Mother of all beach tourneys returns
ASPEN Rest easy, beach volleyball fans: The Olympics may be over, but theres still plenty of great beach volleyball to be seen in high definition this weekend. High-def, as in, watching some of the countrys top professional players from just a few feet away when they gather in Aspen for the mother of all pro-am beach tournaments, the 36th annual MotherLode.The Labor Day classic kicks off Thursday at courts all around Aspen and wraps Monday afternoon with the mens and womens open finals on the sand courts at Koch Lumber Park.The largest doubles event in the country, this years tournament is expected to draw nearly 600 doubles teams.Despite how much it has grown over the years, the MotherLode has stayed true to its roots. All matches are free to spectators, including the open finals, which viewers can take in court-side at scenic Koch Lumber Park. The appeal of a small-town tournament with a sizeable pro draw is one of the reasons a number of the same pros return to Aspen each year.The seniors divisions open the tournament Thursday, with finals scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.Masters divisions begin play Friday at Koch Park and wrap up with Saturday morning finals. Co-ed divisions also open Friday at Wagner Park, with the finals set for 6 p.m.On Saturday, the tournament officially gets cranked up with the mens and womens open divisions beginning play, as well as six different amateur divisions which will play their games on grass. On Monday, the amateur finals begin at 9 a.m. and run until 2 p.m. at the Koch grass court.The open sand finals then get underway at 3 p.m. The womens final will be followed by the men. Last year, Californians Sara Dukes and Chrissie Zartman both AVP tour regulars claimed their first MotherLode title in the womens open final over tournament veterans Dawn Tischauser and Deb Ponis, both of Denver.The road to the crown included a tense three-game semifinal win over top-seeded Angela Knopf and hometown favorite Catie Mintz, who share a combined five Lode finals appearances between them, including three wins for Knopf.In the mens final, California pro Ivan Mercer claimed his second straight MotherLode title with new partner Eyal Zimet. The pair staved off elimination with a 25-23 win in the second game to force a tiebreaker, which ended with a 15-13 victory. For more information on this weekends tournament, go to http://www.motherLodevolleyball.com
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In some ways, it’s hard to believe it’s been five years since Beaver Creek and Birds of Prey hosted the 2015 FIS Alpine World Championships. It feels like it’s been five years since March and the outbreak of COVID-19.