Gents look to extend ski town supremacy
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Rugby teams from throughout the Rockies are descending on Aspen this weekend with a singular, if not unified, mission: dethroning the mighty Gentlemen of Aspen.
Aspen, the reigning 11-time champions of the Ski Town Tournament, is hosting the 30th annual (or thereabouts) event Saturday and Sunday at Wagner Park.
The eight-team field includes Vail, Park City, Glenwood Springs, Breckenridge, Santa Fe, Jackson Hole, Steamboat Springs and Aspen, a team that cemented its place in American sports history by becoming the first six-peat USA Rugby champions in June, also at Wagner Park.
That success, however, hasn’t carried into Aspen’s summer league season. Aspen lost to Vail July 6 at Wagner, then lost to Park City July 13 at the Cowpie Tournament in Steamboat Springs. It should be noted, though, that Aspen has been fielding a young team this summer, minus the standouts from the national championship side.
“We’re trying to do our bit for the young guys around the country who want to learn and who want to be as good as the guys who set the standard for us,” said Aspen’s summer league coach Ricard Dyer.
“In those losses [to Vail and Park City], we played 12 college-aged guys and two high school students, and they hadn’t played together much less know each other’s first names in the Vail game. But three weeks down the road, they’ve come a long way, and we’ve added a few older guys into the mix who will be helping them learn the Aspen style.
“The guys are incredibly motivated to redeem themselves, but we’ll find out,” coach Dyer added.
Aspen opens the tourney at 10 a.m. Saturday against Steamboat Springs. The winner of that match will face either Jackson Hole or Breckenridge, while Park City and Vail are left to duke it out in the opposite bracket with Santa Fe and Glenwood Springs.
“Vail and Park City should be the toughest,” Dyer said. “Vail we always expect to be extraordinarily tough. They’re very hard opposition to play.”
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Skico CEO Mike Kaplan emphasized in a virtual address that this upcoming skiing season will be as spread out as possible with limited personal interaction in order to avoid potential COVID-19 infections and keep the mountains open.