What would you do if you raced Austria’s notorious Hahnenkamm 10 times in the World Cup and were invited by the host to come over and celebrate the race’s 75th anniversary?
If you’re local two-time Olympian Chad Fleischer, you round up seven buddies from Steamboat, and a few other clients and friends, and take them up on their offer. “A lot of guys had been asking for me to put something together,” says Fleischer, whose best showing in the prestigious race was seventh. “So this seemed like the perfect opportunity.”
In all, the posse spent five days skiing Austria’s Arlberg region of St. Anton under picture perfect blue skies before heading to Kitzbuhel for another five days for the hoopla of the Hahnenkamm. “It was pretty crazy,” says Fleischer, who upon return headed straight to the World Championships in Beaver Creek for two weeks. “It’s the Super Bowl of ski racing.”
All in the Family
In last year’s Best of the Boat contest, local attorneys Sally Claassen, Kris Hammond and Randy Klauzer were voted the top three best lawyers in Steamboat. Hammond wasted no time in noting that all three were also graduates of The Colorado College, sending in a notice to the school’s alumni magazine.
Together, they’ve been lawyering in Steamboat for a combined 93 years and are all friends. “We didn’t cross paths at CC but met here in Steamboat while suing each others’ clients,” says Hammond.
Feeling good about your first fat bike foray up Emerald? That’s peanuts compared to other fat bike aficionados’ pursuits this winter. In early January, locals Steve Palmquist, Robert Orr and Erik Lobeck headed to Island Park, Idaho, to compete in the 200-kilometer-long Fat Pursuit Race through Yellowstone. Out of its 50 frost-bitten riders, Lobeck took eighth, Orr ninth and Palmquist 11th, all finishing within a half hour or so of each other at around 18 hours.
“That was my first snow bike race,” says Orr, calling the conditions about as good as they could get. “I’d never ridden that far on a fat bike and wasn’t sure how I’d like it, but it was great. I bought a bike as soon as I got home.”
They weren’t done. In March, Lobeck headed farther north to race Alaska’s 350-mile Iditabike, which he qualified for in the Fat Pursuit, while Orr set his sights on terra firma by racing the 750-mile Arizona Trail Race from the Mexican to Utah border, including a 24-mile carry down and up the Grand Canyon.
“That one will be a little hotter than our fat bike race,” he says, adding that Routt County would be a great place to host a winter race because “they groom all the way to Wyoming.”
The Original Ski Bike
Okay, all you high-tech, ski bike aficionados: it’s time to tip your hats to the wintertime, pedaling pioneers before us.
“This picture is of a ski bike we made in the ‘60s,” says longtime local rancher and skier Jay Fetcher, crediting his brother, Ned, and father, John, for the contraption. “It was originally called a Jack Jump, and my dad copied it from eastern ski areas. It worked great. We used it on the rope tow ski hill at the ranch. It was made from the survivor of a pair of broken skis. Our ranch foreman had only one hand and didn’t ski, so he used it a lot.”
As for the actual riding, he adds that it was primitive at best. “It was pretty much the same technique people use today with those ski bikes on the mountain, except we wore overshoes instead of short skis.”
Bhutan or Bust
While those of us in Steamboat are wetting our lines for the first time of the season in the Yampa this spring, local filmmaker Greg I. Hamilton will be doing so a bit more off the beaten path…in Bhutan. Hamilton, a Sundance-nominated director who spent 10 years working at Warren Miller Films, is heading to the remote Buddhist kingdom in April to produce “Power of the River: Expedition to the Heart of Water in Bhutan.”
His film will explore the threat the country’s rivers are facing from hydro dams woven around the chase to catch the elusive and endangered golden mahseer, the world’s hardest fighting freshwater fish. Guided by local Karma Tshering, who shares the culture of the last true Himalayan kingdom, the film aims to prove that it’s not too late to rekindle reverence for our planet’s wildest places.
“In a place where happiness is a higher goal than money, perhaps anything is possible,” says Hamilton. “With Karma and our international expedition team, we’ll plunge to the heart of what most threatens Earth’s wild spaces and what will most likely save them.”
Steamboat in The New York Times
Nice job, local PR folks. This spring, Steamboat Springs was the feature of an off-the-slopes travel story in none other than The New York Times, calling attention to the town’s restaurants, hot springs and more. Calling town “a snow globe filled with champagne powder, cowboys and gold miners,” the story leads with a photo of E3 Chophouse and goes on to tout bistro c.v., Elkstone Farm, Aurum, The Barley and more. For that, we can forgive one of its other lines: “All of this has happened in the heart of hunting, ranching and very unhip Routt County…” Read the full story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/travel/off-the-slopes-in-steamboat-springs.html?_r=0
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