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Kadi and Kenny the clear choices for RFSD

I am writing to urge our community to support both Kathryn (Kadi) Kuhlenberg and Kenny Teitler in the Roaring Fork School District’s Board of Education election. If you have been paying attention to the election, you already know that these are the only two individuals who are both qualified for the position and also personally invested in the future of the Roaring Fork School District.

Notably, these are the only two candidates who have their own children in our local public schools! Running for school board in such an acrimonious time shows true leadership and courage. Please join me in supporting Kadi and Kenny, two leaders who will make decisions consistent with our community’s values.

Dr. Brooke Allen


Support 2A for the greater good of Aspen arts

A “yes” vote on ballot question 2A is a vote for the artistic and cultural vibrancy of Aspen.

The arts are happening all around us — but it takes commitment and resources. Thanks to grant support through the city of Aspen, Aspen Words recently installed Little Free Libraries throughout town, providing books for readers of all ages. Aspen Film hosted free drive-in screenings of family films, and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s Folklórico program provides free dance instruction for youth.

These are just a few examples of the community-centered programs made possible through the Wheeler Opera House real estate transfer tax. The current $100,000 cap on annual grant funding hasn’t changed since the original ordinance more than four decades ago. Passage of 2A would enable a broader number of recipients to receive funding and expand their reach to locals, all without increasing taxes. The 2A question also maintains the $40 million balance dedicated to preserving our beloved Wheeler Opera House.

A city with vibrant arts offerings, job opportunities, and cultural institutions like the Red Brick Center were all critical factors in my decision to put down roots in Aspen as a young professional and will also be vital to my decision to remain here and raise a family. The arts have a positive impact on mental health, academic performance, and social cohesion, and help provide youth with self-confidence and creative skills.

I’ve seen the benefit of arts education first-hand through Aspen Words’ Youth Poetry Project, in which local students take workshops with slam poets. One participant said: “Writing has helped me express my depression, anxiety and trauma. It has helped me share my story in a better way and has become a big coping skill.”

A yes vote on 2A is a renewed commitment to arts education and an investment in the cultural fabric of our community.

Caroline Tory


Delivering good news

Along the theme that there is so much good news about technology, changing values and culture, here comes the first annual Earthshot Prize awards ceremony hosted by Prince Andrew with stars performing around the world. It will be an epic extravaganza celebrating state of the art technology. Five winners of the most inspiring and innovative solutions for our home planet will be showcased and they get a million British Pounds. Earthprize.org has the details.

Watch it on Discovery and BBC One this Sunday at 1 p.m. MT or on Discovery’s Facebook page and Discovery+ worldwide from Oct 19. And there’s a book too.

Everybody needs a dose of good news. Get some.

Tom Mooney


Kuhlenberg will represent RFSD well

A new school year is well underway and I am grateful that the kids in the community are having a great experience together. I believe the teachers, staff, administration, and board have done an exceptional job in challenging times to make this happen. I would like to see this success continue and that is why I am writing to support Kathryn Kuhlenberg to represent District E on the Roaring Fork School District board.

Kathryn will bring a diverse and complimentary set of skills and capabilities to the board. First, she is a parent with a stake in our district’s success but she also brings an understanding of the classroom and of education policy through her experiences in her business and as an attorney. Also, Kathryn rightly understands that the most powerful tool to bring success to the students is attracting and retaining talent. I’m happy she is making this a priority if elected and that she recognizes the particular importance of addressing housing and meeting cost of living needs for teachers and staff. Please join me in voting for Kathryn Kuhlenberg to represent District E on the RFSD board.

David Knight


Two of a kind

Elizabeth Holmes (former CEO of Theranos) should be Donald Trump’s running mate in 2024 unless they are both incarcerated.

Miles Knudson

Aspen Village

Football: Basalt loses big showdown to Delta, Aspen is torched by Moffat

The Aspen High School football team plays at Moffat County on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, in Craig.
Photo by Andy Bockelman

The battle for the Class 2A Western Slope League in football is essentially down to two teams after Friday night, with Basalt High School failing to keep pace with Delta and Aspen losing a wild game at Moffat County.

In the penultimate game of the regular season next week, Delta will host Moffat County with the winner claiming the league title.

As for Basalt, one of the preseason frontrunners in the WSL, Friday’s loss puts its playoff hopes in jeopardy, while Aspen’s loss to the Bulldogs all but eliminates it from postseason contention.

Delta 42, Basalt 14

Separated by only a spot in this week’s CHSAANow.com poll — Delta at No. 6 and Basalt at No. 7 — the teams didn’t look nearly as equal Friday night on the Panthers’ field. Delta led 7-0 after a quarter and 14-0 early in the second quarter before a long touchdown pass from BHS quarterback Kade Schneider to senior receiver Sam Sherry made it 14-7 with just over five minutes to play in the half.

However, a long Delta touchdown not even two minutes later made it 21-7 at halftime and any momentum BHS may have had was gone. The Longhorns recovered an onside kick to start the second half but failed to score from it, and Delta led 28-7 after three quarters.

A Cooper Crawford touchdown run made it 28-14 with a solid 10 minutes to play, giving Basalt a chance, but the Panthers didn’t allow the game to get any closer and they finished it off with a pair of short TD runs late.

Delta improved to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the WSL. The Panthers have Moffat and Rifle still to go in the regular season.

Basalt dropped to 5-2 and 1-2, its only other loss coming against Moffat. BHS will likely need to beat both Rifle next week and Aspen the week after in the finale to make the playoffs. Both of those games will be at home for the Longhorns.

The Aspen High School football team plays at Moffat County on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, in Craig.
Photo by Andy Bockelman

Moffat 62, Aspen 35

The Skiers fell into a big hole against No. 4-ranked Moffat on Friday in Craig, trailing 21-0 after a quarter and 27-0 early in the second quarter. An AHS touchdown with just over eight minutes to play until the half cut it to 27-7, but by the break Moffat’s lead had swollen to 36-7.

The second half was wild, with both teams making big plays to stretch out the game. Still, Aspen never truly threatened and trailed 49-21 after three quarters.

The Skiers had no answer for a Moffat rushing attack that saw three different players rush for more than 100 yards. This included junior Evan Atkin, who surpassed 1,000 yards rushing on the season against Aspen.

The Bulldogs improved to a perfect 7-0 overall and 3-0 in league. After Delta next week, they have lowly Coal Ridge to finish out the season. The Titans are 0-7 (0-3) after Friday’s 28-7 loss to Rifle (3-4, 1-2).

Aspen dropped to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in WSL play. The Skiers host Coal Ridge next week in their home finale before a trip to Basalt on Oct. 29 will close out their season.


Tony Vagneur: As Aunt Dula says, you’re never too old for an ice cream cone

A faithful reader, known to his internet friends as “Ski Bum,” sent me the following quote after my last column. It seems fitting this week.

“And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly to the past.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

There are those events that come at us from long past, happenings over which we had no control but return to the fore from time-to-time. The sizzled, permanent brand is deep and there is nothing we can do but deal with it as we dance along our path.

How I got to Denver, is not clear. A friend and I had gone to Nebraska to visit his grandparents, a four- or five-day trip. We’d left from Aspen and the drive there is still fresh in my mind, but as to getting to Denver after our visit, it’s uncertain. Maybe I rode a bus from Nebraska, maybe my friend dropped me off somewhere in the city. My step was light and I felt good even though at 17, I’d never been alone in the city before.

What I do remember is getting out of a taxicab in front of a small hospital, with a large faux alligator-hide-covered suitcase in tow. (The suitcase had belonged to my paternal great-uncle Dellore, and when he died, my dad brought it home along with some furniture and other items, the suitcase falling to me.) Pulling a rumpled piece of paper out of my pocket to double-check the address, I paid the driver, disembarked and walked through the large double front doors.

Directed to a room on the first floor, I could hear her hollering for a nurse to bring her some pain medication before I got there. Her spirits brightened for a few moments when she saw me, and we had a short visit, although most of it was about the pain she was suffering, and could I get her some relief. She was not herself.

Both arms and her right leg were tied to the bed in a fashion that didn’t give her much freedom of movement. The other leg sported a fracture at the hip, one of those catastrophic medical events in older citizens that many times lead to death, especially in earlier days, such as 1964.

Back at the nurse’s station, I tried to explain the situation with the pain, whereupon I was told she didn’t need any pain medication, it was all in her head. “Then why is she tied to the bed? She can’t go anywhere with a broken hip.” “Leave the nursing to us, we know what we’re doing,” was the reply. Being 17, I wasn’t really in a position to carry much authority, but those remarks hit me somewhere deep down inside.

My great-aunt, tied to the bed with a fractured femur, 77 years old, had gone to Denver with her remaining Aspen sister to spend the cold days of winter with another sister who had married and moved to the big city many years before.

Did they have plans to return to their Aspen house? Maybe; she asked if her car was still in the garage, but that is lost to history, and probably doubtful. With my aunt’s accident, plans were likely in the air. Additionally, our world was quickly changing as my parents had sold the Woody Creek ranch and were moving to Denver. After reporting the hospital situation to my mother, she immediately took control.

In the end, my great-aunt, who was a fireball of personality, born in Aspen in 1887, who had ranched, taught school and traveled most of her life, named Buttermilk Mountain (it was part of the family ranch) long before it became a ski area, and who wasn’t afraid to give me a cigarette from time-to-time, never walked again.

Shortly after my visit, my mother got her placed in a nursing home close to the house my parents had bought, and visits were done regularly. Painfully, the next time I saw my great-aunt, maybe two or three months later, she didn’t know who I was.

She died in 1972, but her unique way of looking at the world never left her. Shortly before her death, sitting beside her in one of those long, black limousines in a funeral procession for another family member, she turned to me with an impish grin and asked if we could tell the driver to stop for an ice cream cone. Rest in Peace, Aunt Dula.

Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and welcomes your comments at ajv@sopris.net.

Ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin eyes five-event Olympics in 2022 after three last time

Mikaela Shiffrin competes during the slalom portion of the women's combined race at the 2021 World Championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Shiffrin is certain she wants to participate in every individual women's race at the Beijing Olympics. She already owns three Olympic medals, including two golds.
Marco Trovati/AP

First things first for Mikaela Shiffrin: She is certain she wants to participate in every individual women’s ski race at the Beijing Olympics.

The 26-year-old from Colorado also knows that was her aim for the last Winter Games — and things did not quite work out according to plan back then.

So as Shiffrin gears up for the start of the World Cup season this month, then looks further down the road toward the trip to Asia in February, she is examining various ways in which she can beat her best for both. That means how she performs while on her skis, speeding down the side of a mountain, of course, as well as areas she can work on while away from the slopes.

“Something I’m dreaming about right now is to be able to compete in each event in China. But that means I have to do a lot more preparation, mentally,” Shiffrin said from Austria on Friday, during a video conference with reporters. “Just understanding how that is going to affect me mentally and physically throughout, essentially, the three weeks that we’re there.

“So it definitely takes a lot of my focus to think: What are the boxes we have to check, even totally outside of skiing and technique and tactics and the physical side of things? What are the boxes we need to check to make sure that I have some comfort level staying in a place that I’ve never been before for three weeks and dealing with the jet lag and getting over that as fast as possible?”

Shiffrin owns three Olympic medals, including two golds. She also has won 69 World Cup races — only Ingemar Stenmark, with 86, and Lindsey Vonn, 82, have more in the sport’s history — along with a trio of overall titles.

While careful to note some caveats, including that she needs to ski well enough to earn a spot on the U.S. team for the five individual women’s alpine events in Beijing, Shiffrin would love to be in the starting gate each time; giant slalom Feb. 7, slalom Feb. 9, super-G Feb. 11, downhill Feb. 15 and combined Feb. 17.

Then again, that was the idea at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, too, before weather-related rescheduling contributed to Shiffrin participating in only three races. She left South Korea with a gold in giant slalom, silver in combined and a fourth-place finish in slalom.

“I definitely walked away with eyes wide open after that,” Shiffrin said Friday.

“There’s a whole box of things that we can unpack with just, sort of, Olympic preparations and how how much I do care about putting in my best effort to make all events happen? But also knowing that so many things can change, not only between now and then, but just between the start of the first Olympic race to the end of the Games, that that plan could very, very easily change at the drop of a hat. So there’s that side of things,” she said. “And obviously, you go to the Olympics and hope for medals. That’s the dream. … But then you have the World Cup season.”

Yes, she is not ignoring that.

Mikaela Shiffrin shows her bronze medal on the podium of the women's slalom at the 2021 World Championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
Giovanni Auletta/AP

When the calendar opens Oct. 23 in Sölden, Austria, Shiffrin will make it a point to live up to what she called “another big dream” — contending for the overall trophy again.

That wasn’t a possibility last season, when she avoided speed races until the world championships after returning from a 10-month hiatus brought about by the death of her father, the coronavirus pandemic and an injured back.

“There is never going to be a guarantee that I can win it again, and it’s … really hard to say if that’s even a realistic goal for this season — or ever again in my career,” Shiffrin said. “But I’m trying to put in the work to make that a possibility.”

Independence Pass remains closed Friday morning; CDOT crews work to clear snowdrifts

Colorado Department of Transportation crews are up on Independence Pass clearing snowdrifts Friday morning after this week's recent snowstorms.
CDOT courtesy photo

Independence Pass remains closed Friday morning because of snowdrifts on the narrow road, a Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman said in an update Friday morning.

Crews are working to clear the road after about 2 to 3 inches of new snow on the east side of Independence Pass, CDOT’s Elise Thatcher said in an email Friday to The Aspen Times. This after the storm dropped 6 to 8 inches of snow on the pass overnight Tuesday, which is when the pass closed.

There are “snowdrifts on the west side that are as high as the guardrail in places. One drift is up to 3 feet deep. That will take some time to clear today,” Thatcher said Friday morning.

There is no estimated time for the pass to reopen Friday, she added, but they would have a progress update in the afternoon.

The pass is not yet closed for the season, though some electronic message boards along Highway 82 and Interstate 70 indicated Tuesday that it was, Thatcher said earlier this week.

Also, though local law enforcement sources said Tuesday a single-vehicle crash near the top of the pass was the reason for the closure, that was not the cause, she said.

“Both of those messages are incorrect, and the closure is due to driving conditions,” Thatcher said. “The safety closure started last (Tuesday) due to the storm moving through the area. The road already has limited visibility, so winter driving conditions can quickly make it unsafe for motorists.”

The storm dropped 6 to 8 inches of snow on the pass, and CDOT crews were making their way up the road Wednesday to plow it, she said.

Colorado Department of Transportation crews are up on Independence Pass clearing snowdrifts Friday morning after this week's recent snowstorms.
CDOT courtesy photo

“A second storm is anticipated to move in later today and (Thursday), … so we will plow the road as much as possible before the next storm arrives,” Thatcher said in the email.

The second storm moved out of the area Friday morning.

Independence Pass typically closes for the winter around Nov. 7, according to CDOT’s website. The road opens for the summer on the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend, weather permitting.

In 2020, the pass did not close until Nov. 13, which was the latest closure since 2016 when the winter gate about 5 miles east of Aspen closed Nov. 17. In 2019, the pass had one of its earliest closures when CDOT shut it down for the season Oct. 28. In 2006, it closed for the season Oct. 23.

The soul of Aspen

I first got a glimpse of the soul of Aspen on a snowy night in late December 1974 when I was 16. I had arrived alone, a day before our ski week after a long bus ride from Denver and a long train ride from Chicago. Smell of snow and woodsmoke. I wandered through town and eventually found a $7 bunk bed. In the morning I found 8 inches on Aspen Mountain, and I have never been the same.

A lot of things have changed in the 46 years since, but it’s still my mountain, and it’s still our town. You can say Aspen has lost a lot of its soul over the years, and you would be right. But the mountain is still there for all of us.

I’ve heard that two of the four county commissioners who will decide the fate of our latest mountain improvement (Aspen Skiing Co’s proposed Pandora’s expansion on Aspen Mountain) no longer ski! What!?! Skiing is not just a diversion for the tourists here; it is our bread and butter.

We have to keep improving our infrastructure on the mountain. We have to keep making it interesting for ourselves and our guests. This is not growth! This is improving our core product we offer to the world. We absolutely must work to solve the many growth related issues we face as a community and valley. Keeping our “flagship” mountain stuck in the ’90s is not solving our growth problems.

Please sharpen your pencils and make the zoning adjustments that will keep our ski town getting better and continue to work for all of us who call this valley home.

Dan Johns