‘If Utah and Colorado are Hawaii, Sun Valley is Tahiti’

SUN VALLEY, Idaho — Dennis Harper works his magic in the mountains of Idaho, blending water and compressed air to create gunpowder gold. Harper and his team of 14 work around the clock during winter months to run the world’s largest automated snowmaking system. From command central — a cement building mid-mountain off Sun Valley’s Roundhouse Slope trail — they oversee 578 snowmaking guns, 38 miles of underground steel pipe, cooling fans, pumps, weather stations, and a sophisticated computer system that monitors the entire operation. “We’re just snowmaking nerds,’’ said Harper, the resort’s director of snowmaking. “Or snow farmers,’’ added his colleague Shawn Aicher, as he pored over a computer map of the 2,100-acre resort that displayed his “flock’’: the location of 106 snowmaking guns in operation across Bald Mountain, and another 47 guns on standby. “It used to be that we were looked down on,’’ said Harper. “Now, we’re seen as heroes.’’ Thanks to the efforts of this snowmaking team, the resort had 42 runs open when our family visited right before the holidays, while many West Coast ski areas struggled to remain open. That’s rarely an issue at Sun Valley, local friends and relatives assured us. We soon understood the appeal of this laid-back, unpretentious destination that has been drawing Olympic downhill and Nordic skiers, world-class ice skaters, celebrities, dignitaries, and regular ski families like us to the region for more than three-quarters of a century. Sun Valley and neighboring Ketchum (two towns one mile apart) lie in south-central Idaho, tucked in the middle of the Northern Rockies where the closest city (Boise) is a 2.5-hour drive away and there’s so little light pollution that the area has been designated the country’s first Dark Sky Reserve. Here, Starbucks is the only chain around, Continue Reading

Renowned folksinger Dar Williams brings music and ideas about town revitalization to Colorado Springs

0 View Gallery  View Comments Singer-songwriter Dar Williams has observed a lot about small-town life over two decades of touring. She wrote about what it takes for an urban center to thrive in her fourth book, "What I Found In a Thousand Towns: A Traveling Musician's Guide to Rebuilding America's Communities One Coffee Shop, Dog Run & Open-Mike Night at a Time," published in September. Williams will bring her songs and ideas on town-building to Colorado Springs. At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, Williams will perform her soulful, folksy songs, many of them off her 2015 album, "Emerald," her 10th studio album, plus a few new tunes. "I will be there with Julie Wolfe, a great piano player and singer. We've known each other for 20 years," Williams said. "I like to play stuff that people want to hear but also fish about for the B sides." Williams will return to the FAC at 6 p.m. Wednesday to speak about her book as part of the Downtown Partnership's City Center Series. "It does start the wheel about other things: how we tackle tough issues; how towns went from drug deals to overhauling the theater; how towns got on their feet and thrived. It's a 21st-century sense of pride." Williams said the concert might include a short passage from her book, "Just because it's so present in my mind. It'll somehow be related to a song." The concert plus speaking engagement formula is "starting to be the case: Music, then book. Combining this book with my music is a dream come true because the worlds are so different, have different audiences. But in my heart they are absolutely joined," she said. Williams' folksy songs tell of everyday challenges. Some have been labeled "pop" or "pop folk," and she doesn't take issue with that. "There was a time when we were trying to still figure out what the music of the people was. 'What is folk music?' I would say as far as my intention goes, I love melodies. I have gone out with Continue Reading

Before winning Olympic bronze, Steamboat Springs’ Arielle Gold almost quit snowboarding

BONGPYEONG, South Korea — In Sochi, she never got her shot. But that shoulder injury suffered during practice in Russia’s dismal halfpipe in 2014 did more than end Arielle Gold’s first Olympics. “It really all started to fall apart right after the last Olympics in Sochi,” said the 21-year-old from Steamboat Springs, whose bronze medal last week in the PyeongChang Olympic halfpipe capped a fairy-tale comeback to the top of a sport she was ready to quit not even a year ago. It was more than that injury — which lingers today, including dislocating her shoulder during practice a day before her bronze-medal performance — that almost pushed her off her board for good. Snowboarding was in a downhill slide in 2015, part of a decline since peaking in 2010 after more than a decade of spectacular growth. Participation numbers were dropping, down more than half-a-million participants between 2010 and 2015, according to SnowSports Industries America. Equipment sales were withering, with sales of snowboards declining $60 million a year since 2007. Snowboarders were aging and riding less. Warmer winters were pinching powder days. And snowboard makers started tightening their budgets. The days of pro snowboarders making bank were over. Even for Olympians. Gold was rehabbing her shoulder in 2014 when she found out she would not be re-signing with her sponsor, Red Bull. Burton, the snowboard maker who had supported her rapid ascent through the ranks and once heralded her as the heir apparent of snowboarding pioneer Kelly Clark’s crown, also pulled away. “It was a tough pill to swallow, losing all the support I had growing up. That made me less inclined to keep snowboarding,” Gold said. “I felt like I had lost faith in myself and the entire industry had lost faith in me.” She appeared to be the next big thing in snowboarding in 2012, when at age 15, she won a gold medal in the junior world championships. A year Continue Reading

Saturday’s prep roundup: Sienknecht helps Manitou Springs boys advance in Tri-Peaks playoffs

0 View Comments BOYS' BASKETBALL Manitou Springs 61, Florence 36 At Manitou Springs: Cole Sienknecht found his touch from long range, hitting five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 19 points to help fifth-seeded Manitou Springs past No. 12 Florence in a Tri-Peaks League play-in game. The Mustangs (12-8) will travel to meet No. 4 Salida at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the quarterfinal round. Eli Stephens scored 15 points, and Joey Allen added 11 for Manitou Springs, which made 10 3-point shots and just nine from inside the arc. The Mustangs, down 13-9 after one quarter, broke the game open with a 22-6 run heading into halftime. Lamar 63, James Irwin 55 At Lamar: Nathaniel Plaisted's game-high 25 points weren't enough as James Irwin was outscored 14-5 down the stretch and suffered a season-ending loss to Lamar in a 3A Tri-Peaks League play-in game. Just eight days earlier, the Jaguars (4-15) were blown out, 76-42 at home to the same Savages (11-9). "They pulled together in the fourth quarter, and we didn't answer the bell," James Irwin coach Anthony Byrd said. "But we were right there this time, which was a total turnaround when we played them earlier." The Jaguars, the 10th-seed, led the seventh-seeded Savages 50-49 entering the fourth quarter but struggled after leading rebounder Tavi Mulitauopele fouled out. Matthew Skalicky scored 12 points, and Jesimiel Kelly added 11 for James Irwin. Lamar next will play No. 2 Colorado Springs Christian School (13-6) at 6 p.m. Wednesday. ECA 65, Miami-Yoder 53 At Rush: Jason Holt had the first double-digit effort of his career in a 25-point explosion to lead Evangelical Christian Academy to its fifth straight win. Holt, a sophomore whose previous best was a nine-point output on Dec. 15 against Custer County, shot 8 of 13 from the field - including three of four 3-pointers - along with 11 free throws in 17 attempts. Justin Holt, Jason's older brother, added 12 points, and Cameron Rawlings scored 10 as the Eagles (14-5, 6-2 2A Black Continue Reading

Air Force holds off Colorado State 78-73 to halt losing skid

0 View Comments COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Sid Tomes drained six from distance to finish with 18 points as Air Force thwarted a late Colorado State rally for a 78-73 win in Mountain West Conference play on Tuesday night. The victory halted a three-game skid for Air Force (9-13, 3-7) and extended Colorado State's losing streak to seven. The Falcons swept the season series for the first time since 2008. Air Force held a 37-27 halftime advantage and was up 66-51 with 8:12 remaining when the Rams scored seven unanswered points to close to 66-58. Anthony Bonner nailed a 3-pointer to cut the margin to 73-67 with 3:01 left. The Falcons made five free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win. Ryan Swan added 18 points and Lavelle Scottie scored 17 for Air Force, which made 12 of 26 from beyond the arc. Nico Carvacho had his eighth double double of the season with 16 points and 12 rebounds for Colorado State (10-16, 3-10). Che Bob added 16 points and Deion James scored 14. Continue Reading

Two Colorado Springs companies picked for defense and national security accelerator

0 View Comments Two Colorado Springs companies have been chosen for the launch of a Springs-based defense and national security accelerator program. Catalyst Accelerator, based at the Catalyst Campus for Technology & Innovation on the east side of downtown, announced its inaugural cohort on Tuesday. The intensive 12-week program will task participating companies with developing better weather data and related, commercially viable products. The accelerator, the first in southern Colorado, is a collaboration between Catalyst Campus, the nonprofit Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization, the Boulder and Pikes Peak Small Business Development Centers, the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center and the local chapter of SCORE. For the first cohort, Catalyst Accelerator is partnering with the Air Force Research Lab Space Vehicles Directorate, which serves as the Air Force's "Center of Excellence" for space technology research and development. Related: Synergy at the heart of Colorado Springs' high-tech Catalyst Campus Predicting the weather and its impact is among the military's most significant challenges, said Catalyst Campus Executive Director Ingrid Richter at Tuesday's kickoff event. "From monsoons in the fields of Vietnam, to hurricanes in the Caribbean, to fog on the beaches of Normandy, the range of extreme weather events has a significant impact on our military operations." Participating companies will have access to operational weather experts and stakeholders from the Air Force and other government agencies. Each team receives immediate capital of $15,000 from Space Capital Colorado, a Catalyst-endowed accelerator fund. The fund may choose to further invest in any of the accelerator companies. The program will culminate with a demonstration day at Catalyst Campus, when the teams will pitch to government and commercial investors to raise additional capital or government funding for further prototype development via Other Continue Reading

Rampart Holiday notebook: Rampart, CSCS boys battle beyond the arc; Lady Lions get help off the bench

0 View Gallery  View Comments Rampart boys’ basketball is not typically a good outside-shooting team, averaging less than three 3-pointers per game. But Friday against CSCS, Rampart had to take a different approach. The Rams’ shot lights-out beyond the arc in a 76-68 win over CSCS, but the Lions also found luck on the outside as they used the 3-point line to forge an impressive comeback in the fourth quarter. A total of 23 3-pointers were made in Thursday’s game. CSCS had 14, while Rampart had nine. “We are not a really good outside scoring team, so (CSCS’) philosophy was let them shoot threes, and our guys did, and we made the shots today,” Rampart coach J’on St. Clair said. “And that’s what you have to do when they’re daring us to shoot like that.” Rampart shot 56 percent from beyond the arc and 61 percent in 2-point range. “It’s the best we’ve ever shot from the 3-point line, and and if we are shooting that well we are really going to be tough to beat,” St. Clair said. The Lions are solid on the outside, averaging more than nine 3-pointers per game, and sank five treys in the fourth quarter on the way to outscoring Rampart 25-13 in the final frame. Noah Hopkins, who had five 3’s for the Lions on Thursday in the tournament opener, shot three of CSCS’ five treys in the fourth as the team battled to eliminate a lengthy deficit. He finished with six 3-pointers and led the team in scoring with 21 points. Josh Kavalec sank three in a row for the Rams early in the third, while Jack McReynolds finished with four treys off the bench. Kavalec led Rampart in scoring with 21 points, followed by Dawson Carper with 19, Xavier Johnson with 17 and McReynolds with 14. CSCS girls’ support off the bench leads to bounce-back win after first loss of the season Colorado Springs Christian girls coach Mark Engesser wasn’t sure what team he saw lose to Pueblo West Continue Reading

At Colorado Ski Chairs, one person’s trashed skis are another’s shot skis

<>Julian West, left, and Jake Colvin, both carpenters for Colorado Ski Chairs, work on building furniture out of old skis on November 29, 2017 in Manitou Springs, Colorado. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post) MANITOU SPRINGS — Old skis never die. They turn and turn and turn and turn, and then turn into furniture. At least that’s the case at Colorado Ski Chairs in Manitou Springs. The small business, founded by Adam Vernon and operated with his son Keagan Vernon, repurposes up to 200 pairs of old skis per week. “We help people bring old memories back to life,” Adam said. “People bring in their old, stored skis, and we make something out of them.” “The whole recycling aspect, the up-cycling is important,” said Keagan, who noted that he grew up skiing at Keystone with his family. “We’re working with a product on the way to the landfill. These skis can be 10, 15, 20 years old or older. Some are super ancient and busted, so you know they’re going to get tossed.” Instead, Colorado Ski Chairs — also known as Colorado Ski Furniture — crafts discarded skis and snowboards into Adirondack chairs and rocking chairs, benches and barstools, tables, dog houses and bean-bag toss games. They make “shot skis” that allow multiple people to down libations simultaneously from tiny glass ski boots. Using Nordic skis, the company creates birdhouses with a ski pole tip; a piece of binding might serve as the perch. “It’s a really cool way to up-cycle products that would never decompose,” Keagan said. “Skis are made of fiberglass and steel and other building materials not meant to be put back into the Earth. Instead, we turn it into something beautiful.” In 2013, the company opened headquarters in a small shop in the shadow of Pike’s Peak. Adam, who’d been a downhill ski racer, collected skis for 10 years before building the first chair. “People Continue Reading

Colorado Divide: Is hemp the answer for a rural county hoping to rely less on mining?

NUCLA — Hardship rides the wind in the West End, a lonely basin where Colorado’s Uncompahgre Plateau joins Utah’s canyonlands. It started more than 30 years ago, when the collapse of the uranium market and the failure of the country’s nuclear-energy renaissance decimated the town of Uravan and idled mines along the region’s bountiful Uravan Mineral Belt. Now, the looming closure of the region’s largest employers — the Nucla power plant and New Horizon Mine, both owned by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association — promises even more calamity for the dwindling number of hardscrabble residents of the economically moribund Paradox Valley. But the threat of extinction has spurred hope in the West End, buoyed by innovation and a bohemian embrace of a new Montrose County economy that is betting big on hemp and tourism as it moves away from a heavy reliance on mining. It’s a scene unfolding across the West as rural communities tire of the roller-coaster ride of dependence on old-school extractive industries. Coal plummets and communities huddle. The oil market slows and belts tighten. Mining hopes sputter as other countries move mountains to get at valuable ore. The boom-bust cycle eats away at a rural region’s vibrancy, as young people flee and economies wither between booms. “The closure of the plant and the mine — it’s really galvanized this community and it’s really made us realize that something has to be done,” says Deana Sheriff, who leads the West End Economic Development Corp.’s culture-shifting crusade to find new economic engines in a region overly reliant on fickle international mineral markets. “This is really a group of people who have that entrepreneurial spirit. We are not asking for a lot of handouts or help, but we are taking opportunities as they come our way.” In remote communities across Colorado, business owners and Continue Reading

Spring community medical and wellness events

0 View Comments FEBRUARY Bonfils community blood drive, appointments required. 10-11:40 a.m. and 1-3:30 p.m., Feb. 25, Pikes Peak Community College, Centennial Campus, 5675 S. Academy Blvd.; 1-800-365-0006, ext. 2, bonfils.org. 10-11:40 a.m. and 1-3:30 p.m., Feb. 29, Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Science, 3995 Regent Circle; 1-800-365-0006, ext. 2, bonfils.org. Healthy Back, Healthy Life – 6-7:30 p.m., Feb. 25, Penrose Cancer Center, 222 N. Nevada Ave., free, registration required; penrosestfrancis.org/events. Dance in the Dirt – With Exit West, to benefit Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center, 7-11 p.m., Feb. 27, Mark Reyner Stables, 3254 Paseo Road, donations accepted. Reservations: Nancy Harrison, 351-7343. MARCH Colorado Springs Heart Ball – To benefit the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, 5:30 p.m., March 5, The Broadmoor West, 1 Lake Ave., $250 Reservations: coloradospringsheartball.heart.org. St. Baldrick’s Head Shaving for Childhood Cancer – March 5, 6 and 13, various locations. Information and registration: stbaldricks.org. March Man-ness – Health information, bar trivia, pushup contests, beer, food, drawings and more, 6-8 p.m., March 9, The Broadmoor World Arena, 3185 Venetucci Blvd., free. Registration: 1-970-237-7101, marchmanness.org. Bowlathon – To benefit Special Kids Special Families, 1:30-5:30 p.m., March 12, King Pin Lanes, 3410 N. Academy Blvd., $15-$30. Registration: sksfcolorado.org. Kentucky Derby Gala – To benefit Safe Passage, 5:30 p.m., March 12, Antlers hotel, 4 S. Cascade Ave., $95. Reservations: tinyurl.com/z7x4ref. National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Luncheon – To benefit Southern Colorado AIDS Project, 11:30 a.m., March 12, The Pinery, 775 W. Bijou St., $30. Reservations: ncaids.org/southern-colorado-aids-project. The Arc Pikes Peak Region’s Achieve with Us Colorado Film Festival – A collection of powerful Continue Reading