The 34th annual Summit County 50+ Winter Games took over Keystone Resort and the Frisco Nordic Center Monday and Tuesday, giving seasoned athletes a chance to compete head to head in up to 12 winter sporting events while raising money to support Summit County Senior Citizens, the Summit County Community and Senior Center and a host of other charities.
“They went exceptionally well,” games chairman Ted Coleman said. “We had a record turnout.”
Eighty-five athletes ages 50 to 85 took part in the two days of events that included everything from ice-skating competitions and alpine and Nordic skiing races to more lighthearted competitions like hockey shooting and an obstacle course.
The level of competition varied.
“A lot of them just come out for fun,” games associate chairwoman Barb Becker said. “But there are some that are very serious about it.”
For Brad Farrar, 62, it was more about enjoying the activities than real competition. The Fort Worth, Texas, native spends his winters in Summit County and has been competing in the games for the last five years. This year he took part in three alpine events — a slalom, a rally race and an obstacle course.
“It’s just fun to get with a bunch of people with similar interests,” he said. “A lot of us up here have a little bit of a competitive spirit. It seemed like a neat idea to pretend we’re doing something serious.”
But for other competitors like Ray Kunselman, who participated in the Nordic completion, the event was a chance to work on qualifying times for other competitions, like the senior games.
Weather made this year’s games a bit of a challenge, but organizers said it went off without a hitch.
“It was incredible that so many people showed up with the weather that way,” Becker said. “It was a challenge for them to get there.”
Snow continued to be a factor through the first day of competition at Keystone.
“It was snowing so hard you could barely see, but it was a fun time,” Becker said. She took part in the rally race, in which competitors had to try to match a pre-set course time. The weather cleared Tuesday for the Nordic events at the Frisco Nordic Center.
Established in 1981, the games have attracted athletes from across the country and parts of Canada.
“The events are growing and becoming better known. It’s not only Summit County participation,” Coleman said.
This year’s games are expected to have raised more than $20,000 — $10,000 after operating costs. Proceeds will go to a number of Summit County area senior programs as well as the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and the Summit County Rescue Group. Donations are still coming in, Coleman said, and will include proceeds from the sale of photos by games photographer and local resident Stan Stansfield. Those photos along with complete event results will soon be available at www.summitwintergames.com.