there with my bat, which is nice knowing I'll see playing time right away. But they said I'd be a big part of the rotation. Pitching takes a toll on the body, and coach Taylor said he's going to need a deep, experienced rotation. I'm looking forward to becoming part of that rotation."

Outside of softball, Jackson hasn't decided on a career path in terms of school studies. She recently wanted to get into nursing but isn't quite sure how she fits into the program at Adams State. For now, she is keeping her options open.