Seniors compete at 35th annual Summit County 50+ Winter Games
At the Frisco Nordic Center on Tuesday, eight seniors on skis split into two teams, the Vikings and the Rockets, for a cross-country skiing relay race.
About 10 yards away, another group of seniors gathered at the start of a snowshoe race.
Elsewhere at the center Tuesday morning, people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s balled up snow to throw at hanging targets and quickly lay on their stomachs while wearing skis to shoot pellet guns.
The 35th annual Summit County 50+ Winter Games at Keystone Resort and the Frisco Nordic Center Monday and Tuesday gave older athletes a chance to compete in up to 16 winter sporting events while raising money to support local senior resources and activities.
About 70 people from age 53 to 86 participated this year in Alpine and Nordic skiing, snowshoe races, biathlon, figure skating, speed skating, hockey shooting, snowball toss and even a skiing obstacle course.
After finishing her leg of the Nordic relay race, Evergreen resident Gloria Newman said the event marked her third day on cross-country skis and she loved spending time with the other athletes.
“I’m pretty competitive,” she said, smiling, “but when it’s all said and done it doesn’t matter how I did.”
The winter games have been a tradition for more than 30 years.
The games started in 1981 at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, and then the next year the games moved to Devils Thumb Ranch near Winter Park.
The games were first held in Summit in 1983 at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Frisco Nordic Center. From 1985 to 1998, the games were held in Breckenridge, and in 1999, Keystone Resort and the Frisco Nordic Center became the hosts and have been for the last 16 years.
All proceeds benefit the Summit County Senior Citizens, the nonprofit partner of the county Community and Senior Center that provides senior residents and visitors with opportunities for recreation, intellectual stimulation, volunteering, philanthropy and physical and social activities.
Barbara Becker, chairwoman of the games, said the event collected a $35 registration fee from every participant and featured a silent auction that ran for a week before the competition.
This year about 150 to 200 businesses, mostly from Summit County, donated items to the auction, which raised about $5,000.
Sandy Bainbridge, co-president of Summit County Senior Citizens, said she was amazed by how easy it was to recruit businesses, volunteers and athletes to participate in the games.
Last year, the games raised about $7,000 total for senior programs, Becker said. She didn’t yet have a final tally of total money raised, but she expected it to be about $10,000, more than any of the previous games have raised before.
The event was able to raise more this year by reducing its expenses. For the first time, the games received a grant from Epic Promise, the community support arm of Vail Resorts, to fund the roughly $1,500 cost of renting space for the events at Keystone Resort.
About 150 people participated in the pre-competition pasta dinner Sunday night, said Lorie Williams, the county’s Community and Senior Center manager.
Games participants were mostly from Summit and Colorado though some came from as far as Texas, Wisconsin and Canada.
Milan Martinec, of Houston, Texas, has traveled to Summit for the games for the last 10 years in a row.
The 74-year-old athlete completed a marathon in January and qualified for the National Senior Games (http://www.nsga.com) in Minnesota in triathlon and swimming this summer. He said he loved competing against others his age in Summit.
Athletes were decorated with medals at an award ceremony Tuesday afternoon. Photos from the games along with complete event results will soon be available at http://www.co.summit.co.us/index.aspx?NID=894.
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