Sports

Cross Country Season Underway for Student Athletes

A new dawn rises over the Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, as the Lake County Panthers Nordic Ski Season got underway this past weekend. Photo: Facebook - SMRN

A new dawn rises over the Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, as the Lake County Panthers Nordic Ski Season got underway this past weekend. Photo: SMRN

While most of Leadville and Lake County was digging out from the first big winter storm of 2017, the Lake County Panthers were taking advantage of all that fresh snow as their 2017 Cross Country Season kicked off this weekend in another part of the state. Here’s the Leadville Nordic report from Panther Coach Karl Remsen:

The Lake County High School and Middle School Nordic teams had their first race this past weekend at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby. The temperatures were cold, but the skiing was excellent with plenty of fresh snow and beautiful tracks.

Lake County Panthers Nordic Skiers tip up to the start line at the first race of the season held this past weekend at the Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby. Photo: Facebook - SMR

Lake County Panthers Nordic Skiers tip up to the start line at the first race of the season held this past weekend at the Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby. Photo: Facebook – SMR

The course started with a quick funnel that led to a long, gradual climb. The trail then descended before one final climb led to a final kilometer of slight downhill into the finish.

The first off the line were the high school boys. A trio skied within sight of each other. Joe Koch led the pack in 25th place, and Cheyenne Mendoza was right behind in 28th. Brandon Hanson rounded out the group of three in 34th.

Conner Lenhard and Sam Frykholm proved that even as freshman they were ready to compete at the high school level. Conner placed 43rd and Sam was close behind in 47th. All five of these skiers placed in the top 45% of the 110 finishers, which qualifies them for the state meet in later February.

Zach Coffin had a strong race after a tangle up at the start to place 76th. Matt Koch fought through having cold hands to place 102nd. Overall, the boys placed 8th of the 13 teams.

Next up were the high school girls. Caroline Benney led the charge for the team with her top ten finish in 8th. Harper Powell was a touch behind and placed 12th. Ariel Benney was next across the line in 14th. Molly Lenhard and Jackie Williams both moved up throughout the race and ended up placing 25th and 29th respectively. These five girls all earned a state qualifying spot. Abby and Hannah Holm had excellent races for their first high school start, placing 72nd and 87th.

The girls as a team had one of the strongest showings in recent years, taking 2nd among the 12 teams by edging Summit and Aspen. The skiers were excited about their team ranking and are hoping for more good results throughout the season.

“It was a good day for all the skiers. I was impressed with how well they skied,” noted assistant coach Andrew Coffin.

The team will have a chance to test their skate skiing prowess this coming weekend at the next competition at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center.Spac_50

Middle School Nordic Skiers Off to a Strong Start

By Jeff Spencer, Coach Middle School Nordic team

This past Saturday, the Lake County Middle School Panthers competed in their first Nordic event. The race take place on at Snow Mountain Ranch outside of Grandby. The course was relatively flat; however, frigid temperatures still made the skiers work for their glide.

Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby hosted the first Nordic Ski meet of the 2017 season. Photo: Facebook SMR

Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby hosted the first Nordic Ski meet of the 2017 season. Photo: Facebook SMR

The boys 3 kilometer race was first. Seventh grader Jace Peters got off to a great double-pull start, starting the race off in the top ten. Jace slipped a few positions back during the race, but still had an outstanding 13th place finish out of over 60 racers. Jace reported “I had a strong double-pull and double-pull kick, but I lost a little ground with my diagonal-stride.” In the same race Panther sixth-grader Dakota Hanson competed in his first ever Nordic event. Dakota raced hard and almost finish in the top half of a 7th and 8th grade dominated field.

Up next was the 3-kilometer girls race. The girls got off to a great team start; all three racers double-poling in unison took command of a lane off the finish line. Elona Green was the first Panther to come in with a strong top-ten finish. Less than a minute behind Elona, Mitchek double-pulled across the line, finishing in 13thplace, followed by Morgan Holm finishing in 21st place. Together, these three girls had an outstanding 3rd place finish, only a few points behind the 2nd place East Grand team. Middle School Parent Jamie Peters said “It will be exciting to see how this group of girls competes together in future races.”

The Middle School Panthers next Nordic race is their home race of the season at Tennessee Pass Nordic Center taking place on Saturday.

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It’s Baaack! Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby Returns

Welcome Back, Shanty Town! The Annual Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby returns this year February 11 & 12 at Twin Lakes Reservoir south of Leadville.

Welcome Back, Shanty Town! The Annual Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby returns this year February 11 & 12 at Twin Lakes Reservoir south of Leadville.

Spac_50By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today

As winter storms cycle through the Colorado high country, the snow piles up, as temperatures drop down, and outdoor enthusiasts shift gears and gear. So anglers will be glad to see the the return of the Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby in 2017! After a year’s reprieve in 2016, the title sponsor, the Leadville Rod & Gun Club, was able to find some fresh “bait” for its volunteer line, so it’s time to get the word out and Go Fishin!

According to event organizer Angelina Salazar, the 18th Annual Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby will be held on February 11 and 12, at Twin Lakes Reservoir, located about 15 miles south of Leadville, Colorado. This annual Lake County event draws in hundreds of winter anglers from across the state to compete for cash and prizes. It’s certainly a favorite among locals and the competition is fierce! Spac_50lrgc-flyer-ice-fish

Spac_50Competitors can enter to win cash prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place for Mackinaw, Rainbow, Brown and Cutthroat fish. Prizes will be awarded on weight of individual fish caught. See how the competition panned out at the last derby in 2015 (RESULTS).

This is also a great outdoor event for the children, passing down family traditions of winter recreation. Children age 12 & under who participate and place in categories will be eligible for a 1st place belt buckle. Trophies will be awarded to 2nd and 3rd winners in each category. There is NO entry fee for the kids competition.

The entry fee is only $40. For an application CLICK HERE. Paper applications can also be picked up locally at the Leadville Sanitation District office at the corner of McWethy Drive and Highway 24 South, near the Dutch Henry Tubing Hill.

Danny Gurula of Leadville shows off his brown at the last derby held in 2015.

Danny Gurule of Leadville shows off his First Place Brown at 12.5 ” at the last derby held in 2015. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell

If avoiding house chores and snow shoveling isn’t reason enough to take in some ice fishing, then the prize money for the Leadville Rod & Gun Club Annual Ice Fishing Derby might be: over $4k in cash and prizes will be handed out during the weekend event in February.

And money isn’t the only thing they will be giving away! In fact the LRGC is known for delivering some top-of-the-line prizes including an ice auger and portable ice shanty. Each paid contestant will be eligible to win those prizes.

The LRGC raffle will also be back in 2017 and the lucky winner will receive a Mossberg30-06 Patriot Bolt-Action Rifle with scope. Tickets are $5 a piece or buy 5 for $20 from any club member.

The event headquarters and weigh-in station is staged at the Twin Lakes Dexter Parking lot. The Leadville Rod & Gun Club can be reached at P.O. Box 604, Leadville, CO 80461. Or contact LRGC derby organizers Angelina Salazar at 719-293-0567 or Danny Gurule 719-293-5057.

This year, Leadville Today will again be the media sponsor for the Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby, so stay tuned for all the fishing action, photos, videos, and results. It should be a fun winter weekend! So pull out your shanty, grab your pole and auger and head out for some winter fun – and what may be the biggest fish you ever catch.

That's one big Mac Daddy measureing in at 15.76 lb., 35.75” caught by Dennis Byrne. at the 2015 Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby. This fish took Third Place in the Macinaw contest. Photo: Leadville Today.

That’s one big Mac Daddy measuring in at 15.76 lb., 35.75” caught by Dennis Byrne. at the 2015 Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby. This fish took Third Place in the Macinaw contest. Photo: Leadville Today/ Kathy Bedell.

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Wells, Bigham for 3-Peat LT100 MTB Championship


Spac_50Both the top male and female at last Saturdays’ Leadville Trail 100 (LT100) Mountain Bike Race racked up a three-peat championship as they crossed the finihs line. Todd Wells of Durango, Colo. took top podium spot with a 6:19:43 time, adding to his 2011 and 2014 victories in Leadville. Second place went to Joe Drombrowski who finished in 6:22:40. Jeremiah Bishop rounded out the top three in 6:28:47.Spac_50

The 2016 Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Champion Todd Wells crossed the finish line with a 6:19:43 winning time.

The 2016 Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Champion Todd Wells crosses the finish line with a 6:19:43 winning time and a big congratulations from his wife, in red. Also pictured are Abby Long (left) with the Leadville Race Series and Merilee Maupin (right) former LT100 MTB race director. Photo: Leadville Today/Brennan Ruegg.

Spac_50In the women’s division, it was Britain’s Sally Bigham that tallied the three-peat, in-a-row (2013-15) for the top womne’s spot with a 7:05:47 finish time. Bigham was by herself most of the race marking nearly an hour lead from second place finisher Lorenza Morfin (Mexico) at 8:01:02 and Colorado’s own Jennifer Smith at 8:04:19.

This year’s race saw nearly 2,000 riders from all 50 states and 27 countries participate. In addition, Leadville’s own Ty Hall competed as Transamerica’s Tomorrow Chaser to help raise money for the Leadville Legacy Foundation. Hall started at the back of the race and Transamerica donated $5 to the local foundation for every cyclist he passed. This year, Hall passed more than 1200 riders during the race and raised more than $6,000 for the Leadville Legacy Foundation. Professional ultra-runner Mike Aish who is competing in the Leadman Series this year, completed his first LT100 MTB in 8:19:30 and is currently chasing a new Leadman record.

From the first to the last: Derrick Scott from Jersey City, N.J. was the last official racer to roll across the red carpet with a time of 11:57:52. Congratulations, Scott you earned every second, every mile of that belt buckel. Photo: Leadville Today.

From the first to the last: Derrick Scott from Jersey City, N.J. was the last official racer to roll across the red carpet with a time of 11:57:52. Congratulations, Scott you earned every second, every mile of that belt buckle. Photo: Leadville Today.

Next up on the race calendar is the one where it all began: “The Race Across the Sky.” This Saturday, Aug. 20 there will be 750 participants running the Blueprint for Athletes Leadville Trail 100 Run presented by New Balance. The granddaddy of them all still draws thousands of participants to Leadville each year for a demanding 100-mile out-and-back course with total elevation range, or climb, of more than 18,000 feet.

The following schedule was released by the Leadville/Lake County Office of emergency Management Public Information Officer outlining traffic impact from the Leadville Trail 100 Run that will effect flow throughout the County Thursday thru Sunday, August 18-21. On Saturday, Aug. 20 the trails used for this race will be open and available to all users of the trails and roads.

Peak Pasta is seeing some peak business with the LT100 racers. Leadville's latest food truck is parked right across from race headquraters on the corner of 4th & historic Harrison Avenue. #CarbLoad. Photo: Leadville Today

Peak Pasta is seeing some peak business with the LT100 racers. Leadville’s latest food truck is parked right across from race headquraters on the corner of 4th & historic Harrison Avenue. #CarbLoad. Photo: Leadville Today

Emergency officials are asking everyone, please take note of traffic in the city and around the county. Be observant of bikers, pedestrians, and other traffic. Here are details for this event so that participants, spectators, visitors and locals can plan accordingly:

  • Thursday, Aug. 18 * 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Packet pickup at 316 Harrison
  • Friday, Aug. 19 * 7 – 10 a.m. Packet pickup at 316 Harrison
  • Friday, Aug. 19 * 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Pre-race Expo at the parking lot at Lake County High School, 1000 West 4th Street.
  • Friday, Aug. 19 * 11 a.m. Mandatory athlete meeting at Lake Co. High School gym
  • Friday, Aug. 19 * 12:30 p.m. Carbo-loading lunch following athlete meeting
  • Friday, Aug. 19 * 3 – 5 p.m. Supply bag drop-off at Courthouse lawn.
  • Saturday, Aug 20 * 3 – 3:45 a.m. Racers and spectators will gather at 6th & Harrison
  • Saturday, Aug 20 * 4 a.m. Start of the Leadvilel Trail 100 Run
  • Sunday, Aug. 21 * 12 Noon. Athlete awards at Lake Co. High School
  • Sunday,Aug. 21 * 12 – 3 p.m. Finishers Sweatshirt handout – 316 Harrison

There will be 11 aid stations located along the LT100 Run course. Racers, spectators, and crew teams, be aware of congestion areas, parking restrictions and traffic flow. Colorado State Patrol will be vigilant on State highways in any congested area. Do not park in the road or in any location that is coned off.

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The Leadville/Lake County Sports Hall of Fame members served up the suds at the LT100 MTB finish line as a fundraiser for the local non-profits which honors past and present day Leadville athletes. Pictured from left to right are: Miguel Martinez, Felicia Roeder, and Karen Fenske. Cheers to a good job, team! Photo: Leadville Today.

The Leadville/Lake County Sports Hall of Fame members served up the suds at the LT100 MTB finish line as a fundraiser for the local non-profits which honors past and present day Leadville athletes. Pictured from left to right are: Miguel Martinez, Felicia Roeder, and Karen Fenske Lewis. Cheers to a good job, team! Photo: Leadville Today.

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Leadville Trail 100 Keeps ‘Em Spinning

Tomorrow, August 13, nearly 2,000 riders will roll up to the start line of one of the world’s most grueling ultra-races: The Leadville Trail 100 (LT100) Mountain Bike Race, produced by Life TimeSM, The Healthy Way of Life Company. Ranging in elevations from 10,152 to 12,424 feet through punishing terrain, the internationally renowned LT100 MTB tests racers’ mettle to ‘Race Across the Sky’. Spac_50

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Returning this year is 2014 defending champion Todd Wells and 2013 and 2014 women’s champion Sally Bingham of Great Britain. Other professional road cyclists include Joe Dombrowski and Ted King who will be competing and raising funds for World Bicycle Relief. An array of other participants are racing to help raise awareness for organizations like First Descents, Phoenix Patriot Foundation, Ride 2 Recovery, and more.

Leadville’s own Ty Hall will be entered for the second year as Transamerica’s Tomorrow Chaser to help raise money for the Leadville Legacy Foundation. As the Tomorrow Chaser, Hall starts at the back of the race and Transamerica donates $5 to the local foundation for every cyclist he passes; last year, Hall raised $7,285. This will be Hall’s 15th Leadville Trail 100 MTB race.

“Every year, competitors from across the country and around the world come to Leadville to push their limits and see what they are made of at this iconic race,” says Josh Colley, race director, Leadville Race Series.

“Seeing the pros attempt to smash course records to first-time competitors complete the race is something that inspires all of us to become a little stronger and improve our own healthy way of life journeys.”

The infamous LT100 Powerline, technical going down and a real bike-pusher coming up. Photo: Leadville Today archives

The infamous LT100 Powerline, technical going down and a real bike-pusher coming up. Photo: Leadville Today archives

Even the runners are getting in the saddle tomorrow. Racing this year for the first time, are LT100 Run champion Rob Krar and Mike Aish, an athlete who often finds himself at the top of the heap among runners. This year, Aish is vying for the Leadman 2016 title, propelling him to compete in the five challenging events, which includes 100 miles on the bike tomorrow.

If you can’t be there in person this year, portions of the race will be streamed live including the start. Viewers can tune in HERE before the start at 6:20 a.m. to watch the start at 6:30 a.m. There will also be other live updates throughout the race. Here’s a timeline for the day:

  • 6:30 a.m. – START of the LT100 MTB.
  • 12:20-1:30 p.m. – Champions and top finishers are expected to cross the finish line.
  • 3:30 p.m. – 9-hour cut-off time for the gold and silver trophy buckle.
  • 6:30 p.m. – 12-hour final cut-off time for completion of the race and the silver buckle.

For more information and complete results visit http://www.leadvilleraceseries.com.

The 2016 Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race starts at 6:30 a.m. on August 13 in downtown Leadville.

The 2016 Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race starts at 6:30 a.m. on August 13 in downtown Leadville.

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My Rebecca Rusch: An Unlikely LT100 Friendship

By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today

There will be one less pro-cyclist at this Saturday’s Leadville Trail 100 (LT100) Mountain Bike Race. And she’s one of my favorites. It’s my good friend: My Rebecca Rusch.

Rebecca Rusch's 2009 win would be the first of four LT100 MTB Championships, all while making and breaking course recorsds. Photo: David Hahn

Rebecca Rusch’s 2009 win would be the first of four LT100 MTB Championships, all while making and breaking course records along the way. Photo: David Hahn

I met Rebecca Rusch in 2009, at her inaugural LT100. And it was my first as well, but this time as the Public Relations Manager for the Leadville Trail 100. And the truth be told, I was somewhat of an unlikely person for the job.

While I had covered the LT100 events for years as a Leadville journalist, that year I found myself on the other side of the fence, coordinating media requests and interviews instead of conducting them.

In addition, I did not race; I didn’t even own a bike. But when LT100 race founders Ken Chlouber and Merilee Maupin approached me after the Leadville newspaper I was working for closed its doors in 2008, I was happy to take the meeting.

Ken and Merilee knew my skill set and clearly understood my passion for Leadville. Plus, they needed the help. After 2008, when Tour de France Champion Lance Armstrong took on legendary LT100 MTB 6x champion Dave Wiens – and lost – the race exploded in popularity and notoriety! The added exposure and media attention was putting a lot pressure on things and a more formal staff position for public relations had been established. However, I was still unsure how I would fare in the racing world culture.

Then, Chlouber dangled a carrot in front of me: We want to expand the women’s field this year. We want to bring in more female competitors, get some women cycling pros at the start line, he explained in his Oklahoma accent. That was the final straw for me – I was in. I might not be a racer, or a cyclist, but I am an advocate for women athletes.

Fast forward eight weeks later when I found myself in the throes of what I can only describe as the most organized chaos I have ever been a part of: the LT100 lottery. And this is not the electronic lottery that racers now experience; this was the last year of PAPER applications!

Rebecca Rusch always makes time for mentoring student athletes. She is pictured here with the Leadville High School Cycling Team during a 2014 fundriaser for the local club. Photo: Leadville Today

Rebecca Rusch always makes time for mentoring student athletes. She is pictured here with the Leadville High School Cycling Team during a 2014 fundriaser for the local club. Photo: Leadville Today

Additionally, if the LT100 had seen growing interest up until then, Armstrong’s announcement that he would be back TO WIN in 2009 pushed applications and requests from pros, sponsors and “long lost friends and relatives” into another stratosphere.

And as the list of favors and special requests grew longer, Chlouber’s fuse grew shorter.

The daily rants ranged from “I wonder if this guy even owns a bike!” to “Well, did they enter the lottery like everybody else? Cause if the answer’s no, then my answer is no! Fair is fair!”

I reflected on our initial conversation about growing the women’s field. And so, not to be outdone by all the other favors being called in, I decided that the next female pro cyclist application to come across my desk, would be my pitch.

Enter My Rebecca Rusch. I had never met her. Nor was I aware of her athletic prowess, but for whatever reason, it was this woman athlete who became the subject of my toe-to-toe with Chlouber.

But first, I did a quick search of this Rebecca Rusch who had – like dozens of other pro riders – made a special request for entry into the 2009 race. Even back then, her accomplishments were impressive. However, there was another trait that kept popping up in every story: She’s nice! Hmmm, that might come in handy, I thought.

So at my next opportunity, I brought Rusch’s request to Chlouber’s attention.

“Well Kathleen,” Chlouber often addresses me by my formal first name, “did she go through the lottery?”

“I couldn’t find her?” I offered.

My copy of

My copy of “Rusch To Glory,” signed “Your Rebecca Rusch!”

“Well then, its sounds to me like she didn’t go through the lottery,” he said swinging his chair back around to his desk. Now, if you chose to believe anything about the “old-school” LT100 days, it’s that Ken and Merilee stayed true to the lottery process; very few exceptions were made.

“But you said that you wanted to grow the women’s field. That you wanted to bring more women racers to the start line!” I protested.

He put his pen down, swung his chair around and leaning back, put his hands behind his head. He was ready to listen.

So, I made my case for this Rebecca Rusch. I rattled off her athletic accomplishments and statistics, her impressive sponsorship list, basically anything I could find to make my case. Ken listened, shaking his head in agreement.

“Well, she sounds great, but we’ve had other pros that are just as accomplished as her that went through the lottery process and they didn’t get in,” he retorted. “Not this year!”

He was just about to shut me down for good, when for some strange reason, as it’s not necessarily in my nature to play this card, I added, “And, everyone says she’s nice!” I held out my research papers as if they were some theater critic’s blog from the New York Times and Rebecca was a Broadway play: The reviews are in – She’s nice!

“Oh, she’s nice!” chuckled Chlouber. “Well, then by all means, give me her application and we’ll get her right in.” He took the copies from my hand and as quickly as they slipped from my grip, so did any hope I had for controlling the situation. The rest was in fate’s hands.

“In fact, I’m going to call her right now and let her know.” He picked up the only (cordless) phone that three of us shared in that office and started dialing.

“Rebecca, Ken Chlouber, Leadville Trail 100,” I had heard him say those words a thousand times, but this was different. I went back to my desk, hoping for the best as their conversation faded into the background. A few minutes later, Ken got off the phone and announced, “Well Your Rebecca Rusch is in the race!”

And so right there, in that very moment, she became My Rebecca Rusch. Wow, I thought, this chick better know how to ride a bike!

A favorite at the finish line celebration, LT100 Champion Rebecca Rusch will be missed by cycling fans, especially the younger riders. Rusch is taking on the Glacier 360 in Iceland instead. Photo: Leadvilel Today

A favorite at the finish line celebration, LT100 Champion Rebecca Rusch will be missed by cycling fans, especially the younger riders. Rusch is taking on the Glacier 360 in Iceland instead. Photo: Leadville Today

In the months leading up to the 2009 LT100 MTB race, the office banter grew more frequent: “Well, Your Rebecca Rusch this, and Your Rebecca Rusch that.” Yes, she had officially had become “My Rebecca Rusch.” I still had not met the woman, but I was determined to do anything I could to help her.

So on that fateful August day, when town was bursting at the seams with spectators, Lance Armstrong crossed the finish line with a flat tire to clench his legendary comeback win. The newly created LT100 media center was on-fire with international journalists frantically typing and filing their reports after what many described as a once-in-a-lifetime interview with the legendary cyclist. Armstrong was eventually joined at the interview table by 2nd place finisher Dave Wiens, making for a classic David vs Goliath tale of cycling.

After the interview with the top male finishers, the media center was buzzing with sports reporters tapping away on laptops, when my phone rang. It was Ken.

“Hey Kathleen, the first female rider is headed to the finish line. Should I send her to the media center?” Yes, I answered, to which he replied, “It’s Your Rebecca Rusch!”

So, the moment had finally come. I hadn’t planned it, or perhaps I had been planning it my whole career. It was time to level the playing field for women athletes.

“Gentlemen,” I said to the room of male sports journalists. “The female champion is on her way in and if you ever want to come back to cover this race, you will go back into that interview room and give her the same respect that you just did for the guys.”

Rebecca Rusch is congratulated by her husband Greg Martin as she breaks another record and secures a second LT100 Championship.

Rebecca Rusch is congratulated by her husband Greg Martin as she breaks another record and secures a second LT100 Championship.

Now, not everybody jumped up right away, and certainly some thought twice about it, as deadlines were looming for the “big” story. After my directive, I left the media center, heading to the finish line to watch My Rebecca Rusch win the first of what would become four straight LT100 championships. The crowd was going crazy as I escorted her back to the reporters.

There were nearly a dozen magazine, TV and radio journalists waiting for the newly crowned champion as she took her rightful place at the interview table. Rusch had earned the same respect, honor and accolades. Her story was just as compelling.

The rest is history, as they often say in old west towns like Leadville. There were the movies (Race Across The Sky, 2009 and 2010). There were the 4 LT100 championships, making and breaking records along the way. And in 2014, Rusch released her first book: Rusch To Glory, a must read for all cyclists, but especially women.

But of all the attributes I have read about my friend, I often return to the very one that could have determined her fate: She’s nice! Rusch genuinely is a nice person, which also makes her a natural advocate and encourager for other athletes, especially women, which includes the younger ones who have taken her off a few podiums spots.

Celebrating another epic win, Leadville journalist Kathy Bedell (right) congratlulates LT100 Champion Rebecca Rusch (left). Photo: Sue Mulleniux.

Celebrating another epic win, Leadville journalist Kathy Bedell (right) congratulates LT100 Champion Rebecca Rusch (left). Photo: Sue Mullineux.

This Saturday, Rusch won’t be at start line with the other pros. In fact, she’ll be thousands of miles away in Iceland as she prepares for yet another epic challenge: The Glacier 360. No doubt, she’ll be missed by her legions of cycling fans, including me, as the LT100 race frenzy shifts into overdrive for Leadville his weekend.

But not to worry, as there is much to expect from this LT100 champion in the coming months: from a Red Bull film documenting her cycling journey across Vietnam in her father’s honor, to a second book, to another film chronicling her recent trek up Mount Kilimanjaro, Rusch is clearly not slowing down.

She has rightfully earned her place as one of the world’s top female athletes. But as for me, she will always be, My Rebecca Rusch.

Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin, A Media Company located in Leadville, Colorado which publishes LeadvilleToday.com and SaguacheToday.com.

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Epic Finale on the East Side of Leadville

by Brennan Ruegg, Leadville Today contributor

The conclusion to the 2016 Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Series (WMBS), produced by Leadville’s own Cloud City Wheelers (CCW), is only a week away and if these spring storms keep up as forecasted, this one will live up to its name!

The East Side Epic takes place April 23 among the historic ruins of Leadville’s mining district. Registration begins at 8 a.m. at Cycles of Life and the race starts at 700 E. 8th St. at 10 a.m.

Winter_Mountain_Bike_Series_Mineral_Belt_Mayhem_2016

Racers take off on their Fat Bikes at last March’s Mineral Belt Mayhem. Photo: Cloud City Wheelers

This year, the course is a little bit different.

“The plan is to get as high on the east side on the trails groomed by the Highriders Snowmobile club,” says Sterling Mudge, CCW Chair.

For a map of the course click here. Although it’s “springtime” in Leadville so riders can expect only the unexpected, either clear-blue skies or storms, for which the course may change.

Always ending in food, beverage, and celebration, this race will be no exception. Competitors who have participated in all four races are in the running for a brand-new REEB Cycles Bike frame.

The 2016 season has been a huge success thus far for the WMBS and the CCW, with an average turn out of 85 participants per race.

It’s not like any of these racers will put away their bikes for summer, but this will be the last chance for them to careen through slush and ice and freezing temperatures until next season. While your average enthusiast is dusting off his/her fat tires this May, riders of the WMBS will be yawning until November, and sharing stories of frozen faces and the dire competition they faced all winter long.

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Competitors pack into Cycles of Life for registration. Photo: Cloud City Wheelers

Proceeds from all the races have benefited the Wheelers’ continued dedication to education and local advocacy. They work to improve Lake County’s bike-ability, promote individual health and recreation, and educate kids on safe riding. For more, visit their site, or Facebook, and get involved–the Wheelers are active all year-round!

Brennan Ruegg likes dancing.

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Taekwondo Class Offers Discipline, Variety in Leadville

Once the slopes close up for the season and the kids get back from Spring Break, parents may be looking for an indoor sports activity until Spring finally arrives and the mud dries up.

Leadville’s Sahn Taekwondo students pictured are Back Row L-R: Master Stacy Towar, Kenya Garcia, Brando Azeltine, Gary Sandoval, Jacobo Garcia, Wyatt Gipson. Middle: Brittnie Sandoval, Dania Rios, Jamie Castillo, Nathaly Raudales. Front: Ernesto Raudales, Jose Garcia, Eric Rios. Seated: Tania Garcia. Photo: Shannon Gipson.

Leadville’s Sahn Taekwondo students pictured are Back Row L-R: Master Stacy Towar, Kenya Garcia, Brando Azeltine, Gary Sandoval, Jacobo Garcia, Wyatt Gipson. Middle: Brittnie Sandoval, Dania Rios, Jamie Castillo, Nathaly Raudales. Front: Ernesto Raudales, Jose Garcia, Eric Rios. Seated: Tania Garcia. Photo: Shannon Gipson.

So, this Taekwondo class may be a perfect fit for your children. Plus, as many martial arts experts agree children in taekwondo get physically and mentally stronger. Master Towar has been teaching Sahn Taekwondo twice weekly at the Lake County Intermediate School gymnasium. Earlier this month, Leadville’s Sahn Taekwondo students tested in Breckenridge. Students pictured either received their next stripe or belt based on their rank. They are celebrating Tania Garcia’s recent accomplishment of 1st Dan and her award of her Kukkiwon Certificate. She also is recognized by the United States Korean Martial Arts Federation.

Taekwondo helps students in daily life, especially for young boys. The tough physical training allows them to let off steam. They love kicking and punching under controlled conditions. But they also learn about self-control.

And what about Taekwondo for girls? Being fit and healthy is certainly one of the primary benefits, but it also allows girls to face confrontation and fear helping to develop self esteem and self confidence.

Most agree, Taekwondo isn’t just a physical training. It’s a mental training, as students learn complicated movements, helping with concentration and memory. Children in Taekwondo learn discipline. They learn to do as they are asked. And they gain the self-discipline to keep going when training is tough.

If you’re interested in learning Taekwondo, please contact Master Towar by calling 970-389-5089.

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Leadville Ski Joring, Other Competition Results

The 67th Annual Leadville Ski Joring competition was held in Leadville on March 5 & 6 on historic Harrison Avenue. Dubbed as Leadville’s Downtown Winter Celebration, this event stands as a testament for this small mountain town’s ability to have fun in the snow!

While Saturday’s competition was cut short due to tragedy on the course (SEE STORY) the event resumed on Sunday, March 6 with a winner-take-all approach to the 2016 Leadville Ski Joring Championship.

Skier Jason Dahl (left) and Savannah McCarthy (right) were named Champions of Leadville Ski Joring 2016. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

Skier Jason Dahl (left) and Savannah McCarthy (right) were named Champions of Leadville Ski Joring 2016. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

When the last run was over, it was skier Jason Dahl and rider Savannah McCarthy riding Moose who took top place on the podium in the Open Division with a time of 15:17 with no penalties. In the Sport Division it was Jared Roberts on the skis and Richard Weber riding Derby that took top place with a time of 15.71 with no penalties. For complete results: Open, Sport, and Legend.

During Sunday’s Awards Ceremony the boot was passed and the group of close-knit competitors gave over $2,000 to JJ Swirka in honor of her beloved horse Logan. In fact, the thoughtful comments have continued on the Leadville Ski Joring Facebook Page throughout the last week, as friends, fans of the sport, and horse lovers express their condolences.

There’s no doubt that the sport of Ski Joring is growing in popularity across the country, with many looking to the “Granddaddy-of-them-all” to lead the way. However, in Leadville, the event’s genesis remains in the spirit of tourism. Much like the famed Ice Palace or today’s Leadville Trail 100 races, the event provides a way to attract tourists to the area.

Leadville Ski Joring competitor Dana Stiles rides horse Merlin back up to the start line at Sunday's competition. Merlin took his last run down historic Harrison Avenue on March 6 after 17 years of competing in the annual event. It was time, said Stiles. You will be missed Merlin - you're a magnificent animal! Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

Leadville Ski Joring competitor Dana Stiles rides horse Merlin back up to the start line at Sunday’s competition. Merlin took his last run down historic Harrison Avenue on March 6 after 17 years of competing in the annual event. It was time, said Stiles. You’ll be missed Merlin – you magnificent animal! Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

To that end, this Wild West Show brought good crowds to Harrison Ave to watch the thrills and chills, as well as pump some money into local businesses. And a quick check with business owners, law enforcement and event organizers, tallied a overall win for the event.

In addition, Leadville Ski Joring captured some good media coverage for the event – BEFORE, and yes, after the fatal crash. Media highlights included Matt Renoux with KUSA Channel 9, Channel 7 , Matt Kroshel with CBS4, John Martin with Fox 21 C Spgs, Six-person film crew with TV Show Equestrian Nation, Ski Magazine, The Denver Post, The Summit/Vail Daily, The Herald Democrat, KZYR.com, Fast Forward Media of Durango TV and several freelance photographers, including Leadville’s Steve Sunday and Kurt Brewer. For more photos and videos of the event, please visit the Leadville Ski Joring Facebook page.Spac_50

Kids Take Turns at Ski Joring on Historic Harrison Ave.

Every kid who took a spin on the ski joring course received a silver dollar! Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

Every kid who took a spin on the ski joring course received a silver dollar! Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

If you’re going to put on an event like Ski Joring, then it’s probably best to have a Kids Event as well. That way, you are assured that there will be future competitors.

For the past couple of year’s Leadville Ski Joring have offered kids a chance to take on the same course as the pros by being towed behind a snowmobile.

It’s great to see Leadville kids out enjoying all the adventure without the pressure of competition.

More Photos on the Leadville Ski Joring Facebook Page.

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Nordic Knockouts in the Dark: Winter Fun on Harrison!

Competitors in the 2016 Harrison Nordic Knockout Sprints gathered under the Harrison Avenue lights last Friday, March 4 to kick off the annual downtown winter celebration. The conditions set up nicely under clear skies.

For many skinny skiers the Harrison Nordic Knock Outs is the last race of the winter season! Photo: Julia Martinez

For many skinny skiers the Harrison Nordic Knock Outs is the last race of the winter season! Photo: Julia Martinez

Many of the local high school Nordic skiers tipped up to the start line and fared quite well. Participants raced the main drag with great Nordic spirit, marking for many, the last race of the season. The competition was a double elimination with two skiers starting and the fastest racer advancing to the next round of competition. Congratulations to the winners:

Bill Koch (5th grade and younger)

  • 1st Female – Gabbie Tait
  • 1st Male – Bridger Taylor

Middle School Girls

  • 1st – Abby Holm
  • 2nd – Neva Sunday

Middle School Boys

  • 1st – Matt Koch
  • 2nd – Sam Frykholm

Adult Male

  • 1st – Ryan Morrison
  • 2nd – Joe Koch

Adult Female

  • 1st – Christine Horning
  • 2nd – Molly Lenhard

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Paintball Biathlon Held at Tenn Pass Nordic Center

The Annual Paintball Biathlon was held on March 6 at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center.

At the top of the 10k Division once the ski time and “hits” were calculated, was Dr. Lance Schamberger (22:39), followed by 16-year-old, second place racer Nick Apps (23:04), and rounding out the podium in third place was female competitor Koby Simonton coming in at 23:58.

The 5k saw 60 racers ranging from 7 to 52 years in age, but it was the teens who took the top three places: Parker Rodeen 16, with a final time of 11:18; Finn Remias, 14 with a 11:19 final time, and Sam Haynes, 12 close behind at 12:26.

For the younger set, the 1k was the right pace and distance and 13-year-old David Krieger came out on top with a final time of 1:21. The youngest competitor was 4-year-old Matthew Carpenter – good for you!

Full Results can be found as follows: Paintball 10K, Paintball 5k, Paintball 1k.Spac_50

Mayhem on the Mineral Belt Adds Junior Division

Leadville’s Mineral Belt Mayhem mountain bike race saw a dip in participation from last year, as 85 cyclists took their fat-tired bikes to the start line last Saturday, March 5.

A livelysocial scene is usually the cehhry on the cake for Leadville Winter Mountain Bikes Series racers. The Mineral Belt Mayhem is no different. Photo: Cloud City Wheelers.

A lively social scene is usually the cherry on the cake for Leadville Winter Mountain Bikes Series racers. The Mineral Belt Mayhem held last Saturday was no different. Photo: Cloud City Wheelers.

Setting out under clear skies, racers saw an added juniors category for younger riders, which saw three take on the challenge this year. There were also four single speed demons and 19 women. Results.

In the end it was the 2015 winner Jason Hanson, Colorado Springs, took first place again this year, shaving some time off last year’s time, coming across at 57:55 this year. Only seconds behind was Leadville’s Marvin Sandoval at 58:03 and hot on his heels was third place finisher Jason Russell only two seconds behind at 58:05. Men’s Results.

In the women’s division, Leadville locals fared a bit better with Becca Katz (1:09:23) taking second and Amanda Good (1:10:44) in third. But neither lady could beat Wendy Ingraham of Castle Rock who was almost two minites ahead of any other female racers, clocking a 1:07:44 finish time. Women’s Results.

Cyclists get ready to saddle up for the Mineral Belt Mayhem in Leadville on March 6. Photo: Meghan Buzzan

Cyclists get ready to saddle up for the Mineral Belt Mayhem in Leadville on March 6. Photo: Meghan Buzzan

The next and final competition in the Winter Mountain Bike Race Series will be the East Side Epic on April 23. The Cloud City Wheelers, who host the entire Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Race Series, advocate that winter racing is a great way to keep up riding and racing during the off-season. The Cloud City Wheelers are a Leadville club dedicated to providing bicycle activities to promote individual health and recreation. The Wheelers also support education and advocacy to help promote a more bicycle friendly environment and a more livable community for members, bicyclists, and the community at-large.
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LT100’s Merilee Maupin Receives Sportswoman Award

By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today

This Sunday, March 13, Merilee Maupin, former Race Director of the Leadville Trail 100 (LT100) will be honored with a Sportswoman of Colorado award. The honor recognizes Colorado’s outstanding female athletes, coaches, mentors and others who have contributed to girls’ and women’s athletics.

Merilee Maupin receives Sportswoman of Colorado Award.

Merilee Maupin receives Sportswoman of Colorado Award.

“Within all the plans, work and infrastructure of the Leadville Trail 100 events,” said business partner Ken Chlouber who submitted her application for the Sportswoman award, “Merilee’s unique presence brought the one intangible that became the foundation for all that followed: Heart.”

And there’s no doubt that the thousands and thousands of LT100 athletes that Merilee has hung a finisher’s medal on would certainly agree. As the application explains: She has always been at the finish line, medals in hand anxiously awaiting the next grand victory. Some are laughing, jumping up and down, and celebrating victory. She laughs, jumps up and down and celebrates with them. Some are crying, sobbing; a battle well won. She cries with them, champions all as she hangs around their neck the prize earned: The finisher medal!

Maupin became Race Director for the Leadville Trail 100 races in 1983 and served in that capacity until 2010, when she and partner Chlouber sold the business. The Leadville Trail 100 races began with a 100-mile running race in 1983, and expanded to include a 100-mile mountain bike race, a marathon, heavy half marathon, 50-mile mountain bike race, 50-mile running race, and a 10K race, all internationally known and respected.

“I don’t want anyone but Merilee (right) to give me my finisher’s medal,” was a common cry at the LT100 finish lines!

“Her race management skills and attention to detail are second to none,” states Chlouber. One thing is certain, over 33 years of racing, on bike and on foot, everybody loves Merilee.

Chlouber continues, “She’s gentle, kind and caring above and beyond. Within seconds any new acquaintance becomes a new friend. And that friend quickly becomes family, sharing family connections, occupations, kid stories and birthdays. “

Maupin is also co-founder of the Leadville Trail 100 Legacy Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) dedicated to bettering life in Leadville and Lake County. She is one of several honorees who will be receiving the Sportswoman of Colorado Award, for a complete list: LINK.

Congratulations, Merilee! No doubt there are thousands of LT100 athletes who wish they could be there on Sunday to give you a “Finish Line” hug along with your award! Then again, maybe they can! The 42nd Annual Awards Banquet to be held on Sunday, March 13, 2016 at the Denver Marriott Tech Center.

About Sportswomen of Colorado

ColoradoSportswoman-1-e1447030684105Sportswomen of Colorado pays tribute to Colorado’s outstanding female athletes and to the coaches, mentors and others who have contributed to girls and women’s athletics. Founded in 1974 by the YWCA of Metropolitan Denver, in cooperation with Gart Brothers Sporting Goods Co., Sportswomen of Colorado is recognized as the first community-based organization in the nation to solely honor female athletes, celebrate their achievements and recognize those whose efforts have advanced girls’ and women’s individual and team sports endeavors.
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Ski Joring Horse Crashes, Put Down for Broken Leg

By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today

Tragedy struck on Saturday’s Leadville Ski Joring (LSJ ) course as one of the competing horse slipped and went down on the course, breaking its leg.

“It was a tough day, for sure,” stated Jason Dahl, one of the LSJ organizers, expressing sentiments across the board as the injury led to the horse having to be put down.

Saturday's race course action was fast and challenging at Leadville Ski Joring competition. Photo: Brennan Ruegg

Saturday’s race course action was fast and challenging at Leadville Ski Joring competition. Photo: Brennan Ruegg

It was half way through the Sport Division when rider JJ Swirka and her horse Logan were pulling veteran competitor Duffy Counsell through the snow-laden course down Leadville’s main street. As the team approached the finish line near the intersection of Harrison Avenue and 5th Street, Logan lost his footing and went down. The fall broke the horse’s leg, although neither rider Swirka nor skier Counsell were seriously injured in the crash.

“We immediately tended to the horse, administering pain medication while he was still down on the Avenue,” said Dahl, referring to the veterinarian the annual event has on site during the two day competition.

JJ Swirka says goodbye to her beloved horse Logan after their crash in Saturday's Leadville Ski Joring competition in Leadville. The accident led to a broken leg for the horse and sadly the animal had to be put down. Photo published on Leadville Today courtesy of © Kurt Brewer

JJ Swirka says goodbye to her beloved horse Logan after their crash in Saturday’s Leadville Ski Joring competition in Leadville. The accident led to a broken leg for the horse and sadly the animal had to be put down. Photo published on Leadville Today courtesy of © Kurt Brewer

The animal was taken off the course and loaded into a nearby trailer, where the owners and others dear to Logan said their good-byes before the animal was put down. For horses, a broken leg is a death sentence as their fragile bones do not have the capacity to heal themselves like human bones do.

The crash was witnessed by thousands of spectators in town to cheer on competitors in this growing sport of horse, rider and skier. Reactions via the Leadville Ski Joring Facebook Page expressed a great deal of sadness for the loss of horse Logan, as well as concerns about the race course conditions and the overall safety of the sport.

Jody Manly has been building Leadville Ski Joring courses with the horses safety in mind for decades.

Jody Manly has been building Leadville Ski Joring courses with the horses safety in mind for decades.

Safety is the first priority, explained Dahl. The course is inspected daily and throughout the competition when rising or falling temperatures and snow consistency can fluxuate through the day.

“We inspect the course regularly and also go over conditions with riders and skiers throughout the day,” stated Dahl. In fact, course designer Jody Manly is adamant about building the course with the safety of the horse, not the skier in mind.

After the crash and meeting with competitors and horse owners, organizers decided to suspend Saturday’s races, even though there were more than a dozen runs still on slate for the Sport Division and the Open Division had not even began. This is the first crash that ended in the death of a horse in more than 20 years.

Perhaps LSJ spectator Lynne Berean Lombard said it best on her post to Facebook:

It is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. That is something I am not going to do. I am glad they suspended the event. I am devastated by what I saw. As I said, I have watched it consistently for 14 years and nothing horrible occurred. Sometimes in sporting events, bad things happen, usually to people, not animals. When you mix winter, speed, snow, ice, slush. Injuries and death can happen. Should we close Breckenridge because 2 people died there on Tuesday. I was there, the weather and the conditions were not pristine to say the least.

Today’s competition will continue today, albeit under a slightly different manner and schedule. Organizers will meet with competitors after registration wraps up this morning at 10 a.m. Once any concerns have been vetted the event, it was determined that organizers will by-pass the Calcutta today and go directly into competition, hoping to stay ahead of warming temperatures forecasted for today.

Who will win this year's coveted Leadville Ski Joring Championship jacket? Stay Tuned.

Who will win this year’s coveted Leadville Ski Joring Championship jacket? Stay Tuned.

“The course was re-groomed last night and it was determined that depth was not a contributor to the crash,” said Dahl. Some theories point to slabs of ice pulling away from the pavement underneath the snow that shifted under the weight of the animal and rider, causing more than one horse to go down during Saturday’s competition.

Today’s Sport and Open Division will be a “winner-take-all” for the 67th Annual Leadville Ski Joring competition. The Open Division that was scheduled for yesterday will run today. As for the Sport Division, yesterday’s purses were paid out and refunds issued for those not able to take their turn on the race course. As a result, Sunday’s Sport and Open Division races will determine the overall 2016 LSJ Champion. The award ceremony will take place at The Elks Lodge after today’s competition wraps up.Spac_50

 

Leadville’s Duffy Counsell Shows in Silverton Skijoring

By Brennan Ruegg, Leadville Today Contributor

Looking for a hot tip on wagering at this year’s Leadville Ski Joring Calcutta? On a streak this year has been Leadville’s own Duffy Counsell, who took first place in two races February 13-14, in his first time competing at Silverton Skijoring, wearing home a champion’s Carhartt jacket and a new suit of esteem.

The man to watch on the Leadville Ski Joring course this weekend, is pictured here (center with his children 13-year-old Brennan (right) and 10-year-old Haylie (left).

The man to watch on the Leadville Ski Joring course is pictured here (center) with children 13-year-old Brennan (right) and 10-year-old Haylie (left).

Counsell, a full time hard working family man competes this weekend in Leadville Ski Joring for his fifth year. He and his wife Caryn have lived in Leadville for 15 years.

“I got started in ski joring because of my kids,” Counsell said, referring to 13-year-old Brennan and 10-year-old Haylie. “Oh yeah, they love it, and after they’d been practicing for a while they looked at me and said, ‘Dad, when are you going to try?'”

So he tried, and has found he’s got a knack. When he talks about ski joring, it’s not about being the best, it’s about putting on the best show, likening it to professional wrestling. “There’s a kind of camaraderie among the competitors, all coming together putting their neck on the line for killer entertainment.”

Counsell took 1st Place in the Novice Class Draw on Saturday, Feb. 13, paired with Tricia Shadell riding Mr. Sparklepants and 1st in the Novice Class Match on Sunday, Feb. 14, paired with Ashley Tippets riding Nannas. He also placed third on Sunday in the Novice Class Draw. View the full payout sheet of Silverton Skijoring here. Counsell also competed last weekend in Minturn in RMX Ski Joring, placing seventh in Overall Sport. View those results here.

Who will win this year's coveted Leadville Ski Joring Championship jacket? Stay Tuned.

Who will win this year’s coveted Leadville Ski Joring Championship jacket? Stay Tuned.

This should make for an interesting auction this weekend in Leadville as all-stars come out of the woodwork to compete in Colorado’s premier ski joring event. Historic Harrison Avenue is the backdrop, and Leadville’s own, like Duffy Counsell, will be bringing the heat.

Brennan Ruegg is from Akron, OH, where marbles were invented.Spac_50

What Are They Doing? – or – The Ski Joring Calcutta

Are you a betting person? Well, if so then be sure to take your chances at the Leadville Ski Joring Calcutta! The risk is on the fun side and the pay-off is usually on the BIG side! The Calcutta takes place both race days and begins at high noon on Harrison Avenue at the announcer’s stand at 6th and Harrison Avenue.

If you're a betting man (or woman) be out on historic Harrison Avenue at high noon on Saturday and Sunday to buy your very own Leadville Ski Joring team. Photo: Leadville Today.

If you’re a betting man (or woman) be out on historic Harrison Avenue at high noon on Saturday and Sunday to buy your very own Leadville Ski Joring team. Photo: Leadville Today.

The Calcutta is where bets are placed on the horse-skier teams. Every horse-skier team is auctioned to the highest bidder, creating a pool of money. (Skiers are randomly matched up with different horses for each run, so there are far more horse-skier teams than there are skiers.) The bettors who wager on the top three teams win 50 percent, 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Of course, the Leadville Ski Joring Committee takes a modest cut to pay next year’s expenses.

So if you’re up for taking your chances on a team, head on over to the Calcutta held at high noon on Saturday and Sunday, March 5 & 6 in downtown Leadville.

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Panthers Nordic Strong at State Meet, Benney Leads

The Lake County Nordic team traveled to Aspen on February 25 & 26 to compete in the Colorado State Championship meet at Aspen High School. The team consisted of eleven skiers who had qualified for the races, the highest number in the past decade.

Lake County Nordic Skier Caroline Benney (left) dominated at the state meet in Aspen with her best finish all season in a classic race in 19th place. Photo: Sarah Hudelson.

Lake County Nordic Skier Caroline Benney (left) dominated at the state meet in Aspen with her best finish all season in a classic race in 19th place. Photo: Sarah Hudelson.

The first day was a classic race on the hilly five-kilometer race loop. It was a warm, bluebird day, and the tracks alternated between icy and slushy. The skiers had to contend with washed out corners, slushy berms, and changing conditions.

Caroline Benney led the Panthers with her best finish all season in a classic race in 19th. As has been the norm, the rest of the team was close behind. Harper Powell had a strong race to place 26th and Ariel Benney powered to 27th. Whitney White was 30th and Molly Lenhard had her best classic race of the season to place 31st. Phoebe Powell was 39th, fighting back after a tough fall early on, and Jackie Williams was 41st. The girls were 6th overall on the classic day.

Joe Koch brings it home with a strong finish at the Nordic Colorado State Championship on February 25 & 26. Photo: Sarah Hudelson.

Joe Koch brings it home with a strong finish at the Nordic Colorado State Championship on February 25 & 26. Photo: Sarah Hudelson.

“The girls had great races today, and we really demonstrated our depth by placing five in the top 31,” mentioned Coach Karl Remsen after the girls’ race.

The tracks were slicker in the boys’ race, making the rolling hills more challenging. Taylor Stack was 22nd to lead the boys. Joe and Charlie Koch both recovered from rough tumbles and placed 39th and 42nd respectively. Brandon Hanson skied an excellently paced race to place 50th. The boys were 9th as a team.

The second day of races consisted of mass start skate races. The sun was out again, and the course alternated between icy and slushy.

The Lake County girls once again finished close together. Phoebe had a strong race from start to finish to place 22nd. Caroline passed a dozen people over the last two kilometers and was 25th. Whitney skied aggressively and was 29th, and Molly was right behind in 31st to complete her best race weekend of the season. Harper was next across the line in 33rd and Ariel Benney rounded out the team in 39th. The girls were 7th as a team, just a few points out of 6th.

Molly Lenhard gives it her all at the Nordic State Meet in Aspen. Photo: Amy Varble.

Molly Lenhard gives it her all at the Nordic State Meet in Aspen. Photo: Amy Varble.

Taylor improved on his placing in the classic race and was 13th in crowded skate race. Joe fought back from an early tangle to place 44th. Charlie rounded out the team in 53rd place, securing an 8th place finish for the team.

“We had a good weekend against some tough competition,” Coach Remsen noted. “If you combine the scores of the two teams on both days, we placed 7th overall as a Nordic program.”

The future of the team looks to be in good hands, as well, with almost all of the skiers returning for next year.Spac_50

Colorful Leadville Loppet’s 13th Year, Benefits MBT

by Brennan Ruegg, Leadville Today contributor

Leadville’s Nordic ski race returned in its 13th year last Sunday, Feb. 21. The 2016 Leadville Loppet, annual fundraiser for the Mineral Belt Trail (MBT), was set under mild weather and over slick trails behind Colorado Mountain College (CMC). In tradition, it was a colorful turnout, with 125 participants competing in the 10k, 22k, and 44k races, along with a horde of costumed skiers of various sizes participating in the fun 5k. Proceeds benefit continued growth and maintenance of Leadville’s trophy year-round recreational path, the MBT.

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Skiers run down the final stretch of the 5k in wardrobe. Photo: Leadville Today/Brennan Ruegg

Leadville’s females showed particularly strong this year, taking first place in both 10k classes (Classic and Freestyle) and the 44k Classic. They were, respectively Hannah Holm (1:06:02), Bobbie Jones (37:45), and Margi Dashevsky (5:53:02). Talus Shreiber of Leadville also won first place 10 & Under in the 5k.

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Skiers run down the final stretch of the 5k in wardrobe. Photo: Leadville Today/Brennan Ruegg

Here are first place results of the 2016 Leadville Loppet:

10k Classic: Male: Ethan Greiner of Buena Vista (37:06) Female: Hannah Holm of Leadville (1:06:02)

10k Freestyle: Male: Taylor Stack of Salida (28:36) Female: Bobbie Jones of Leadville (37:45)

44k Classic: Male: Jamie Mothersbaugh of Boulder (2:46:22) Female: Margi Dashevsky of Leadville (5:53:02)

44k Freestyle: Male: Clay Lovett of Steamboat Springs (1:56:04) Female: Emily Lovett of Steamboat Springs (2:56:17)

22k Classic: Male: Ray McGaughey of Leadville (1:14:39) Female: Sue Griffith of Boulder (1:42:06)

22k Freestyle: Male: Tyler Scholl of Kremmling (1:09:56) Female: Tabor Scholl of Kremmling (1:12:47)

For a full listing of results click here.

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Abby Long doles out soup of a million kinds for hungry competitors. Photo: Leadville Today/Brennan Ruegg

Races took place all morning, followed by trivia and awards presented by Mayor Greg Labbe, along with an endless table of soups and chilis in the CMC Gym. Blue Earth provided a massage table for returning skiers. Sponsors of the Leadville Loppet and the MBT, including High Mountain Pies and Melanzana, heavily participate and cooperate to bring what has become a long-standing tradition and ‘fun’raiser for Leadville and the regions skiers.

Missed the Loppet? Well boot up and set off on the MBT any day of the year; it always offers an outdoor sportsman a challenge, and thanks to fundraisers like the Leadville Loppet, it will be around for a long time to come.

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Lined up for the 10k to begin. Photo: Leadville Today/Brennan Ruegg

Brennan Ruegg is from Akron, OH.

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First Mount Massive Mush Dog Sled at Golf Course

by Brennan Ruegg, Leadville Today contributor

Last weekend, February 6 & 7, the Colorado Mountain Mushers (CMM) brought the inaugural Mount Massive Mush to Leadville with a state-wide dog sled race at Mt. Massive Golf Course. Nearly a dozen entrants from classes ranging from single ski-jorers to teams of eight dogs pulling sleds along the three miles of groomed course around the country’s highest golf courses.

The inaugural Mount Massive Mush Dog Sled Event was held last weekend in Leadville. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

The inaugural Mount Massive Mush Dog Sled Event was held last weekend in Leadville. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

Here’s a Question and Answer session with Mark Hatch, President, Colorado Mountain Mushers

Leadville Today (LT): Where did the Colorado Mountain Mushers begin?

Mark Hatch (MH): CMM began in the late 1980’s as a family oriented club to help promote the sport, and nurture those who are interested in the dog sledding. We are an offshoot from the Rocky Mountain Sled Dog Club when the founders of the club felt that the family aspect of the sport was not being supported.

LT: What other events do the CMM host throughout the year?

Colorado Mountain Mushers are an off-shoot of the Rocky Mountain Sled Dog Club. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

Colorado Mountain Mushers are an off-shoot of the Rocky Mountain Sled Dog Club. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today

MH: We try to stay active throughout the year; along with our traditional dog sled races during the winter we also have dry-land races in the fall (one of which we hold in Buena Vista). In the spring we have an annual banquet, during the summer we do a picnic for everyone to get together and socialize, and in early fall we have a group camp out at Camp Hale just north of Leadville. The club always tries to be very proactive in community outreach ranging from classroom visits at schools to canine community dog fairs.

LT: How many members make up the CMM, and from what demographic?

MH: CMM has around 70 memberships, these include individuals, families & associate (non racing) memberships. We range in age from teens still in school to retired teachers. We have a wide diversity of members; from Plumbers to Orthopedic Surgeons, Ranch Hands to Rocket Scientists who work for Lockheed Martin. Lately we have seen a growth in membership from young professionals who have just 1 or 2 dogs and are looking for a way to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

LT: What’s new about the Mount Massive Mush this year?

MH: This year we were limited to the golf course property and the trail lengths ranged from one to three miles. Next year we will talk with the Forest Service and see about expanding the race to around 11 miles.

LT: What are entry fees like to races?

MH: We try to keep our entry fees for each of the classes somewhat reasonable, while being able to cover our expenses. They range from $25.00 to $40.00.

Man's best friend takes the lead at the Inaugural Mount Massive Mush Dog Sled event held in Leadville. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today.

Man’s best friend takes the lead at the Inaugural Mount Massive Mush Dog Sled event held in Leadville. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today.

LT: Do the CMM have any particular connection to Leadville and Lake County?

MH: A hand full of mushers live or have ties to the Leadville / Buena Vista area but we do not have any specific ties to Leadville except it has it’s unique character and is always fun to visit. Plus the community has always been very supportive of our activities.

The CMM also provide a public voice in relevant legislation that affects dogsledding in Colorado. They partner with Mush With PRIDE, a coalition that fosters ethical treatment and raising of sled dogs. As they continue to grow they encourage more involvement from communities like Leadville and individuals with similar interests. Read more about them on their website or facebook page.

Brennan Ruegg is proud friend of a dog named Mamba.

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Downtown strollers in Leadville take in the Broncos snow sculpture in front of the The Manhattan Bar on the corner of 7th and historic Harrison Avenue. This is one of several bars who will be hosting a Super Bowl 50 Party today. For a run down on the rest scroll down to yesterday's post.

Downtown strollers in Leadville take in the Broncos snow sculpture in front of the The Manhattan Bar on the corner of 7th and historic Harrison Avenue. This is one of several bars who will be hosting a Super Bowl 50 Party today. For a run down on the rest of he action-packed football parties, scroll down to yesterday’s post.

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LT100 Champ to Rusch Up, Ride Down Mt. Kilimanjaro

Since today will be all about sports, it seemed appropriate to share this incredible story about an internationally renown athlete taking on a monumental challenge and yes, it has a Leadville twist!

When it comes to cycling, Leadville often touts the highest trails, the highest races. But for four-time Leadville Trail 100 (LT100) Champion Rebecca Rusch, her upcoming quest could leave those numbers on the heel of her back wheel.

LT100 Champion Rebecca Rusch and full time adventurer Patrick Sweeney will take their bikes to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, to raise funds and awareness for the nonprofit organization, World Bicycle Relief. Photo Sweeney.

LT100 Champion Rebecca Rusch and full time adventurer Patrick Sweeney will take their bikes to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, to raise funds and awareness for the nonprofit organization, World Bicycle Relief. Photo Sweeney.

This month, professional mountain biker Rebecca Rusch and full time adventurer Patrick Sweeney will take their bikes to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, to raise funds and awareness for the nonprofit organization, World Bicycle Relief. The feat will mark only the third time that the Tanzania Park Authority has allowed bicycles onto Africa’s highest peak.

Rusch and Sweeney will be riding, carrying and pushing their bikes to the summit at 19,341 feet, then riding the dangerous journey back down.

“I love a monumental challenge like this, and it’s even more meaningful if our adventure can help change the world,” commented Red Bull professional athlete and world-champion Rebecca Rusch. Since 2013, Rusch has been working with World Bicycle Relief to provide bicycles for individuals in Africa to access critical resources like education, healthcare and economic opportunities.

Rusch To Glory - Have You read it? Read the Leadville Today review: LINK

Rusch To Glory – Have You read it? Read the Leadville Today review: LINK

“I’m excited that we can do something to help the local people,” extolled Patrick Sweeney. “This grand adventure is part of my ‘Cycling the Seven Summits’ challenge that only a handful of people have ever even attempted. And World Bicycle Relief is a big charity changing the future of so many people in Africa – I can’t think of a better combination!” Sweeney is an Alpina Watch ambassador and the first person to officially mountain bike to the Mt. Everest Base Camp. He added, “I just hope Rebecca doesn’t hurt me too badly on the way up!”

The project has backing of Red Bull and will be filmed for Red Bull TV, which broadcasts an unrivaled world of action, live events, inspirational people, and breathtaking stories from Red Bull’s global playground.

Find out how Rusch is training with Carmichael Training Systems to take on the extreme altitude. As she prepares for a new adventure on Kilimanjaro Rusch recently spent time in the High Altitude Training Center (HATC) at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs with her coach Dean Golich. Here she talks about the rationale behind her time in the HATC, and how it applies to athletes, especially those training for a Leadville race.Spac_50

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Permits Not Secured for Races, Opinions Sought

By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today

When it comes to the Leadville Race Series, there aren’t too many locals – or racers – who have a neutral, take-it-or-leave it attitude. The opinions range from the overtly enthusiastic “this race changed my life,” to civic leaders who are on-the-record as stating “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

The Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race has not secured US Forest Service permit for its 2016 race series.

The Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race has not secured Forest Service permits for its 2016 race series.

On the other side of the coin, residents continue to express concerns that the races have grown too big, have too much impact on local services, or Leadville residents who simply “want our town back for the summer.”

Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, here’s your chance to express your opinion, with the folks who actually hold the keys: The U.S. Forest Service. As of now, according to a letter issued by Leadville District Ranger Tamara Conner, the race series does not have a formal contract in place, allowing them to use the land that the iconic courses are held on. In fact, should the permit be issued at all, it would not be granted to the Leadville Race Series (LRS).

Back in September 2015, the LRS’s 5-year contract with the Forest Service expired. And while the organization continues to solicit race registration and monies from athletes, they do not have a legal contract in place with the forest service to actually hold the races. And, it doesn’t appear, that LRS is actually the entity applying for the permit. According to documentation obtained by Leadville Today, the applicant for the permits has shifted to the “Lifetime Fitness Triathlon Series,” formerly known as the “Leadville 100 Race Series.”

As part of “Reba and Fatty’s Leadville Experience,” offering free rides and clinics this week leading up to Saturday’s Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race, 4x LT100 Women’s Champion Rebecca Rusch and Eldon “The Fat Cyclist” Nelson take riders on the Columbine climb. Fr Full details on other events this week: CLICK. Photo: Linda Guerrette

A large percent of the famous Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race takes place on Forest Service land. As of January 2015 the races do not have a contract in place to hold the races in 2016. Photo: Linda Guerrette

Additional documentation records that the added “Leadville Stage Race” from last season was issued a temporary permit, allowing the last minute “addition” to be thrown into the racing mix at the 11th hour albeit without a traditional public comment period.

So here’s your chance to let your opinion – good, bad or ugly – be heard by the agency holding the keys. The deadline for comment is February 9, 2016, with a decision anticipated in April 2016. Here’s the official statement from the Forest Service:

The Leadville Ranger District of the Pike and San Isabel National Forests, Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands (PSICC) is conducting an analysis pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to renew the LTF Triathlon Series (formerly Leadville 100 Race Series) permit and seeking public comments is part of the process. This opportunity to comment provides the public an opportunity to provide meaningful input prior to the decision on projects and activities related to implementing land and resource management plans.

LINK LRS_Forest Service Scope Letter document1 copyAt this stage, the Leadville Ranger District is proposing to administratively combine the two permits into one to be issued to the “Lifetime Fitness Triathlon Series.” The documentation states “These changes would include a new 5-year permit that combines all 5 events into one permit, new permit expiration date, a fee schedule to reflect current income figures and updated operating plans to include safety, medical and traffic control measures.”

It’s also worth noting that while the application process does require the applicant to list the official number of race participants, it does not address the additional impact to forest service land by support crew, fans, media and family who are out on the course as part of the event.

So here’s your chance to weigh in with the officials that hold the keys, the U.S Forest Service: “Caring for the Land and Serving the People.”

To have your opinion heard contact David Lovato at 719-486-7416 or via email at dlovato@fs.fed.us.

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Leadville Skijoring Highlighted at NYC Film Festival

While Leadville Skijoring is still more than 3 months away, you can re-live all the action and excitement by watching the documentary “Ice Cowboys.” A production of Fast Forward media out of Durango, the film highlights the growing sport of skijoring, which combines horses and riders with skiers in an action-packed ski-racing competition. And yes, of course, Leadville Skijoring is highlighted in the film!Ice Cowboys

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“Ice Cowboys” is currently airing on Altitude TV.

  • Sunday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m.
  • Monday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. 
  • Tuesday,  Nov. 24 at 12 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 12 p.m.
  • Thursday,  Nov. 26 at 9 a.m.
  • Sunday,  Nov. 29 at 5 p.m.

The Fast Forward production team will also be in New York City NEXT weekend for the Equus Film Festival from November 20-22. According to their website, the Equus Film Festival is the first festival oriented around equestrian themed content from all over the world. Equus Film FestivalThe festival empowers storytellers to show the rich history and diverse tapestry of horses in human culture through equestrian content. Do you think they’re ready for the rough and tumble Wild West sport of skijoring? Viewers will never be the same!

The Fast Forward team will be presenting a minute music video for Skijor International as well as the 50-minute “Ice Cowboy” documentary. The team will also be involved in a panel discussion, answering questions about Leadville’s premiere winter event and sport: Skijoring. So, if anyone will be in NYC next weekend, grab your chaps, cowboy hat, and skis and go show them what the spirit of the Wild West really looks like!

Held the first weekend in March, next year’s Leadville Skijoring celebration is planned for March 5 & 6, 2016. Known as Leadville downtown Winter Celebration this Wild West Horse Show takes place on historic Harrison Avenue. More details the 2016 event to come – stay tuned to Leadville Today for all the latest Leadville Ski Joring news.icecowboyslink copy

Yesterday, November 27 was Opening Day for the 2015/16 season at Ski Cooper. The Leadville ski area is open on weekends thru December 12, then Daily. There is more snow in the forecast this weekend. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today.

Yesterday, November 27 was Opening Day for the 2015/16 season at Ski Cooper. The Leadville ski area is open on weekends thru December 12, then Daily. More snow is in the forecast this weekend. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today. MORE PICS.

A_Spacer_ThinLeadville Lifters: Rock Pulls and Pies Competition

by Ben Wells, Leadville Lifters Coach

Leadville Lifters (LVL), the Highest Olympic Weightlifting Club, hosted their fall competition, Pulls and Pies, on Saturday Nov. 21, at Lake County High School. There were 6 girls competing, all LVL athletes, and 5 guys competing, 3 of which were LVL athletes.

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Spac_50The girls session began with weigh ins at 9 a.m. and started lifting at 11 .a.m and competing was Abi Reigel at 44KG, Bailey Sprague at 48KG, Tayler Galloway at 48KG, Katylin Sprague at 39KG, Kenzie Reigel at 48KG, Catilyn Ayers at 58KG and Sandy Gonzalez at 58KG.

This was the first competition for Gonzalez and she had a great day with a 35KG(78.05lbs) snatch and 35KG(78.05lbs) clean and jerk for a total of 70KG(156.1lbs). Ayers had a solid day posting a 32KG(71.36lbs) and a 45KG(100.35lbs) clean and jerk for a total of 77KG(171.71lbs) which is close to what she needs to qualify for Youth Nationals.

K. Reigel went 6 for 6, meaning she successfully completed all 3 snatch lifts and all 3 clean and jerks, and posted a 25KG(55.75lbs) snatch and 35KG(78.05lbs) with total of 60KG(133.8lbs) which qualifys her for Youth Nationals next summer.

K. Sprague finished strong with a 23KG(51.29lbs) snatch and 38KG(84.74lbs) clean and jerk for a total of 61KG(136lbs) earning her another qualifying amount for Youth Nationals. Galloway had a good time posting a 32KG(71.36lbs) snatch and 40KG(89.2lbs) for a total of 72KG(160.56lbs) and making her first qualifying total for Youth Nationals. B. Sprague had a successful day posting a 30KG(66.9lbs) snatch and 42KG(93.66lbs) clean and jerk for a total of 72KG(160.56lbs), also qualifying for Youth Nationals.

A. Reigel hit all 3 snatches and posted a 35KG(78.05lbs) followed by 45KG(100.35lbs) clean and jerk for a total of 80KG(178.4lbs), giving her a Youth Nationals qualifying total and the highest posted weight for the girls session. With 5 qualified for Youth Nationals and several others close the LVL girls are starting to make a name for themselves.Spac_50pulls and pies results

Spac_50For the guys session, which started about 1 p.m., competing for LVL was Andrew Ayers, Sam Finnell, and Grey Finnell. Also competing was Andrew Klenk, from Aurora, and D’Angelo Osorio, who current trains at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and is on track to represent the USA in Rio for the 2016 Olympics.

This was Ayers first competition and posted a 28KG(62.44lbs) snatch and 38KG(84.74lbs) clean and jerk for a total of 66KG(147.18lbs). S. Finnell also was first time competitor and posted a 30KG(66.9lbs) snatch and 41KG(91.43lbs) clean and jerk. G. Finnell had a rocky day posting a 70KG(156.1lbs) snatch and making the 100KG(223lbs) clean but missed the jerk.

To wrap up the guys session Osorio posted a 155KG(345.65lbs) snatch and attempted but did not complete a 190KG(423.7lbs) clean and jerk. Having Osorio at the meet was a great experience for the LVL athletes to see and understand what is the their future. Congratulations to all LVL athletes and good luck as they prepare for the LVL Tough Luck Competition in March!

Spac_50LCHS Athlete Trevor Kerrigan Receives Palmer Award

“Trevor is a true leader on and off the football field and has demonstrated time and time again that there is no substitute for toughness, dedication, and hard work,” said Lake County High School Football Cody Jump in his nomination of Trevor Kerrigan for the Nick Palmer Award at the Lake County High School Fall Sports Banquet held November 18.

Senior Trevor Kerrigan (center) was the recipient of the Nick Palmer Award at Wednesday’s Lake County High School Fall Sports Banquet. Kerrigan is pictured here with his parents on the right Catherine and Tim Kerrigan and on the left Nick’s parents Rachele and Brad Palmer.

Senior Trevor Kerrigan (center) was the recipient of the Nick Palmer Award at Wednesday’s Lake County High School Fall Sports Banquet. Kerrigan is pictured here with his parents on the right Catherine and Tim Kerrigan and on the left Nick’s parents Rachele and Brad Palmer.

“Since the very beginning of the year he has put every ounce of himself into every single drill in practice and every play in games; never once making an excuse for an error and responding to every correction and coaching point with a heart-felt, ‘yes, Coach,'” Coach Jump continued.

The Nick Palmer award is presented annually to an outstanding athlete that has demonstrated excellence in academics, shown leadership in their sport, classroom and community; sportsmanship on and off their respective field of play as well as devotion surrounding their sport. The award is named after Nick Palmer (see below), a LCHS graduate and football player. Palmer also served in the Marines and gave his life in service to the country.Panthers Logo

 “As always, it is our pleasure to meet these athletes during our interview process.  We are continually amazed at the quality these individuals display and how they represent the positive nature of what Leadville has to offer to the world; it says a lot,” said Rachele Palmer (nick’s Mom), who presented the award with her husband Brad.

Kerrigan was one of five fall sports athletes nominated for the Nick Palmer Award. While it was noted that each one of the student athletes nominated had demonstrated these qualities, in the end it was Kerrigan who rose to the top. Congratulations, Trevor Kerrigan!

Congratulations to all the student athletes who were awarded many other citations and plaques at the LCHS Fall Sports Banquet!

What is the Nick Palmer Award?

Nick Palmer graduated from LCHS in 2005 where he played football, exemplifying strong leadership qualities both on and off the field. After graduation, Nick joined the United States Marine Corps. He was killed in action December 16, 2006 while on patrol in Fallujah, Iraq. He was just 19 years old.nick_palmer

It was a former LCHS football coach who thought it would be honorable to begin a tradition to dedicate an athletic achievement award to an outstanding athlete that maintains the same dedication to their sport in which Nick exemplified within his sport. So in 2007 the Nick Palmer Award was created and Nick’s #53 jersey was retired during the homecoming halftime ceremony and remains on display in the LCHS foyer.

“As time goes on, those who knew Nick have left the halls of Lake County High School,” explained Rachele Palmer, Nick’s mother, “and new classmates will have the opportunity to know of Nick and his qualities through this award. So as each year passes and new nominations are made, there will be the need to pass on to those up and coming athletes what it is that has inspired the conception of this award.”