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Preps: Basalt High softball continues to roll with two more wins on Saturday

The Basalt High School softball team won a pair of key home games on Saturday to keep its hot play going. The Longhorns hosted Faith Christian in the first game, rolling to a 14-4 victory behind a six-run third inning after trailing 2-0.

Playing Cedaredge in their second game of the afternoon, the Longhorns led 9-2 entering the top of the fifth inning before letting the Bruins back into it with a six-run frame. The score now 9-8, BHS answered with four runs in the bottom of the fifth and that proved to be enough in a 15-9 win.

Basalt, ranked No. 6 in Class 3A this week, improved to 12-1 overall and stayed perfect in league play. BHS will host Aspen in a Tuesday doubleheader.


The Aspen High School volleyball team lost a 3-2 nail-biter to visiting Olathe on Saturday inside the AHS gymnasium. The teams split the first two sets, Aspen winning the first 25-18 and losing the second, 25-16. AHS then took the third 25-23, but Olathe answered by taking the fourth, 25-19. The Pirates took the match win by taking the fifth set, 15-13.

Olathe improved to 4-5 overall and 1-2 in Class 3A Western Slope League play. Aspen fell to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in WSL play. The Skiers are off until Saturday when they will host Classical Academy.

The Basalt High School volleyball team won 3-0 at Rifle on Saturday. Set scores were 25-19, 25-20 and 25-14. Now 4-5 overall, the Longhorns will host Roaring Fork on Tuesday.


The Aspen High School boys tennis team lost at Colorado Academy on Saturday, 5-2. The Skiers won at No. 3 singles behind Liam Sunkel and at No. 1 doubles behind Georges Ghali and Lukee Tralins. Aspen is off until Oct. 1 when it hosts Steamboat and Vail.

Cross country

The Aspen High School cross country team competed Friday at the Ramble at the Reservoir, hosted by Ouray High School. The AHS girls dominated the race, with seven athletes finishing in the top nine. Aspen junior Kylie Kenny won the race in 22 minutes, 29.46 seconds, beating junior teammate Kendall Clark by about 21 seconds. Caprock’s Ashleigh Gardner was third in 23:08.85, while the Aspen threesome of Bronwyn Chesner, Michaela Kenny and Eva McDonough were fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively. Aspen’s Edie Sherlock was eighth and Leah Horning was ninth.

Telluride freshman Cole Pacosza won the boys’ race in 20:34.93. Conner Chesner was the lone AHS boy to race, finishing 15th in 23:02.49.

The Basalt High School cross country team competed Saturday at the Anna Banana Invitational, hosted by Fruita Monument. The BHS girls took fourth as a team behind another race win by junior Sierra Bower. She finished in 18 minutes, 33.4 seconds to hold off Durango senior Madeleine Burns by about 10 seconds. Basalt freshman Katelyn Maley finished eighth in 20:23.8.

Basalt is scheduled to host cross country regionals on Oct. 18 at Crown Mountain Park.


The Aspen High School boys soccer team hosted Ridgway on Saturday night, falling 5-3. The Demons, ranked No. 5 in Class 2A this week, improved to 4-0-1 overall, that tie coming to No. 3 Crested Butte. Aspen fell to 0-4 overall with a home game against Moffat County coming Tuesday.


Misfits rugby beats Aspen Gents 29-22 in Ruggerfest semifinals on Saturday

The Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Football Club will miss the Ruggerfest finals for the first time since 2014 after losing in the semifinals on Saturday night. The Gents lost 29-22 to the Dark ‘n Stormy Misfits at Wagner Park, a rematch of the past four Ruggerfest finals.

Aspen trailed 5-0 early in the match, but took a 7-5 lead into the halftime break after scoring a try with about four minutes to play in the first half. The second half was a back-and-forth shootout, with Aspen rallying to take a 14-12 lead barely five minutes in thanks to a big defensive play.

The Misfits answered with a try only three minutes later, but the Gents opted for a penalty kick with about 10 minutes to play that made it 17-all.

The next few minutes belonged to the Misfits, who scored twice in about four minutes to take a 29-17 lead with less than three minutes to play. Aspen did get one try back in the final minute before running out of time.

The teams had played in the Ruggerfest finals the past four years, with the Misfits winning in 2016 and 2017. Aspen won in both 2015 and 2018.

The 2019 final, which will conclude the 52nd annual Ruggerfest tournament, will be between the Misfits and Ruggerfest newcomer NA Rugby. That game is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday at Wagner Park.

NA Rugby beat the Misfits in pool play on Saturday, 22-7.

Aspen, which went 3-0 in pool play, will play the Glendale Merlins in the third-place match at 9:15 a.m. Sunday. The Gents beat Glendale in pool play on Saturday, 22-10.

The women’s open division final, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Wagner, will be between the Sister Wives and Kougars & Kittens. Sister Wives won their pool play matchup, 22-0.

The remainder of the divisions also play finals on Sunday. The Masters final between the Dark ‘n Stormy Misfits and Time Rugby is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. The 55s final between the Cardinals and the VOMITS starts at 10:15 a.m.; the 45s final between the Cardinals and the Dark ‘n Stormy Misfits is set for 11:15 a.m.; and the 50s final between the KC Blues Brothers and the Cardinals is at 12:15 p.m.


Football: Basalt, Aspen teams both win games on the road Friday night

Basalt football beats Pagosa Springs after late-game surge

The Basalt High School football team overcame a slow start to win 39-19 on Friday at Pagosa Springs and keep their undefeated season alive. Leading only 14-12 midway through the third quarter, the Longhorns pulled away late against a battle-tested Pirates’ team.

“It was closer than what that scored showed,” BHS coach Carl Frerichs said. “The fourth quarter we got a couple of touchdowns late and really blew it open, but it was definitely a battle and they were definitely ready to play.”

Basalt trailed 6-0 in the game after an early fumble led to a Pagosa Springs touchdown. BHS got on the board in the second quarter on a Matty Gillis touchdown pass and another score late made it 14-6 Longhorns at halftime.

The Pirates made it 14-12 midway through the third quarter, a failed 2-point conversion keeping BHS in front. From there, the Longhorns ran away with the game.

Unofficially, sophomore running back Cole Dombrowski led BHS with 130 yards rushing and two scores. Gillis threw for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Jackson Rapaport came up just shy of 100 yards receiving to go wtih a touchdown.

“I’m just so proud of the kids. When you are traveling on a bus — we have to go to Utah and all the way around — so we’ve been on a bus for 10 hours today,” Frerichs said. “I was really proud of the kids and their effort and their attitude. They really stepped up. Started really slow, but finished really strong after a really long day.”

Pagosa Springs fell to 1-3 with the loss, another of those losses coming 19-7 against defending 2A state champion La Junta.

Basalt, ranked No. 9 in 2A this week, moved to 3-0 overall after wins over Olathe (29-7) and Battle Mountain (28-0) in its first two games. BHS will host Paonia next week for homecoming to close out non-league play.

Aspen High football beats Cedaredge for first win of fall

The Aspen High School football team earned its first win of the season on Friday, winning 26-6 at Cedaredge in its first road game of the fall.

The Skiers had junior quarterback Tyler Ward back under center after he missed last week’s game against Meeker — a 42-20 loss — because of a shoulder injury. Ward was effective in the first half, guiding the Skiers to a touchdown on their first possession. Tied 6-6 after a quarter, the Skiers broke it open in the second and took a 26-6 lead into the locker room. Neither team scored in the second half.

Class 1A Cedaredge fell to 1-2 with the loss. Aspen improved to 1-2 overall and will host Grand Valley next week for homecoming.

Elsewhere in 2A Western Slope League play Friday, No. 1-ranked Rifle beat Pueblo County, 48-22; Delta won 58-0 over Montezuma-Cortez; Moffat County beat Battle Mountain, 36-34; and Paonia beat Coal Ridge, 17-14.


Ruggerfest picks up pace Saturday with open divisions; Gents go for repeat

A year ago, Ben Mitchell was a player for the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Football Club when it won Ruggerfest. This weekend, he’ll be the side’s head coach as it looks to defend its championship.

“It’s actually a bit of a relief. It’s a pretty taxing weekend on the body, usually. It’s going to be different, but it will be nice leading the boys for the weekend,” Mitchell said prior to Friday’s practice at Rio Grande Park. “One thing I really wanted to do this year was try and bring back as many guys as possible that have played the last two or three years.”

The men’s open division gets underway Saturday morning, with the Gents scheduled to play the Glendale Merlins at 9:50 a.m. at Wagner Park in downtown Aspen. It will be the first of three pool play games the hometown team gets, with the semifinals slated for Saturday evening.

The final for each of the six divisions are all held Sunday.

“We are pumped,” said first-year Aspen player Jeff Barnhill. “We’ve got a good crew compiled. Everyone is really excited. This is always a big event for the city and it’s just really good to be out here with all of the boys.”

The Gents have a squad of about 35 players this fall, with about a dozen of them having also played for Aspen during the summer season. A large majority of the team has played in Ruggerfest before, including on last year’s championship team.

“Everyone is really hungry to defend the title, and of course it’s always good when the Gents get it,” Barnhill said. “So everyone is really excited.”

Aspen has competed in the Ruggerfest final the past four years, having played the Dark ‘n Stormy Misfits each time. Aspen won in 2015, which had been its first title since 2009 and first finals appearance since losing in the 2010 final. The Misfits then won both Ruggerfest titles in 2016 and 2017 before Aspen’s dramatic rally for the 2018 championship.

“We’ve got some good strength and depth, so we are feeling pretty confident,” said third-year Gent Gethin Davies. “But you never know what is going to turn up in festival rugby. Anything could happen.”

The men’s open division is comprised of two pools with four teams each playing a round-robin tournament. The top two teams from each pool will make up the semifinal, with the winners competing in the final.

Competing alongside Aspen and Glendale in Pool A are the Utah Misfits and Rio Grande Cabelleros. Pool B includes the Dark ‘n Stormy Misfits, Denver Barbarians, Boulder Rugby and NA Rugby.

“There is a little bit of pressure,” Mitchell said of defending the championship. “The expectation is on us to win the tournament. But I think a little bit of pressure helps. Guys try a little bit harder to make sure we live up to the expectations.”

Sunday’s final is tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. at Wagner Park. Also Saturday will be the four team women’s open division, which includes the Sister Wives, Boulder, Kougars & Kittens, and Vail. The women’s final is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

For the most up-to-date schedule and scores, click here.

Spectating is free.


Preps: Aspen High volleyball wins first game under Zanin, tops Basalt

The Aspen High School volleyball team won for the first time under new coach Brittany Zanin on Thursday night, beating rival Basalt 3-1 inside the BHS gymnasium.

It was the 15th straight win for the Skiers over the Longhorns, dating back to a season sweep in 2012, according to MaxPreps. The teams will meet again on Oct. 15 in Aspen.

“We needed that more than anything,” Zanin said. “I wish they would have done it in three. They played well. They played well together, finally. It happened.”

The first two sets on Thursday were tightly contested, with Aspen winning the first, 26-24, and Basalt taking the second, 25-23. The Skiers took charge from there, winning both the third and fourth set by a score of 25-19.

The win snapped an 0-3 start to the season for the Skiers after losses to Roaring Fork, Moffat County and Summit. Now 1-3, Aspen will host Olathe on Saturday afternoon. Varsity is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.

“They finally have roles now,” Zanin said of her team. “They have spots. I’m not going to change them around, so they are feeling more confident and comfortable.”

Basalt dropped to 3-5 overall. The Longhorns had won three of four games after an 0-3 start to the season. BHS travels to Rifle on Saturday.

Basalt boys soccer rolls over Moffat County

The Basalt High School boys soccer team played at shorthanded Moffat County on Thursday, winning 10-1. Senior Gaby Bonilla led the team with four goals, while the Bulldogs (1-5) played with only 10 players.

The Longhorns, now 2-3-1 overall, are off until playing Tuesday at Vail Mountain to open league play.

The Aspen High School boys soccer team hosted Delta on Thursday, losing 4-0. The Panthers (6-1) are ranked No. 7 in Class 3A this week. Aspen (0-3) will next host Ridgway on Saturday night.

Aspen boys tennis beats Fruita on home courts

The Aspen High School boys tennis team took care of Fruita on Thursday, winning 6-1 on the city courts. The Skiers swept all three singles matches behind Christian Kelly, Alex Mosher and Liam Sunkel. The only loss came at No. 3 doubles.

Aspen will next play Saturday at Colorado Academy.

Basalt boys golf takes second at Keystone

The Aspen and Basalt boys golf teams concluded the regular season Thursday at the Keystone Ranch Invitational, with Basalt finishing second behind only Mullen as a team. The Longhorns shot 17-over-par, while Mullen was seven shots ahead. Peak to Peak was third (21-over) and Aspen was fourth (23-over).

Peak to Peak’s Suchit Sharma won the individual title by shooting even par 72. Summit’s Ryley Cibula was second with 73 and Mullen’s Rhett Johnson was third with 74. Basalt’s Tyler Sims led the local athletes by finishing fourth after shooting 3-over 75. Aspen’s Nic Pevny tied for fifth with 76, while Basalt’s Blake Exelbert and Aspen’s Jack Pevny each shot 77 to tie for 10th.

Both Aspen and Basalt next compete Wednesday at regionals, which is hosted by the Skiers at Aspen Golf Club.


Scott Mercier: Future of mountain biking on display Sunday at Snowmass

American cycling has been in the doldrums at the international level for over a decade now. However, thanks to the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, that’s begun to change. And change in a big way. NICA was formed in 2009 in Berkeley, California, but it got its roots in 1998 as the Berkeley High School Mountain Bike team. Matt Fritzinger wanted to start a high school road cycling team, but the four kids who showed up to the first practice were all riding mountain bikes, so he decided to make it a mountain bike team instead.

Today, NICA has leagues in 25 states and over 20,000 kids racing. These kids are already making the Yankee presence known at the highest levels of the sport. Kate Courtney, just 23 years old and a recent Stanford graduate, won the 2018 Mountain Bike XC World Championships and the 2019 World Cup title. Sepp Kuss, who got his start with NICA in Durango and who is a CU alumnus, is one of the hottest young riders in the professional peloton. He finished 29th in the Vuelta Espana and won a stage while shepherding teammate, and Vuelta winner, Primoz Roglic through the mountains.

The Colorado High School League is celebrating a “decade of dirt” this year. Co-founder Kate Rau formed the league in Boulder. She hopes that mountain biking will help kids foster healthy habits, become self-sufficient while sharing the outdoors, and strengthen family bonds. And, of course, she wants the kids to have fun and ride fast. And kids from Colorado can ride fast indeed. The U.S. sent 10 athletes to the Jr. Mountain Bike World Championships this year, and six of those athletes are high school kids from the Colorado League!

The Colorado League has grown so rapidly that there are now two conferences — North and South — with 30 programs and 1,400 kids racing bikes. Anything North of I-70 is in the Northern Conference and anything South of I-70 is in the Southern Conference. Seven hundred of these kids will descend on Snowmass Mountain this weekend for the third race of the season. It’s the first time the League has raced in Snowmass.

The kids will race on a 4.8-mile loop with 750 feet of climbing per lap. There will be five waves of racers starting at 8:20 a.m. on Sunday morning. The varsity boys will race four laps starting at 11:20 and the varsity girls will race three laps starting at 11:25. The start/finish is just off the Snowmass Mall by the Skittles gondola. I’ve been told that the winning boy could finish the 20 miles in under 90 minutes!

Needless to say, to put on an event like this it takes an army of volunteers. Help is needed on Friday and Saturday with registration and camping, and on Sunday with course marshalling. Please go to one of the links below if you can help:



The Roaring Fork Valley will be well represented. Glenwood has had a team for years and nearly 50 kids ride and race for Glenwood High. Aspen and Basalt have only had teams for two years. In a unique twist, Aspen and Basalt train and ride together; they’re not rivals, but rather allies!

Aspen will have 12 riders headlined by juniors George Beck, JP Viola and Christian Kelly in the varsity race. Wyatt Balderson, a senior from Basalt, is a Legacy Rider racing with the JV Boys. A Legacy Rider means that he has raced all four years. He started racing even before Basalt had a team. In that time, Wyatt has only missed one race and that was due to an injury.

High School Mountain Bike racing is the very definition of a grass roots sporting movement. NICA is still in its infancy, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see 50,000 kids racing by 2030. We’re just starting to see these kids take on, and beat, the best riders in the world. I have no doubt that a future Olympic Champion and Tour de France winner will have gotten his or her competitive start at an event like the one this Sunday in Snowmass. So, grab your bike, and come watch the future of cycling. At the very least, you’ll see a bunch of kids having a great time on a bike. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Good riding!

Scott Mercier represented Team USA at the 1992 Olympic Games and had a five-year professional career with Saturn Cycling and The U.S. Postal Services teams. He currently works as a senior financial adviser in Aspen and can be reached at scottmercier24@gmail.com.

Ruggerfest gets underway Thursday without former president Jerry Hatem

When the 52nd annual Ruggerfest tournament gets underway Thursday in Aspen, it won’t look that different from recent iterations. There will be burly men going for glory on the pitch, a smorgasbord of onlookers who may or may not have ever seen the game of rugby played, and an unrivaled party scene when the sun goes down (and often well before).

What will be missing from recent years is Jerome “Jerry” Hatem. Hatem, who had been the most recent Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Football Club president and was a longtime Aspen fixture, died in a June snowmobiling accident on the backside of Aspen Mountain, where he lived. This year’s tournament will be as much about moving on as it is remembering one of the most selfless individuals in the rugby community.

“His passing was as much a temporary glue as his presence was a permanent glue for the club,” said longtime Aspen rugby coach and player Gary Williams. “It’s pulled everyone together. There is no doubt about it. There was definitely a feeling of increased camaraderie that’s not always been there with the club.”

The local rugby club has been operating over the past few months without a real leader, coming together as a group to keep things moving forward. Hatem, who was originally from Ohio, moved to Colorado in the early 1980s and soon found a home with the Gents despite having never played rugby prior. Since then, he’d been an integral part of the Aspen rugby community.

A group of six, including two of Hatem’s brothers, will be in Aspen this weekend to help celebrate and memorialize Jerry’s love for Aspen and for rugby.

“It was a shock. It was pretty tough,” said Jerry’s younger brother, Tom Hatem. “The feeling is weird due to the fact that he lived in Aspen and we only saw him on occasion. So it’s kind of like you are going to see him on that next visit. He’ll be here at the next celebration.”

Part of the way Hatem will be remembered is through the creation of a new scholarship in his name. That scholarship will be for the Junior Gents — the de facto high school rugby team — to help send a member of the team to college who needs the financial support.

“I don’t think it’s going to go away. Jerry will always be part of Ruggerfest,” said Ed Cross, another longtime Aspen rugby fixture. “His memory will be enriched continuously going forward.”

There will be an event Thursday evening at Mi Chola in Aspen to help launch the scholarship. Entry is $75 (or $100 with a commemorative T-shirt) and includes drinks and appetizers. All the money goes toward the Junior Gents. The event starts around 8:15 p.m.

“We are headed out there because the community out there has been so supportive,” Tom Hatem said, “and I thought it was almost our duty to make sure we make an appearance on behalf of the Hatem side because of all the good this scholarship is trying to support.”

The tournament itself gets underway Thursday morning with the men’s 55s and 45s divisions. The 35s and 50s will compete on Friday, while the men’s and women’s open divisions get underway on Saturday. The finals for all divisions will be held on Sunday at Wagner Park in downtown Aspen. Some games also will be played at Rio Grande Park throughout the week.

The Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Football Club is the defending Ruggerfest champion in the men’s open division.

“It will be poignant, but it will be fun,” Williams said of Ruggerfest without Hatem. “It’s right to not have this as a Jerry memorial, front and center. Because it’s all pervasive amongst it anyway.”


Longevity Project: Aspen-area elite athletes breakdown training, competing at altitude

Noah Hoffman never quite found eternal glory as a member of the U.S. cross-country ski team. He had a solid career, competing on the World Cup for the better part of eight years before retiring in 2018 after two Olympic appearances, but success was few and far between.

Born in Evergreen, Hoffman grew up in Aspen and certainly credits the altitude — Aspen sits at roughly 8,000 feet — for him being able to develop “one of the biggest engines in the world” in terms of aerobic capacity. At elevation, Hoffman was certainly one of the best. Unfortunately, most World Cup cross-country ski races are held closer to sea level, leaving him at somewhat of a disadvantage.

“My weaknesses were more noticeable when I went down to sea level,” Hoffman said. “I would have been better and consistently maybe top 10 if every race was held above 6,000 feet rather than below 6,000 feet. But that wasn’t the nature of the sport and that wasn’t what I was training for.”

The reasoning for his disadvantage came down to technique and the ability to develop those fast-twitch muscles needed for elite racing. Sure, racing at sea level wasn’t challenging for him in terms of cardio, but training at elevation as much as he did made it more difficult for him to develop those fine-tuned skills.

This is a big reason why Hailey Swirbul, a second-year member of the U.S. cross-country ski team who also grew up in the Roaring Fork Valley, wanted to leave her mountain paradise for training opportunities closer to the ocean.

“One of my main criteria for where I wanted to go to school was to have it be at sea level,” said Swirbul, who trains and goes to college in Anchorage, Alaska. “Moving to sea level was a really important step in my career because I developed a lot more power and more strength and you are able to train at a higher pace, so you are able to do more race simulation and race-like movements at sea level when you have more oxygen available and the ability to not cross the redline quite as quickly.”


Training and competing at altitude has long been popular among elite athletes. As the body adapts to the lower oxygen levels, it can make competing at lower elevations all that easier. However, it’s not necessarily a guarantee of success and can come with its own downside.

It can take months to truly acclimatize to higher elevations, say above 10,000 feet, where many foot races and ski mountaineering events are held here in Colorado. And as long as it can take to develop those lungs, only a few weeks back at sea level can undo all that work.

“The more you live here, the longer you live here, the more it lingers and the faster you get it back,” Aspen’s Ted Mahon said. “There are no shortcuts. Your body either is acclimated or isn’t. People show up to races at altitude and if they don’t have the time or the ability to get acclimated, they are going to notice it pretty quickly.”

The Aspen Times, in conjunction with our sister papers the Steamboat Pilot & Today and Summit Daily, is publishing a four-part series on living and thriving in the mountains. The weekly “Longevity Project: Elevate Your Life” series in September will culminate Oct. 1 with a speaker and panel discussion in Aspen.

Elevate your life series

Part 1: A conversation with Mike Libecki, National Geographic explorer

Part 2: How top-level athletes thrive at altitude

Part 3: Examining mental wellness at altitude

Part 4: General effects of life at 8,000-plus feet

Mahon, along with his wife, Christy Mahon, is a noted endurance athlete who has finished the famed Hardrock 100 endurance race a mind-blowing 10 times. Part of the reason for his success is having spent years training above the tree line and living in Aspen makes that easy with its quick access to high-elevation terrain.

Training at altitude has less to do with oxygen and more to do with red blood cells. It’s the hemoglobin in those cells that transports oxygen through the body, and the amount of hemoglobin in the blood increases the higher you go. So, when an athlete trains at elevation long enough to develop a higher hemoglobin count, going back to a more oxygen-rich environment can make one feel almost superhuman.

However, as was the case for Hoffman, this sort of training helps more in terms of endurance and can limit the development of those smaller skills that are honed in during hours and hours of high-intensity training, which comes easier at sea level.

“It definitely impairs your ability to recover and you can’t train quite as hard. You can’t get quite as much volume,” said Carbondale’s Sean Van Horn, another noted endurance athlete. “I do think the body adapts. Over years it seems you get use to that stress due to lack of oxygen.”

A different kind of cardio

Being an endurance athlete comes in many forms. A halfpipe skier, for example, doesn’t sound like someone who needs a great cardio capacity, but it certainly can have its benefits.

“The endurance needs to be there because it’s all of your energy, everything, in a matter of 35 seconds,” Aspen Olympian Alex Ferreira said of a run through the halfpipe. “I get a lot of my stamina endurance actually from the trampoline. It’s so much energy bouncing up and down. What might seem like a little amount of time, a half an hour is actually equivalent to me running 12 miles I feel like.”

Ferreira won an Olympic silver medal in 2018 and is the reigning X Games Aspen gold medalist in the ski pipe. Having grown up in Aspen, competing and training at altitude is all his body knows. He trains nearly every day and takes his status as a professional athlete seriously.

“I just grew up here so I don’t know anything different,” Ferreira said of training at altitude. “I used to not work out nearly as much or really think it was effective. Once I started doing it I realized it was not only effective for training and skiing purposes, but it was also helping me mentally. I was much happier psychologically. I was just doing a lot better.”


So does living and training at altitude make you into an elite athlete? It certainly can, but simply being at altitude is only a small piece of the puzzle.

“If I’m being honest, there is a lot of science behind our sports because humans like to feel like they can control things,” Swirbul said. “But I think there is no one right way. If you believe in what you are doing that’s the only right way there is. You can live at 10,000 feet your whole life and you can probably be just as good as if you lived at sea level.”

Swirbul pointed out that many of her U.S. teammates, including 2018 Olympic gold medalist Jessica Diggins, are opting to not train at elevation this fall. With the World Cup season fast approaching, some athletes are opting for a camp in Lake Placid, New York, while others, like Swirbul, will go to Park City, Utah.

It’s all a matter of preference.

“She didn’t want to go to altitude at this time of year because it’s more exhausting and it’s harder to recover and it’s getting close to the season,” Swirbul said of Diggins. “You see a lot of altitude skiers doing worse because they are not used to the pace and being able to push yourself a little bit harder and still be able to recover.”

Hoffman and Swirbul mentioned that some of the best cross-country skiing sprint specialists come from lower elevations — three-time Aspen Olympian Simi Hamilton is among the exceptions — while athletes coming from higher elevations tend to be better distance racers.

“I believe I had one of the biggest engines in the world, the biggest cardio aerobic capacities in the world and I think that came from growing up at 8,000 feet in the mountains,” Hoffman said. “On the flip side of that there are the Norwegians, who tend to be the best skiers in the world, who think training at altitude all year round is insane and they would never even dream of doing that.”


Preps: Basalt High School volleyball, softball, boys golf all win on Tuesday

Basalt volleyball beats Grand Valley on Tuesday, hosts Aspen next

The Basalt High School volleyball team hosted Grand Valley on Tuesday night, winning 3-1 inside the BHS gymnasium. The Longhorns led 2-0 after winning the first two sets 25-18 and 25-21 before the Cardinals rallied to win the third set, 25-19. BHS closed the door in the fourth set, winning 25-18.

Grand Valley fell to 3-6 overall while Basalt improved to 3-4 overall. The Longhorns next host Aspen on Thursday.

The Skiers played Tuesday at Summit, falling in three sets. Scores were 25-23, 25-19 and 25-16. Aspen is 0-3 on the season.

Basalt softball rebounds from loss by rolling over Meeker in Tuesday doubleheader

The Basalt High School softball team bounced back from its first loss of the season by going on the road and sweeping Meeker in a Tuesday doubleheader.

The Longhorns won the first game 14-2 behind seven strong innings from pitcher Maya Lindgren. BHS led 7-0 before Meeker scored both its runs in the bottom of the third inning. Basalt answered with three more runs in the fourth, one in the fifth and three in the seventh to pull away.

The Longhorns won Game 2 by a score of 13-3 with Grace Schrock pitching all five innings. Zoe Vozick led the way with four RBI. BHS trailed 1-0 after half an inning in the second game and led only 3-2 after two innings. Meeker tied it at 3-3 entering the bottom of the fourth inning before an eight-run explosion by the BHS offense put the game out of reach.

Meeker fell to 3-11 overall with the losses. Basalt, ranked No. 6 in Class 3A this week, moved to 10-1 overall. The Longhorns are next scheduled to host both Faith Christian and Cedaredge on Saturday in Basalt.

The Aspen High School softball team hosted Cedaredge in a single game on Tuesday, losing 26-3. Now 0-9 overall, the Skiers next play at Basalt on Tuesday.

Basalt boys golf leads 3A teams at Vail Golf Club on Tuesday

The Aspen and Basalt boys golf teams both sent a group to the Vail Mountain School Invitational on Tuesday, played at Vail Golf Club. Basalt took first among the Class 3A schools and third overall behind 4A’s Steamboat Springs and Battle Mountain. Second among 3A schools was Moffat County, while Aspen was third.

Basalt’s Tyler Sims led either team by shooting 11-over 82 to tie for eighth place. Aspen’s Cole Kennedy was 13th with 83 and Basalt’s Blake Exelbert tied for 14th with 84, as did Aspen’s Lucas Lee. Aspen’s John Hall and Basalt’s Kyle Murray each shot 85 to tie for 18th. Aspen played without its top two golfers in brothers Jack and Nic Pevny.

There is one more regular season tournament on Thursday, hosted by Summit at Keystone Ranch. Then it’s onto regional play, with both teams competing Sept. 25 at Aspen Golf Club for a spot in the 3A state tournament.

Aspen is the defending Class 3A state champion.


Colbert’s Prep Playbook: A way too early look at RPI standings this fall

Without question, it’s too soon in the fall season to take the current RPI standings seriously. The Rating Percentage Index is a mathematically generated number that needs a lot of data to be accurate and there haven’t been enough games played to pay much attention to it yet.

However, the RPI standings are out there and how can you not at least glance at them? After all, it’s the RPI that will define your season and whether you make the postseason. So, let’s take a much-too-early look at the four fall sports that use the RPI rankings to see how Aspen and Basalt stand. There are a couple of Longhorn teams that should be pretty psyched.


At 8-1 overall, Basalt is No. 2 in all of Class 3A. Other than Greeley’s University, which is 12-0 and ranked No. 1, every team in 3A has at least one loss. The Longhorns have been mighty good so far, outscoring teams 103 to 39.

They started hot last season, as well, before injuries sent them into a free fall. The sky seems to be the limit for 2019 should they stay healthy. BHS plays a couple games in Meeker on Tuesday.

Aspen, 0-8 overall, is ranked 35 out of 36 teams in RPI. The Skiers have a home game against Cedaredge on Tuesday afternoon.


At 2-0, Basalt football is No. 2 in Class 2A’s RPI this week. By comparison, BHS is No. 9 this week in the media/coaches poll, which actually will factor into playoff seeding to a degree this fall. RPI No. 1 is Sterling (3-0) while Resurrection Christian (1-1) is No. 3, which isn’t too far off the other poll.

Basalt’s big jump up to No. 2 in RPI is one of the outliers. On the flip side, Rifle is only 13 in RPI this week despite being No. 1 in the media/coaches poll after former No. 1 La Junta was knocked off by Alamosa over the weekend.

The Longhorns have spent plenty of time ranked high in RPI the past few seasons, and after handling 3A Battle Mountain on Saturday that doesn’t look to change. Aspen is No. 34 out of 41 teams in RPI this week after its 0-2 start. No reason to fret quite yet, considering the strength of the Western Slope League, but the Skiers will need to start winning soon to remain in the playoff picture.

Basalt plays at Pagosa Springs on Friday, while Aspen heads to Cedaredge.


Nothing too exciting going on here for our local teams. At 0-2 overall, Aspen has an RPI of 71 out of 73 teams as of Monday afternoon. Roaring Fork (2-3) isn’t much better at 59, while Basalt (2-4) is in at 54. It could be a long season for volleyball in the valley. Cedaredge (5-0), which plays in the 3A WSL with the other three, has an RPI of 5.

AHS plays at Summit on Tuesday night, while Basalt is hosting Grand Valley. The Skiers and Longhorns will meet for the first time this season when they play Thursday in Basalt.


Again, work to be done for Aspen and Basalt. The Skiers (0-2) are No. 58 out of 59 teams in 3A. Basalt (1-3-1) is 34, at least in striking distance of a playoff spot. But, again, it’s super early in the season so these standings could change in a hurry. Of note, Roaring Fork (4-1) is No. 10 in RPI this week, paired with a No. 5 ranking in the media/coaches poll.

Aspen hosts a very good Delta team Thursday, while Basalt heads to Moffat County that same day.


The other fall sports — boys golf, boys tennis and cross country — don’t use the RPI system, for what should be obvious reasons as they are mostly individual competitions. Tennis and XC still have a good chunk of season left, but golf is quickly approaching its finish. About a week from now, on Sept. 25, the Skiers will host their regional tournament at Aspen Golf Club. State golf is Oct. 7 and 8, where I expect Aspen to once again be a title contender.