| AspenTimes.com

Prep briefs: Basalt’s Sierra Bower wins again, Aspen tennis beats Dawson

Basalt’s Sierra Bower wins cross country meet at Gypsum Creek

Basalt High School junior Sierra Bower won yet another cross country race on Saturday when the team competed at the Eagle Valley Invitational at Gypsum Creek Golf Course. Bower won the girls’ race with a time of 18 minutes, 7.2 seconds, which according to the BHS athletic department is a new course record. The Eagle Valley duo of Samantha and Joslin Blair tied for second in 18:31.1.

Bower’s performance helped the BHS girls to a third-place team finish with 83 points. Fruita Monument and Glenwood Springs each finished tied for first with 77 points. Aspen was sixth in the girls’ race with 121 points.

Junior Kylie Kenny led the AHS girls by finishing 11th in 20:12.7. AHS junior Kendall Clark was two spots back in 13th, finishing in 20:25.3. A pair of Basalt freshmen in Sarah Levy (20:25.5) and Katelyn Maley (20:27.4) were 14th and 15th, respectively. AHS freshman Elsie Weiss also recorded a top-20 finish, coming in 19th in 20:44.5.

Neither Aspen nor Basalt recorded a team score on the boys’ side, won by Summit with 68 points. Fruita Monument was second (80) and Grandview was third (81).

Battle Mountain’s Sullivan Middaugh won the boys’ race in 16:45.2., with Summit’s Jeremiah Vaille coming in second place in a close 16:45.3. Sophomore Brenon Reed led Aspen by finishing 53rd in 19:07.9. Basalt junior Noah Allen led the Longhorns, finishing a spot back in 54th in 19:08.4.

Complete results can be found here.

Basalt volleyball beats Olathe; Aspen volleyball falls in three sets at Moffat

The Basalt High School volleyball team earned its second win of the season on Saturday by sweeping through visiting Olathe inside the BHS gymnasium. Set scores were 25-20, 25-21 and 27-25. Basalt, now 2-4 overall, next is scheduled to host Grand Valley on Tuesday.

The Aspen High School volleyball team played Saturday at Moffat County, losing in three sets. Scores were 25-13, 25-11 and 25-17. The Skiers, now 0-2, play Tuesday at Summit. Basalt will host Aspen on Thursday.

Aspen boys tennis beats Dawson to complete perfect week

The Aspen High School boys tennis team played one of its toughest matches of the season on Saturday, beating Dawson 6-1 on the Aspen city courts. The only loss came at No. 1 singles, with Dawson’s Riley Burridge beating Aspen’s Christian Kelly 6-2, 6-4. Aspen’s Alex Mosher and Liam Sunkel won at No. 2 and 3 singles, respectively.

Aspen played Vail Christian on Thursday, winning 7-0, which followed up a 7-0 win over Basalt on Tuesday. On Sept. 6, the Skiers took eighth at the Western Slope Invitational, with Mosher’s runner-up finish at No. 2 singles the best result.

Aspen is next scheduled to host Fruita on Thursday. Basalt tennis is scheduled to host Vail Christian on Wednesday at Crown Mountain Park.

Basalt softball loses for first time in make-up with Conifer

The Basalt High School softball team lost 8-7 on Saturday against Conifer, the first loss of the season for the Longhorns. It was a makeup from the Sheridan softball tournament late last month, with both teams competing in the championship game before an electrical issue forced the postponement.

BHS led that one 3-1 in the third inning before the lights went out, and lost it about two weeks later in the seventh inning.

Now 8-1 overall and ranked No. 5 in Class 3A this week, Basalt is slated to play a doubleheader at Meeker on Tuesday.

Aspen softball (0-8) did not play Saturday. The Skiers next play Tuesday at home against Cedaredge.

Basalt boys soccer plays to draw while Aspen loses in first game after long layoff

The Basalt High School boys soccer team competed Saturday at Strive Prep-Smart Academy in Denver, playing to a 2-2 tie.

The Longhorns gave up the first goal only two minutes into the first half, and allowed the second barely a minute into the second half, part of an overall slow start. BHS rallied to tie the game in the second half with each team having to settle for a draw.

Strive fell to 2-2-1 overall while Basalt moved to 1-3-1 overall with a trip to Moffat County coming up on Thursday.

The Aspen High School boys soccer team played to a 3-0 loss at Monarch on Saturday. It was Aspen’s first game since a 2-1 overtime loss to Basalt in the season opener on Aug. 22. The Skiers (0-2) host Delta on Thursday.


The Basalt High School boys golf team competed Thursday at Cedaredge Golf Club, coming away with a win after shooting a collective 242. Longhorns senior Blake Exelbert was the low medalist, shooting 76, while junior Tyler Sims was fourth after shooting 81.

Eagle Valley was second as a team, shooting 244, while Battle Mountain was third with 260. Eagle Valley’s Jake Crawford was the second individual, shooting 78. Aspen did not compete in Cedaredge.


Flying S’mass skies for 4-plus decades

For 44 years, hot air balloons of all sizes and colors have decorated the sky above Town Park for a few days every summer during the Snowmass Balloon Festival.

And every single year, one of those balloons has belonged to the Carter family.

At this year’s festival, Patrick was the Carter flying the family “Colorado Rocky Mountain High” balloon, but it started with Carter’s dad, Jim, who was the most passionate about hot air ballooning and shared his love of the sport with his four children.

When Jim passed away about eight years ago, Carter said he sat down with his immediate family and called up his siblings to discuss whether they wanted to carry on the ballooning tradition Jim had started.

“It was a unanimous decision,” Carter said of continuing the tradition, namely by investing in a new balloon to replace the worn out one. “We all wanted to do it and it was a commitment we all made because it’s what our family is about.”

Since this decision, Patrick, who lives in Colorado Springs and works as a doctor of osteopathic medicine for UCHealth, has taken the lead as the family’s main hot air balloonist and has secured its the newest “Colorado Rocky Mountain High” balloon, which he refers to as “CH3.”

The balloon is the third iteration of his dad’s original design rendering, which John Denver allegedly signed after Jim bumped into him on a plane back to Colorado from L.A. Patrick said Denver had recently released his “Rocky Mountain High” hit song, and told Jim he thought the family’s balloon design and accompanying title was “far out.”

On Sept. 8, Patrick took the CH3 up three times to ensure most all of his family and friends got a chance to fly beneath the inflated state flag. Patrick said he’s working to teach some of the younger family members, including his two adult sons, how to pilot the family hot air balloon.

“Our kids were born into it. It’s just a family thing,” Carter said, observing his relatives pack up the CH3 balloon after the final flight Sept. 8. “This is definitely not a sport you can do by yourself. … Everywhere you look you see family.”

Patrick said he was 10-years-old when his dad got into hot air ballooning, which he was immediately drawn to. He earned his pilot’s license in the early 1980s but served as his dad’s co-pilot until he died.

According to Patrick, hot air ballooning now is much different than when his dad started flying in the early 1970s.

While hovering over Snowmass Town Park in the CH3, Patrick talked about how his dad earned his private, commercial and instructor’s license after just 10 hours of flying; broke multiple ribs during his first solo flight near Pueblo because he had no way of accurately forecasting the weather and got caught in a nasty storm; and had to follow little rules or regulations to be a balloonist.

“You know the movie ‘Talladega Nights?’ We think Will Ferrell needs to make a movie like that about early hot air ballooning,” Carter said, laughing and citing several of the old time pilots who current comedians like Ferrell could play.

The Snowmass Balloon Festival was one of the first Jim flew in as a pilot, and a festival he always came back to. During the early ballooning days, Patrick said it was well-known as a “premier event” and is now one of the oldest and longest running hot air balloon sporting events in Colorado.

Today, the downvalley race is named the “Carter Memorial Colorado Rat Race,” after Jim, Patrick said.

But although the Carter family has a long history at the Snowmass Balloon Festival, Betty Pfister, the renowned pilot and local aviation pioneer, started the festival with help from two of her close friends and hot air balloonists, Chauncey and Marie Dunn, in Snowmass Town Park in 1976.

Well, sort of. They technically first launched hot air balloons with a few other pilots from the heart of downtown Aspen the year before the first Snowmass invitational, according to Pfister’s oldest daughter, Suzanne. Pfister moved the event to Snowmass the next year because she felt it was a safer place to hold the hot air balloon festival, Suzanne said.

Pfister organized the Snowmass Balloon Festival and oversaw its safety operations for several years. Suzanne said she remembers going as a young woman and riding with her mom in balloons in Snowmass and all over the world, but emphasized how much her mom loved participating in the local festival and downvalley race.

“She never met anything that flew in the air she did not like,” Pfister said, laughing. “I think she wanted to do everything she could to give back to the community, and felt the balloon festival was a good addition to the valley.”

Patrick said he remembers attending the Snowmass Balloon Festival when he was growing up, too, describing it as a “kids fest” since most of the pilots had young children at the time.

Hundreds and hundreds of area locals and their cars filled Town Park every year, Patrick said, and he remembers money being raised for search and rescue teams, along with other local causes.

But Patrick said he feels the annual festival isn’t as community-driven as it used to be. He thinks many Aspen-Snowmass locals may be demystified with hot air balloons after so many decades of the festival and with the rise of commercial balloon flights, and feels that the event now caters more to tourists.

“I’d love to see it become more of a community event for a purpose,” Patrick said, noting it’d be great if local charities or active groups could get involved again to engage more residents.

Regardless, the Carter family has made the trip to Snowmass every year since the annual balloon festival started and considers it an integral part of his life and his family.

“It’s all about family for us,” Patrick said. “Everything in life is special. … My wife and I see how short life is as family practitioners, we see the inevitable on a daily basis. So we might as well enjoy life as much as we can.”