The National Weather Service is not changing its forecast for the mountains, except in regards to how much snow Summit County could receive before the storm moves out of the area Friday.
Jim Kalina, meteorologist with the weather service in Boulder, said a winter storm advisory remains in effect until 5 a.m. Friday, Jan. 31. On Wednesday, Kalina said Summit County could receive anywhere between 12 and 27 inches of snow, depending on elevation. On Thursday, Kalina upped that prediction to 16 to 30 inches by the end of the week.
“The storm is right on track with what we were forecasting,” he said. “It looks like you’re (Summit County) going to continue to experience heavy snowfall through the duration of this storm.”
There’s a slight chance another storm could bring more snow Saturday, Kalina said, before a brief break in the weather Sunday. Another storm is on pace to roll into the mountains beginning Monday and potentially lasting into Wednesday.
“It doesn’t look anything like this storm, but there is some weather that looks like it will move into the area,” Kalina said. “There won’t nearly be as much snow or wind because it doesn’t look to have a lot of moisture. You guys need storms with a lot of moisture to get the big snowfalls.”
Despite all of the snow, employees with the Colorado Department of Transportation were keeping pace with the storm. As of 3 p.m. Thursday, there was little to report in terms of highway and road closures. U.S. Highway 6 at Loveland Pass was the only stretch of local highway closed Thursday due to the storm.
However, residents and motorists can expect some closures Friday, Jan. 31, for avalanche mitigation operations, said CDOT spokeswoman Tracy Trulove. CDOT workers will be blasting at Loveland Pass Friday morning in hopes of reopening it at some point in the afternoon.
Avalanche mitigation operations also are scheduled for early Friday morning on Interstate 70, just west of the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnel. Traffic will be stopped during avalanche blasting, but traffic delays into Summit County shouldn’t last long, Trulove said.
CDOT also plans to close Berthoud Pass near Winter Park for avalanche mitigation, Trulove said.
Officials planned to close Berthoud Thursday night, with avalanche blasting scheduled to continue until 8 a.m. Friday.
Aside from early-morning delays Friday, Trulove said I-70 should remain open in both directions, barring any accidents. Summit County has nine CDOT plows working around the clock, and Eagle County has 15 ensuring roads remain drivable to Vail.
“Our guys are really doing a great job clearing I-70,” Trulove said. “Typically, our lane and highway closures are due to accidents from people traveling to the mountains unprepared for the weather or without proper snow tires.
“As always, we encourage people to slow down and leave plenty of space between cars if they are traveling this week in the mountains.”
Although the Summit School District elected to close school Thursday, superintendent Heidi Pace said officials would wait until Friday morning to assess the weather before announcing any further closures.
Local government officials said town and county offices would remain open to maintain public services, even if forced to do so in a limited capacity.
“It doesn’t happen often, but there have been times in the past when we’ve had to close down the courthouse,” said Summit County manager Gary Martinez. “We have a lot of employees who live in the far reaches of the county, so if it’s really bad we may tell some people to stay home, but we plan to remain open even if we have a limited staff.”
Dillon town manager Joe Wray echoed those sentiments, saying Thursday that if nothing else the town would maintain all of its public safety and health services.
“We don’t want to put anyone’s safety in jeopardy, so no matter what the weather brings we’ll still maintain some level of town operations,” Wray said.
“There may be some delays in responding to calls for assistance, but we will be operating as usual.”
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, in preparation for a snowstorm of epic proportions — one that could drop as much as 2 feet by Friday morning.
Jim Kalina, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Boulder office, said the storm system that moved into the area late Wednesday afternoon is riding a strong jet stream and carrying a lot of moisture. Depending on elevation, Summit County could receive anywhere between 6 and 27 inches of heavy snow by 5 a.m. Friday, Kalina said.
The wide prediction margin is due to Summit County’s vast elevation variations, Kalina said. Residents of towns such as Dillon and Silverthorne, which are located in the valleys, can expect 6 to 12 inches of snow by the end of the week, Kalina said.
Above 9,000 feet, in places like Frisco and Breckenridge, snow accumulation could range between 12 and 22 inches by storm’s end. There’s a chance of up to 27 inches of snow on Summit County’s west-facing slopes, Kalina said.
In addition to snow, Kalina said Summit County residents should expect windy conditions and periods of blowing or drifting snow.
At lower elevations, winds could blow between 25 and 35 miles per hour. At higher elevations, winds could blow at 25 to 40 mph, with gusts as high as 70 mph above timberline.
The companies that make skis, snowboards, clothing and accessories, and the retailers they depend on are riding high as they get ready to converge at the biggest trade show of the year in Denver.
Snow sports retailers sold $2.1 billion in equipment, apparel and accessories from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31, according to Kelly Davis, director of research for SnowSports Industries of America (SIA), the trade association for manufacturers. That is about a 9 percent increase from sales of $1.96 billion the year before, Davis said.
That is expected to lift spirits and open checkbooks at the SIA Snow Show Thursday through Sunday in Denver and the demo days, where next year’s equipment is tested, at Copper Mountain Feb. 3 and 4.
Davis said a condition referred to as the “backyard effect” is affecting consumers in many parts of the country this year. People see snow in their backyards so they get fired up to visit ski resorts. The East Coast has seen decent snow this winter and the Midwest’s snowy weather has helped spur sales, Davis said. The Rocky Mountain area had a ton of early snow and resorts remain busy despite drier weather in January. The sales have surged even though West Coast and Northwest resorts are facing a severe drought, Davis said.
It’s not just a case of people buying warm clothing to deal with the frigid temperatures that have gripped the eastern half of the country for so long. “We’re seeing equipment sales up,” Davis said.
Sales of units of all types are up 7 percent for the season-to-date through Dec. 31 compared to the prior year, according to SIA. Alpine skis, boots and bindings are up 8 percent in dollars, the trade association said, while snowboards and equipment are up 2 percent.
Ski shops and other retailers are selling a lot of their inventory and even clearing out merchandise leftover from the prior winter, when sales weren’t as robust, Davis said. That affects the planning of buyers when they attend the Snow Show.
“They don’t have to play the conservative game,” Davis said.
About 19,000 attendees are expected at the show at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, according to SIA. About 1,000 brands of merchandise, from skis to ski wear, will be displayed.
The show is valuable for ski-shop operators because they get a look at the innovations in skis for the following season, said Dave Stapleton, manager of Gorsuch Limited in Aspen. “We see what our options are,” he said.
Stapleton will make the trip with one other buyer from Aspen and at least four other colleagues from Gorsuch stores in Colorado. Stapleton said his appointments with representatives of ski manufacturers have been scheduled for three weeks. He will listen to their descriptions about innovations in skis, but the veteran of at least 21 Snow Shows said it’s vital to actually test the skis at Copper Mountain.
“We do a lot of on-snow testing, which is a big part of our decision,” he said. “If it doesn’t ski well, it’s not going on our wall.”
Almost all the purchases of skis for the 2014-15 season will be based on information learned at the show, Stapleton said.
Klaus Obermeyer, founder of the Aspen-based ski-wear company Sport Obermeyer, said the Snow Show remains important for his business, but changes in the manufacturing business have complicated his side of the industry. In the old days, the Snow Show was held in March. Retailers would place their orders, then Obermeyer would reach a deal with a factory.
Now, factories need more advance time, so Obermeyer must place its order before the Snow Show. “We have to order before we sell the stuff,” Obermeyer said. He and his staff make an educated guess on their order for numerous models of pants, jackets, parkas and vests based on how well sales have gone for the current season — which affects retailers’ inventories — and some previews with some of their best customers. Nevertheless, it’s still a guessing game.
“You go to church every day and pray to be right,” Obermeyer quipped.
Obermeyer expects retailers to be “in a buying mood” at this weekend’s show. Cold temperatures throughout most of the country have sparked good sales. Sales are up 20 percent nationwide from the end of August through Dec. 31 for Obermeyer, he said. In some parts of the country sales are up even higher.
Obermeyer will have about 40 employees from its sales and support staff at the show. The company’s booth is at its usual place at the entrance to the convention center. “I don’t have to walk as far,” laughed Obermeyer, who turned 94 in December. He will be at the booth to greet his customers with his trademark smile and handshake.
Tom Day, member of Team USA-Colorado/Breckenridge, said even with so much experience in the snow sculpture world, this win was incredibly rewarding and exciting.
“I’ve done this for 19 years, and this is the best piece I’ve ever done,” he said.
Second place went to Team Germany, for “Apecheta — The Source Where the Flow Begins,” a sculpture representing a stone cairn, which serves as a trail marker and holds spiritual significance in Incan culture. Team USA-Wisconsin placed third with “Wanderer,” a Monarch butterfly carving.
The 15 total teams worked with only hand tools for 65 hours during five days of competition, using 12-foot-tall, 20-ton blocks of snow with no internal support systems. The sculptures will remain on display at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge until Sunday, Feb. 2.
Day said one last-minute challenge arose when, during the competition, he had to hunt down a snowflake-shaped cookie cutter to put the final touches on the breath of the Ullr figure.
Jenn Cram, judge coordinator and Breckenridge Arts District administrator, said in a prepared statement on behalf of the judging panel: “Breckenridge’s piece evoked a strong emotional response from the judges and we could feel the joy of sledding. We loved the piece because it was abstract yet convincing, and we enjoyed the surprises as we walked around it. The sculpture has wonderful texture with defined edges and was executed superbly.”
The judges were: Adam Lerner, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver; Kendall Peterson, public art and creative placemaking consultant in Denver; David Griggs, a Denver-based artist; Carrie Saldo, television host and reporter for Arts District for Rocky Mountain PBS and Colorado public radio; and Tony Wilson, co-owner of Wilson Lass marketing and advertising in Breckenridge.
Though team members have changed throughout the years, Breckenridge has competed in every snow sculpture competition so far. This is the second win for Team Breckenridge in the event’s history, and Keith Martin’s first win as captain. Returning team members Tim West and Margo Jerkovitz rounded out the group.
“It’s just a super fun piece,” Day said. “We all felt really good about it, it really puts you in a good mood. This team is an incredible group to carve with. They come ready to work and get the job done.”
Highs in the low 20s during the prep week allowed for compacted snow and ideal starting surfaces, and while sculptors battled some Colorado sunshine, cold nighttime temperatures on Friday, Jan. 24 helped create optimal carving conditions for the final, around-the-clock push to the end of competition at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
The Breckenridge team spent the morning working right up until the deadline, clearing away snow from the pavement at the foot of the sculpture, filling in holes and cleaning off dirt.
Winners receive medals and recognition from the international snow sculpture community. No prize money is awarded, however, teams receive travel stipends and free meals and lodging during the event.
Teams competing included: Catalonia-Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain-Wales, Italy, Lithuania, Mongolia, Mongolia-Ulaanbaatar, Russia, USA-Colorado/Black Forest, USA-Colorado/Breckenridge, USA-Vermont and USA-Wisconsin.
“We were waiting and heard third, second, and then it took a second to realize they were talking about us,” Day said. “There was extreme elation when we won, all four of us were jumping up and down and hugging each other.”
The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance recently added a new item to its lineup of guided tours. The Ski Through History Tour takes intermediate-level skiers and snowboarders on a trip across the peaks of the resort to learn about the historical significance behind the names of some of the ski runs.
“We added this tour because there is such a great tie-in between the names of the runs and settlement and founding of the town,” said Cindy Hintgen, operations manager for the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.
Starting on Peak 8
The tour meets at the base of Peak 8 and starts by heading up the Rocky Mountain SuperChair. Midway up the lift, a small, bald patch of snow off to the right is visible between the trees. Tour guide Kim Ruhland explained that the spot marks the top of the very first chairlift at Breckenridge, called the Heron 1.
“The base of the lift was at the Bergenhoff Restaurant,” Ruhland said, pointing over her shoulder and back down the mountain to the bottom of Peak 8. “The Bergie,” as the place was nicknamed, saw its last skiers during the 2012-13 season.
The ski resort itself began on Peak 8, spanning the mountain from Northstar on the north end to Southern Cross on the southern boundary, Ruhland said. Continuing up the Rocky lift, a handful of ski runs come into view, including one on the left-hand side called Little Johnny. Ruhland divulges that the run was named for a lift operator who was known to work all day and party hard at night.
A few other runs on Peak 8 were named for some of the original familiar faces at Breckenridge. Duke’s Run, which runs parallel to and eventually merges with Northstar, was named for Paul Duke, one of the first mountain managers. In the late 1960s, Duke rescued two employees from a large fire at one of the mountain lodges, Ruhland said, adding that the run that bears his name is one of her favorites to ski.
A quick jaunt to Peak 7
Traversing below the T-Bar to Peak 7, Ruhland digs deeper into the mining history of Breckenridge.
The town experienced three distinct mining booms, she said, the first of which occurred with the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush of the 1850s.
Placer mining was the popular route, extracting minerals from surface deposits with water and panning. Once all of the desired minerals had been scratched off the surface, hard-rock or lode mining, digging tunnels and using dynamite, took over in the 1890s and lasted until the 1920s, Ruhland said. The lode-mining period overlapped with the onset of the dredges, which chewed their way up riverbeds in the early 1900s.
Evidence of the impact of mining on Breckenridge’s history can be seen peppered across the eastern wall of the valley, Ruhland said, and in the names of the runs on Peak 7, ranging from Claimjumper to Wirepatch to Monte Cristo.
The theme also carries over to Peak 9, with the runs Wellington and Country Boy taking their names from nearby mining operations.
“Breckenridge was a town over 100 years before the ski area opened,” Hintgen said. “The individuals who opened Breckenridge to skiing recognized the importance of maintaining the town’s heritage by naming the runs after mines such as Cashier (Peak 9), Briar Rose (Peak 9), as well as Fort Mary B (Peak 7), the first ‘white man built’ structure in Breckenridge.”
The three-hour tour
The tour has made its way from Peak 7, across Peak 8 to Peak 9, and the stories of each run are now coming rapid-fire from Ruhland.
The names of the runs contain bits and pieces from the entirety of Breckenridge’s past, from the mining days, through the late 1950s, when the population of the town was hovering around 300 people, to present day.
The monikers range from well-known local ski legends and homages to ghost towns to movie titles, courtesy of a stint when 20th Century Fox owned the resort, Hintgen said. Almost every run on the mountain has its own story, some two or three, depending on whom you ask, Ruhland said.
Regardless of whether your favorite runs are Tele and Sadie — named for two of the first avalanche dogs at Breck — or grabbing face shots on George’s Thumb — the result of a botched marketing photo featuring George Gruber’s actual thumb — learning about the tales behind the trails enriches the skiing experience.
Throughout the week, teams of snow sculptors have been carving away at their 20-ton blocks of snow, using a variety of improvised tools to create an array of textures of intricate details. Visitors walking around the Riverwalk Center parking lot can watch the giant structures slowly take shape as horse heads, waves and abstract figures slowly emerge from the giant blocks.
“It’s amazing,” said Lynn Rainbow, visiting from Ocala, Fla.
Her husband, Bill, agreed. “I could not choose a winner here,” he said. “They’re all good.”
The sculptors seemed to be making good time, working to finish by the 10 a.m. Saturday deadline.
“It’s going well,” said Will Whitmore, of Team Great Britain, as he worked on the details of his sculpture.
From atop his ladder, Keith Martin declared that he was “working from the top down” and was excited to finish up.
The sculptures will stay around for one week after the competition for people to view and photograph.
The town of Breckenridge has spent the past few years filtering through possibilities to solve a predicted increase in water demand.
In 2011, a task force was formed to address water system issues in Breckenridge, including the existing Gary Roberts Water Treatment Plant. The Second Water Plant Feasibility Study, released Jan. 22, 2014, was conducted to better understand whether another plant is needed. The study looked at population growth projections, water quantity and quality, potential plant locations, water rights and estimated costs.
Originally constructed in 1971, with additions in 1974 and 1998, the Roberts plant is a conventional facility located below the Goose Pasture Tarn Reservoir. The expansions brought the total capacity of the plant to 5 million gallons per day (MGD). Breckenridge operated a second potable water treatment plant, located at Peak 7, until 2004 when it was taken offline, removing 0.5 MGD.
Tom Daugherty, Breckenridge Public Works director, said research was necessary to establish a plan.
“When you put it all together, the report looks at population projections, the amount of treatment capacity in the existing plant, there will be a day in the future when we need more treatment,” he said.
Funding and finance
The estimated construction cost, including property purchase, equipment, buildings, new water delivery and site work, ranges between $21.5 million and $29 million for each of the five possible sites.
The cost to increase the capacity of the distribution system, to meet the demand from new customers, is $43.5 million.
The study names a worst-case scenario in which the project would have to be funded through a municipal revenue bond at a high interest rate. In the best-case scenario, the new treatment plant could be funded through a low-interest loan through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority. Existing rates will also likely need to increase between an estimated 50 to 100 percent.
Daugherty said he did not know when exactly the new plant would become a necessity, but signs point to increased demand.
“I’m not sure I know the answer,” he said. “It’s hard to predict the future, and difficult to understand what the actual increase in demand might be.”
The Roberts plant has an effective operational capacity of about 4 MGD during periods when the raw water is murky during late spring runoff. The town has plans to initiate an evaluation and rehabilitation of the current plant this year.
The peak of water demand was 3.41 MGD in July 2008. July has historically been a peak water demand month in Breckenridge, the study says. The findings reveal that since the existing plant has a summertime operational capacity of only 4 MGD, the peak demand day accounts for more than 80 percent of the plant’s production capacity.
“If you want to look into the future, expanding with this model, we should seriously start working on this in the next few years,” Daugherty said. “With the current demand on the system, we feel confident in the demand in the current boundary right now.”
The population forecasts addressed in the study indicate there will be a 10 percent chance for the 2015 peak day demand to exceed 5 MGD.
Daugherty said good practice suggests water systems should begin planning and designing capacity extension when the system reaches 80 percent of the rated capacity, because it takes several years of planning and construction to bring a new plant online. With the current schedule outlined by the study, the plant would be operational in 2020 and provide Breckenridge with enough water for the next 20 years.
“Essentially, what we’re saying is the plant could be up and running by 2020, treating water so people could drink it,” Daugherty said. “The real question is, do we need that by then?”
Repairs and improvements soon will be required at the existing plant to maintain functionality over the long term. The recommended 3 MGD water treatment plant will allow portions of the current plant to be taken offline for improvements, Daugherty said. It also provides a second source of supply in case of a wildfire in the upper Blue River watershed.
The study reports that because there is only a single source of raw water at the current plant, the option used by most utilities to survive the aftermath of wildfire — taking water from an unaffected watershed — is not currently an option for Breckenridge.
“The runoff can be untreatable, or at least very difficult to treat,” Daugherty said. “The capacity of the plant goes down, with all of the stuff in the water we’d have to get rid of. Then we could not longer treat at the capacity demand of our water users.”
The plant could be constructed in two 1.5 MGD increments, and the water demand would be managed by controlling the number of additional customers added into the system. The study recommends that the finished water from the new treatment plant be delivered to the town distribution system, without restricting the area the new plant can service.
Maximizing water rights
If the new water plant intake is located below the Blue River Gauge near Dillon, the study found construction of the new plant could also maximize the town’s water rights.
The combination of the 3 MGD second plant and the location of the intake has significant advantages for flexibility of water storage. Water taken from below the Blue River Gauge must be augmented at 5 percent. If water production from the second plant is maximized during periods when storage is desired, the overall water requirement is reduced.
The findings indicate a conventional water treatment process would be best, due to reliability and operational flexibility. A number of the possible sites include private property not owned by the town; as a result, the detailed plant site analysis section was removed from the report because it contains confidential property information.
The Breckenridge Town Council will discuss the results of the study, including next steps for the project, at its upcoming Jan. 28 meeting.
Due to the concern over space requirements, one item up for debate will be a packaged treatment system or use of mechanical dewatering equipment. The study findings reveal the packaged plant option does not have a significant impact on the footprint required or equipment cost, but the mechanical dewatering equipment option does. However, the mechanical dewatering option saves an acre of space for triple the cost of drying beds.
“It’s not like the population projection is approaching a point where we have to make a decision right now this minute,” Daugherty said. “We’ve still got some growth to do.”
Brick by brick, the new community center in the old Colorado Mountain College building in Breckenridge is taking shape, as supporters pull out all the stops to continue raising money for the renovation.
The Summit County Library Foundation and the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance have worked during the past 16 months to raise 90 percent of a $2 million fundraising goal for the project. Summit County government has committed $2.68 million, and the town of Breckenridge is funding the remaining balance of the approximately $8.8 million total restoration cost. The renovation was originally projected to cost $7.4 million.
The capital campaign committee has worked with private individuals, community businesses, corporations and charitable foundations to meet its $2 million target. Leah Arnold, committee coordinator, said currently they have raised about $1.8 million.
“We’ve had participation from individuals, local businesses, major foundations — it’s a true reflection of the community here,” she said.
Capital campaign co-chairman Brian Edney, chairman of library foundation, said more than 300 local individuals and businesses have supported the project so far.
Approximately 8,000 square feet of space will be dedicated to the new South Branch Library. The 160-seat Speakeasy movie theater will be relocated to the building, and there will be a community room, coffee shop and nonprofit offices. Built in 1996, the current library now serves more than 80,000 users each year. The new library will feature designated children’s and young adult areas, expanded adult stacks and reading areas, state-of-the-art technology, improved work space for staff and a modern circulation desk.
Major grant donors include: Breckenridge Grand Vacations, which donated $500,000 for naming rights, Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs, Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Foundation, The Summit Foundation, First Bank, the Gates Family Foundation and the Boettcher Foundation.
“Hopefully our gift will inspire others to give to either the community center or to the cause of their choice,” Mike Dudick, vice president of Breckenridge Grand Vacations, said in a prepared statement.
Arnold said the support from Breckenridge Grand Vacations was one of the main reasons the capital campaign has been so successful.
At the Jan. 14 town council meeting, all seven council members supported a resolution to apply for a $50,000 grant from the El Pomar Foundation to help the capital campaign reach its goal. The campaign committee prepared the grant application on behalf of the town. The El Pomar Board of Trustees meets regularly throughout the year to review grant requests; the next scheduled meeting is March 28.
Arnold said she has toured the building every few weeks and is excited about the changes. She said the demolition is basically completed, and the crew is on schedule and is about to move into the rebuilding phase.
The library foundation and Heritage Alliance committee members have generated more than 2,000 volunteer hours on the project. The capital campaign started the project with a generous matching challenge grant of $50,000 from Paul and Eileen Finkels’ F Cubed Foundation.
Arnold said the committee hopes to reach $2 million by early summer, though they have a final deadline of January 2015.
“Even after we complete the building, if someone stops by and thinks, ‘Wow, this is a cool space,’ they can still donate, there is still an opportunity for that,” she said.
For a minimum of $100, donors can join the Founders’ Circle and will receive a commemorative book bag, a limited edition South Branch Library card, a Speakeasy concessions stand punch pass, two Heritage Alliance two-for-one tour passes, a VIP invitation to the ribbon-cutting ceremony and a certificate signed by the mayor and county commissioners. Edney said these members have so far raised more than $35,000 and the outdoor reading patio will be named in their honor.
Dudick said the taxpayers of Breckenridge are saving almost $5 million through the coordinated efforts of the town, Summit County government and the library foundation.
Donations of any size are still greatly appreciated, Arnold said. Naming rights are available from $250 for a seat in the new movie theater — 80 of which have been sold — to $15,000 for a study room in the library. Gifts of $1,000 or more will be acknowledged on site on a donors’ wall, and all donations no matter the size will be recorded in a donors’ book in the library. Visit www.bgvcenter.org for more information or to donate.
The snowy cold of Summit County is far removed from the warmth of Silicon Valley, but the two places will soon have at least one more thing in common: motivated entrepreneurs ready to start the next big business.
Startup Weekend, a global movement of immersive startup events, is coming Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 to Breckenridge at the Colorado Mountain College campus. The weekend, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, is a nonprofit, 54-hour immersive workshop where entrepreneurs bring ideas, form teams and end the weekend with business plans and pitches.
Garrett Fisher, lead organizer for Breckenridge Startup Weekend, said after he served as a coach at Aspen Startup Weekend last October, all he could think about was bringing one to Breckenridge. Fisher is the author of “The Human Theory of Everything,” and executive director of the Institute for Economic Innovation.
“It’s a world-class place to live with open minded people,” he said. “To bring startup activity here, it’s really to shake the tree and see who falls out.”
Teams are coached by business professionals, and pitch ideas to a panel of judges Sunday evening, who will select three winning teams. The judges will include: Colorado Mountain College president Carrie Hauser; Hank Torbert, venture capitalist; Jens Owen, executive director of Storm Peak Innovations; and Matt Bernier, CTO of Technical Integrity.
Even those who do not have entrepreneurial ideas can register for tickets for just the speaking and judging portions of the event. Featured speakers at the event will be Ross Iverson, CEO of the Vail Leadership Institute, Bryan Nolt, CEO of Breckenridge Distillery and Joel Gratz, founder of Opensnow.com.
“It’s for anyone who is entrepreneurial-minded, who has a business idea they want to launch,” Fisher said. “If you have the willingness to work like a maniac for the weekend, you’ll have a business plan at the end.”
Prizes include legal advice from patent attorney Jeff Schell, consulting services from the Northwest Colorado Small Business Development Center, free software, an extensive marketing package and consulting from Breckenridge-based startup consulting and finance firm FinanceSolutions.
Startup Weekend attendee backgrounds are roughly 50 percent technical, such as developers, coders, designers, and 50 percent business, such as marketing, finance, law. The uniting factor, Fisher said, is an interest in entrepreneurship, whether someone is experienced or brand-new to the startup scene.
“In Summit County there are lots of people who have innovative ideas, gobs of people, but we all do our own thing, we don’t really meet other people for long-term goals,” Fisher said. “It takes an unusual person to find a way to make a living up here.”
Fisher said the lineup of coaches, speakers and judges will hopefully connect teams with startup resources after the weekend is done. The goal, he said, is really to find innovative people and bring them together. According to Startup Weekend, 80 percent of teams intend to continue working together after the event, and 36 percent of teams are still active three months later.
Fisher said he is looking forward to filling up the CMC building with new ideas. He was inspired by a Startup Weekend event in Buffalo, NY, his hometown. He said people told him it was the single most important event in their startup “ecosystem.”
“This is all part of a bigger initiative designed to build a technology and innovation ecosystem here,” he said.
The judging criteria is split into four parts: business model, customer validation, technical and design. Any business ideas are eligible, but the event is technology oriented. About 95 percent of all ideas are mobile or web-focused, and given the short time frame, the organization strongly recommends even non-tech ideas focus on a tech-related deliverable, such as a website, by Sunday.
For more information or to register, visit www.Breckenridge.Startupweekend.org. The Breckenridge Startup Weekend is still accepting additional coaches, prizes and sponsorships. Tickets cover event costs and meals, and range from $49 to $99 for the weekend. Women entrepreneurs and CMC faculty can receive a 25 percent discount by entering codes BRECKWOMEN and CMCFACULTY, respectively.