Saturday, November 30, 2013

U.S. freeskiing and snowboarding teams named, Shaun White not listed

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association announced its full rosters of freeski and snowboard team members this week. One notable absence on the star-studded list of Olympic athletes and X Games competitors was Olympic gold medalist Shaun White.
When asked about White, ski and snowboard team spokesman Tom Kelly said in an email, “Shaun rides independently from the U.S. Snowboarding team. Just his choice. There’s no requirement that you need to be a part of the team.” Kelly added that it does not have an impact on the team selection process, which will be determined in part by results from the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge, Dec.12-15, and the four-stop Sprint U.S. Grand Prix which starts at Copper Mountain Resort, Dec. 16-22.
White has been on the two previous U.S. Olympic teams, but reportedly does not participate with the U.S. team outside of the Olympics.
“He’s definitely training for Sochi,” team press officer Doug Hanney said of White. “The Olympic Team will be named after the final Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain in January.”
Beyond White, the list of 68 U.S. team athletes — split among the freeski and snowboarding half-pipe and slopestyle teams — is essentially a who’s who of Americans in the extreme sports world.
Each of the team’s members, along with White and others in the upper echelon of the sport, will be competing for four spots in each of the freeskiing and snowboarding disciplines.
“It’s such an exciting time for U.S. snowboarding right now with next-level half-pipe runs and the slopestyle team getting its first shot at Olympic medals,” U.S. freeskiing and snowboarding head coach Mike Jankowski said.
The list of snowboarders includes Olympic medalist and Aspen native Gretchen Blieler, along with fellow medalists and decorated X Games competitors Kelly Clark and Scotty Lago.
Freeskiing half-pipe and slopestyle and snowboard slopestyle will be new events in the Olympics when the games open in Sochi, Russia, in February.
Acclaimed half-pipe skier Simon Dumont and Breckenridge natives Bobby Brown and Duncan Adams are on the list of men’s freeskiing competitors, joining World Champion Tom Wallisch and a handful of X Games medalists.
Maddie Bowman, and Breck’s Keri Herman will lead the way for the freeskiing women along with Team Breck alumna Emelia Wint.
“This is an exciting and historic time with freeskiers heading to the Olympics to showcase half-pipe and slopestyle for the first time,” Jankowski said.
Road to Sochi goes through Summit
The freeski and snowboard teams will practice on the Olympic-size half-pipe at Copper Mountain, along with other national teams, leading up to the Dew Tour in December. The pipe at Copper is the only full-size half-pipe currently open in North America. It opened for the season Wednesday, Nov. 27.
Blieler and select members of the U.S. teams will be making a public appearance at Woodward at Copper at 5 p.m. Saturday as a part of the “Woodward Remix” festivities — celebrating the indoor training facility’s renovation and reopening.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Breckenridge Town Council approves 2014 budget, outlines $8.5 million in capital spending

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

The Breckenridge Town Council on Tuesday, Nov. 26, approved the 2014 budget, including almost $8.5 million in capital spending for onetime projects.
The council voted unanimously to approve the budget. Councilman Mike Dudick was absent.
The town’s budget has two components: the operating budget, which pays for costs such as snow plows and police, and the capital fund, for onetime costs for items such as building and construction. Capital expenses are taken from the excise fund.
The town is spending $8,433,000 on capital projects for 2014, including upgrading paving, renovating the Masonic Hall and Breckenridge theater, improving medians on Highway 9, building a Main Street park and improving the skateboard park. Two projects were added to the budget after the Oct. 29 budget retreat: a French Street roundabout and an additional section of medians.
Town manager Tim Gagen said the 2014 operating budget is down significantly from this year, because some of the money was reallocated into separate funds. Staff levels are the same and there are no added services.
The four new separated items include a marijuana fund, which will collect the excise tax from retail sales and fund treatment programs for alcohol and drug abuse, as well as provide for one new police officer position. The cultural and arts fund was taken out of the operating fund, so items like the Riverwalk and Arts District now are in their own fund, to be governed by the town in 2014, but eventually by a nonprofit arts board in the future.
A new cemetery fund will provide for long-term maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery Breckenridge owns.
Finally, a separate child care fund, moved out of the affordable housing fund, will keep a little more than $800,000 to fund the scholarship program through 2104.
The budget transfers the remaining $2.3 million of the existing child care-related fund balance to the capital fund.
“With these capital improvements, the town is unjustly characterized as a wealthy little town with lots of extra money, we could afford an extra $800,000 forever,” Mayor John Warner said. “It doesn’t take long for a healthy fund balance of $10 million to go away if there’s a big unfunded expense every year.”
There were approximately 75 parents and community members in attendance at the meeting in support of continuing to fund the child care scholarship program.
“After 2014, it will have to be a discussion by council as to where the funds will come from to continue to support that program,” Gagen said.
The mill levy was also set at 5.07 for property tax, one of the lowest in recent years. Property tax is down, Gagen said, because the town has paid off some debt and assessed values have dropped, and ballot measure 2B did not pass. Sales, rent and accommodation revenues are up, however, making the overall 2014 budget up from 2013.
Had 2B not failed, we would have a different number to raise money for a sustainable revenue stream for child care,” Warner said. “Without the approval of the voters, we have to revert back to the old mill levy.”
However, Councilman Mark Burke said even if 2B had passed, residents would see a lower mill levy anyway, because of the debt payoff.
One other large fund is the marketing fund. The town contracts with the Breckenridge Resort Chamber, or GoBreck, for its marketing needs. This year, the town is supplementing an additional $500,000 on top of the normal revenue, to keep up in a competitive market.
“The right thing to do is just to get that money in the market,” Councilwoman Jennifer McAtamney said.
The marketing fund also provides funds for town-sponsored events, such as the Dew Tour and Blue River Series.
At the Nov. 26 meeting, the council agreed to transfer an additional $41,000 from the excise fund into the marketing fund for GoBreck, bringing the total transfer into the marketing fund to $1,151,635, after confusion regarding the starting number in the fund. GoBreck will receive $3,271,000 total in 2014.
Councilman Ben Brewer was hesitant to approve the extra funding transfer to the marketing organization.
“It seems like every meeting we have something to discuss about how they need more money, how we’re going to give them more money, and I’m starting to reach the end of my rope,” he said.
A full copy of the 2014 town of Breckenridge budget can be seen online
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Copper Mountain’s halfpipe first to open in North America, attracts international athletes

#Copper Mountain, Colorado.

When the first Olympic-size half-pipe in North America opens for the season, the world takes notice, and for eight of the last nine years that pipe has been right above Center Village at Copper Mountain Resort. That streak continued Wednesday with resort officials announcing that the full-length 22-foot-high pipe was cut and ready for business.
With Copper’s announcement, and the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge just two weeks away, some of the world’s best skiers and snowboarders were on the hill first thing Wednesday for a practice session, taking full advantage of the early opening.
Aspen native and snowboard star Gretchen Bleiler and other U.S. freeski and snowboard team members reportedly shared the pipe with members of a number of international teams.
“It’s always good if there’s a pipe early in the season,” Swiss national team snowboard coach Pepe Regazzi said while standing at the top of the pipe, shooting video of one of his athletes doing a training run. “It’s important that they (team athletes) have a lot of training.”
Ski and Snowboard Club Vail snowboard director Ben Boyd echoed the sentiment while waiting for two of his World Cup-level riders to drop in for a run.
“We’re coming into the Olympics; the more on-snow time we can get to get the athletes prepared for these events is important,” he said.
Both the Dew Tour, Dec. 12-15 , and the Sprint Grand Prix half-pipe and slopestyle series the following week at Copper are serving as part of the U.S. Olympic team-selection process this year. Besides members of the U.S. team, the events will include a deep field of international competitors.
“It’s awesome to have this before the competitions,” World Cup level rider Jake Pates said after a training run. “It really makes a difference.”
“The park was in really good shape for the first day,” Australian female World Cup rider Alex Fitch said. “It’s really important we don’t have much training time between World Cups, so it’s really important to get in there while we can.”
Both Boyd and Regazzi said their athletes were taking it easy on the first day of training, focusing on getting their feet back under them. Regazzi said his Swiss team was also adjusting to the time change and altitude.
Through the weekend, the pipe will be open to the public, giving amateurs and everyday riders an opportunity to share terrain with potential Olympians.
“There’s a lot of national teams here,” Boyd said. “Copper’s done a great job. We don’t get pipes as good as this (early season).”
“This year we’re open earlier than expected,” Copper spokeswoman Stephanie Sweeney said. “We’ve had really great early season snow.”
Athletes will continue to practice on the Copper half-pipe leading up to the start of the Dew Tour and then again in mid-December.
Starting Sunday, Dec. 1, the pipe will be closed to the public in the mornings — it’s reserved during that time for U.S. and foreign national teams.
It will reopen daily at 12:30 p.m.
Anyone looking to try to catch a glimpse of potential 2014 Olympians will have viewing opportunities from the deck outside of Jack’s in Center Village.
Woodward at Copper — one of the nation’s largest indoor training facilities — will also host a meet and greet with selected members of the U.S. team Saturday evening, as a part of a weekend with a number of events open to the public.
More information can be found at
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Breckenridge enriches mining history with Jessie Mill preservation project

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

The rich mining history surrounding Breckenridge is often presented as a golden opportunity for tourism, contributing to the distinct character of the area. In addition to two other current mining sites, the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance (BHA) is continuing work on a stabilization effort to preserve the Jessie Mill near town. The Jessie is the only stamp mill in Summit County left standing, said BHA director Larissa O’Neil.
Larry Crispell, BHA board member, has been working on the Jessie Mill project. He said restorations efforts this year have already significantly helped keep the historic site intact.
“The Jessie was something that needed to be preserved before it was lost,” he said. “Now we’re very close to being in a state to be happy that it’ll stay put.”
The Jessie was one of the largest mine and mill complexes in the Breckenridge area. It operated from 1885 well into the 1930s, but enjoyed its peak from the late 1880s through the early 1900s. The mill produced mainly gold, but also dealt with a significant amount of silver and lead.
The Jessie is one of the best, and most easily accessed, examples of a former mine and mill site near Breckenridge. The mill remains partially intact today, near the Gold Run Gulch area around Golden Horseshoe.
Recently, concerns were raised about the structural stability of the Jessie Mill as the structure developed a significant, visible lean. The BHA commissioned an engineering study in 2012, which concluded the Jessie was at risk of collapsing.
“The Jessie is kind of out there, it doesn’t get as many visitors, but it’s a great structure,” Crispell said. “This is the best example that’s easily accessible of a large-scale mill.”
For 2013, the BHA budgeted $25,000 to purchase equipment, install earth anchors and cover the costs of bracing and pulling one lower section of the structure upright. The BHA receives its budget from the town of Breckenridge. Crispell said for the upcoming year, the BHA is requesting another $25,000 to continue to make the upper section of the building vertical as well.
“Breckenridge is distinguished from many communities around it,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have a historic district, to have been a real mining town. These structures give us that credibility.”
In the 1970s, the mill structure had a shell around it with a sturdy frame, siding and a roof. But in time, much of the structure was lost to people stripping it for barn wood, Crispell said. The structure had been braced, but it was not a significant preservation effort.
“We realized that wasn’t a long-term solution,” Crispell said. “The mill continued to be in peril. Once it falls down — many structures collapse and then are totally lost.”
The remaining wooden structure is the stamp mill, built in 1893-94. It crushed large portions of ore in order to extract the valuable gold, silver and lead. The stamps — 800-point piston-like pieces of iron — moved up and down to crush the rocks. Only the wooden structure that once held the stamps remains.
“We’ll likely be dealing with some issues of further preservation of the wood too,” Crispell said. “We want to ensure this is a long-term solution.”
Crispell credits general contractor Tony Harris and crew chief Jimmy Reed with great work so far preserving such a “delicate house of cards.”
“There’s a deep appreciation for historic artifacts in this community,” Crispell said. “People get it. If you want heritage tourism, you’d better be concerned about historic structures.”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Trusted Housesitters pairs Summit homeowners with people who watch pets, homes at no cost

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

The glowing house on the mountain drive in Breckenridge was surrounded by darkness. In a world of empty second homes and snow-covered drives, this bright pocket of plowed pavement was a rare sight. The homeowner hadentrusted her place to two complete strangersduring her two-week vacation, so that her two labs Rufus and Gracie would be looked after in the comfort of their own home.
Andy Peck, founder of,along with Rachel Martin, public relations and strategic development manager, were happy to travel to Colorado from England to look after the dogs for free, all because they had a home to stay in at no cost to them. Peck began this service for homeowners and travelers alike three years ago.
The website allows homeowners to find a sitter for their homes and pets, almost like setting up an online dating profile to find a match. What makes this website different, however, is no money typically exchanges hands. Homeowners find people to look after homes and pets free of charge, in exchange for a place to stay.
“Travel, pet care is expensive,” Peck said. “The cost of kennels, plus someone to clean your driveway, that’s a lot. This is nothing. It’s the most cost-effective ‘stay-cation’ you could have.”
Homeowners can join for $29 for one month, with other increments up to $79 for a year. For sitters, prices are the same but start at three months for $49. There is also a combined option, if the homeowner also wants the option to house-sit someplace else.
Peck is quick to point out this isn’t like the movie “The Holiday”: there’s no swapping requirement, no matching travel times or the size of the house. It works independently, though some homeowners do choose to sit as well.
“It doesn’t matter what country you’re in, people go away,” he said. “They have pets, they have family vacations, they have commitments elsewhere. That’s where we come in.”
Martin said she is unable to have pets in her small apartment in England, and so she enjoys the pet-sitting aspect of the job.
“I can get my fix by doing this,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m missing out because I can hang out with some really good friends along the way.”
Duties don’t just include looking after pets, however. Plants, gardening, pool maintenance and other in-home care is often required. Peck said he has real estate agents who look for sitters to help bring warmth to an empty house they are trying to sell, and second-home owners who will ask for a sitter for months at a time, so that when they come home everything is already working.
“Time is precious to everyone these days,” Peck said. “You don’t want to spend three days to do maintenance, worry about frozen pipes, if you’re only here to ski for five days. It’s like a valet, someone who is there so that when you come back for Thanksgiving, the place is clean and everything is warm and working.”
The website currently has homeowners offering up stays in 55 countries. The Colorado market is one of the fastest growing locations on Trusted Housesitters, especially in Summit County and Colorado Springs. Peck estimated there are also 30 to 40 registered house sitters in the area as well. Of course, sitters can work locally, but he said most look for travel opportunities to other places.
Trusted Housesitters recently won the 2013 Good Web Guide Award for People’s Choice Website of the Year, and Social/Community Website of the Year. Peck said 97 percent of the homeowners who use the site have successfully found sitters.
Homeowners create listings with the time they will be away and the number of pets, and every day, new listings are sent out to registered sitters who have indicated interest in the area — country, state or even city. Owners can browse sitter profiles as well, searching by age, location and availability. House sitters range from retirees looking for affordable travel and vacations to people who sit full time in one location. Many families also house-sit because it’s more effective than finding a hotel room fit for children.
“You get to live like a local,” Martin said. “I would have a very different experience staying in a hotel. They get to immerse themselves in the community and local culture.”
Peck said the cost of joining the website is a natural deterrent for people who might be looking to take advantage of an empty, sometimes wealthy, home. Most importantly, he said, background checks are available and of course, if there ever were an issue, the owner would have all of the sitter’s information to be able to go to the police.
“We’ve never had any issues, because people choose people,” Peck said. “It’s like interviewing for a job or choosing a groomer, people entrust professionals all the time.”
The average posting on the site might get 10 to 20 responses, and from there, the homeowner is able to communicate securely through the site with potential sitters. Miller said many sitters go beyond just the basic duties, getting groceries such as milk, cheese and bread before the owner returns, laying out fresh flowers or even cooking dinner.
Some people do charge for the services, but Peck estimates 95 percent do not, because the philosophy of the site strikes such a cord with people, especially when it comes to taking care of animals.
“Pets get less stressed if they’re in their own environment,” Martin said. “If they can stick to the routine they’re used to as well, they are much happier at home.”
About 23 percent of people signing up have come through word-of-mouth, Miller said. For her, this collaborative consumption is a main reason why Trusted Housesitters has shown such growth and success.
“Trading skills or exchanging things other than money, it works really well, and harkens back to a bygone era,” she said.
During their stay in Breckenridge, Peck and Miller actually noticed yellow lab Gracie was developing an ear infection, and were able to take her to vet before the homeowner returned. Peck said most homeowners prepare a packet with the pets’ routine, including veterinarian and emergency numbers — almost like babysitting.
For him, the biggest benefit of the website is that pets get to stay at home with a responsible caretaker there until the owner returns.
“It’s a very altruistic thing because it gives the homeowners peace of mind but also works brilliantly to deliver a real mutual respect,” he said. “People don’t just want a quick buck from renting out their place. They just like to know their pets are being looked after.”
Miller said the peer-to-peer marketplace yields satisfied parties on both ends of the exchanges, because people are able to come together to help each other out.
“Homeowners are getting their home and pets cared for free of charge, and the house sitter is getting a free retreat,” Miller said. “It works out beautifully. People are really keen to help each other out.”
For more information visit Homeowners can enter the promo code “summitdailynews” for a free six-month subscription.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bode Miller opens Loveland Nor-Am races with honorary first run

#Loveland Ski Area, Colorado.

When Olympic medalist Bode Miller took to the giant slalom course at Loveland Ski Area Saturday, it was more for training than anything, he said after completing his run. Miller hit the slope ahead of the weekend’s Nor-Am Cup races, starting with the first men’s GS race of the season.
There were no TV cameras, no media masses, only a few Loveland Ski Club members on hand waiting to catch a glimpse of the alpine star. For Miller — returning to competition this season after taking last year off to fully recover from previous injuries — it was business, just another day at the office. He clicked out of his skis, answered a few questions, assessed his performance with a coach and took a few minutes to sign a quick autograph for a girl eager to meet her role model.
“He’s been my idol since I was a little kid,” Loveland U16 racer Abby Durrell said, wearing the helmet she’d just had signed. “This is just so inspiring to be able to meet him and see him in person. I can’t stop smiling.”
Durrell said she was planning on retiring the helmet at the end of the day, and will find a spot for it on her bookshelf.
While it was a training run for Miller before heading to Lake Louise, Canada, later this week for the next World Cup alpine races, for those aspiring to be the next Bode Miller or Ted Ligety, this weekend’s races are an opportunity to go head to head with some of the world’s best.
“These early-season Nor-Ams, there’s a bunch of World Cup guys here. It’s a good opportunity for the young American guys to get a great start position against good World Cup racers in an environment where they’re more comfortable,” Miller said.
For Loveland it was a christening of its FIS-sanctioned GS course.
“We’re really excited to bring a continental cup GS,” Loveland Ski Club director and former U.S. Ski Team coach John Hale said of the event. “It’s something pretty special.”
Ski area director of business operations Rob Goodell observed the competition with a smile. “We’re excited to have some of the top men racing today. A lot of world-class athletes are racing.”
While Miller did not compete, fellow U.S. A Team member David Chodounsky was among the racers in a competitive field of U.S. and international athletes.
Chodounsky finished 28th with a total course time of 1:48.91.
Austrian Philipp Schoerghofer topped the podium on the day with a time of 1:46.46. Brennan Rubie was the highest American finisher, taking fourth in 1:46.72.
Nor-Am competition is the North American continental series below World Cup level, equivalent to the Europa Cup abroad.
Goodell described the competition as “a great developmental race for people trying to break into the World Cup echelon.”
The top two finishers in the Nor-Am Cup series earn World Cup spots the following season.
Men’s Nor-Am racing continues at Loveland through Tueday with a GS race and two days of slalom. Women’s Nor-Am Cup competitors will compete in slalom and GS the following week, Dec. 1-4.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

How the early runs on Peak 7 at Breckenridge got their names

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

This is the third in a six-part series about the history of the ski run names at Breckenridge Ski Resort. To read the first two parts, visit
In two previous articles, we spoke about the naming of the ski runs on Peak 8 in Breckenridge. Most of these names actually came from people associated with the history of the resort itself. Now we turn to Peak 7, where all of the runs are named after Breckenridge-area historic places, many of which can be seen from the slopes on a clear day. In 2001-02, the resort turned to the Summit Historical Society for assistance in naming its new expansion area after an employee naming contest determined that the new area’s names would have a local history theme.
The central feature of Peak 7 — the Independence SuperChair — was named after one of the four original mining districts in Breckenridge (the others being Pollock, Spaulding and Miners). This name was also, for a short period of time, associated with the first permanent structure built in the area in the fall of 1859 to protect early prospectors from local Indians — Fort Independence or Fort Independent — before it became known permanently as Fort Mary B, another of the Peak 7 run names. Fort Mary B was a wooden stockade covering a couple of acres, with log cabins in each of the four corners serving as living quarters. There is some disagreement over who Mary B really was, but it is known that she was “the first woman in these parts,” according to the original handwritten mining district records dating from September 1859. The fort’s location was very close to the current location of Wells Fargo Bank in Breckenridge.
The Monte Cristo was a very rich silver, lead and zinc mine on the north side of Monte Cristo Gulch near Hoosier Pass. It was a locally unusual mine in that it operated on the surface as opposed to the common underground mining done in the area. Nearby Angel’s Rest run was named after a notorious saloon in the now-ghost town of Dyersville, in the woods southeast of Breck. The saloon was the bane of John Lewis Dyer, aka “Father Dyer,” the evangelical preacher known for his fire-and-brimstone prohibitionist crusades who had built a cabin (prior to the saloon’s arrival) nearby. A modern rendition of the Angel’s Rest Saloon was located in the wooden building next to Fatty’s Pizzeria on Ridge Street in the 1970s, where tired skiers ended the day with a brew on the deck and basked in the last rays of the day’s sun.
The Wirepatch (actually spelled Wire Patch back in the day), easily seen in French Gulch from its namesake Peak 7 run, was a rich wire-gold mine on Farncomb Hill near the discovery site of Tom’s Baby, the largest mass of gold ever found in Colorado. Lincoln Meadows — the actual historical name was Lincoln Park — was named after a beautiful meadow area above the once-bustling gold camp of Lincoln City in French Gulch. Unfortunately, nothing much of a historic nature apparently happened there.
Swan City — like Lincoln City not a “city” by any stretch of the imagination, with a peak population of about 300 in the mid-1880s — was located near Brown’s Gulch on Tiger Road in the Swan River area. The “city” was an 1880s settlement that housed miners working in nearby mines, such as the IXL and Cashier; by the 1920s it was totally destroyed by dredging activity that ran right through the town site. No pictures exist of the once booming “city,” but perhaps its greatest claim to fame was that actor Douglas Fairbanks’ parents lived there in the 1880s.
And, finally, Pioneer was probably a generic name given to the run, but the name could be of historical significance — one of Breck’s original fire companies was named the Pioneer Hook and Ladder Company, No. 1.
We’ll talk about Peak 7’s upper runs — such as George’s Thumb and Debbie’s Alley — at another time.
Many thanks to Bill Fountain for some of the details in this article.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Summit County, Breckenridge purchase 18-acre French Gulch parcel for $450,000

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

The Summit County and town of Breckenridge Open Space and Trails departments have split the purchase of a $450,000, 18-acre parcel of land in French Gulch.
The land, previously privately owned, will allow for the extension of Turk’s Trail farther to the east, connecting it to Sallie Barber Road.
Katherine King, Summit County Open Space and Trails resource specialist, said because the land is located in the middle of existing open-space property, it was a priority to acquire it.
“French Gulch has always been on our radar screen,” she said. “It’s an important area for the public. It’s the backyard of Breckenridge, and really popular for trails and recreation as well as historic resources.”
The new open space will also help protect the backcountry character of the area, including spruce and fir trees. The county and town split the purchase evenly and are joint partners in the acquisition.
King said there is also a provision guaranteeing public access to French Creek to the south.
“In general, a private land inholding surrounded by existing open space is high on our list,” she said. “It makes management of that area easier.”
The extension of Turk’s Trail, if approved, would most likely be built next summer by volunteers. A “social” path from Turk’s to the road had already been formed across the private property, said Scott Ried, Breckenridge Open Space and Trails manager.
“This way people won’t be trespassing, and the trail will be sustainable,” he said. “We’re lucky to have the ability to build new trails, and this is a very important piece of property.”
The new property completes a 750-acre corridor along the south side of French Gulch Road.
“We are thrilled that our continued partnership with the town of Breckenridge will help to protect the natural and historic resources of French Creek, as well as provide a new trail for the public to enjoy,” said County Commissioner Dan Gibbs in a prepared statement.
View Summit County Open Space and Trails acquisitions online at
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Breckenridge Ski Resort will open Peak 9 terrain before Thanksgiving weekend

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

With snow continuing to fall on the High Country, local ski resorts are opening more territory for skiers and snowboarders to explore.
Breckenridge Ski Resort just announced it will open terrain on Peak 9 on Saturday, Nov. 23. Full base-area services, including ski and ride school and on-mountain dining, will be available.
“Mother Nature has been very cooperative with snowfall — we’ve had 19 inches in the past seven days, and it is snowing right now,” said the resort’s senior communications manager Kristen Petitt Stewart. “We are opening up more terrain as quickly and safely as we can.”
The resort is opening Silverthorne, King’s Way, Crosscut and Lower Sawmill trails, all of them beginner trails that allow guests to ski back and forth between Peaks 8 and 9. The trails also are important to Breck’s lodging partners in the Peak 9 base area and on the south end of town, Stewart said.
Expanding available terrain will also open up more on-mountain dining options. Limited menu items will be offered by Ten Mile Station’s new chef, Jeff Nathanson, and The Maggie’s new chef, Nick Maimone, Stewart said.
“They are both brand new and we expect some great things to come from them this season,” she said.
Sevens Restaurant, at the base of Peak 7, will offer the only on-mountain Thanksgiving special, featuring all the fixings of a home-cooked meal. Guests also have the option of enjoying a fixed-price Thanksgiving-style menu at the 9600 Kitchen inside the DoubleTree by Hilton Breckenridge.
“We love to see families skiing together over holidays — because it is an honor for them to choose Breck as a place to make these important memories together,” Stewart said. “We know skiing can offer a chance for families to unplug and enjoy time together.”
The resort will have about 380 total acres of skiing and riding available for the upcoming holiday week. Breck recently opened up Contest Bowl for hiking. The ski patrol is working to open more upper-mountain terrain.
“I would expect another announcement soon,” Stewart said.
Resort staff asks that guests stay off closed trails and out of closed areas for safety reasons. Closed trails may be hazardous due to limited natural snow coverage and snowmaking operations.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Eisenhower Tunnel has 40-year history as ‘safest two miles of highway in the state system’

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

This is the second in a series on the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnel, which turned 40 this year.
When workers finally detonated the first sticks of dynamite on March 15, 1968, the Eisenhower Tunnel project was slated for completion in three years at an estimated cost of a little more than $50 million. When it opened on March 8, 1973, it was two years behind schedule and more than 100 percent over budget.
Despite the rocky start, the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnel may have inadvertently benefited from innovative practices and technology as a result of the delay. Today the tunnels have a reputation for safety and to date more than 350 million cars, trucks and buses have traveled through close to 9,000 feet of highway under the Continental Divide. There has never been a fatality.
“That’s not luck and it hinges a lot on our surveillance system,” said tunnel maintenance superintendent Michael Salamon. “In my opinion, I think it is the safest 2 miles of highway in the state system.”
More than 50 multi-skilled workers, including electronics specialists, mechanical engineers and electricians, not only perform their duties, but also plow roads, man the control room and respond to fires.
Those workers also have ensured that much of the technology protecting motorists and employees has survived the more than 40 years since it was installed. Almost everything in the tunnel is original, Salamon said, from its 72,000-gallon-per-day water-treatment plant to its highly touted ventilation system, which boasts 28 fans, each of them 10½ feet in diameter.
The fans are located in ventilation houses at each end of the tunnels, with 14 serving as exhaust fans to pump bad air out of the tunnels and 14 serving as supply fans to bring clean air in.
Powered by electricity and boasting up to 600 horsepower, each fan is capable of moving 543,000 cubic feet of air per minute.
“The ventilation system is our most essential system,” Salamon said. “We could operate without lighting and you could even deal with a dirt road if you had to, but you have to keep your air quality at safe levels. I’m proud we’re looking at 40-year-old motors that are still operational.”
The air quality is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a control room by two to three tunnel employees at all times, Salamon said. Carbon monoxide levels are monitored and transmitted to the control room by 14 detectors strategically positioned throughout the tunnels, seven in each portal.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, carbon monoxide levels of 100 parts per million for a period of 15 minutes would be considered a violation. On Wednesday of last week, carbon monoxide levels were dancing between 10 and 20 parts per million, with only two fans running in each tunnel and at their lowest speeds.
“This is probably as clean as standing on Colfax and Colorado Boulevard (in Denver),” Salamon said.
In addition to air quality, control room operators monitor traffic and keep a close watch for potential safety threats using a system of more than 100 cameras that not only cover every inch of the tunnels, but also provide views down each side of the highway corridors, as well as to Loveland Pass. With so many cameras at their disposal, the operators have no blind spots, Salamon said.
On average, tunnel employees respond to about 400 motorist-assist situations each year.
Due to the steep grades on either side of the tunnel, coupled with automobile engines working less efficiently at elevation than at sea level, Salamon said a majority of the motorist-assist emergencies they respond to are stalled vehicles.
However, contrary to popular belief, tunnel employees respond to an average of three vehicle fires inside the tunnels every year. The surveillance system has played an instrumental role in ensuring that none of those fires was fatal.
On one occasion in the 1980s a truck with a bed-mounted camper was spotted by a down-corridor camera smoking as it neared the tunnel. Fearing the truck might burst into flames, control room operators stopped traffic in both directions as the camper entered the tunnel.
As feared, it ignited about 200 yards before it exited the Summit County side of the tunnel. What made that fire particularly memorable, Salamon said, was that the bed-mounted camper was equipped with a propane stove. The propane bottles the driver used to fuel that stove exploded and the fire burned so hot it melted concrete and some of the wall tiles.
Still, thanks to the surveillance system, no one was injured and one tunnel employee was able to respond to the fire and extinguished it himself using the tunnel’s largest pumper truck.
“We watch your air, your lighting, the road surfaces and how you’re moving,” Salamon said. “These guys are always watching and there’s nothing they don’t see.”
In the third part of this series we’ll take a deeper look at the future of fire safety in the tunnels and how the coming fire suppression system may ignite a debate to have the Colorado Department of Transportation’s policy prohibiting HAZMAT transports through the tunnels changed.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

‘Like going to the moon’: Eisenhower Tunnel marks 40 years of innovation

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series on the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnel.
In October, the CDOT’s Transportation Commission issued the latest in more than 40 years of landmark history at the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnel.
Through its Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships program, the Transportation Commission awarded $10 million to the tunnels for the installation of a fire suppression system. The award shored up the final piece of funding for the estimated $25 million project.
The announcement was significant both because of the project’s impact on commuter safety, and because it will be the first retro-fit of a tunnel fire suppression system in U.S. history.
But last week, tunnel maintenance superintendent Michael Salamon and deputy maintenance superintendent David Miller said there’s a lot about the tunnel’s history that is either unknown or told inaccurately.
The story of the tunnels dates back as far as 1867, when W.A. Loveland hosted a railroad charter under the territorial legislature and was the first to propose the construction of a railroad tunnel through the Continental Divide.
Although the project exceeded the capabilities of mid-19th century technology, it never faded into obscurity.
A tunnel through the mountains became a popular topic of statewide conversation and debate several times during the 1930s and ’40s, only to be pushed down to the bottom of the priority list because of the Great Depression and World War II.
The project again picked up steam in the 1950s, a period of both national economic growth and the Cold War’s nuclear menace. It also was a time when Colorado was trying to discover its postwar identity.
Edwin C. Johnson, for whom the south bore is named, understood the vital importance a tunnel through the Continental Divide would play in shaping that identity. As a staunch supporter of a tunnel linking eastern and western Colorado, Johnson was instrumental in fueling the conversation during the 1930s when he served as lieutenant governor and later as governor.
In 1937 he was elected to the U.S. Senate, but returned in 1955 to again serve as governor. A year later, Congress passed President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Federal Aid Highway Act, which proposed more than 42,000 miles of interconnecting interstate highways, with a federal funding contribution of 90 percent.
Although original plans called for Interstate 70 to bypass Colorado completely, Johnson was instrumental in touting the importance of a route connecting Colorado to Utah, clearing the way for serious conversations about a tunnel to take hold.
Official construction on the north bore began on March 15, 1968, with an estimated cost of about $50 million and a projected time line of about three years. On March 8, 1973, almost exactly five years and $116 million later, 4,660 cars helped celebrate opening day by driving through Eisenhower Tunnel, which then served both east- and westbound traffic.
The project was delayed due to bad rock in the Loveland fault, which not only caused cave-ins making working conditions dangerous, but also bankrupted the first contractor. The geology of the fault was so bad Tunnel District engineer Rube Hopper was quoted in 1973, “We were going by the book, but the damned mountain couldn’t read ...”
The state essentially had to take over the project, Salamon said, and guarantee the next contractor brash enough to take it on would leave making a profit.
Construction on the Johnson Memorial Tunnel, to serve eastbound traffic, began in 1975. It was completed on Dec. 23, 1979, at a cost of $144 million.
At the height of activity, more than 1,140 people worked on the tunnels 24 hours a day, six days a week over three, eight-hour shift rotations. When it was all said and done, workers excavated 2.5 million cubic yards of rock, poured 400,000 cubic yards of concrete and installed more than 70,000 tons of steel.
“We’re equal to the Hoover Dam in terms of how much concrete they had to put in here, so we’re literally holding up the mountain,” Salamon said. “This was like going to the moon back then; there was never a project this big anywhere in the country at the time.”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

GoBreck wins MarCom Gold Award for #BreckBecause campaign

#Breckenridge, Colorado.

GoBreck, the destination marketing organization for the town of Breckenridge, was recently selected for a MarCom Gold Award in the Marketing/Promo Campaign “Branding Refresh” category. The award is for the #BreckBecause campaign, which showcases the Breckenridge experience using comments and pictures from guests and locals.

The Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals judged more than 6,500 entries. Other 2013 gold winners range from small agencies to Fortune 500 companies such as Lockheed Martin and McDonald’s. Barnhart Communications in Denver developed the #BreckBecause concept.

“The social element is huge,” said GoBreck marketing director Scott Fortner in a prepared statement. “Instead of us crafting a picture of Breckenridge, we’re sharing real experiences using local and guest input. Barnhart truly understands the brand, and it’s exciting for both our organizations to be recognized on a national level.”

The #BreckBecause campaign also received the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Marketing Program in October. for more information.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.