SnowSports Industries America’s 62nd annual snow sport expo is underway at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver with over 950 brands showing off the greatest and latest coming to the market for the 2016-17 winter season.
Local Mikey Elstad, of Vail, was at the convention on Thursday checking out the trends and gear coming out next season.
“I love it down here,” Elstad said. “It’s cool to get into the industry and get in with the highest people in the industry and see the stoke for next year.”
The brands represented at the four-day event range from big names such as Burton, Oakley and K2 to shops with roots in Colorado’s mountains.
Liberty Skis, with its warehouse in Avon, has a booth set up showing off new skis with flashy designs created by Shannon Kennedy. Dan Coppa, the warehouse manager, started setting up the booth Monday.
“I’ve been coming to SIA for five years, and every year it’s something new out of the big guys. But every year, we bring something new to the table that we’re stoked on.”
Liberty is proudly upgrading its Helix all-mountain skis with the Origin 106, which features a little rocker in the tip and tail.
“It’s your Vail all-mountain ski,” Coppa said. “It’s for the guy that lives in Colorado and needs one ski to do it all.”
The Origin 96 is another new all-mountain ski that is aggressive on groomers, Coppa said.
Being a smaller company among the giants can be difficult, but Coppa said Liberty wants to “compete” and that the annual expo is a great place to reach out to other industry members, as well as the ski and snowboard population.
“We’re a Vail company,” Coppa said. “We just want people to see the new stuff. I think a lot of people in the valley are going to be stoked on these new Origins.”
MADE BY WOMEN FOR WOMEN
SKEA Limited started in Vail but has since moved to Denver. The brand features clothing designed by women who ski, for other women who ski and was at a booth near the entrance of the convention center.
“It’s a really great way for us to connect with our buyers and just really show off our collection as a whole,” said Makayla Cappel, vice president of marketing and sales.
Next year’s collection focuses on boosting the feminine figure as well as creating different lines that blend well together, Cappel said.
The city-wear line is “upbeat and moto-inspired,” Cappel said, while the hologram line provides a “wow factor” with its shiny exterior.
The company traditionally known for ski wear, is pushing its new city-wear products in 2016-17.
“We’re really excited about this coming collection,” Cappel said. “We’re super diverse.”
Hunter Schleper was at the SnowSports Industries America Snow Show on behalf of Buzz’s Boards, searching for gear for the Vail shop next year.
“There’s definitely a bunch of new cool products from all of the companies,” Schleper said. “K2 is coming out with some pretty cool new skis that are game changing.”
The SIA Snow Show runs through Sunday, and then the on-snow demos move to Copper Mountain Monday and Tuesday.
“Everyone’s already here for the show and then they can go right up to the mountains after and try next year’s gear,” Schleper said.
Breckenridge residents looked back at a year full of difficult discussions, as well as some successes and solutions, at Thursday’s State of the Town meeting. Town council reviewed 2015’s struggles and accomplishments, spilling over into plans for the upcoming year.
As expected, housing and transit were two major points of discussion throughout the evening. Town council has pushed for additional workforce housing, moving forward plans for Pinewood Village Two, which is currently under construction, and Huron Landing, a joint effort between the town and the county that will make 26 additional units available for local workers.
“The demand is clearly outpacing the supply,” Breckenridge Mayor John Warner said, before opening the discussion.
In the upcoming year, the town is also looking at plans for housing on the “CMC-Denison Placer” property, at the Block 11 area near the north end of town. The proposal would add about 60 units, part of the total plan for Block 11 to create between 200 and 350 workforce housing units.
In addition, Warner noted the revised master plan for the 127-acre McCain Property, which will create space for affordable housing, a new water treatment plant, solar gardens and overflow parking in the future. The parking is included in the plan as the town is considering constructing workforce housing at the current location of the Satellite Lot, as part of the plan for Block 11.
Another potential solution, Warner added, would be to add housing to additional commercial spaces, as seen in other ski communities. For example, the lot containing City Market and other stores could be revised to create housing on top of the commercial space.
Of course, with residents comes the need for parking, leading to one of the most drawn-out discussions of the evening. Several citizens expressed concerns about transit — namely reducing congestion, expanding bus services further from the town center, and improved safety on Airport Road and other areas frequented by pedestrians.
DRIVING IN TOURISM
With the passage of the lift-ticket tax last fall, the town stepped toward addressing its perennial parking problem. After creating a parking taskforce, hosting public meetings and polling the citizens, the tax was determined to be the best method of solving the problem.
As it stands right now, the parking shortage only contributes to congestion throughout the town. Warner said a study showed 30 percent of the town’s traffic flow is generated by people searching for a parking spot.
“A lot of our gridlock is just people out driving, looking for another place to park,” Warner said.
He added the town intended to not have the number of gridlocked days per year exceed 25, the current estimate. As part of the effort to reduce gridlock, on busy days traffic into the town is held to allow cars to leave through the roundabouts.
“On busy ski days, we try to manage traffic in and out of the town the best we can,” assistant police chief Dennis McLaughlin said. “Quite frankly, we get so many cars into town that nobody can move through.”
Another piece of the plan is to gradually expand existing bus routes, to encourage both residents and visitors to leave the car at home. The town is currently conducting a study though Nelson Nygaard Consulting Associates to look at their options for transportation in the future. Two public transit forums will also be held the afternoon and evening of Feb. 18.
“This council believes in more transit, no doubt about it,” Mayor Pro Tem Mark Burke said.
Two Pinewood Village residents stood to raise concerns about pedestrian safety on Airport Road, concerned about the lack of lighting and crosswalks in the area following a fatal hit-and-run last fall.
“We’ve had two occasions in the morning where the police officers are at our door from two hit-and-runs to see if we knew something,” said one resident. “Lighting, it has to increase. I know there’s a fine line; we’re in a small, resort community, but we’re all gonna feel pretty bad if there’s another hit individual at that same exact spot. Everybody that lives there works in the community to support us.”
At this point, Burke said, Police Chief Shannon Haynes is working with the town on a lighting study, to decide what type of lighting should be used in darkened areas of town, and where it would best improve safety.
Town manager Rick Holman added that the town plans to install additional lighting, and push-button activated crosswalks in that segment of Airport Road. An additional sidewalk may also be added.
THE GOLDEN GOOSE
In the midst of all of the discussions about infrastructure, one woman brought up the subject of diversifying Breckenridge’s tourism-driven economy.
“You have to build it for them to come. It’s just like a Silicon Valley,” she said, noting the push for resources, such as more broadband, for tech-driven services.
Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe took the question, noting that the town would watch how businesses transform to match the town’s changing demographic.
“I think we have to do that while still minding the store,” Wolfe said. “The lion’s share of our business is everything that has to do with the resort. Certainly that is putting a lot of eggs in one basket, there’s no question about it.”
Councilwoman Erin Gigliello stepped in to add that while the town has taken an initiative in affordable housing and childcare, much of the business development within the town is done independently of government.
“I think there’s some push and pull as to how much a local government should be involved in administering the private industry, too,” Gigliello said. “I think it’s seeing what’s out there, and if we can help, but there’s also smart growth.”
Many councilmembers echoed that sentiment, adding that while more business diversity would be welcome, additions need to be balanced with the town’s available infrastructure, including housing and parking.
“At the end of the day, Breckenridge has limited resources,” Councilman Gary Gallagher said. “Quite frankly, a lot of our excess funds are moving in that direction, as we try to put a bigger dent into our housing needs.“
As teams of sculptors work to carve intricate pieces from blank canvases of snow, other artists will be lighting up the Breckenridge night sky with fiery demonstrations.
From flaming sculptures to free workshops, the second annual Fire Arts Festival will add another element of events alongside the International Snow Sculpture Competition. Presented by Breckenridge Creative Arts, the festival runs Thursday, Jan. 28 to Sunday, Jan. 31 from 5–9 p.m. each evening at the Breckenridge Arts District campus.
“What Breckenridge Creative Arts is about is providing creative experiences,” said Jenn Cram, director of public programs and engagement for Breckenridge Creative Arts. “We have all of these thousands of people here for snow sculptures, and we wanted to give them another taste of something exciting. And what is more exciting then fire? I think there is a little pyro in all of us.”
Five fire sculptures created by artists from around the West will be ignited at the top of the hour from 5–9 p.m. The artists are known on a national level, and many have had their work featured at various venues, including the Burning Man gathering in Nevada. Several of the kinetic pieces are interactive, requiring the crowd to get involved in its movement. With The Burning Pink Organ, by artists Jamie Vaida and Alvin Sessions, spectators can actually play the organ and be a part of the sculpture and a part of the performance, Cram said. Former Summit County resident and 10-year veteran of Burning Man, Keith D’Angelo, will be presenting a 7-foot high flaming sculpture called “Love.”
“They all have movement and sound and different things, so I think that people can expect to see some innovative new fire sculptures,” Cram said.
The Boulder-based circus collective Fractal Tribe will be doing multiple performances each day, as well as teaching free workshops during the festival. The group started around 2004 and is made up of individuals with a variety of skills in aerial acrobatics, fire spinning, hooping and juggling, as well as music, choreography and stage management, among other things.
“We had a different performing arts company last year, and so we are always looking to bring something new, something different,” Cram said. “They were selected because of their unique style and their experience of really creating a spectacle and engaging the community.”
For the Fire Arts Festival, Fractal Tribe will bring four or five members to perform and put on the workshops. Sven Jorgensen, performer and director with Fractal Tribe, said they will be doing a wide range of “fire performance skills to thrill and amaze and amuse and inspire the audience.”
“Everything from poi to swinging torches to fire jump rope,” he said. “Part of why Breck was interested in bringing our troupe up this year is because we have a strong acrobatic component using partner acrobatics in conjunction with fire manipulation.”
He’s a self-taught performer and juggler for the last 27 years. He said the highlight for him when it comes to performance is getting to interact with the audience.
“In live performance, there is a just purely magical energy that gets created between the performers and the audience,” he said. “It’s something you don’t get by watching a YouTube video, or even watching something of the caliber of Cirque du Soleil. If you watch that in video, it’s not the same as when you’re there, live with an audience. … So for me that’s always the highlight — to have the little kids come up after the show and want to shake your hand or get a high-five. … Just seeing that people are truly inspired and moved by what we are able to do onstage and just feeling their good will and being able to basically shine our love and affection towards them from the stage.”
All fire performances by Fractal Tribe are held on the half hour, starting at 6:30 p.m. and ending at 8:30 p.m.
There will be a variety of free workshops and fiery artistic demonstrations held throughout the four days. Local and regional artists will be demonstrating everything from lampworking, candle making, silversmithing and making essential oils and tea.
“We tried to light up all of our studios with the fire arts,” Cram said. “There will be a lot of different things for people to smell and see to kindle their inner fires.”
DJ Stretch from Denver will be spinning throughout the event, and all activities for the Fire Arts Festival take place in the studios and outdoor spaces within the Breckenridge Arts District campus, located on the corner of South Ridge Street and East Washington Avenue, just off of Main Street in downtown Breckenridge.
“When you put together an event like this, it’s wonderful to see how all the various artists interact together,” Cram said. “It’s fun for them to meet other sculptors that are working in that medium, to meet performers, and so it’s exciting for me to bring them all together and allow them to interact and share secrets and learn from one another. We are growing our artistic community for fire arts.”
One got caught in soccer netting. Another locked antlers with a backyard swing. The most fanciful report told of a moose wandering near Peak 7, festooned in Christmas lights.
A growing moose population throughout Summit County has recently led to increased encounters of the wild kind. That’s why Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is stepping up efforts to educate the public on laws that prevent eager spectators from feeding moose or any other wild animals.
The agency, which is tasked with protecting the state’s diverse group of wild animals, made public a video on Tuesday, Jan. 26, of a bull moose tangled in a backyard swing in Breckenridge from this past November to help better portray the dangers of attracting wild animals to residential areas.
Meanwhile, local wildlife enforcement has tended to a growing number of calls over similar situations since, including a moose caught in a soccer net in Frisco last week, and unconfirmed reports of another moose with Christmas lights wrapped around its antlers.
It may be a nice surprise to spy a moose strutting down your street, explained Tom Davies, district wildlife manager of Silverthorne, but attempting to lure one into a residential area is unsafe for people and animals alike.
“Moose are by far the most dangerous animal in North America,” he said. “Between their size, demeanor and having no natural predators in the area, they don’t fear anything in Colorado. Moose are unpredictable and if people get close, they’re just as likely to charge as run away.”
In most cases, people don’t realize that feeding wildlife is against the law. A violation carries with it a citation and fine upwards of $140, in addition to demerits against hunting or fishing licenses. A court summons is standard for repeat offenders.
Whether you’re trying to bait moose for hunting purposes or simply trying to achieve a more picturesque view, it makes no difference. The law is clear — the act is illegal.
“There is a misconception, but there is no distinction between feeding while over hunting or feeding them in your backyard,” explained Mike Porras, CPW’s northwest region public information officer. “It’s the same law. It may seem harmless, but the animals can become food-conditioned and will aggressively seek food.”
When wildlife becomes familiar with locating food in a particular place, they will, like an alley cat, consistently return to the area. This can lead to human interactions becoming routine to an animal, though they remain wild and prone to unpredictable behavior. This may result in injuries to people, pets or the animal itself.
Bears are prevalent during the summer, along with foxes, while moose are more widespread during winter, as they are not a migratory species. Foxes, coyotes, elk and other big game also remain in the vicinity during ski season, and it’s during these cold-weather months, said Davies, that tourists and locals alike may have the false impression that they are helping an animal in a more barren period of the year.
“A lot of people are worried animals will starve,” said Davies. “They’re wild animals, and they’ll survive just fine without people feeding them, and actually survive longer because they won’t have to deal with people. When wildlife finds food this way, they’re just taking the easiest route to them.”
Aside from the potential for being killed by CPW because of interactions with humans, wildlife experience several other negative consequences from scrap offerings. Those include increased rates of harmful encounters with dogs, being hit by cars, disease, as well as digestive issues from eating foods to which their systems are not accustomed. Chips, candy and hot dogs, were examples CPW officials gave.
Feeding birds is permitted. But if other animals begin to appear — deer, elk and bears have a taste for birdseed, for example — people must immediately remove the feeder. There is no latitude, however, with putting out salt blocks or last night’s dinner.
Human food can even change the behavior of a wild animal, impacting migration patterns, and in the case of deer, create resident populations that remain year-round. That might on its face seem desirable, but it also means rising numbers of predators like mountain lions will be attracted to the area as well.
“If deer are present in a residential neighborhood, you can almost guarantee lions are not too far behind,” warned Porras. “That poses a threat to human health and can contribute to the death of the lion if it gets comfortable in a populated area.
“Enjoy the wildlife,” he added, “but do it responsibly and from a distance. Don’t approach, don’t harass, don’t feed.”
On Tuesday morning, a cannon start in Breckenridge signaled the beginning of the 26th annual Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships. Artists from around the world scrambled to begin work on their canvases — 20-ton, 12-foot-tall blocks of snow. Without power tools or internal support structures to work with, the four-person teams have to get creative with hand tools such as vegetable peelers, chicken wire, small saws and other items to craft the likeness of their previously submitted designs. As the week progresses, the blocks of snow will slowly take shape, giving visitors the chance to watch the work unfold. Sculpting will continue throughout the rest of this week in the area around the Riverwalk Center, with artists wrapping up their pieces on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 10 a.m. The awards ceremony will be Saturday at 2 p.m.
26 YEARS IN BRECKENRIDGE
Before growing into the well-attended event that it is today, the snow sculpture competition began as a sidebar to Ullr Fest, Breckenridge’s annual celebration of snow, with businesses, individuals and kids creating the snow art. In 1979, a group of locals formed the town’s competitive snow sculpting team after a coin toss decided for them whether to create a float for the Ullr Fest parade or a snow sculpture. Over the years, Team Breck progressed and they competed in the Colorado State Snow Sculpture Championships held in Breckenridge, eventually setting their sights on international competition. They worked hard to establish Breckenridge as a name associated with world-class sculpting as they continued to take awards locally and even nationally.
In 1991, the town and Breckenridge Ski Resort, along with Team Breck’s Rob Neyland, Ron Shelton, Randy Amys, and Bill Hazel, hosted the inaugural International Snow Sculpture Championships. In the last 26 years, the town has received competitors from countries such as Morocco, Switzerland, Russia, China, Argentina and Canada.
“Every year has continued to get even higher levels of artists then we’ve had in the past, just because the reputation of the event,” said Sandy Metzger, events director with Breckenridge Tourism Office. “Generally we get over 40 applications and we pick the 16 top teams.”
This year, the competitors include teams from Breckenridge; Canada; Estonia; Finland; France; Agrawal, Germany; Theil, Germany; Great Britain; Loveland, Colorado; Mexico; two teams from Bayanmunkh, Mongolia; Switzerland; Ukraine; Vermont; and Wisconsin.
“I think we have a really high level field of competitors,” Metzger said. “Most of them have been here in the past and are previous medal winners from our events over the years.”
While Breckenridge has gained fame around the world for its snow sculpting competition, the teams do not compete for cash prizes. Instead, first-, second-, and third-place winners each receive a medallion, a trophy and a ribbon, plus bragging rights.
“This is for the glory, and putting it on your resume that you’ve won in Breckenridge,” Metzger said. “There are snow competitions around the world, and Breckenridge is definitely a very notable one.”
The artists are given a stipend that helps cover some of their travel expenses, and then, once they get to Breckenridge, they are provided with lodging and meals.
In order to choose a winner, the panel of judges look at the artistry of the piece, as well as the risk the team took in order to create the sculpture. A big part of the judging is also how close the sculpture looks to the team’s original submitted sketch, Metzger said.
Awards are also presented to the winners of the People’s Choice, Kids’ Choice and Artists’ Choice.
“(Artists’ Choice) is a very prestigious award because it’s coming from your colleagues — that your piece is the best,” Metzger said.
Team Breckenridge, led by captain Keith Martin, consists of members Tim West, Margo Jerkovitz and Tom Day. The sculpture the team is creating this year is titled “Widow Maker,” depicting a deep rock miner at the turn of the century.
“The miner is underground running a widow maker drill,” Martin said. “The widow maker is a pneumatic-powered drill that allowed miners to increase production speeds by tenfold over the old hand method. This allowed them to go deeper into the mountains to follow the veins of precious metal. Unfortunately, the toll it took on their health was drastic. Many miners lost their lives due to the amount of dust that the drill created. The dust caused silicosis along with other lung diseases. I chose the design due to its history here in Breckenridge.”
This will be Martin’s sixth year as team caption, and his seventh with Team Breck. Martin began sculpting in competitions in 2006, after he was able to join the German team for the Breckenridge contest. He’s competed as far away as Sapporo, Japan, and Whitehorse, Canada, and just finished a piece for Jeep in Aspen at the X Games.
“Culinary school 20 years ago introduced me to ice carving, but it was moving to Breckenridge in 2001 that introduced me to snow carving,” he said. “I moved in to Park Place condos across the street from the Riverwalk Center and watched the whole event take place. I knew right then that I wanted to sculpt snow.”
Jerkovitz and West have been on Team Breck for the last five years, and this will be Day’s 21st year with the team. Martin said his experience running a kitchen as a chef and working on construction projects has helped him organize the team.
“I have learned to identify the strength of the people you are working with and focus them on work that pertains to what they’re good at,” he said. “My team and I have been working together for many years and we have learned to trust one another. I have been able to identify what my teammates are good at and I try to keep them focused on those items.”
ACTIVITIES THROUGHOUT THE COMPETITION
Voting for People’s Choice and Kids’ Choice will end on Sunday, Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. A $1 donation receives one vote and goes toward supporting the event. Cast a vote in the Thaw Lounge+Music, in voting jars attached to the fence in front of the sculptures, or with a volunteer on site.
The Thaw Lounge+Music will be event headquarters for the week. There will be postcards and pins, event information, and also a history display exploring the past 25 years of the contest. There will also be information about the process of snow sculpting and information about each team.
Also at the Thaw Lounge will be a collection of 20 printed canvasses, all sourced with permission via Instagram. In partnership with Breckenridge Creative Arts, the Breckenridge Tourism Office selected the winter series from photos tagged #BreckBecause — the “Instagram Pop-up Gallery: Chill” exhibit is the first in a planned series. The Thaw Lounge will be open daily through Feb. 7.
A kids play area will feature an interactive dinosaur snow sculpture — with its tail carved into a slide — done by Rick Seely. Longtime Breckenridge local and one of the original founders of the event Rob Neyland will be doing the Budwesier sculpture on display at the event.
After completion, the sculptures will be lit up, giving them a different kind of magic in the evenings. The sculptures will remain up — weather permitting — until Sunday, Feb. 7. Metzger said the town estimates around 40,000 people come to see the sculptures during the two and a half week period.
The monarch butterfly — the immediately recognizable orange, black and white-patterned insect fluttering throughout North America and parts of South America — makes its annual winter migration to Mexico but continues to experience record lows in population.
Since the 2013-14 colony numbers reached an all-time low — approximately 1/30th the population size from the 1996-97 season, the insect’s historically-measured high since recording began in winter 1993-94 — efforts to increase totals have been at work. Now the Keystone Policy Center, a not-for-profit organization headquartered in Summit County, is officially getting involved.
Founded in 1975 to independently facilitate discourse of national policy conflicts, the Keystone Policy Center brings together diverse groups of stakeholders, ranging from the public, private and civic sectors to try to come up with solutions. Initial conversations surrounding the monarch among various entities and organizations started in 2015, but the endeavor became official as of last with the convening of the Monarch Collaborative.
“This new effort acknowledges the important role agriculture — farming, ranching, landowners — play in the health and recovery of the species,” said Mike Saccone, the Keystone Policy Center’s director of communications. “Farmers are seen as traditional stewards of the land and have a unique role to play given their experience in implementing voluntary conservation practices and doing it along commercial agriculture.”
At present, the collaborative has a subgroup working toward the process of identifying and vetting potential monarch sustaining practices before any would be adopted and carried out by the larger acting body. Members of the collaborative vary widely in their capacity, from multinational agricultural corporations like the Monsanto Company and Syngenta to conservation nonprofits such as the National Wildlife Federation and the Sand County Foundation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service each act in advisor role, among others.
The Keystone Policy Center’s role in bringing this assorted group together is all about dialogue and is not a singular undertaking. The local think tank, with offices in Denver and Washington, D.C., has for years done work in various sectors such as energy, health, the environment and education as well as with specific projects such as Field To Market, an initiative promoting sustainable agriculture and the Honeybee Health Coalition.
“Our collaborative approach will help ensure that this effort will have lasting impact on this decades-long challenge,” Christine Scanlan, president and CEO of the Keystone Policy Center, said in a news release. “We look forward to facilitating this important endeavor in 2016 and beyond, as we work to help monarch populations rebound.”
And the migratory, pollinating insect’s recovery remains a major concern. After efforts to curb illegal deforestation in Mexico and combat other causes of decline in the iconic species — meaning it is recognized as important to cultural identity for their existence and aesthetic value — numbers increased by almost 70 percent for 2014-15, though that’s still the second-smallest population ever. Totals for 2015-16 should be out in the next two months to show which way the trend is moving.
Climatic issues such as severe weather the last few years have taken their toll and are another cause for reduced monarch populations. Many point to industrialized agriculture in the Upper Midwest of the United States (Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa and Illinois), where the monarch breeds in the summer months, as a primary source of shrinking counts.
The expansion of herbicide-based corn and soybean crops genetically resistant to Roundup — a Monsanto product — has destroyed milkweed, a plant with milky sap where the monarch lays its eggs as it returns to Texas and Oklahoma during its northern spring migration. Creative measures will need to be examined to turn the tide in any significant way.
“There are a number of innovative ideas being considered,” said Steven Bradbury, a professor of environmental toxicology at Iowa State University, also a member of the Monarch Collaborative. “We need to look at combining efforts to maximize the diversity in rural landscapes as best we can and find opportunities for multiple ecological goods and services out of a single patch of land.”
Specifically, he discussed stacking operations on farms and ranches, which may achieve a manifold of conservation goals, maintaining water quality for crops and livestock, for instance, while also finding techniques to manage nutrients in groundcover also ideal for monarch breeding habitats. Milkweed grows well between corn and soybean rows but is being wiped out, so taking advantage of non-cropland to increase the amount of this important plant, as well as other native flowering plants — also good for native and honeybees — to create new rural monarch habitat in underutilized areas is seen as another possible solution.
These and many other ideas will be discussed and scrutinized by the sundry of stakeholders within the Monarch Collaborative in the coming months and years. Where that ultimately leads these decision-makers and what an eventual implementation strategy looks like for helping this prized member of the ecosystem is at this time unknown, but the Keystone Policy Center is for now satisfied with progressing the discussion.
“The monarch is an iconic species that is beloved by many and has an amazing migration that’s a remarkable, natural phenomenon, especially among insects,” said Saccone. “That’s why we’ve convened this collaborative with diverse stakeholders to develop collaborative strategies to combat this challenge.”
Breckenridge’s new town manager may not have the most conventional background, but his years with the town have prepared him for the tasks to come. Originally pursuing a career in law enforcement, Rick Holman was hired as the town’s chief of police in 2001 by former town manager Tim Gagen.
“One thing I’ve always liked about Breckenridge — we don’t operate in silos,” Holman said. “That provides a diverse opportunity to understand the different components of local government.”
In 2012, Holman was appointed to assistant town manager. With former town manager Tim Gagen stepping down in January, after 16 years with the town, Homan stepped up to the task.
“He has mentored me. I have watched, observed and taken notes,” Holman said of working under Gagen. “We’re positioned to do great things. It’s an energetic, exciting time to be a part of this.”
Looking to the town’s future, Holman’s focus will be on workforce housing projects, improved transportation infrastructure, and a continuation of the town’s childcare resources. He also looked forward to the completion of Breckenridge’s arts district.
While Breckenridge has plans for several affordable housing projects in the near future, one of the most heavily discussed is the “Block 11” plan, with discussions going back to 2007.
The site of the current satellite lot, a source of free parking on busy weekends, a 25.4-acre parcel of land is planned to house between 95 and 100 rental units.
“One of these may start this summer,” Holman said. “They have to prepare that whole piece of land for future development.”
In a meeting with Breckenridge Ski Resort at the beginning of the month, the town discussed moving the 500 parking spaces it has committed to provide to another location, sharing Colorado Mountain College’s parking as a temporary solution. Across from Coyne Valley, the McCain property includes space earmarked for parking.
“We always need a reservoir for extra parking in the town,” Holman said.
While the town and the resort have some different interests in the type of housing that will be available, both recognize the need for affordable housing. For instance, most residents of the town would prefer long-term rentals, while resort employees would need more seasonal rentals for when work peaks in the winter, but tapers off during shoulder season.
“We’re not always on the same page, but most of the time we are,” Holman said of the resort. “By reaching out and wanting to have a regular meeting with council, they’re taking the first step. … I look forward to building that relationship further.”
In addition to the Block 11 discussions, Breckenridge is looking to expand on a few current projects. Work is currently underway for Pinewood Village II, an expansion of the current affordable housing apartment complex. The town is also in discussions with the county to create a workforce housing development at the former location of the recycle center, as well as an expansion to the Wellington Neighborhood.
“Council has committed that it is time for action, not studying, and we have studied it well,” Holman said. “It takes time — we need it tomorrow and you can’t do it that fast.”
With regards to childcare, the town recently committed additional funds to continue its scholarship program for at least three years. The program allocates need-based scholarships to families with children ages five and under who will attend one of Breckenridge’s licensed preschools.
“We know there needs to be long-term, sustainable funding,” Holman said. “We want people who work here to live here, and enjoy everything about it.”
With his years as assistant town manager, Holman said he was prepared to lead the town’s efforts.
“There’s been a learning curve,” he laughed. But ultimately, he gives credit to the town staff.
“They work tirelessly to accomplish all this stuff,” Holman said. “It’s important.”
As our group of four stood on the base of Peak 8 in Breckenridge after stepping into gear, we marveled at the size of the construction going up next to the gondola, the future home to The Grand Colorado on Peak 8. Building is still underway for Breckenridge Grand Vacation’s newest timeshare resort, but the 75-unit property will stand on the exact spot of Breckenridge Ski Resort’s original Berganhof Lodge, built in 1961.
Our guide, Sharon, hands me an old postcard showing the Berganhof Lodge back in the day. Breckenridge has a long history from the time miners began showing up in search of gold, to the early days of the ski resort, to present, and the names of the runs shed light on some of that history. We were about to get a glimpse into the town’s colorful past during the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance’s (BHA) Ski Through History Tour.
There were two other locals with our guide and myself — Andy was a ski instructor interested in obtaining more knowledge about the resort and town for when he’s teaching, and Karen, his friend who also lives in Summit. I was the lone snowboarder, but it didn’t make too much of a difference. Sharon took time to weave more into the lesson after we got off each lift, giving me time to strap in. And Andy became my new best friend that day on a couple of flat traverses, lending a helping pole so I wouldn’t have to unstrap.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
The first record of a gold discovery was made on Aug. 10, 1859, and the mining days are where the town really got its start. With dreams to get rich, people flocked to Breckenridge to either mine for gold, or mine the miners by providing them with services they might need — including saloons and women. Life was hard for these “soiled doves,” and many of them took to drugs to get through the days.
Sharon told us how common it was for miners to steal a staked claim from its owner. Miners had to watch their backs from these “claimjumpers,” which is now the name of a run on Peak 8.
As we rode the chair to our next destination, Sharon told us the two theories about how Breckenridge got its name. As civilization in our mountain town is only around 150 years old, a baby compared to towns in the East, she questions why there isn’t a more definite answer on the books. But, she tells us, a prospector by the name of Thomas B. Breckenridge had been on an exploration expedition in 1845 and had lost his mule on a pass near the current Boreas Pass. The leader of the exploration became irritated when Thomas took a few days to find the mule, and declared the pass forever named Breckenridge Pass. It is believed that one of the parties traveling into the area in August of 1859 named their settlement after the pass and Thomas.
The second theory involves John Cabell Breckinridge, the vice president under James Buchanan. A man named George Spencer, hoping to sell lots to the miners in an officially surveyed town, decided he needed a post office to accomplish this. Turning to Vice President Breckinridge, he said in return for the post office he would name the town Breckinridge (even though it was probably already named Breckenridge), and the vice president made it happen. As history has it, citizens of the town were so enraged with the vice president after he became a high-ranking official with the Confederacy in the Civil War that they changed the spelling to its current, after Thomas.
On the Colorado SuperChair, Sharon asked us to name all the owners of the resort. I had known about Ralston Purina in the ’90s, but was pretty surprised at some of the others. It begins with original founder Bill Rounds, then Harry Baum, and in 1970, Breckenridge was purchased by the Aspen Skiing Company, when it began to expand into Peak 9. By 1978, Aspen Skiing Company was sold to Twentieth Century Fox, which was rolling in the money from “Star Wars.” During this ownership is where the runs “High Anxiety” and “Goodbye Girl” were named after a popular movies of the time. It was sold to a Japanese company in the ’80s, and in 1985, Breckenridge expanded to Peak 10, with runs named by mountain manager Jim Gill after World War II planes.
SO MUCH MORE HISTORY
It was starting to get windy, and we were all in need of a break, so Sharon stopped us at TenMile Station, and showed us a few photos. One of my favorite stories was about the name of a run on Peak 8 — “George’s Thumb.” In the early to mid 1980s, George Gruber was a ski patroller who was given the duty of following around a crew of photographers and models to guide them around the area and keep them safe. During the shoot, in his now namesake area, somehow Gruber’s thumb, and just his thumb, made it into one of the photos. Although he ruined that picture for any ads, the ski area ended up using the photo on the cover of the next year’s trail map. Apparently the powers that be had a sense of humor back in the day.
We finished off the tour by taking the Peak 8 SuperConnect back to where we had started from for a final run down. Sharon was a wealth of knowledge when it came to the history of Breckenridge and the resort, and dumped so much information on us during the tour, I can’t even imagine how she memorized it all. There were many more colorful characters we learned about on our tour — Little Johnny, CJ Mueller, Deb Mason, Trygve Berge — and it’s also a nice tour of the mountain for out-of-town guests. With its mining history and early days of skiing, Breckenridge’s colorful past is showcased on this tour.
Real estate values continued to climb through the end of 2015, with increases across the board for all types of properties.
With a busy holiday season, December brought a strong end to the year, with increased sales across the county. According to 17 months of data gathered by the Summit County Assessor’s Office, the value of townhome sales increased 24 percent, and single-family homes were up 17 percent.
“Maybe because property values have finally increased, people are selling who have been waiting to sell,” Summit County assessor Beverly Breakstone said. “We’re seeing healthy increases in sales prices.”
While last year brought in just over $1.06 billion in sales, 2015 saw more than $1.37 billion in real estate transactions. The month of December brought in a decent chunk of those sales, netting $93.3 million for the month.
Of all the properties, transactions in the Breckenridge area brought in the most dollars for December. The top sale was a half-acre plot of land in the Timber Trail subdivision, valued at $2.48 million.
“This Timber Trail area is a premium, premium area because you can walk to Trygve’s Run and Four O’ Clock Run,” Breakstone said. “Considering that neighborhood, they will probably build something on it.”
Another top-seller was a home located in the Highlands at Breckenridge Gold Run, which sold for $2.45 million. The 49,000-square-foot house has six-bedroom and six-bathrooms, located on a plot of forested land at the edge of the golf course.
“For some people, it adds a lot — they love that,” Breakstone said of the golf course access. “Its another nice home in Highlands. It’s extremely nice.”
LOOKING TO THE WINTER
November also saw a few notable sales, one tipping the charts at just below $4 million. The 46.5 acre-parcel of land, located east of Breckenridge near Ford Gulch, features a 64,000-square-foot log home surrounded by open space, with views of the valley below.
According to the assessment, the home also features a swimming pool, guest apartment, home theater and a three-car garage. It was constructed in 2001.
Breakstone said the $3.9 million sale was unusually high for November.
With 12 sales exceeding $1 million in December, sales in Summit were strong this winter.
“Most of the time, we see heavy volume starting in the spring and going through the fall. It’s possible someone’s here on the holiday, sees a home and they have to do it,” Breakstone said. “On these busy Decembers, people come here and they just fall in love.”