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Aspen Cycling Club results: Maroon Bells Time Trial from June 7, 2023

From Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Men’s A

1—0:29:38—DENNY, Steve—Sante Cycling

2—0:29:59—KOSTER, Ryan

3—0:31:51—FRACKLETON, Riley

4—0:32:33—PLETCHER, Evan

5—0:32:40—HEATH, Liam—RFC Pinnacle Junior MTB Team

6—0:32:51—JACOBI, Kevin—Culver’s Glenwood Springs/Culver’s

7—0:34:23 SMITH, Larry—Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork

8—0:34:37—GREBENCHUK, Maksim—GrebenStar

Women’s A

1—0:35:13—PERCY, Megan

2—0:39:00—BERINO, Jenya

Men’s B

1—0:30:46—BROMBERG, Mike

2—0:32:19 FUNK, Adam—Meatballs

3—0:32:36 ADAMS, Casey—Basalt Bike & Ski

4—0:33:24—PURKENAS, Algirdas—Meatballs

5—0:34:35—NEWTON, Tyler—Hub of Aspen

6—0:34:44—CIBULSKY, John—Aspen Cycling Club

7—0:35:16—DAVIS, Brad

8—0:39:20—KIERNAN, Ryan

Men’s B 50+


Women’s C

1—0:43:31—WIMMER, Maria—Basalt Bike & Ski

2—0:45:57—TAYLOR, Janis

3—0:51:34—CHANG, Melissa

DNS—BLASZAK, Megan—Inspire Women’s Cycling

Men’s C 

1—0:40:02—CHANG, Sean

2—0:48:55—MURPHY, Mark—Basalt Bike & Ski

3—0:48:58—CHILSON, Chip

Women 50+ 

1—0:43:30—SHAW, Sara—Limelight Hotels

Men 50+

1—0:38:47—TUCKER, Brad—Racer X/ColoBikeLaw

2—0:47:15—COOK, Miles—Modern Market Racing p/b GR Capital Partners

DNS—BOLONA, Rudy—Spectra

DNS—COLE, Jeffrey—Hub of Aspen

Men 60+ 

1—0:38:59—GIBANS, Jon—Basalt Bike & Ski

2—0:39:13—SMITH, Wade

3—0:41:35—SLIVA, Glenn—Basalt Bike & Ski

4—0:42:10—PAUSSA, Jim—Hub of Aspen

5—0:45:06—TRANTOW, George—Valley Ortho

DNS—SIRIANNI, Phil—Basalt Bike & Ski

Men 70+

1—0:42:19—HANDWERK, Jeff

2—0:45:40—OLENICK, Bob

3—0:47:36—OVEREYNDER, Phil—Limelight Hotels

4—0:48:38—ADAMSON, John—Twisted Spokes Racing

5—0:50:27—CROSS, Ed—Limelight Hotels

6—0:50:48—FRANCIS, Peter

7—1:02:00—GRICE, John

High School Boys

1—0:39:21—KLIKA, Riggs W.

Race Marshals: Maxwell Rispoli, Steve Lyons, Phil Sirianni, Larry Jones, Dyke Shaw, Markus Dewire

Results may also be viewed at www.aspencyclingclub.org. Questions about results should be directed to results@aspencyclingclub.org.

Big rafting season along Colorado, Roaring Fork rivers after strong winter

Following a big winter, the rafting season has shaped into prime condition for those looking to get out onto the water.

The spring season’s runoff has been among the highest some observers have seen since the 1980s.

Defiance Rafting owner Gregory Cowan said this year’s conditions are more than he could ask for. 

“It’s been a wonderful start to the season,” he said. “The weather broke at the right time when we started at the beginning of May, and it has made it possible for any level rafter to have the opportunity to enjoy the waters.”

The run-off has provided rafters and kayakers the soothing waters and fierce rapids that have made Glenwood Springs and the rest of the Roaring Fork Valley a staple for thrill-seekers and even-tempered explorers alike.

The region saw up to a 200% increase in median snowpack, according to the U.S.Natural Resources Conservation Service.

With a statewide drought that has lasted decades, Middle Colorado Watershed Council Executive Director Paula Stepp said this year’s water levels could very well be considered an anomaly.

“I have lived in this valley a long time, and I haven’t seen these types of water levels since the ’80s,” she said. “Having a great year is amazing to see, but by no means does it mean that this drought is over.”

Glenwood Adventure Company CEO Ken Murphy said that this year will be long season for those looking to indulge in whitewater rafting.

“What has made Glenwood Springs so popular for whitewater rafting is the variety that those looking to participate have been given,” he said. “With these high water levels, we are looking at having a good chance at having a longer season for people to enjoy this community’s waters, but it really depends on how the rest of the summer season shapes out.”

While this rafting season looks promising, he said, there are not promises.

“It’s a contemplating industry,” he said. “Mother Nature is our boss during the summer season, and so we have to hope everything goes in our favor for the continuation of this season.”

For more information: raftdefiance.com or glenwoodadventure.com.

Colorado sit skier Trevor Kennison finds redemption in ‘Full Circle’ documentary

In 2014, at the age of 22, Trevor Kennison hit a 40-foot jump in the backcountry near Vail Pass, went sideways and landed on his back, paralyzing him from the waist down.

He said ultimately, the accident changed his life for the better.

“You can look at an event like this negatively or positively,” said Kennison. “I took everything learned from playing sports and turned it into ‘How quick can I get into my wheelchair?’ ‘How quick can I learn how to go to the bathroom and shower?’ ‘How quick can I learn to ski again?’ I realized that if I wasn’t going to do it, no one’s going to do this for me. I really took that as motivation. This a new life. I knew that there would be challenges, and I accepted them.”

Six years later, he executed a double back flip at the exact spot of his accident. The feature length documentary film, “Full Circle: A Story of Post Traumatic Growth,” directed by Josh Berman and produced by Denver based Level 1 Production, documents that journey.

“Full Circle” is kicking off Carbondale-based 5Point Film’s Summer Film Series with two screenings: Tuesday at the Wheeler Opera House, and Wednesday at TACAW. Kennison will be at both events, which will include a Q&A after the film.

“Full Circle,” Trevor Kennison at Corbet’s Couloir.
Level 1 Production/Courtesy photo

Kennison, originally from New Hampshire, grew up a gifted all-around athlete and fell in love with Colorado when he was 12 on a family road trip across the Western states, which he called “the best experience of his life.” That trip, and the fact that his sister was living in the Roaring Fork Valley, inspired him to move to Avon when he was 21. Less than a year later, his life would change dramatically.

He said the first year after the accident was tough. After months at Denver’s Craig Hospital, he returned to New Hampshire and stayed with a friend, who took him in and let him sleep on the couch. But with the bathroom on the second floor, it wasn’t a long-term situation.

He credits his his sister and brother-in-law, Ashley and Thomas Caruso, who lived in Snowmass, for getting him to a better place.

“They took me out for my first runs and got me involved with Challenge Aspen and other organizations, which was really cool,” he said. “But the first time was hard. After trying a few times, I finally got on a run, and I’m going down and going down and I’m just gripping the outriggers so hard, I couldn’t feel my forearms. And from there I was hooked. I was living in Aspen, and I was skiing Snowmass and Highlands with my brother-in-law snowboarding behind me every single day. That is why I became the sit skier I am today, because he gave me the confidence that I can try this and if I fall, he’s going to pick me up. For him to do that and watch me progress was just the best thing ever.”

Behind the scenes of the filming of “Full Circle.”
Level 1 Production/Courtesy photo

The film has been in the works since before the lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which Kennison called a blessing in disguise. When he initially approached Director Josh Berman about the project, the idea was to produce a three-part limited docuseries leading up to his attempt at the double back flip. But the pandemic gave the filmmakers time to flesh out a more robust story and connect Kinneson’s story with one that happened 50 years earlier.

“Full Circle” follows Trevor on his path of post-traumatic growth and concurrently the story of pioneer climber and extreme skier Barry Corbet, who became a paraplegic after a 1968 helicopter crash in Aspen.

“Full Circle,” Barry Corbet filming at Craig Hospital in Denver.
Level 1 Production/Courtesy photo

Though 50 years apart, their stories mirror each other with common locations and themes — injuries in the Colorado backcountry, rehab at Craig Hospital, fame in Jackson Hole. But they also share a resiliency of spirit and refusal to let their love of life to be diminished by their injuries. It’s ultimately a film about hope and not only surviving, but thriving through life’s most difficult challenges.

For Kennison who is just shy of his 31st birthday, he is grateful to be where he is today and said that not being afraid to ask for and accept help, as well as taking care of his mental health, ultimately got him through the dark days.

“I don’t care if you’re disabled or able bodied, it’s just so important to work on your mental health. This injury so physical, but at the same time with a spinal cord injury, it’s also such a mental battle,” he said.

“What do I want audiences to take away? If someone is struggling or going through anything difficult, I just want to give them some hope. I went back and got redemption. And I am just so thankful for everyone that helped me get to where I am and for what’s to come. I can’t wait for people to see this movie. It’s going to change so many lives.”

“Full Circle.” Trevor Kennison Vail Pass jump.
Level 1 Production/Courtesy photo
If you go…

What: 5Point Summer Film Series Presents “Full Circle.”
Where: Wheeler Opera House and TACAW.
When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. (Wheeler) and Wednesday 7:30 p.m. (TACAW)
More info and tickets: https://5pointfilm.org/

Rivers unforgiving during run-off; second death in only two weeks for the region

A week after a rafter from Vail died in Glenwood Canyon, the body of longtime Aspen and Snowmass resident Tony Welgos, 73, was found Monday in the Roaring Fork River near Basalt’s Lazy Glen neighborhood.

“We got the 911 call of a person in the water with jeans and sweatshirt,” said Scott Thompson, chief of Roaring Fork Fire Rescue. “All we got from the beginning was there were sightings of him in the water, so we set up to do a contact rescue near the bridge on Highway 82 and Lazy Glen.”

The Roaring Fork Fire Rescue team was able to recover the body with the assistance of Aspen Fire, Aspen Ambulance, and Carbondale Fire. 

“We tried CPR for a considerable amount of time, especially in cold water scenarios, but we were unsuccessful.” Thompson added, “People need to be very careful this time of year. Rivers are full and moving swiftly. The river is unforgiving, and unless you are prepared to be in the swift water, you should not be out there. Do anything possible to not be on the water.” 

He suggested using a professional guide service with noted rafting experience.

“No one should be there in river in a tube or a small inflatable raft that is not made for handling swift water. Right now is a dangerous time of the year. People need to make informed decisions.” 

Close call for a waterman

Paul Meyers knows well the dangers of spring runoff. He nearly died rafting through Shoshone Rapids on the Colorado River.

Paul Meyers doing what he loves: fly-fishing via boat in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Julie Bielenberg/The Aspen Times

He has been rafting and fly-fishing in the Roaring Fork Valley since 1992. For over three decades, he has typically used a 12-foot raft, solo paddling, often with family and friends aboard. He’ll usually complete 25 to 30 raft trips a year on the Colorado, Green, and Roaring Fork rivers.

However, it was his first trip on the Colorado River in a raft in Class III rapids that nearly took his life in spring 2004.

“I was overconfident. I missed a paddle stroke on Shoshone Rapids and got flipped by a wave. I missed the stroke because I hit air and not water and didn’t get the boat turned into the wave and over,” said Meyers.

First, he swam for the boat. Then he changed his mind and swam for his wife, Joy, who was also in the water. She made it 100 yards down the river and was able to climb out. Meyers and his wife were luckily both in approved personal flotation devices, which aided in their survival, thus far. 

“Where I landed, there are pretty big rocks for erosion control, and it took me a few tries to get the correct rock to grab myself and get out of the water,” he said. “We gathered up what gear we could and had approximately a mile walk on the bike path back to Grizzly Creek park-and-ride.”

Before the he got to the parking lot, he started having chest pains. And then it got worse. 

“Somebody who saw the accident was also parked at Grizzly Creek and helped me to her pickup truck. She was trying to keep me calm and telling me to breathe.”

Another person near the accident saw the Meyer’s boat floating downriver upside down and had called 911, who dispatched an ambulance.

“Without that very quick response, I would not have made it,” said Meyers.

The rescue responders arrived, and he ended up going into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated in the ambulance — and a couple more times en route to the hospital. 

“Contributing to my survival was the fact that Valley View Hospital has just opened a cardiac catheterization lab with more high-tech instruments to diagnose patients,” he said. “They immediately started a stint.”

A year before the incident, Meyers had a mild heart attack and stent inserted. This stint would later fail because of a blood clot caused by the cold river water. 

Their raft was recovered in West Glenwood Springs, about six miles down the river.

Oh, he also broke his knee in the snowmelt-swelled rapids that spring day.

Today, he is much more vigilant and cautious about spring runoff. He’s been out five times thus far this year but only the Green River, as well and the Roaring Fork River between Carbondale and Glenwood — not through Glenwood Canyon, certainly not Shoshone Rapids.

“I’m not doing that rapid anymore. I’ve only done it once since the accident,” said Meyers.

On Tuesday, at the Roaring Fork River put-in at the Carbondale Bridge.
Julie Bielenberg/The Aspen Times

How fast are the rivers moving?

River flow is measured in cubic feet per second (cfs). That is how river enthusiasts determine the level of hazard and speed of the river.

“We haven’t hit peak flows in most rivers yet this summer,” said Ken Murphy, owner of Glenwood Adventure Company in Glenwood Springs.

He also owns Lakota Guides, a commercial whitewater rafting company based out of Vail and Colorado Rafting Adventures in Buena Vista. Murphy, although an Ireland native, has been on the rivers of Colorado since 1996 and has owned Glenwood Adventure Company for 13 years.

“Mother Nature is going to dictate when we hit peak, and we haven’t had the warm evenings combined with the warm days to really send the flows into higher numbers,” he said.

The Roaring Fork River and Crystal River aren’t controlled as much as many other rivers. The Roaring Fork upstream of Aspen does have the Lincoln Creek Connection Canal southeast that diverts water from Lost Man Tunnel No. 2 to Grizzly Reservoir. The Crystal River is largely free flowing and the subject of possible wild and scenic river designation.

“Vegetation is now an obstacle, the banks are more unstable, the river can take items from the banks and push them into the river and downstream. Every day can be different as the water rises and falls during this time of the year,” Murphy said.

He recommended that if private boaters have questions or concerns on river conditions, they should call commercial outfitters and ask about the conditions, as the pros are out there daily.

“Some of these commercial outfitters have guides with years of experience on certain stretches of the river with plenty of history and knowledge they can pass on,” he said.

He said the water’s been higher than it is now.

“I’ve seen higher flows in lower snow years due to a quick warmup with warm evenings. It’s all how it melts, and what’s released. If we have plenty of sun with warm nights, it can come down faster.”

Murphy recalled years when Shoshone Rapids in Glenwood Canyon was running at 16,000 to 17,000 cfs in lesser snowpack years. On Tuesday, Shoshone Rapids was at 6,700 cfs. 

“We don’t run certain areas when it gets over a certain cfs, and we always factor in the guests’ age, weight, and physical ability when deciding on the best adventure that suits their group’s wide range of abilities. Outfitters have staff on hand to help you choose the best trip for your group. When one area may get too high, there are always other options here, and that’s what makes this area such a popular rafting destination both privately and commercially,” he said.

Hypothermia can easily consume river enthusiasts, as Meyers can attest. River water is snowmelt — and so cold, very cold.

“You need to be wearing the proper attire for the conditions and an approved personal flotation device,” Murphy said. 

Multiple families enjoy a warm and much calmer Labor Day in 2022.
Julie Bielenberg/The Aspen Times

The rise in private boats on the river

River traffic has surged over the past decade with private boat ownership, and many new owners who hadn’t experienced high run-off like this.

“We now have many more private craft on the water, and many of these water recreationists haven’t seen flows this high before. Things are moving so much faster, and you have to make decisions much faster. The set-up needs to be earlier as you prepare for the obstacle ahead much earlier than in years past,” said Murphy.

“There’s absolutely a rise in private boats,” Meyers said. “It’s crazy. The parking at the boat ramps is tight, and they are in terrible shape.”

Parking lots and boat launches along the Roaring Fork can feel a bit like frat parties on the weekends throughout summer with pressure to get loaded and unloaded quickly with boat congestion.

“Fortunately, everyone cooperates and helps each other, preventing it from being chaos,” he said. 

“It’s a bigger water year. It’s a great year, and those who love the water and are experienced are going to have a blast. I’m afraid there are some people that shouldn’t be on the water,” Chief Thompson said.

Aspen City Councilman Sam Rose last week noted the danger upstream from the city: “Devil’s Punchbowl is a swimming hole up by Independence Pass, and it feels like every year someone dies from going in it while the water level is too high,” he said. “I mentioned it because it is a high-water year, and someone just died in Glenwood Canyon rafting, so I believe vigilance is important as we get excited about summer.”

Vail resident Nick Courtens, 34, died Sunday, May 21, in a paddling accident in Glenwood Canyon. Garfield County authorities said he was wearing a personal flotation device and a helmet while rafting with a group of five people, in two rafts. Between the Shoshone power plant and Grizzly Creek, two people went into the river from one of the rafts while navigating a rapid. Other members of the group were able to get both of them to shore and begin CPR. Unfortunately, only one of the men responded.

Everyone, including Fido, needs a certified PFD on the water, authorities say.
Julie Bielenberg/The Aspen Times

Colleen Pennington, Glenwood Canyon manager for the White River National Forest, said: “Hazards can change day-by-day, including debris and tree snags that can trap people underwater and puncture rafts, dangerous currents, and cold-water temperatures that can create dangerous situations for even strong swimmers.”

Garfield County Emergency Manager Chris Bornholdt said: “Water levels are predicted to come up even more in the next couple weeks and stay at a high level for over a month. River safety should be our biggest concern right now. Navigating the river is tricky under normal conditions, and when you add three-four times the amount of water and speed, things can happen really fast.”

Hours later on the Roaring Fork, rescuers had a happier outcome with a rescue downstream at Willits near the Basalt Business Center.

Run it back: Aspen Mountain to host men’s World Cup tech races in March 2024

Practice makes perfect, and Aspen Skiing Co. is excited to take what it learned from this past March’s World Cup races on Aspen Mountain into yet another weekend of elite skiing.

In social media posts by the International Ski Federation (FIS) on Thursday, it was revealed that World Cup ski racing will come back to Aspen for a second straight season, this time for men’s tech races on March 2-3, 2024.

Prior to this past winter’s World Cup races — men’s speed events — Aspen had not hosted that level of ski racing since the 2017 World Cup Finals.

“Honestly, we felt the pain of taking six years off by trying to spin this thing back up with very short notice,” said longtime Skico executive John Rigney, who pulls many of the strings behind the scenes to get the major skiing and snowboarding events to Aspen. “Even though this year is pretty short notice to officially get the word that we are on, the momentum we have from doing it this past March will pay dividends going forward.”

The tech races — slalom and giant slalom — will bring a different group of skiers to Aspen than in March, when it hosted downhill and super-G races. Instead of speed stars like Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and Vincent Kriechmayr, who finished 1-2 in the downhill standings this past season, Aspen will likely welcome names like Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, who uses Aspen Highlands for training early each season.

“We’ll get to see the other half of the tour by going with tech races instead of speed,” Rigney said. “This is the kind of event that our entire town takes pride in; so being able to count on it, at least for the next year, not only is it good news, but it’s a feather in the cap of everyone who came out to support it.”

The lineup could potentially include one of Aspen’s own in Bridger Gile. The 23-year-old local product and U.S. ski team member sees the races as the ultimate motivator heading into next season. He’s had a handful of World Cup starts over his short career but hopes to become a more consistent presence on the main circuit.

“For the chance to have it back in Aspen, in my hometown, is probably more of a reason to keep going than the Olympics,” he said. “Being more of a tech skier rather than a speed skier, to have the opportunity or the chance to be able to race a World Cup in my hometown, sleep in my own bed, that’s not even something I dreamed of. That’s so out of this world.”

Rigney said the decision to host tech races instead of speed next winter comes mostly from the higher ups at FIS, who face quite the challenge each year in putting together a fair, balanced race schedule. The 2024 stop in Aspen is part of a U.S. two-fer, as Palisades Tahoe is scheduled to host slalom and giant slalom races Feb. 24-25, the weekend before those same racers come to Aspen.

Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde takes part in the World Cup bib draw on March 2 in Snowmass.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

As has become the norm, Beaver Creek will host men’s speed races Dec. 1-3, the only other U.S.-based events on the men’s 2023-24 race calendar. Canada’s Lake Louise, long an early-season haven for the women’s speed skiers, will host men’s speed races Nov. 25-26, a week before Beaver Creek.

“It’s a multi-dimensional puzzle they are trying to pull together,” Rigney said. “It’s complicated. Frankly, we didn’t have any issue with getting tech. I actually think it’s perfect on the heels of the speed event to get tech because you see the other side of the tour, and we all know tech races are super exciting right down to the last racer every year. It will be fun. I also think we have one of the best tech courses, one of the best GS courses, in the world. So to be able to show that off is super fun.”

According to the FIS archives, Aspen has not hosted men’s tech races — outside of the 2017 finals — since November 2001. That included two slaloms, the first won by Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic. In the second slalom a day later, American icon Bode Miller rallied to finish second despite wearing bib No. 54. Austria’s Mario Matt won the race.

Prior to the 2017 finals, Aspen had been a regular stop for women’s tech races for many years. The highlight was seeing Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin, who won the last non-finals women’s race on Aspen Mountain in November 2015. Those races effectively moved to Killington, Vermont, which has become a mainstay on the women’s calendar in recent years.

Rigney said Skico is excited to once again have World Cup races occurring in Aspen’s spring, opposed to the darker, colder and possibly snowless early-season time frame.

“That race course on a beautiful March day is going to be the place to be,” he said. “It works really well. It’s after Presidents’ Week but before spring break starts to ramp up. So, I think it works well on the calendar — not only for us, but for the broader lodging community.”

American Ryan Cochran-Siegle reaches the bottom of the course in the Aspen World Cup men’s downhill on March 3 at Aspen Mountain. The race was ultimately canceled due to the weather.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

This past March, Aspen had been scheduled to host two downhills and one super-G over three days, but the first downhill was ultimately canceled after snowy conditions made it nearly impossible to put on a fair race. Only 24 racers started before it was called off; at least 30 need to compete for the race to be official.

It was smooth sailing after that, with Norway’s Kilde — otherwise known as Shiffrin’s boyfriend these days — winning Saturday’s downhill, and Swiss star Marco Odermatt winning Sunday’s super-G. Odermatt, who also competes in GS, was the overall World Cup champion this past winter, followed by Kilde in second and Kristoffersen in third.

“It certainly was a crusher to not get that first downhill official result. But the rest of the weekend was simply awesome,” Rigney said of March’s speed races. “The crews did a great job. I can’t underscore how difficult it is to spin something up after having not done it for six years. So I was really proud of the whole team for rallying to make it great. And the crowds came out. The mood in town on that weekend is as good as it gets anytime of the year.”

The women’s World Cup calendar for 2023-24 only has one U.S. stop: the Killington races on Nov. 25-26. Canada’s Mont Tremblant has joined the schedule with two GS races Dec. 2-3. The early-season women’s speed races that in recent years were in Lake Louise are headed to Zermatt and Cervinia on Nov. 18-19.

Saalbach, Austria, will host the World Cup Finals from March 22-24 for both men and women.

This coming winter is the one season that occurs every four years that doesn’t include an Olympics nor a world championship.

“Even when they announced the speed was coming back last year, I was super excited to have racing back,” Gile said of Aspen’s World Cup return. “Super excited for that to happen. Talking to people after the World Cup was here last year, I think people were stoked it was here and a lot of people came to watch it.”


US Ski & Snowboard bring Paralympic Alpine and snowboard under umbrella

Paralympic ski racer Andrew Kurka is about to get the resources and support to feel even more like a world-class ski racer.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard (USSS) will add the Paralympic Alpine ski and snowboard teams back under its umbrella effective immediately, the organization announced Tuesday. It’s a move that allows athletes such as Kurka — a two-time Paralympic medalist — to receive access to the same sort of integrated services as, say, two-time Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin, instead of a one-size-fits-all kind of program.

The U.S. Paralympic Alpine and snowboard teams have been under the management of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee since 2010. There are now six Paralympic national governing bodies overseen by the USPOC — athletics, cycling, powerlifting, swimming, biathlon and cross country skiing.

The switch allows USSS to provide more comprehensive support and resources to its Paralympians, including coaching along with access to sports science, medicine and psychology. It also allows Paralympians to interact even more with some of the best in the business like Shiffrin — the all-time winningest World Cup racer — or perhaps even two-time reigning Olympic snowboard halfpipe champion Chloe Kim just to share tips and advice.

“It’s going to make a world of difference,” said Kurka, who earned downhill gold and silver in the super-G at the 2018 Paralympic Games in South Korea.

The move has been in the works for a while. The current level of support from the USOPC for athletes, including two current coaches, will transfer over in an effort to maintain the continuity of support. That will eventually draw to a close when USSS fully picks up the program.

Among other resources, Paralympians such as seven-time Paralympic Alpine skiing medalist Laurie Stephens and three-time Paralympic snowboard champion Brenna Huckaby have heightened access to high-performance amenities at the USANA Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah.

“When you look at the breadth of what we’re trying to do or what we want to stand for, diversity and inclusion, really holistically embracing all aspects of our sports, Para is a very important pillar within that,” Sophie Goldschmidt, president and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard, said in a phone interview. “The athletes are doing amazing things and we felt that we have the capability and infrastructure now to do this the right way. That was important given our overall mission and vision and the direction that we’re heading.”

The teams will be guided by Para sport director Erik Leirfallom, who was a coach for the U.S. Para Alpine team from 2007-10. He worked with a squad that captured 11 medals at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics.

For Kurka, this is a chance to watch and learn — and even offer his own advice — from someone like Ryan Cochran-Siegle. The 2022 Beijing Games super-G silver medalist, who runs a bed and breakfast in Alaska, finished fourth in the downhill at the Paralympics a year ago despite breaking his right arm just before the race when he was swept into a fence by a wind gust on a training run.

Kurka’s looking forward to the marketing aspects as well, where USSS can assist in providing another level of exposure.

“Being on equal terms and joining (USSS) and everything, that alone helps put us in that light where people can see us and know, `Hey, we’re athletes as well,'” explained the 31-year-old Kurka, who damaged three vertebrae in his spinal cord in an ATV accident as a teenager. “The USOPC has amazing facilities, but we’re kind of lost in the mix. We’re using sports trainers that don’t just work with skiers. They work with a lot of other people and so we’re just getting the trickle-down effect. We’re getting what we need, but we’re not getting it with the quality at which we need it to excel.

“I’ve committed a lot to be a world-class athlete. I’ve broken a lot of bones. What we do is inspirational, yes. But we’re here to do the best that we can do and we’re here to be athletes as well.”

On the Fly: An essential list of items for fishing success on the local waterways

Whether you wade fish with a pack, sling or vest, we believe there are a few essential items you should always take to the river.

As you might have noticed, there are those who travel light, and others who look ready for multiple days in the backcountry. Along with some organization, you can find a happy medium and be prepared for long days spent hiking into Jaffe Park or short walks on the Fryingpan.

For a typical day spent on the water, here is what would be on our list of essentials. Guides would argue you need 01x through 7x tippets, but 4x, 5x, and 6x should have you ready for most situations, whether tying on big wooly buggers on down to size 24 midges.

Nippers and forceps are some of the most important and also most frequently lost tools, so an extra set is never a bad idea. Polarized sunglasses, a rain jacket, and a cap are something we never leave home without, and don’t forget sunblock and insect repellant for those dog-days of summer coming soon.

Concerning leaders, we would suggest both 7.5- and 9-foot leaders ranging from 4x through 6x. You never can have too many, especially on a windy day.

A set of breathable waders, rugged boots, 5 weight rod, landing net, split shot, indicators, and floatant should round it out for the rest of the essential accessories.

When it comes to flies and boxes, one for nymphs and another for dries should keep you organized and efficient on the river. For the streamer junkie, a bugger box would be a nice addition to your arsenal.

We wish everyone a wonderful fishing season here in the Roaring Fork Valley, and that you are prepared for whatever the river has to throw at you.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.

Aging tennis courts at Aspen Rec Center swatted aside for more popular pickleball

The invasion was already underway.

For now, four pickleball courts are scrunched into the footprint of one tennis court and they aren’t even regulation size. The current tennis courts have been commandeered for pickleball.

That will change. Soon enough, there will be seven new pickleball courts there in an attempt to slake the thirst for the sport that’s really popping. And one true, lonely tennis court at the location.

The city of Aspen Parks & Recreation Department hosted an open house on Wednesday morning to showcase the upcoming overhaul for the Iselin Pickleball Courts and Tennis Courts. See, P before the fading T.

City staff met with community members over the past year and a half to discuss the needs and future of the area. Pickleball won out, big time.  

It’s one of the fastest-growing sports in America, and the pandemic brought even more attention to the sport with its contactless play. The game combines table tennis, badminton, and tennis. Some think of it as lazy tennis or a geezer sport, but the leagues of young professionals suggest otherwise. 

Plans for the new pickleball courts and pavilion at Aspen Recreation Center on display at the open house Wednesday.
Julie Bielenberg/The Aspen Times

Aspen already has a dedicated chapter of the USA Pickleball Association, and there are other courts throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.

“The new plans have reached final permit level drawings with the final construction documentation to follow,” said Emily Ford, a communications coordinator for the city.

In addition to the new pickleball courts, and a new indoor/outdoor pavilion is planned for the center of the courts.

“Our goal was to really rethink this — how to maximize the site and how to take advantage of what’s good about the site,” said Michael Tunte, city landscape architect and construction manager.

“We have stunning views. We have trees. This area is very well-served by trails and public transit,” he said. “We incorporated a central gathering place where there’s shade structure seating; inherently pickleball and tennis are fairly social sports.”

Current pickleball and tennis courts at Aspen Recreation Center.
Julie Bielenberg/The Aspen Times

“What we’ve always seen, and what we’ve heard from the pickleball community, is they love to play the game as much as they want to see their friends and interact. It was important for us to think about a central gathering place where people can hang out, see their friends, tee up for the next game, and just get all our equipment ready,” he said.

Pickleball is not so quiet as tennis. The ball — oversized ping pong — has a popping sound when struck. It can be quite a ruckus. So much so, Denver recently removed pickleball courts from a main city park and scrapped plans to build more across town due to noise ordinances. The city of Centennial recently enacted a six-month moratorium on all new outdoor pickleball courts. 

The sound of the ball hitting the paddle in pickleball has been measured at 70 decibels in some residential locations near courts in Denver. The city ordinance only allows for 55 decibels.

At the rec center, Tunte said, “There aren’t any immediately adjacent neighbors that are close, and the site sits between a street and river. There is a berm on the sides on the back, that really helps with sound attenuation more than anything else.”

Scope of work provided by Aspen City Parks & Rec during a community open house on Wednesday.
Julie Bielenberg/The Aspen Times

In short, noise here won’t be a factor. Pickleballers can let it rip — or pop.

The timeline for completion will depend on the pace of permit processing, City Council approval, and whatever else might come up. 

On the Fly: Your cure for the runoff blues is the Bar ZX Ranch’s ‘fishing paradise’

With runoff at our doorstep, this is when we start fishing lakes, ponds, and tail waters. Locals and visitors alike are to have the opportunity to fish for trophy trout in a beautiful setting at the Bar ZX Ranch.

The Bar ZX is owned and operated by the Lampton family, a 640-acre ranch perched at 7,500 feet with the Ragged Mountains towering above. They created a fly fishing paradise with over 25 ponds — all filled with trophy fish, including many different species.  

Depending on which pond you fish, you can find Snake River cutthroat, Tasmanian rainbows, giant cuttbows, western rainbows, eastern and wild brook trout that can reach over 5 pounds, German browns you wouldn’t want a small child or pet near, and tiger trout (brown and brook trout hybrids).

The average fish landed is around 5 pounds, but the opportunity for 10-, 15- and even 20-pound trout exists, if you can land it. There are stories of trout reaching 30 pounds that have been hooked but never landed.

The season begins in May and carries through November, but we primarily use the ranch as a spring and fall fishery as the summer heat kicks in to gear. Each pond fishes differently and holds its own secrets. When driving through the property, you will find yourself immersed in what feels like a jungle at times, with ponds tucked into the tree line. Never ignore the smaller ponds; oftentimes, they hold some of the largest fish. Continuing through the property leads to a high country feel with a backdrop to match.

There are many ways to fish the ponds, depending on the time of year. There is nothing more satisfying then watching a 10-pound trout snatch your fly off the surface. Hatches include chironomids, callibaetis, damselflies, caddis, and midges, and you’ll see a few terrestrials, too. If dry flies are not on the menu, having a selection of mayfly nymphs, scuds, damsels, leeches, and streamers should be a productive way to get these fish to eat.

The Lampton family requires that you are accompanied by a professional guide for the protection and well-being of these incredible fish. Rod fees apply.

The ranch is only about an hour from Basalt. Reach out to your local shop for this terrific runoff option this spring!

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.

On the Fly: Spring cleaning is here as runoffs begin to reach local rivers

As we start to see runoff conditions here in the Roaring Fork Valley, it is time to change our fishing game up with adjustments to ensure success. 

True runoff will not be here for another week or two, but if you’ve been out there fishing the BWOs on the Fryingpan or the caddis hatch on the Roaring Fork, you’ve already seen your share of rising water levels out there. Caddis love hot and bright sun, which, in turn, spurs runoff snowmelts — BWO mayflies seem happiest on a cloudy day. Runoff is our local version of spring cleaning!

The main thing to remember as the freestone (undammed) rivers begin to swell is that the fish will be on the edges, not in the center where currents run swiftly. In other words, the fish are most likely posted up right where you would usually stand while fishing, where the current is the softest. This is the time of year that larger and gaudier flies are key: San Juan worms, Crane fly nymphs, golden stonefly nymphs — anything that will grab the attention of a hungry fish in less-than-ideal water conditions. 

As most of you know, as we ease in to runoff, we can search out cleaner water in higher elevations. Oftentimes, the upper reaches of the Roaring Fork, Crystal, and Fryingpan rivers will be much cleaner than in lower and hotter elevations. Runoff is a great time to explore some of the higher lakes that are slowly deicing, as well, as the warm water lakes that are already fishing very well.

Many anglers spend their travel dollars during May and June and head out for tarpon, permit, and bonefish in the Florida Keys, Cuba, the Bahamas, and the like. Tarpon migrations are best right now through late May and some years well into July.  Last week, we had a group in Espiritu Santo Bay, Mexico doing exactly that. The moral of the story here is to fish hard through runoff, the fish still eat every day, and it shouldn’t take long to figure out where they’re hanging out during “big water.”

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.