Hey, Spike! highlights 50+ Winter Games volunteers | SummitDaily.com

Hey, Spike! highlights 50+ Winter Games volunteers

Bryan Hartwig
Special to the Daily |

When the Summit County 50+ Winter Games started 36 years ago some of today’s volunteers were just babes in the — cold — woods.

Today, take these examples:

Bryan Hartwig is 73.

Becky Hopkins is 72.

Erik Vermulen is 71.

Bryan, Becky and Erik are right now preparing to spring into their volunteer mode at the 36th annual Summit County 50+ Winter Games slated for Feb. 21-23.

Held at Keystone Resort and Frisco Nordic Center, the multi-location events include ice skating, alpine skiing, snowboarding, Nordic skiing, hockey skills events and snowshoeing. There will also be some lighthearted competition in the form of a snowball throw, and a chance to meet the other competitors at an opening night silent auction and carbo-load pasta dinner.

“A lot of people hear Summit Senior Citizens and they imagine people parking their walkers and playing bingo. This group is nothing like that. The Summit Senior Center feels a lot more like a recreation center than anything else. And the 50+ Winter Games are a chance to showcase the level of fitness and skill which people who are 50+ in Summit County maintain,” says Sandy Bainbridge, co-president of Summit County Senior Citizens (SCSC). She’s 67.

“Honestly, these folks often have more time so they are likely to be in the best shape of their lives. But don’t feel like you need to be an expert to participate,” says Sandy. “The games are as much about fun and community, as they are about good-humored competition.”

Bryan Hartwig is on the organizing committee for the games and the lead organizer for the Nordic portion of the games slated for Feb 23.

“I have competed for the last four to five years in the slalom and obstacle course in Alpine; and 5K classic and long snowshoe in the Nordic events,” he says. “I played minor league baseball — and football and basketball — in the Air Force, where I retired as a major.”

He adds that in the past he was a runner at distances of 10K and half-marathons. He and wife Jo Ann now concentrate on golf, skiing, cycling and hiking.

Bryan, an aeronautical and aerospace engineer, has lived here for nearly 10 years, since moving up from Colorado Springs. After retiring from the military, Bryan headed a regional office of an engineering company for 25 years.

“The satisfaction is in seeing and helping the Summit Seniors keep active and healthy, and this fits in well with volunteering with the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center and working with people with disabilities,” he explains.

Becky Hopkins was a Nordic events course marshal, has been the Alpine events obstacle course timekeeper for 10 years and has been in charge of ice skating events for the past eight years.

“I have not been a participant because I am not competitive, I prefer to volunteer,” says Becky. “I get great satisfaction for volunteering.”

She was honored as the Summit County Senior of the Year in 2015.

“I moved to Summit County 11 years ago from the East Coast because I love the mountains and wanted to be active in my retirement after having spent most of my life at a desk, teaching and doing marketing research in the pharmaceutical industry,” she said. “I have no history as an athlete. I am definitely not an ice skater, but they needed somebody to take over after John Roberts, the preceding ice skating events coordinator, died.”

Erik Vermulen is a SCSC committee member, coordinating the Alpine events at Keystone.

He also participates in the giant slalom, rally, obstacle and the Nordic relay.

A former U.S. Air Force colonel, who retired in 1995 after 26 years of service, Erik’s been a SCSC volunteer for two years and has a decade of full- and part-time residency up here.

Does Erik consider himself an athlete?

“Not really, just somewhat fit,” says the retired industrial hygiene engineer, with an additional 15 years of career fieldwork in hygiene, environmental health, mine safety and health.

He finds “satisfaction in giving back to community of peers, involvement with local participants, and staying young.”

Proceeds from the Summit County 50+ Winter Games benefit SCSC. In 2015 alone, SCSC raised over $60,000 from events like the 50+ Winter Games, and in turn, gave over $60,000 in grants — primarily to health and human services nonprofits in Summit County which serve senior citizens.

Funds are also used to assist seniors in need. SCSC is based at the Summit County Community and Senior Center and provides a wide range of activities, programs and services for seniors in the community.

It is $35 per person to register for the 50+ Winter Games and it is $15 per person for the opening night dinner and silent auction. There are $52 reduced Keystone day ski passes available for participants who do not have a season ski pass.

For more info and to register, call (970) 668-2940 or email seniors@summitcountyco.gov.

Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to milesfporteriv@aol.com

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.