Friday, March 18, 2003  content presented by Telluride Today .com About The Watch

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Ritz Developer Dramatically Reduces Proposed Building Height Revised Plans Return to DRB on March 27, By Seth Cagin

Moving quickly to address the major point of contention that has arisen in the review of a proposed Ritz Carlton Hotel in Mountain Village, the project’s architect has presented new plans that reduce the structure’s average height from 90 feet to 62 feet. As a result, the project drew far less fire at a joint meeting of the boards of the Mountain Village Metro District and the Mountain Village Metro Services on Friday, than it did at a meeting of the Mountain Village Design Review Board last week. 

The hotel would still reach a maximum height of 115 feet at one point, architect Mike Stornelle said. However, the building's proponents reduced the building’s overall bulk dramatically by primarily reducing floor-to-floor heights, a reduction achieved in part by employing a different construction technique. In addition, the revised plan relocates bulk from the proposed building’s east side to its west side, away from existing buildings. In addition, meeting space in the hotel was reduced from over 10,000 square feet to 6,600 square feet.

In response to direction from the DRB, other changes to the plans include the addition of several more units of affordable housing, for a total of eight; and more detailed drawings showing how the vehicular entrance to the project would function.

Stornelle said that he and his team looked at moving the proposed outdoor ice rink to another location, as suggested by DRB, but rejected the suggestion because, he said, the new plaza that will be built as part of the project needs an activity center so that it functions as a “mini-destination.”  Moreover, he was able to reduce the project’s bulk without giving up the ice rink.

Members of the two boards – Metro Services, which owns the land where the hotel will be built, and Metro District, which will manage the underground parking and maintain public areas – praised the architects for responding to DRB direction.

The Ritz-Carlton project has applied for zoning variances – the largest of which is a height variance – in exchange for providing a number of public benefits, including the plaza and ice rink, underground parking that would be managed by Metro District, a loading dock to serve the entire Mountain Village Core, public rest rooms, and hotel rooms.

If the property were to be developed by right, without a request for variances, Stornelle said Friday, over 300,000 square feet could be built. The application requests permission for 240,000 square feet, in a taller structure with less site coverage.

The project returns to DRB on March 27. If DRB recommends approval of the application for a planned unit development to the Mountain Village Town Council, then council will hold a special meeting on March 31 to consider the application.

“You’ve responded very well to DRB comments,” said Jim Wells, who is chair of both the Metro Services and the Metro District board.

“I’m pleased with progress that’s been made,” said Rick Houston, of the Franz Klammer Lodge. “It’s substantial. We are in favor of project.  It’s vital to the success of Mountain Village. But we do have some remaining concerns about height and scale.  It’s not so much view corridors, but sunlight is critical to our overall guest experience.”

Gregg Bagni, marketing consultant for the Telluride Ski and Golf Co., told the two boards that Ritz-Carlton “is a great brand.”

“We really only have a handful of key marketers who spend meaningful dollars in the winter,” he said. “Ritz would be another major player to do that.”

The condominiums that are part of a new Ritz-Carlton at Bachelor Gulch, near Beaver Creek, sold out in a lottery in 45 minutes, developer Robert Levine said, via speakerphone. 

“It’s our opinion that this project will enhance and stimulate sales, versus putting a burden on existing product that’s for sale,” he said. “It will bring Telluride to a new level.” 

In Face of Pending War, Fifty Light Candles for Peace, By Martinique Davis

 It began as one lone flame, a candle flickering below a burning, almost-full moon and beneath the backdrop of Telluride’s snow-capped mountains, shining bravely into the darkening night sky Sunday night in the Elks Park.

Soon, another candle flickered to life, and another, and another, until a flaming circle of fifty candles burned into the night.

Sunday's circle and candlelight vigil marked Telluride’s participation in the Worldwide Wave for Peace.

Visitors and locals of Telluride joined citizens in 3000 cities and 90 countries across the world March 16 to show their support for a peaceful approach to the current crisis sweeping the world’s political stage. Donning warm clothes and candles of all shapes and sizes, more than fifty people gathered on the grass of the Elks Park lawn to share in the worldwide peace prayer.

One woman stepped into the circle to share her thoughts about peace and its place in current world events.

“Everyone meditates on peace in their own way, but I want to share with you all the way that I do it. Try imagining what peace is to you – just like how you envision skiing a great run, imagine what peace looks like, and then make it so.”

Singers and musicians also shared their musical ruminations on peace, some bursting into song, others donning guitars and strumming along to the voices of four-dozen candle-bearers. 

The words to John Lennon’s “Imagine” echoed onto main street, clear and strong.

Visitors and locals, old and young, stood beside their neighbors even as their candles burned low, and throughout the crowd there were hushed tones of conversation and debate about the world events and pending war.

From strong anti-war opposition to petitioning hopes for peace, Telluride’s locals and visitors shared their thoughts and ideas.

One Telluride local, Dave, said that he feels current U.S. Government officials are making a dire mistake in supporting war against Iraq.

“We’re kidding ourselves to think that France is the only country that is against this war.  Germany, Russia, Belgium, Italy, half of the countries in Africa – they are all against war. There is just no justification for it. Saddam Hussein is perhaps an evil person, but just because one person is evil does not mean that we have the right to pulverize an entire country.”

Hilary, another Telluride resident, said that she felt uplifted by the joining together of so many people across the world in the plea for peace.

“It is important to participate in a worldwide statement such as this. I appreciate being able to make a statement for peace with a peaceful voice – a candlelight vigil being one of the more peaceful forms of protest there is. We may not be listened to by our government officials, but we are still listened to by the world at large, and we still have the international power of veto, so we need to keep up our strong voices.”

Megan had a simple entreaty. “It has already been too long that we have taken it sitting down. I think it’s finally time for all of us to come together and stand up for peace.”

The event was organized by Dan Chancellor of Telluride's This Republic Can. This Republic Can, which Chancellor described as a diverse group of concerned citizens seeking peace and justice, met Tuesday for their weekly meeting and decided to join in the Worldwide Wave for Peace. 

“We’re very concerned at this time about the infringement the current administration is imposing on our civil liberties,” Chancellor explained. “War is failure.”

Though many participants at Sunday night’s vigil expressed aggravation at the prospects for war, they all ultimately gathered with an eye for hope.  Word spread throughout the crowd that in Berlin, a massive group of candle-bearers 18-miles long had joined in the Worldwide Wave for Peace that day.

One woman pondered aloud the prospects of so many people joining together across the world under one guise – peace.  “A line of people 18 miles long?  Imagine that.”

Lone Town Manager Finalist Meets Again with Council and Mayor Council to Hear Steel’s Opinion at Closed-Door-Meeting Tuesday, By Elizabeth Covington

All roads lead to Telluride Mayor John Steel, as most members of Telluride Town Council, after meeting with lone finalist Jay Harrington last week, said they are comfortable with Harrington and are waiting to hear from Steel's at an executive session at council's regular meeting today whether he is comfortable hiring Harrington as the town’s permanent town manager.

On Thursday council met in executive session for approximately two hours with finalist Harrington, currently the town manager of Pagosa Springs. Harrington is the only finalist remaining in the town’s search; two weeks ago after another meeting behind closed doors council directed town personnel director Susan Orshan to contact Stephen Pauken, a municipal consultant who lives in Berthoud, Colorado and the only other finalist at that point, and tell Pauken he was no longer a candidate.

Steel met with one-on-one with Harrington on Friday afternoon.

Harrington’s visit to town and what he called a “second interview” with council might seem unusual in other circumstances; however, given the politicized nature of this town manager search and the reluctance of Steel to consider candidates other than interim Town Manager Steve Ferris, Harrington’s visit last week seemed designed to solidify council support for his candidacy and allow Steel an opportunity to meet with Harrington one-on-one. A council-manager government is designed to insulate management of town government from politics by the hiring of a professional town manager, who has the specialized training and experience to run a municipal government. Consequently, the town manager is not a political figure and managers typically look for the full support of the council for which they work.

Thus, at a public interview with council several weeks ago Harrington clearly stated that he would only accept the job if council voted unanimously to hire him, emphasizing that as a professional he would accept the job only with council's full support.



For the most part council was satisfied with Thursday’s meeting with Harrington.

“Absolutely. It was a very good meeting,” said Councilmember Stu Fraser. “I feel quite comfortable with it.”

Councilmember Dawn Ibis said she was satisfied as well, although she missed the greater part of Thursday’s meeting due to other previously scheduled commitments.

“I’m happy with Jay. I was happy with Jay,” said Councilmember Jenny Russell. “This was to make sure everyone is comfortable. We are trying to have a group effort.”

Russell, who has several clients in Pagosa Springs, said she had also satisfied herself by asking her clients’ opinions of Harrington. One of her primary clients expressed admiration for Harrington, saying that, to quote Russell, “even when I’m on the opposite ends of issues, I respect him and what he is doing.”

“They all expressed a lot of disappointment if they were to lose Jay,” Russell added.

“I definitely don’t want to start the whole process over,” said Councilmember Mark Buchsieb, adding that since a large majority of council was comfortable with Harrington, the last road obstacle was to see if Steel and Harrington felt they could have a good working relationship.

Councilmember Dave Johnson agreed. “It really comes down to whether Jay and John can form a working relationship they are satisfied with,” he said.

White, who has, alongside Steel, been a staunch supporter of hiring Ferris for the position, expressed a hesitation to hire someone, who she said, had similar qualifications to Ferris. In conclusion, however, she said she would defer to Steel.

“Actually I was just mulling it over,” she said, when reached on Friday afternoon after skiing part of the day with Harrington. “He is a really nice guy. He could easily be part of this community. He is smart and capable. I don’t think he has the full-on experience and qualifications that a few council people were looking for when we started, so I’m wondering why they are so much in support of him. I think we are getting someone much like Steve.”

What is really important, she concluded, is that “he and John have a good relationship and can work well together. John has to have confidence in him. They are meeting right now.”

Following that meeting Steel would only say that he would keep his opinion to himself until meeting with council on Tuesday in executive session.

Reached at his home over the weekend, Harrington said his interest in the job depended on “how things come together.” For instance, council has not even made an offer, nor have he and council begun to talk about the details of his contract. From his point of view the Thursday afternoon meeting with Steel had gone well, however.

“The meeting with John ended on a positive note,” Harrington said.


The search for a permanent town manager has stretched now to a year and nearly two months. The process stalled and was debilitated by an apparent attempt in August on the part of Steel to push through his choice for manager, Ferris. Though Telluride’s daily newspaper reported that Ferris had the job, by the same afternoon the announcement was retracted and the process begun anew.

In December council appointed a citizen’s advisory committee to ferret out new candidates for the position. Even delivery of that committee's recommendations was tainted by politics. At a meeting where council was scheduled to announce a short list of finalists picked from the advisory committee's longer list, Fraser interrupted Steel's announcing the list and moved to continue the meeting in executive session. That list, when announced several days later, did not include Ferris. Making his own move, Steel hastily called a press conference where he charged the process had been violated, suggesting Ferris had been on the list. Steel also called for the town citizenry to demand council to name Ferris as a finalist.

Following several back-to-back public meetings at which a few dozen town residents called for Ferris's familiarity with town-goings-on to be given greater weight, council agreed to meet behind closed doors with the interim town manager and discuss their individual concerns. Following that executive session meeting, council, in its first public vote on the matter, declined, in a 5-2 vote with Steel and White voting against, to name Ferris to the list.

Region, Additional 50 Lynx Scheduled for April Reintroduction  

The fate of Colorado's lynx reintroduction program, as well as the fate of the 51 surviving re-introduced lynx in New Mexico and Colorado, hangs in the balance as the program waits for signs that the 51 lynx have bred and given birth to kittens. (Of the 96 lynx introduced during 1999 and 2000, there are 45 known mortalities.)

The future of the lynx also depends on the successful reintroduction of an additional 180 lynx to southwestern Colorado over the next five to six years, including up to 50 in each of the next three years.

This year, 50 lynx will be released by the Colorado Division of Wildlife at the end of April.

“This is a critical step in Colorado’s effort to take the lead on recovering endangered species,” said Greg Walcher, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, in a press release.

Under a reintroduction plan, approved Nov. 15 of last year by the Colorado Wildlife Commission, wildlife managers plan to release the lynx in April at sites adjacent to the Weminuche Wilderness Area and in the San Juan National Forest. Of the 50 to be released this spring, 32 have been caught and are being held in Colorado; of those 12 are from Quebec and 20 are from British Columbia. Another 18 lynx will be caught in Manitoba for release this spring.

Although the DOW, which is spearheading and monitoring the project, has not yet found evidence of females with kittens this winter, DOW biologists will be in the field looking for dens and kittens this spring, according to program director and biologist Tanya Shenk in a recent update.

Most of the lynx range in the area from New Mexico north to Gunnison and west as far as Taylor Mesa and east to Monarch Pass. Though some lynx are north of Gunnison up to the I-70 corridor and in the Taylor Park area, no lynx are known to be north of the I-70 corridor at this time.

On-snow tracking of the lynx this year began in December 2002 and will continue through April 2003. Of the 51 lynx which are still possibly alive in Colorado, the field crew snow-tracked 20 individual lynx and found 41 kills, of which 36 were snowshoe hares.

Tracking last spring of 24 females did not show any kitten tracks or see any kittens, but the field crew did observe breeding behavior. 

The program is also moving forward with reintroduction efforts this spring thanks to a $500,000 grant from the Colorado Wildlife Heritage Foundation. The money, raised from private donations, will be used to purchase tracking radios and satellite collars, to hire temporary help and to pay trappers in Canada, and to ensure the introduction of 50 lynx a year over the next three years. There may be enough money left to introduce another 30 lynx in the fourth and fifth years.

Each released lynx wears a radio collar that emits a signal unique to the individual animal. The transmitters last two to four years, and emit signals that allow trackers to distinguish between a living and a dead animal. A mortality signal has double the beats per minute and goes off if the animal has not moved within a four-hour period.

Tracking lynx begins in the air, where their approximate locations are noted and a reading of the vegetation (such as spruce and fir or aspen) is taken. Tracking from the air can be difficult, however, because the animals cover so much ground.

"Sometimes the animals will go down behind a ridge or in a canyon, which can make it difficult to pick up its signal," said Gene Byrne, a terrestrial biologist and member of the lynx recovery program, in a press release.

Once the lynx is found from the air, DOW field trackers, who are careful not to interfere with the lynx, begin their work. They gather information about kills and each animal's day-to-day behavior. Winter is the best time to collect data because lynx tracks – five inches across, their pads work like snowshoes – are easy to identify in the snow, said Tanya Shenk, a biologist and researcher who coordinates the program.

Lynx weigh between 20-40 pounds and are carnivores that prey primarily on snowshoe hares and other small mammals. By the early 1900s, the lynx had virtually disappeared from Colorado, probably as a result of trapping and the use of poisons during that time. The last confirmed lynx was ill and trapped on the Vail ski area in 1973. Colorado is widely considered the southern extent of the animals' range. In North America, lynx are most commonly found in Canada and Alaska, with small populations still living in northern Washington and Idaho and northwestern Montana and Wyoming. Their preferred habitat is boreal forests, with a dense undercover of thickets.

"Only through increasing our knowledge can we hope to be able to accurately define the management options available to us," said Shenk. "We know lynx inhabited Colorado before and by bringing the species back, we're replacing a piece of the ecosystem that was missing."

‘You Have to Remember That You Aren't Always Seeing People at Their Best’, Koffee with Kandee

Kandee DeGraw:  How did you get into law enforcement?

Jim Kolar: It is something that I was interested in as I was growing up. If I can recall the first time I ever thought about it, I was about six-years-old. There was a FBI agent that lived down the street.  I don’t think I even knew what the FBI was, but I knocked on his door one day and asked his parents if he could come out to play. He wasn’t home. In later years, police work continued to hold its appeal and I tailored my studies for that career.  I took police science courses and my major was in Law and Society.  That consisted of a lot of political science and sociology and a lot of term papers.  (laughs)  It was an interesting course of study.  My senior thesis in one of my classes was not even on the topic of law enforcement at all, it was on Indian Treaties and the disposition of lands and broken promises and those types of things. That was my senior project and it was a huge paper.

KD: Where did you go to school?

JK: I grew up in Michigan and initially went to college there.  I got married and subsequently moved to California and finished school at the University of California in Santa Barbara.

KD: How did you get into Telluride?

JK: We had been in Boulder for seventeen years.  Donna was working at Children's Hospital in Denver, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  She had been there for about ten years.  We were like passing ships in the night.  Never saw each other.  I was working shifts, she was working some shifts and weekends.  Our older kids were just graduating from school and our youngest was not yet in school.

KD:  How many kids?

JK: Three, two older kids, 28 and 30, and a 14-year-old.  So she came to me one day and said, “How about we get away for a romantic weekend?  We haven't been away for awhile."  I said, "OK.  Give me some advance notice and we'll take some time."  And we scheduled a weekend at what was then the Doral. The hotel was offering some type of mud season special. We had been up around this area Ouray, Durango, but we had never been to Telluride specifically.  She booked us a weekend in May.  The next day she was reading the paper and saw that Telluride was looking for a chief marshal. My experience with marshals departments was that they were one- or two-man departments.  That wasn't very appealing, so I just put that out of my head.  But when we came up here we were really impressed by the town. 

KD: Why?

JK: I just liked the atmosphere and I have always wanted to live in the mountains.  I wanted to spend more time with family and it looked like a great place to raise kids. It was pretty quiet for off-season. I think there were only two restaurants open at the time.

KD:  When was that?

JK: 1993 and I think it was Howies and the T-Ride Country Club.  I think those were the only couple places open then.  We were here for a weekend and I decided to inquire about the marshal position. I ended up talking to Virginia Egger, who was the town manager. I had a conversation with her and also with the secretary of the marshal’s department. The more I talked to them the more intriguing and the more interesting it sounded.  I went home and thought about it for a long time and decided to submit a resume just to see what might happen.  Not long after that I interviewed for the position and the rest is history.

KD:  How has the town changed in your opinion?

JK: A lot of growth.  Physical growth.  I remember a number of vacant lots, even down on main street when I first got here.  And a number of families seem to be locating here. When I was talking to the school about a year ago, 50 percent  of the kids raised their hands when we asked how many kids had been here less than five years. 

KD:  Let's talk about the Marshal’s Advisory Committee and how that came about.

JK: Well, following the 2002 budget session, I arranged an outside audit of our agency, and a commander from the Vail Police Department and an assistant police chief from Breckenridge conducted the audit last spring.  One of the recommendations that came out the audit was the formation of a citizens advisory group, the purpose of which was to foster better communications between our department and the public.  Council, as you know, took some formal action, adopting a resolution and appointing people to the board.  We have had three meetings so far, since we started about six weeks ago.  The first three have been dominated by liquor enforcement issues, but there is a whole host of other issues and things that were put on the list for discussion.

KD: What is your hope for the committee?  What do you hope to get out of it?

JK:  Better communication between the public and our department.  So that they can understand some of the issues and problems that we have to deal with.  The board should serve as a venue for people to come to us, not just me, but my staff as well, so that they can speak to their issues and concerns. It is an educational process for the department and the public.

KD: Is it a lot of extra work for you to put this together?

JK: It has been, I have been putting together some memos, I was drafting the charter and that  has taken time away from other things, but I think it is necessary and helpful because that is part of the process of the educational effort that goes on. 

KD: What are some of the things that you hope the committee addresses?

JK: Code enforcement is the topic for the next session.  I tried to pin people down on that because that is such a broad range of topics.  You are talking about trash violations and bears and dogs getting into containers; all the parking issues and all of the towing that is requested of us when Public Works is needing to cut ice or clear snow.  Sidewalk snow removal, panhandling, vending, all of those are topics that fall under the heading of code enforcement.

KD: Do you have to keep all the budgetary constraints in mind on all of these topics?

JK: It is a matter of having sufficient personnel to do all of the things that council or the public demands of us.

KD:  What is your personal philosophy on enforcement?

JK: My training officers taught me that you have to treat people with respect and compassion and to remember that you aren't always seeing people at their best.  Further, people put themselves in jail by their own conduct and behavior, we just merely assist them along.  I don't think a heavy hand works well, regardless of where you work, whether it is a small mountain community like this one or a big city.  To the extent that people will allow you to do so, you need to act professionally and courteously.  But you have to realize that when you have alcohol or drugs on board people don't always behave like they normally would.

Girls Soccer Open Spring Season with Tie and Two Wins, By Elizabeth Heerwagen

On Friday afternoon, the Lady Miners opened their season with a 1-1 tie against one of their main league rivals, Pagosa Springs, and two easy wins, one against Bayfield and the other against Center. For a team with a history of winning, the girls showed their ability to dominate on the soccer field this past week.

Although the girls were “rough around the edges” according to head coach Moussa Konare, they pulled things together to play a “pretty good game,” against Pagosa Springs. 

Since the Telluride team practices indoors due to the snowy conditions of their home field, the Pagosa game offered the Telluride girls their first chance to lace up their soccer cleats and run on grass. Pagosa scored the first goal of the game early in the first half to put themselves ahead. Although Pagosa scored first, the Lady Miners dominated the game and kept possession of the ball in their half of the field for the majority of playing time. In the final minutes, Caitlin Kirst scored a “saving grace” goal for Telluride, finishing the game in a 1-1 tie.

While Telluride was happy to add a tie to their record, Konare believes his team “should have throttled Pagosa” and hopes the girls will perform more fluidly in their next meeting. The Lady Miners were not only at a disadvantage in that Friday was their first game of the season, but the team was also missing 5 of their 6 senior players who were away on an AP government trip. As soon as the squad is full strength, Konare believes they will take charge in their league as the prevailing team.

The Lady Miners were clearly the prevailing team in their two Saturday matches against Bayfield and Center. In their morning game against Bayfield, the Lady Miners shut out their opponents 4-0. The second game proved even more successful as Telluride trounced Center by an impressive score of 11-0.

Once again, Caitlin Kirst led the offense, scoring many of the goals to put her team ahead. She was aided by team mates Shelley Hale and Michael Arnold who each played “really well” on offense. Konare also recognized the defensive prowess of Britt Whitelow who “played outstanding as always.”

Not one, but three goalies took the credit for the two Saturday shut outs. Rather than rely on one goalie, the Lady Miners showed the versatility of their team as three different girls, Inga Johansson, Lindsey Chandler, and Jenna Kirst, traded off between the Telluride net.

The Lady Miner soccer team plays next on Tuesday at 4 p.m. against the Durango JV team. The game is scheduled to take place in Ridgway, as all of the Telluride team’s home games will have to be played elsewhere due to the lack of a clear playing field. While the team plays outside, they must practice indoors which has certain pros and cons according to coach Konare. While the indoor soccer practices occurs at a faster pace and allow the team to put together intricate, closely knit plays, the indoor setting also limits the girls from practicing long crosses, corner kicks, and clears.

Whether on the field or in the gym, the Telluride Lady Miner soccer team has their minds set on another successful season of soccer.

18-Year-Old Norwood Resident Killed in Weekend Crash 

Eighteen-year-old Norwood resident Jessica L. Ditton died Saturday, March 15, from injuries sustained in a late-night automobile crash near Miramonte Reservoir.

Ditton, who was driving a 1990 two-door Toyota, had stopped and exited her car, and was "standing on the driver's side," according to a Colorado State Patrol report, when a she was hit by a second vehicle driven by a 17-year-old.

Ditton, who suffered "massive head and chest injuries," was sent via Care Flight to St. Mary's Hospital, in Grand Junction, but went into cardiac arrest and died at approximately 1:35 a.m. Saturday morning.

According to witnesses, Ditton was with a group of teenagers at Miramonte Reservoir when a rumor circulated that the police were coming and the group broke up.

Ditton, concerned that the 17-year-old male driving behind her was unfit to drive, got out of her car to wave him on so that she could follow him. But when she stepped out of her car, near the intersection of 44 ZS Road and 45 M Road, the 17-year-old driver hit Ditton and her vehicle, which "traveled 109 feet and stopped off the right edge of the road," according to state patrol reports.

The 17-year-old driver is in custody at Grand Mesa Youth Services. According to Colorado State Patrol Trooper Gordon Strople: "We suspect that alcohol was involved, but we don't have the results back yet" from the lab.

The family "made it possible for organ donations," reports San Miguel County Coroner Bob Dempsey.

It is expected that charges will be filed against the 17-year-old driver.

Southwest Freestyle Tour Closes Season; Telluriders Take Top Slots, By Martinique Davis

They came, they saw, they skied it up.

Bump skiers from Telluride, Ridgway, and Durango converged on the brand-new mogul course on the Telluride Ski Area’s Competition Hill on Saturday, closing out the Southwest Freestyle Tour competition season in style.

Freestyle coaches had been hard at work for the previous three weeks buffing out the fresh mogul course, complete with well-built jumps and good lines, on the competition hill. The spanking-new course was just the place for Telluride competitors, as well as a handful of out-of-towners, to shine. 

Durango-bred Zak Watkins, racing in the oldest 13-years-old and over division, took the overall highest honor on Saturday with his 21.62 score. He also garnered the boys' Big Air award.

Nipping at his heels was Telluride racer Morgan Pihl, competing in the 10 to 11-year-old division, who took second overall and first in his age division with his 19.38 score. Close behind him with third overall and second for their age group was teammate Victor Major, who finished with an 18.96.

Telluride boasted a full sweep of the top three overall finishes for the girls, with local 12-year-old Lane Stoltzner proving her competition prowess with her 19.82 score, the second-highest score of the day. She also took top honors for the girls in the Big Air category.

Macy Pryor and Devin McCarthy, competing in the age division below Stoltzner, took second and third place overall, respectively, for the girls, as well as first and second, respectively, for their age group. Pryor’s and McCarthy’s podium-placing finishes also helped them acquire enough points to earn them the coveted title of Tour Champions for the 10 to 11-year-old girls in Southwest Mogul Tour Grand Prix point system; that system tracks competitors records throughout the season with a point system, with overall winners having the most points at the end of the season. With 38 points each, the girls tied for first place for the overall season.

Telluride's younger crew took home stellar finishes, as well. Keaton McCargo, in the 6 to 7-year-old division, took first place in her age group. Her first-place finish gave her a big boost toward acquiring enough points to earn the Tour Champion title for the youngest girls division.

In the 9-year-old girls age group Xante Demas again finished as the top dog, with other young pups Martha Jane Peters, Celine Wright, and Alison Horn nipping at her heels and taking second, third, and fourth places respectively. Demas proceeded to take the top spot in the Grand Prix, with Peters bringing second, Horn third, and Shannon Lynch fourth.

For the 9-year-old boys, Telluride again swept the competition with Luke Farney coming in first, Gregory Hope second, and Ridgway’s Ryan Parkinson finishing up third. Hope ended up as Grand Prix Tour Champion for his age group, with teammate Max Walker-Silverman coming in at second overall for the season. 

In other age divisions, Garrett Jung, Niki Jones, Christopher Schroeder, and Thad Pryor took the top four spots in the 8-year-old boys group. Andrew Farney blew his competition away in the 6 to 7-year-olds, finishing almost seven points ahead of his nearest competition with his score of 14.56. With 19 Grand Prix points total, Farney took third place overall for the season in his age group.

In the oldest girls’ age division, Durango’s Ruby Bolster took first with Telluride’s Lindsey Cannon and Nikki Gallen finishing in second and third. Cannon took third in the Grand Prix. 

Saturday’s competition closed out the first season of the Southwest Mogul Tour, with a grill-packing BBQ at the end of the race. Telluride Freestyle Team coach Will Wasson says that the tour’s inaugural season was “a smashing success.”

“Everybody had a great time, and everyone’s skiing improved significantly throughout the season,” he said, thanking tour sponsor Boot Doctors, who helped Saturday’s competitors finished out their season smiling and looking forward to next season.  






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