Fisher’s comeback is 2007 story of the year |

Fisher’s comeback is 2007 story of the year

Summit Daily News
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

SUMMIT COUNTY ” A year ago at this time, Steve Fisher’s name was practically forgotten in the world of pro snowboarding.

The Breckenridge local won the 2004 X Games superpipe contest then failed to qualify for the final round both of the next two years.

Fisher reclaimed fame in January by winning the X Games gold medal, which is why his comeback has been deemed our top local sports story of the year.

What made Fisher’s second X Games gold especially sweet is that it came against Shaun White, who was missing from the field in ’04.

White, who holds two X Games superpipe golds and the gold medal from the 2006 Turin Olympics, faced Fisher again two weeks ago at the Snowboard Grand Prix in Breckenridge.

White won the event, with Fisher taking second, but the local sensation didn’t seem to mind.

After the year he’s had, which included winning the Mt. Bachelor Snowboard Grand Prix and being renamed to the U.S. Snowboarding Team, everybody knows he’s a force to be reckoned with once again.

2. Katie Uhlaender wins skeleton World Cup. Uhlaender, of Breckenridge, dominated the ’06-’07 circuit by winning five World Cup gold medals in six races.

The local slider, who also took third at the World Championships, was so steady, she was granted a waiver onto this year’s U.S. team. Exempt from qualifying for the team, Uhlaender opted out of a month of preseason training in favor of working as a camera assistant on the reality television show, “Survivor.”

One might think such an untimely break would have been costly for the 23-year-old, but she finished seventh, second and first in her first three WC races of the season.

3. Danelle Ballengee competes five months after pelvis-shattering fall in Moab, Utah. When Ballengee, a renowned local adventure racer, met with doctors following her incredible tale of survival (which involved spending 52 immobilized hours in the frigid wilderness), they told her it would 3-6 months before she would be able to walk again.

In typical fashion, Ballengee defied the odds by finishing a 12-hour Adventure Xstream race in mid May. The Buena Vista race, which included running, mountain biking, orienteering and a tyrolean traverse, spanned the course of 60 miles. Ballengee was the only solo female in the field, but her time would have been good enough for fifth in the 14-person men’s solo division.

The mental and physical toughness displayed by Ballengee both in the wake of her accident and during her recovery is simply awe-inspiring.

4. SHS girls ski team wins fourth consecutive title with help from the police. A four-peat seemed in dire jeopardy on the morning of Feb. 16 when a closed section of Interstate 70 stood between the Lady Tigers’ Nordic squad and the state championship meet Vail.

Organizers postponed the freestyle race and Summit County Sheriffs showed up to escort five carloads of athletes over the treacherous mountain. The Lady Tigers warmed up quick then did what they normally do – win. The alpine girls team, which made it over Vail Pass before it was closed, had done its part earlier in the morning paving the way for the Lady Tigers’ 17th state title in school history.

5. Kirsten Cooper named to the U.S. Ski Team’s development squad. The 18-year-old product of Team Summit was one of six women (four of whom are rookies) named to the D team in June. Cooper struggled at the outset of last season, but excelled at the U.S. Alpine Nationals, finishing eighth in both the national championship downhill and super G.

No Team Summit racer has been named to the U.S. team in at least seven years, which makes Cooper’s accomplishment a top-five story.

Honorable Mentions:

” Back to the X Games where Frisco’s Jake Fiala took second in men’ skiercross. The former member of the U.S. Ski Team took silver in dramatic fashion by crashing across the finish line after an attempt to pass winner Casey Puckett.

” Floyd Landis competes in the Leadville 100. Landis brought national attention to Leadville about six weeks before he was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France victory for doping. Landis took second with a time of 7 hours, 30 seconds – just 1:43 behind winner Dave Wiens.

” Ollie Holmes and Jamie Ober raise the bar once again at the Enduro. The locals logged 70 laps in 10 hours to repeat as champions while breaking their own Enduro record in the process.

” Montezuma’s Revenge takes a hiatus. For the first time in 21 years, Summit County didn’t get to host the hardest mountain biking race in the world. The Revenge, which was called off due to financial problems, permitting limitations and low registration numbers, is set to return in ’08 under new management.

” Diane Van Deren ties a course record in the final 24 Hours of Frisco. Van Deren, a pro runner from Sedalia, made 19 laps to reach 114 miles at the September event. The record, which is shared with Eric Pence (2004), is likely to stick since the race is expected to be shortened to 12 hours next year.

” How about those Rockies? The Rockies winning an improbable national league crown wasn’t technically a local story, but it has to be mentioned because it affected more locals than perhaps any other story this year. Colorado winning 21 of its last 22 games, including playoff sweeps of Philadelphia and Arizona, is a piece of history Rockies fans will be talking about for decades.

Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634, or at

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