Top 10 sports stories of 2019 |

Top 10 sports stories of 2019

Frank Walter, 96, skies with help from colleagues April 4 at Keystone Resort.
Hugh Carey /

1. 96-year-old Frank Walter skis his final run of the season at Keystone Resort

Frank Walter of Copper Mountain is regarded as a superman of skiing for so many Summit County locals.

In recent years, Walter has inspired many Summit County visitors and longtime residents because he’s continued his lifelong passion for skiing despite his age and reduced mobility.

April 4 at Keystone Resort was Walter’s third day skiing this season, after a couple days skiing with his son and nephew at Copper Mountain Resort over the holidays. Three ski days — it’s far from the numbers the longtime Copper Mountain resident used to register when he was younger. These days he walks gingerly with a cane. Still, Walter was there in November at Copper’s opening day to press the button to start the Super Bee lift, long his favorite chair from which to ride.

“I used to average 151 (days). That’s all they were open,” Walter said. “And then, I just ran out of gas.”

Editor’s note: April 4 was Walter’s final day on the slopes. He now lives at a care facility in Golden. Read more at

A snowboarder lets out a scream of elation while riding at Breckenridge Ski Resort on the closing day of the extended 2018-19 winter season.
Antonio Olivero /

2. Breckenridge Ski Resort caps memorable 206-day season with bluebird skies on closing day

What a day to end an all-time season.

Bluebird skies, top-to-bottom runs and scant wind gusts blessed local skiers and riders June 9 for Breckenridge Ski Resort’s final day of the 2018-19 season. Skiing was crusty in spots up top and slushy with warm, full-on summer weather down below, but it was a classic day at Breckenridge. Even Trygve Berge, one of the resort’s founders, made it out for some end-of-season turns to culminate a 206-day season that began Nov. 7, 2018.

Breckenridge’s crews manicured the remaining snow lower down on Peak 7 to provide top-to-bottom runs off the Independence SuperChair despite the surrounding mud-season conditions. In the high Alpine, skiers and riders were able to access the T-Bar shortly after the ski resort opened at 9 a.m., and the Imperial Express SuperChair — the continent’s highest chairlift at just under 13,000 feet — opened shortly thereafter.

3. Arapahoe Basin Ski Area chief operating officer elaborates on condensed June operations

In advance of its weekends-only season extension through at least June 23, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area announced on social media that the only lift-served terrain offered for the remainder of the season will be skiing and riding off the Black Mountain Express and Lenawee Mountain lifts.

A-Basin’s Chief Operating Officer Alan Henceroth described in a blog post how crews keep the ski area open into summer.

Henceroth wrote that on weekdays, the ski area’s snowcat crew will be busy opening waterbars — a way for controlling runoff — and managing snow. Henceroth said each week the ski area’s crew will have snow torn up for a few days before putting it back together by the time chairs start spinning again each Friday.

Editor’s note: A-Basin closed for the 2018-19 season July 4.

4. Dew Tour likely won’t return to Breckenridge Ski Resort in 2019

The annual Dew Tour snowboarding and freeskiing event might not return to Breckenridge Ski Resort in December.

Dew Tour spokeswoman Melissa Gullotti wrote in an email that Dew Tour was in active discussions with several resorts about the future location of the event.

Dew Tour’s previous contract with Breckenridge Ski Resort concluded with the event in December 2018. It was the 11th consecutive year Dew Tour competitions took place in Breckenridge.

Editor’s note: Dew Tour will be held Feb. 6-9 at Copper Mountain Resort.

The American Flyer high-speed six-person chairs with bubble enclosures await their opening day at Copper Mountain Resort.
Hugh Carey /

5. Opening of new American Flyer lift again delayed at Copper Mountain Resort

The New Year’s holiday came and went at Copper Mountain Resort without the opening of Copper’s new American Flyer chairlift.

Resort officials said in December 2018 that they were hopeful the new American Flyer lift would be open by Christmas that year, though they made it clear the timeline was subject to change. On Jan. 1, Copper posted on its social media channels that unexpected complications related to the new lift’s automation software had caused the most recent delays to the opening of American Flyer.

“We expect these programming malfunctions to be resolved within days and allow the project to get back on schedule,” Copper wrote on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The American Flyer lift opened Jan. 10.

Peak 8 Ski Area, the predecessor to the current Breckenridge Ski Resort, is depicted in this drawing from the 1961-62 season. The drawing shows the original half-dozen runs at the ski area.
Courtesy Summit Historical Society

6. Creation and growth of Summit County’s ski areas shaped the mountain sports community

Breckenridge Ski Resort co-founder Trygve Berge points out several locations from his perch at The Crown coffee shop above Breckenridge’s Main Street. Few structures resided in the footprints of these contemporary buildings when he first visited six decades ago.

He waxes nostalgic about how property was alarmingly cheap to purchase. He emphasizes how there was hardly anyone here. Historical records chronicle the Rocky Mountain mining town’s population dipping to 383 in 1960. Scouring his memory, Berge recalls that number being closer to 200 — maybe fewer.

Now 87, the 1956 Olympic Norwegian Alpine skier still skis more than a half-century after he first arrived to scout the potential of a ski area. Berge was invited by Bill Rounds, of the Kansas-based Rounds and Porter Lumber Co., along with fellow Norwegian Olympic downhiller Sigurd Rockne. In 1960, the trio toasted to the town’s future near the current location of the upper terminal of the Colorado SuperChair on Peak 8.

Fast-forward 59 years to this past June: Berge hops off the Independence SuperChair at tree line on the resort’s Peak 7. It’s just a short ski north along the Tenmile Range from where he, Rockne and Rounds toasted in 1960. On this warm, sunny day, Berge sticks to trails below tree line, though many others ride the Imperial Express SuperChair to ski from just below the summit of Peak 8.

Rising to 12,840 feet, Imperial is the highest chairlift on the continent and serves as an emblem of what Summit County resort skiing has become nearly three-quarters of a century after Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, the oldest remaining ski area in the county, opened in 1946.

Editor’s note: Read more about Summit County history at

Members of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s ski patrol chat near the top of the Pallavicini Chairlift on the morning of March 9. A-Basin remained closed the two days prior due to avalanche concerns.
Courtesy Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

7. Arapahoe Basin Ski Area director of snow safety recalls closure amid avalanche concerns

Just what does it take to close Arapahoe Basin Ski Area?

That’s the question many Summit County locals, visitors and online commenters had after the ski area near the Continental Divide remained closed for two days.

“Snow is a good thing” A-Basin Director of Snow Safety Ryan Evanczyk said. “However, you can get into situations where too much snow influences your ability to open. And I think it’s inherent as to our location on the Continental Divide here that we could run into these scenarios. But again, it’s still really rare.”

It was only the second time in Evanczyk’s near two-decade tenure at A-Basin that he can remember the Widowmaker path 1 mile west and down the road from the ski area covering the highway with avalanche debris. The Widowmaker is an extremely dangerous south-facing gully that also covered Colorado Highway 9 with avalanche debris once prior: in February 2014, according to Evanczyk’s recollection.

8. Red Gerard to compete in X Games’ first-ever Knuckle Huck competition

The X Games will feature something truly different when snowboarders take not to the jump portion of Buttermilk Mountain’s big air venue, but rather, the knuckle.

The “knuckle” is the rollover of the big air jump. For the first time this year, Winter X Games Aspen will feature a Knuckle Huck competition. For the competition, snowboarders will take off that rollover portion of the jump and hurl a trick before finishing in the same landing area as the big air competition. The snowboarders will execute tricks off the knuckle for a set period of time in a jam-style format throwing as many tricks as possible within the allotted time.

“Since riders do not get as much height, the tricks must instead rely on technicality and creativity,” said a new release from X Games Aspen.

9. ‘Never say never’: Longtime CDOT avalanche expert puts this month’s slides into historical context

It was a relic of grainy Disney Studios footage from 1957 that elicited the loudest gasps from the audience at the Colorado Department of Transportation avalanche lecture at the Frisco Historic Park & Museum.

In the brief black-and-white clip, a deep-voiced narrator describes the fatal nightmare filmed by photographer John Hermann. At the time, 62 years ago, Hermann asked people living near the Continental Divide for the best location to film an avalanche. The story goes that longtime High Country locals pointed Hermann to what they referred to as the Dam Slide, an avalanche path above Berthoud Pass on U.S. Highway 40 on the border of Clear Creek and Grand counties.

The longtime locals Hermann spoke with thought there was no way a Dam Slide avalanche would ever reach the road where he and highway department supervisor Wayne Whitlock would set up.

“So both men set up the camera on the highway and filmed and continued filming the avalanche until it reached the highway,” CDOT avalanche mitigation and snow removal expert Ray Mumford said about the men who were killed. “… That was the last time it hit the highway until three weeks ago” in March.

Copper Mountain Resort’s new general manager and former NFL player Dustin Lyman rides on the new American Eagle gondola Jan. 25 at the resort.
Hugh Carey /

10. New Copper Mountain general manager, ex-NFL player Dustin Lyman, confident in leading resort’s future

Snowboarding wasn’t mainstream in the 1980s, but that didn’t stop a young Dustin Lyman and his Boulder buddies from messing around on their Snurfer boards on the sledding hills of Scott Carpenter Park.

Back then, the future National Football League player would meet up with friends before they’d conjure whatever kind of snowboarding setup they could muster. In those early years, that sometimes meant strapping their Sorel snow boots to wooden planks with rudimentary plastic bindings or by nailing down belt straps.

The city of Boulder had its limits, though. That led Lyman first to nearby Eldora Mountain Resort and then Copper Mountain Resort, where Lyman remembers pushing his young snowboarding limits on the Coppertone run.

And now he’s back at Copper as the resort’s new president and general manager.

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