Meet the Mountain Stars: Cynthia Spaulding and Jeff Lee |

Meet the Mountain Stars: Cynthia Spaulding and Jeff Lee

Erica Marciniec
Special to the Daily
Dr. Jeff Lee

“I feel like I won the lottery when the dances were assigned. I love the tango!” said Jeffrey Lee, a trauma surgeon with Colorado Surgical and Critical Care Associates, vice-chair of trauma at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center and a practitioner of general surgery and endoscopy with Summit Surgical Specialists.

“I remember watching ‘Scent of a Woman’ with Al Pacino when he dances the tango at an exclusive New York restaurant with a woman he never met. I have loved the tango ever since.”

Lee has been practicing his steps diligently as he gets ready to vie for the title at Dancing with the Mountain Stars, the 4th annual hospital fundraiser and dance competition to take place October 1. “I am going up against some pretty stiff competition that includes an Olympian,” Lee said, adding, “I hope we all put on a great show and that the show continues on to be the great event it has for the past several years.”

Dr. Lee’s love life is intricately intertwined with his love of skiing, as the flatland-Colorado-bred doctor picked up the sport while in medical school at the University of Texas. “I asked a girl if she wanted to go skiing and, to my surprise, she said yes. The only problem for me was that I did not grow up skiing.”

So he flew home a day before her arrival and took a crash course, getting hooked (on skiing) in the process. Later, he met his wife, Catherine, on the Montezuma lift at Keystone.

After medical school, Lee did his residency at Baylor University Medical Center, followed by a surgical oncology and endoscopy fellowship at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in upstate New York. He returned to his hometown of Greeley to practice with his father, also a surgeon, for four years before moving to the mountains. “I love Summit County and I feel as though this is where I was meant to be,” Lee said.

“The more I learn (about tango) in practice, the more my eyes are opened to how much there is to know and though I practice and practice, I am really just scratching the surface on understanding this dance,” Lee said, extolling the virtues of his coach, Debbie Swartz, as well as choreographer Mandy Moore and guest coaches Devin McClure and Averie DelGrosso. As to whether or not he will continue to dance the tango later with Catherine, Lee said, “She does not dance much, but when we are done, I plan to practice all my moves on her!”

How Cindy Spaulding has time enough to train for Dancing with the Mountain Stars is a subject of wonder, seeing as it took five phone calls to reach this busy mother of four sons and owner/operator of The Boatyard American Grill, Frisco’s favorite bistro.

But dance she will – the paso doble, a Spanish bullfighting dance in which the man is like the bullfighter and the woman is like the cape, Spaulding explained. “I’ve got the steps down … now I just have to work on all the sass and flair,” she said. “To make it look like I’m a cape – that’s the part that’s difficult.”

Not only will she transform into a cape for the October 1 event, in which locals dance with pros in a High Country version of the hit show “Dancing with the Stars” to raise funds for the cardiology program at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, but she will also become like the undead – because she’ll be dancing the paso doble to “Thriller” by Michael Jackson.

“It’s the zombie paso doble,” Spaulding said, jubilant over the choreography by former Summit School of Dance student Mandy Moore, who was nominated for her second Emmy in 2011 for her work on “So You Think You Can Dance.”

“It’s no wonder she’s an Emmy-award-nominated choreographer. She’s really good. Her ideas are great,” said Spaulding, who also applauded her dance instructor, Mandy Sherar from Summit School of Dance, saying: “We have a blast. She’s not easy on me.”

Even though Spaulding is a 20-year veteran aerobics instructor who runs, swims and bikes on a regular basis, she said, “Dance is hard. You go through your routine and you’re winded. I can’t imagine not being in shape and doing it.”

She and her husband, Wayne, moved to Summit County and opened the Blue River Bistro in Breckenridge in 1991, followed by the Uptown Bistro, now called The Boatyard, in Frisco. The Spauldings have four sons, ages 25, 23, 20 and 14, which explains why she cited “attending her kids’ sporting and school events” as her primary hobby.

At least until this winter, that is – for in addition to dancing, Spaulding bought her first ski pass this year.

“I’ve lived here 20 years and this is my first ski pass,” she said, when asked how Dancing with the Mountain Stars has changed her. “I wonder if branching out into this dance thing has made me more willing to do something like this – to get a pass, to take an afternoon off to go skiing. It’s helped me to see that I can leave for a little bit and go ski and take advantage of this great place.”

What: 4th Annual Dancing with the Mountain Stars

When: 5:30 p.m. to Midnight Saturday, October 1

Where: Keystone Conference Center

Benefits: Proceeds support the purchase of two work stations for Summit Cardiology at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center.

Info/Tickets: Contact Debra Edwards at (970) 668-6906 or debedwards[at] This event sells out, so reserve your tickets soon.

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