Aspen’s Best People | AspenTimes.com

Aspen’s Best People

Aspen Times writer

Alison Berkley (MEH)

A lot of writers received votes in this category. Strangely, many of them were reporters and not columnists. So, for those who don’t understand, a newspaper columnist writes on the opinion page, and usually has a photo mug that runs atop their opinion. Think Roger Marolt, Andy Stone, Barry Smith or (from the Aspen Daily News) Steve Skinner.Or, in this case, think of the Princess, whose column runs with a cartoon. Her real name is Alison Berkley, and instead of writing about politics or current events, she writes about, well, the Princess. And her legions of fans agree that she’s funny as hell.We know Ali loves recognition, so let us be the first to say Congrats, Ali!We won’t mention all the local reporters whose names ended up on ballots, but other columnists receiving votes were Mary Hayes (last year’s winner and a perennial favorite), Barry Smith, Tony Vagneur, Paul Andersen, Gary Hubbell, Sheldon Fingerman, John Colson, Su Lum, Oliver Sharpe, Janet Urquhart, Dave Danforth and Johnny Boyd.

Well, “famous” must be in the eye of the beholder. This was supposed to be our token “celebrity” question, but a number of merely well-known locals made the list: Klaus Obermeyer, Bruce Berger, Bob Braudis, Friedl Pfeifer, Ralph Jackson. Are these folks really household names? Is Boogie Weinglass really famous?

At least the winner is truly famous: Goldie Hawn. Every moviegoer loves the smiling Goldie, and she’s been a presence in Aspen for years.Other vote-getters include Olympic silver medalist Gretchen Bleiler, actor Robert Wagner, musician John Oates, Jack Nicholson, Kevin Costner, Antonio Banderas, Kurt Russell (didn’t get nearly as many votes as his girlfriend …) and Kate Hudson.Singer John Denver and author Hunter Thompson made the list, even though they no longer exist.

Klaus Obermeyer may not qualify as a “famous” guy, except in the skiing world. But there’s no doubt that he’s a standout citizen. In fact, say Aspenites, he’s the best citizen there is.The only other who even approached Klaus was Aspen’s own woman-in-black, Mayor Helen Klanderud. Sheriff Bob Braudis received a number of votes as well.Farther down the list with one or more votes each were a dozen-or-so well-known and well-liked Aspenites, some of them public officials, some of them not. Here’s the list, because they all deserve some credit: Ernie Fyrwald, Boogie Weinglass, Eve Homeyer, Tom and Carolyn Moore, Barb Wickes, Seth Sachson, Connie Harvey, Dwight Shellman, Virginia Pearce, Debbie Kelly, Mike Kaplan, Su Lum, George Stranahan, Toni Kronberg (one person’s whiner is another person’s heroine), Torre, Loren Ryerson, John Sarpa, Jim Hayes and Bill Stirling.

This may sound like a dubious distinction, but let us be the first to say that America, and Aspen, has a heritage of critics and complainers. Without them, life would be boring and democracy would be hampered. So here’s to Andrew Kole and Toni Kronberg, who tied in this esteemed category.Kole, the GrassRoots TV talk-show host who does most of the talking himself, and Kronberg, the gadfly who won’t leave the Aspen City Council alone, certainly deserve this honor. And love them or loathe them, everyone must admit – Aspen wouldn’t be quite the same without them.Other popular whiners included perennial letter-writer Emzy Veazy, media personality Sari Tuschman, Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss, county Commissioner Mick Ireland, gadfly Bert Myrin, columnist Sheldon Fingerman and hair stylist Pascal Bensimon.One reader suggested the “Town of Snowmass Village.” Don’t ask us – we just print the results.

When you want a drink, sometimes you want more than just a beverage in a class. Perhaps you want to belly up to the bar, look deeply into the soul-filled eyes of the guy or gal standing behind it, express your deepest dreams and desires, and wind up having a life-changing evening of intellectual conversation and mind-bending inspiration. Or maybe not. If you want someone who mixes a mean margarita or a saucy sangria, and slings it to you in a hurry, look no further than Oliver Sharpe, the guy our readers say is the best bartender in town. We’ve heard him referred to as “dreamy,” but have never held a conversation with the guy – he’s mixing drinks and pouring shots so quickly at Blue Maize, he doesn’t need conversation skills.Other friendly, competent mixologists behind local bars who got votes are: Barry at Bumps, Bryan Sax at Jimmy’s, Bob at the Double Dog, JP at Su Casa and some guy named Barney. Congratulations, and cheers.

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Beauty is in the eye of beholder, or so the saying goes. And when it comes to Aspen’s sexiest person, it seems to be true as plenty of people were nominated in this category. Apparently all sexy people are not created equal, however, with Karen Broughton (who is actually an El Jebelle) and Jeff Novak (the No. 1 man last year, too) receiving the most votes, for women and men respectively. So if you don’t know Broughton or Novak, get in line as it seems plenty of people do, or would sure as heck would like to!

We’re not sure what constitutes “the best” when it comes to barflies … Someone who’s always at the bar? Someone who remains composed despite how long they’ve been at the bar? Someone who goes to as many bars as possible each night? Whatever the definition, our readers say Rachel Balentine’s got it. Of course not many readers actually voted in this category … perhaps they are too busy at the bar?

Again, we’re not so sure what constitutes “the best” in this category – being invited to parties or being invited to the right parties, knowing a lot of people or knowing a lot of the right people – but at least a couple of dozen readers do. And they say Lita Heller fits the bill, coming in first place with 13 votes. Behind her is string of one- and two-vote recipients, including our very own Mary Eshbaugh Hayes, who, in our humble opinion, defines everything good about being a socialite.

We all know Aspen is overrun by real estate agents, and most of whom seem to have at least one fan in their corner. In fact, more than 30 different agents got at least one vote, and handful got two or three. Of course these are the people many Aspenites love to hate, so it’s not surprising there was no landslide victory. But when all was said and done, BJ Adams took top honors with six votes and Rich Wagar came in second with five votes.

Want to know why Chris Davenport is best skier for a second consecutive year? Just look at the numbers. Davenport’s website charting his latest project – to climb and ski all of Colorado’s 54 fourteeeners during the 2006 calendar year – received 400,000 hits in April alone and more than a million total. The public was clearly eager to hear about the skier’s exploits, whether he was cruising down the west face of Snowmass Mountain or charting a new, harrowing line down Capitol Peak. It’s an accomplishment that left even mountaineer extraordinaire Lou Dawson in awe. Davenport managed to ski 45 of the state’s 14,000-foot peaks, plus provide color commentary for the X Games and travel to Bella Coola, British Columbia, to shoot a film on the history of big-mountain skiing. The itinerary was almost as impressive as his landslide win over accomplished skiers like Casey Puckett, Peter Olenick and Mike Tache.Skiing legend and clothing pioneer Klaus Obermeyer was second on the list, but finished with nearly one-third as many votes as Davenport. Now that’s saying something.

In a town filled with athletes, many of whom excel in their chosen sport, it’s not easy to name one “best” athlete. But our readers have spoken, and Aspen High School junior Steve Boening is the man.A three-sport athlete in tennis, hockey and lacrosse, Boening played at No. 3 and No. 4 doubles for the Skiers last fall and logged minutes on the hockey team until a shoulder injury ended his season. He skipped the tennis season this fall while recovering from that injury, but expects to be back on the ice this winter. Perhaps being the “best” doesn’t just encompass awards and top-place finishes?Of course top distance runner Christy Severy, last year’s best high school athlete, did receive multiple votes, as did Noah Hoffman, who won an individual regional cross-country title and starred on the Skiers’ boys nordic ski team. Other athletes to receive votes included Basalt’s Ben Pollock, a three-sport star in football, basketball and baseball, and Aspen senior Paul Britvar, who graduated in May after winning seven state medals in alpine skiing, including three consecutive state titles in slalom.

Voting in the best teacher category wasn’t all that heavy – of the 18 teachers named, most got one or two votes. But Basalt Middle School’s Melissa Matherly was the clear winner with 10 votes to her credit, more than twice the number cast for her nearest challenger.Matherly, who has taught in the valley’s schools for three decades, will be retiring after this year at the age of 53 years young. She teaches the BMS PEAK gifted and talented classes, along with math for fifth- and sixth-graders. According to Principal Christian Kingsley, “She’s completely inspiring, she’s hilarious, and she cares about kids tremendously.”

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