Daily Archives: July 6, 2017


Knife Knowhow

A chef’s personal knife collection is like a woman’s closet or a skier’s quiver—every piece has a purpose.

“I think you want all your knives to be heavy and sturdy, with a knife handle that fits your hand,” says Kelly Liken. “It is a lot of personal preference—like trying on a pair of shoes. You just really want to see how a knife feels to you, rather than just buying in blindly.”

Private chef Jason Harrison of Red Maple Catering provided us access to his knife collection (pictured here). He said his favorite knives are those made by Bob Kramer, an acclaimed knifesmith in the United States. Take a look at the knives from left to right, and read more about them from some of the valley’s top chefs:



Cleaver knives are designed for chopping. If you’re having trouble getting through something with another style of knife, try this one.

“Just about every culture that uses knives has their own version of a cleaver,” shares Liken. “It’s really useful when you have to do the messy jobs, like breaking down a chicken and cutting through a bone.”


This small paring knife is designed for small delicate work. The size of the knife makes it easier to control, and the home cook might like to work with this because it’s not as intimidating as a large chef knife. You can use it without a cutting board (if you’re careful), like when peeling or cutting an apple you hold in your hand, for instance.

“This is great for more delicate handwork,” explains Riley Romanin, chef-owner of Hooked and Revolution in Beaver Creek. “It’s nice to use a smaller knife that you can control a little better.”


Use this knife for meat and fish work and for medium slicing jobs. This can be a useful all purpose utility knife in lieu of a paring knife, or for the home cook, could be used instead of a paring knife or chef knife.

“This knife is the step between a classic chef knife and a paring knife,” says David Gutowksi, executive chef of Grouse Mountain Grill in Beaver Creek. “We’ll use it for slicing stuff—like if you have a lamb loin or something like it that is not a huge chunk of meat but it’s a nice knife for slicing. Sometimes I hold stuff in my hand with it and sometimes I use a cutting board.”


As a small all-purpose knife, Harrison says, “this piece can really do it all. The fine tip makes it easier to work with small boned food items like chicken or duck.”

“It’s thin, and comes to a really small point,” Gutowksi says of the knife, “so you can get in there and move it around to get all the meat off.”


This is your best friend for prepping veggies. The flat blade (versus curved) is not made to slice, but to rapidly chop, chop, chop. “This is your workhorse knife,” says Liken. “You can do lots of chopping and can really get some speed going with it.”

The single-sided blade on this knife creates fine cuts on vegetables, making it easy to slice straight lines.


This knife is made of super hard steel, so it keeps an edge well. It’s a classic chef knife, but compared to the similar chef knife to the right in the photo, this tool is a little heavier and ideal for chopping.

“We all carry one around and use it for everything,” Romanin shares. “It’s such a versatile tool and is great for doing every job in the kitchen.”


Think fine slicing with this version of a chef knife.

“This is one of my four Kramer knives,” Harrison shares. “They are heavy, but super thin blades, so they are good for heavier duty tasks that still need to be accurate—like slicing meats.”


Harrison received this knife as a birthday gift. He says it feels very light and nimble for its size, and that it’s his go-to for most day-to-day tasks. The round indents, known as scallops, on the side of the blade make fine slicing and dicing easier, especially with sticky food items like cheese, raw fish or chicken.

“It releases the protein,” says Romanin of the scalloped edge, “anything that would get stuck to the side. It really helps so you don’t get that airtight lock and what you’re cutting falls off the knife.”


If you’re looking for a tool that’s like a hot knife cutting through butter—this is it. It’s most often used for fish slicing, to cut sushi and sashimi. “It’s a really straight cut, so as you’re slicing fish it won’t ever veer from side to side—it’s really effective that way,” explains Romanin.

As Liken recommends, it’s wise to give every knife a try before adding it to your collection. There’s nothing wrong with purchasing a pre- arranged set of blades as a home cook, but as your culinary skills are sharpened, consider investing in knives that will really make the cut mag in the kitchen.


Sweet Expressions

They boil and bake and flour and fold. From custards to cakes, these sweet chefs keep the Vail Valley’s collective cravings satisfied. And when they’re not hard at work in the kitchen creating beautiful confections, they’re out and about feeding their souls. How sweet it is!

Did you always want to be a chef?

Since childhood, I baked cakes with my father, and my grandmother would keep the recipes. I don’t think I could have been anything else.

Did you begin as a pastry chef?

Well, I began working in the industry 25 years ago in Chile, where I’m from. Fifteen years ago, I became a pastry chef and developed my career in hotels. I perfected wedding cakes in Singapore, desserts in Brazil and dough and fondant in Argentina. I heard that you tool around town on your bike.

I like riding and enjoying the view. It is a street bike, so there is no specific place that I go. I like to ride my bike because it brings back the best memories I have as a child, riding with my group of friends.


You’ve been a pastry chef for over forty years. And folks seem to adore your French macarons since you introduced them four years ago. What are your favorites?

I would say, pistachio, lemon, carrot cake, goat cheese with honey, even Jägermeister are some of the best.

So, what do you think of some of the trendy dessert fads?

Well, I suppose you can call me ‘old school’. The traditional products that are offered, like an éclair or a pear tart with almond cream, will always be more important for sales than new trends, at least according to me. You cannot offer a doughnut that has not been fried.

What made you want to become a pastry chef?

In my family the artisan food business is a tradition: my grandfather was a baker, my oldest brother is a chef, and my other brother is a chocolate maker. So it is only normal that I followed that same tradition. As a chef, after having acquired the basics, you can work in the food industry around the whole world. And I always wanted to travel.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love the outdoors, the vibe and the people. My family and I enjoy Colorado because it’s so nice and there are so many beautiful days and we like to take advantage of that with the convertible, (a 2014 Mini-Cooper). We live in Leadville and the drive is so beautiful. That’s real Colorado – that’s what I like. I had a 1966 Mini in Belgium so, for me, it’s a lot of good memories. I really love this car. I also have a motorcycle. I love to fish and spend time with my family.

Name one foodie ingredient that you don’t like, and one ingredient that you really do.

I don’t like to work with fake ingredients: fake sugar, fake chocolate or fake egg whites. I like to work with old style ingredients, like puff pastry, almond cream and pastry cream.


Your path to becoming a pastry chef is quite unusual.

Yes, it is different, I suppose. I would never have foreseen myself here 20 years ago. I fell into this career after pursuing a few wildly different paths. I studied chemical engineering with hopes of working at Sara Lee or Pillsbury. I had a very misguided image of what the chemical engineers actually did for these companies, which wasn’t nearly as fun and satisfying as making cakes with real, fresh ingredients.

What Colorado product is your favorite to use in your pastries?

By far, the produce from the western slope! I drive to Palisade regularly to stock up on whatever is in season. I also hit the Vail farmers’ market every Sunday for the summer menu. Last year the white nectarines were amazing. And the blood plums last fall were gorgeous. I bought and processed 300 pounds!

I hear you have quite an unusual hobby.

Well, I love the outdoors and I really like to hike and camp. And, I like to arm wrestle. (Armstrong has won titles in Carbondale and Crested Butte, though she’s quick to clarify that the competitions are fun, charity events complete with costumes and fake names. Hers is “Armbreaker Armstrong”).


How did your career as a pastry chef come about?

When I was young, I loved to create art, whether it was a watercolor painting or a mixed-media piece. I worked as a landscaper for years before switching careers in my late 20s to attend culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu, where I studied baking and patisserie. (One glimpse at Anderson’s artfully composed desserts and it’s clear that her artistic hobby has influenced her work in the kitchen.) I enjoy taking traditional, familiar desserts and adding a twist, like my bread pudding that is filled with a liquid cheesecake center. (A totally decadent surprise!)

Is there a particular approach you like to take when creating a new dessert?

I enjoy incorporating things like corn or a savory flavor into a dessert that you might not think to pair with a plate. And I love to always have a salty component. Salty-sweet and hot-cold is the best combo in my mind, on a fancy dessert or even just a good old brownie sundae.

What favorite Colorado products go into your pastries?

I love all the local eggs and fruit! Peaches are probably my favorite, also the short but delicious rhubarb season as I have fond childhood memories from back home. I’d eat it straight out of the garden with a cup of sugar while running around barefoot in the backyard, hunting for pussy willow branches.

How often do you change the dessert menu at Grouse Mountain Grill?

I definitely like to keep things seasonal. I change things on the menu one plate at a time, so it’s always slowly morphing. As a chef, having things that stay on the menu is not ideal. You can get bored. One of the reasons I love working for Grouse Mountain Grill is the owners, Nancy Dowell and Chef David Gutowski, give me lots of creative freedom and a fabulous work space.


Have you always worked as a pastry chef?

My first kitchen experience was at 13 years old at the restaurant Aux Armes de France, which was awarded a Michelin Star. After I graduated culinary school, as a chef, I went on to specialize in pastry. Since then I have always worked in the pastry section, from the south of France to St. Barts, Australia and the USA.

Where did you get your love of sweets?

Actually, my grandma. She had a passion for pastry. I remember the traditional Alsacienne apple tart she’d make. My mom used to cook a lot too, and bake a lot of pastries, which is also probably where I found my passion for making desserts.

What influences the creation of your desserts?

I view my creations, as an opportunity to honor nature through sweet art. For instance, my “Moon” creation is comprised of coconut panna cotta with pineapple, covered in a white chocolate dome painted to resemble the moon. I top it with coconut cream foam and serve it on a black plate. Another dessert I make is “The Mountain,” which pairs two cones, one made of chocolate sorbet and one of hazelnut mousse on top of a brownie base. I put toasted marshmallow merengue on top so it looks like snow.

What is a dish that you’re most proud of or that has the most following?

I would say the lemon fennel dessert. It is a layered dessert made up of lemon custard, fennel crumble, olive oil gel, fennel granita and lemon sorbet.
Where will we find you when you’re out and about?

Usually, I’m either riding my motorbike or fly fishing the local rivers. However I would say that fishing is one of my favorite hobbies. I really find it very relaxing, especially after spending a lot of time in the kitchen.


You Are What You Eat

Over thirty years ago, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., a former surgeon, researcher and clinician at the Cleveland Clinic began a ground-breaking program in which he put men and women with advanced coronary disease on a plant-based, oil-free diet.

His program was based on a revolutionary idea that we could do away with the heart-disease epidemic by simply changing our diets! It was an idea that challenged conventional cardiology. Yet, within months, the health of the people in his study improved significantly: angina symptoms eased, cholesterol levels dropped significantly and blood flow showed a marked mprovement. Miraculously, twenty years later, the group remained free of symptoms.

Dr. Esselstyn’s findings are revealed in his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, a book that Columbia University professor and cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz describes as one in which “a hard-nosed scientist shows us his secrets for successfully cleaning the rusty arteries of so many patients and it doesn’t even hurt.”

“In the late 1970’s, early 90’s, I was chairman of our breast cancer task force at the Cleveland Clinuc. And it was frustrating to me to find that no matter how many women on whom I performed surgery I was doing absolutely nothing for the next unsuspecting victim. This led me to begin global research, and it was quite apparent that there were a number of cultures where breast cancer was 30 to 40 times less frequent than the United States. For instance, if you looked at breast cancer in rural Japan in the 1950’s it was very infrequently identified and yet soon as those Japanese women would migrate to the United States, by the second and third generation, they now had the same rate of breast cancer as their CAucasian counterpart.

Even more powerful, perhaps where the prostate cancer rates in the entire nation of Japan in 1958: There were 18. That was one of the most mind-boggling public health figures, I think that I have ever encountered. By 1978 the number was up to 137 deaths, which pales in comparison to the 28,000 that will die of prostate cancer this year in this country.

“So somewhere alon the this review, I somehow began to feel that my bones would long be dust before I got the answers to cancer and nutrition, but in hindsight, I’m not sure that that’s correct. Nevertheless, I thought there’d be more bang for the buck if we’d really go after the leading killer of women and men in the Western Civilization- which is heart disease. As part of this global research, there were any number of cultures where cardiovascular disease was virtually non-existent. And the common denominator of place like Okinawa, rural China, the Papua Highlands, central Africa and Tarahumara Indians in Northern Mexico where cardiovascular disease was non-existent was the fact that they all thrived on whole food plant nutrition, without oil. (Meat represents less than five percent of the Tarahumara tribe’s diet).

“The dream became that if we could get patients to really begin to save their hearts, they’ll also be saving themselves from the common western malignancies of breast, prostate, colon and, perhaps pancreatic cancer. So that’s what initiated my research.

“And, then, in 1985 we took a group of patients with cardiovascular disease to see if they could eat a plant-based diet. We wanted to see if it would halt or reverse their disease.

“Our specific program is geared towards patients who have significant cardiovascular disease. Let’s say for example, someone has a heart attack. They don’t want another one. They’ve had a stent; the don’t want another. Or they’ve had a bypass surgery. They don’t want another one. Or they’ve been told that they have to have a bypass and they’ve rather not have it.

“There is a spectrum of those who have cardiovascular disease who can really benefit from treating the causation of the illnesss. You see, when it comes down to it, it’s this: Ever since the days of Hippocrates, there’s been a basic covenant of trust between the caregiver and the patient whenever possible. The caregiver will share with the patient what is the causation of the illness. And, sadly, today in cardiovascular medicine, it’s not being done. People will have their first stent and they’ll have to have a second and third and a fourt. Then they might start having stents to keep the stent open.
Then they might have to have a bypass.Then they have to have stents to keep the bypass open. Why? Why is the disease progressing? Because they haven’t been told how to treat the causation of the illness. And, sadly, none of the drgs, none of the procedures, none of the bypass operations really treat the causation of the illness, which is why the disease is progressive and why the mortality is so high.

“All experts would agree, however, this disease appear to have its inception when we progressivel injure the lifejacket or the guardian of our blood vessels, which is the delicate, innermost lining of the artery called the endothelium. And the endothelium manufacturers an absolutely magic gas, called nitric oxide, which has some very wonderful unusual functions that makes it the great salvation of our vascular health. To begin, nitric oxide will prevent all those cellular element flowing in out bloodstream from ever getting sticky. Nitric Oxide is the strongest vessel dialator in the body. When you climb stairs, your arteries to your heart to your legs, they widen, they dilate that’s your nitric oxide. Nitric oxide prevents the wall of your artery from becoming thickened, stiff or inflamed and protects you from getting high blood pressure and hypertension. Lastly, and this is the absolute key – a healthy safe, normal amount of nitric oxide will protect you from ever developing blockages or plaque. So, literally, all of those on the planet who have cardiovascular disease have their illness because they so sufficiently trashed, injured and copmpromised the capacity of their cells to make nitric acid and simply don’t have enough to protect themselves.”

According to Dr. Esselstyn’s plan, food to avoid are any with a face or a mother, dairy products, all oils, refined grains and nuts. Foods that you are allowed, in fact, encouraged to consume are vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruit and various beverages. Alcohol, in moderation, is fine. The doctor’s findings and advice about diet is included in part one, The heart of the Matter, of this book. Part Two, The joy of Eating, includes strategies for instance, what to eat in a restaurant or at someone’s home, as well as recipe’s created by Ann Crille Esselstyn, who has, as her husband put it, “learned a great deal about how to concoct wonderful meals
that meet the strict standards of my nutrition plan.”
Yet, his plan, surprisingly, does not include any
nuts whatsoever.

“How many people do you know who will eat one nut? Nuts are highly addicting and if I ever told my patients that they could have two or three walnuts, that’s not what they would hear. They would say, ‘Gee, I guess I’ll have them in the glove compartment, I’ll have them in the bathroom, the hallway, the dining room, the kitchen, the basement, the workbench.’ However, I will be flexible on this. If I ever see a study where they take patients who were thoroughly diseased with cardiovascular illness and they give them peanut butter and cashew sauce and all the nuts they want and doctors can halt and arrest their disease, then I will relinquish. Until then, I would describe what we have now as a winner! We have a program than can halt and reverse this disease without nuts. And I’m really rather hesitant. “I treat vegans as well. Why? Vegans eat oil.

Vegans eat French fries. Vegans eat glazed donuts! On my diet you are going to eat whole grains for your cereal, bread, pasta, rolls and bagels, hundreds of different types of legumes and beans. Marvelous red, yellow and green leafy vegetables. Also sweet potato and fruit. There are now hundreds of recipes and books.”

And one of those books is The Engine 2 Diet, written by Dr. Esselstyn’s son, Rip, a former professional triathlete and firefighter with the Austin Fire Department where he introduced his passion for a whole-food, plant-based diet to Austin’s Engine 2 Firehouse in order to rescue a firefighting brother’s health. Rip now is a spokesperson and ambassador for Whole Foods, where he developed his own line of Engine 2 plant-perfect food.

There’s no doubt that a plant-based diet, also evidenced in The China Study, would benefit all of us. It’s a matter of total commitment. “The time is now,“ says Dr. Esselstyn. “The weight of scientific evidence and public opinion, once the truth is known, will prevail. And finally, we can start teaching people how to walk alongside the edge of the cliff, instead of desperately trying to save them after they fall off.

“With this approach, the war against our most devastating diseases can be won.” Dr. Esselstyn then adds, with a laugh, “Although I can be a taskmaster, I’m told that I’m not as mean as I look.”

Mean? No. Determined? Yes! But, then again, he only has your good health in mind.


Run Ready Dogs

When Brenda Hawkins starts getting ready to set out for a run, which she does several times a week no matter the weather, Bella positively dances with excitement. A run for Bella, the dog, is just as important as a run for Brenda.

“She knows what clothes I run in and she follows me around until I get my shoes on. She stretches and hops around,” Brenda says. “Every chance I can, I take her! It’s not the same running without her.”

Running with a four-legged friend brings joy, and much needed exercise, for both canine and human. However, there are a few tenets to follow before heading out on a long run with your best friend.

“Proper conditioning is the key when running with dogs. Whether one is looking to acquire a running companion, or taking five-year-old Fido off the couch and training for a half marathon, there are some common points to remember,” veterinarian Dr. Natalie Bullard shares. “Mileage should be built up gradually.”


(1) Age matters. You don’t want to take a 20-week-old puppy on a run, even if she is hyper and crazy in the house—and seems like she can easily run circles around you. “For most breeds, one year of age is a good milestone to begin exercise training,” Dr. Bullard says. Bones and joints need that long to mature before being stressed by long runs. “Common sense is key when exercising with dogs, as many will over-exert themselves to keep up with the owners.” Just as you don’t want to start running with them at too young an age, remember dogs age much faster than we do, so shorter distances may be necessary as dogs reach middle age, commonly considered to be five to eight years old.

(2) If it’s taken you months to build up to a ten-mile run, do the same for your dog. If your dog is a little chubby, keep that in mind too. She’ll be better off with a short jog or even some walks to get used to running, then build up more mileage. As you’re building up mileage slowly, you’re helping build your dog’s pads, which is also very important, especially if you’re running on any of the concrete or asphalt paths that line the valley. “The pads of dogs’ feet must be built up gradually in order to avoid injury. Concrete and asphalt are more abrasive than dirt or grass, so a dog should be given time to adjust by starting with shorter distances and increasing over a period of weeks to longer distances,” Dr. Bullard explains. To make sure your dog is a happy runner, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends checking your dog’s paws and pads for skin damage, swelling or pain after every run. Bullard adds, “The best way to monitor your dogs conditioning is to observe him or her after strenuous exercise. It is normal for a dog to appear tired after strenuous exercise, but limping or unwillingness to eat or drink should be evaluated by a veterinarian.”

(3) Keep a leash on it. The AVMA suggests not to begin running with your dog until good leash manners. There is little as frustrating as trying to run as your dog leaps, bounds, licks and nips at the leash. Hawkins trained Bella on a retractable leash and now she’s under voice command.

Leash laws in Eagle County vary by town but in general, dogs must heel beside or be under voice control of the runner. When in doubt, use a leash, and make sure your dog understands who is in control (that should be you!).

(4) Hydrate. That means bring water for your dog too. Even if you’re not planning on a long run, all that panting the dog does to stay cool can certainly cause cotton mouth and worse. “Dogs can learn to drink out of water bottles and Camelbaks, and should be offered water at regular intervals to avoid dehydration,” Dr. Bullard says.

(5) Be ready to whether the weather. Don’t head out during the hottest part of the day—and know where you’re going to stop for a break if need be. Under a tree or a quick dip in a river might be just what the pooch needs to continue on, refreshed and eager to please. Similarly, a short-haired dog will be too cold in frigid temps. Come winter, avoid bitter cold runs. Consider booties or a coat for your dog if you are heading out. However, if you’re relying on a coat, make sure it fits properly and doesn’t have any loose straps that could tangle up in your dog’s legs. If you run on a snow- or ice-covered trail, clean your dog’s feet when you get home to remove any ice chunks.

(6) Consider the breed. “Brachycephalic breeds (such as pugs and bulldogs) should not be exercised heavily in the summer, as the risk of heat stroke is real. One should not purchase a bulldog for a running companion,” Dr. Bullard says.


Leadville Boom Days

As the story goes, anybody who was anybody had been to Leadville, Colorado, in the 1890s, a Victorian-era mining town just 38 miles southeast of Vail. Surrounded on three sides by the jagged peaks and valleys of the San Isabel National Forest, at 10,152 feet above sea level, the town, the highest in the United States, is sometimes referred to as Cloud City or Two-Mile-High-City. And with views of Colorado’s tallest peaks, Mt. Elbert (14,333 ft.) and Mt. Massive (14,421 ft.), the Leadville skyline is magnificent.

Leadville is a quiet little town with a history that’s, literally, one for the storybooks. These days the population is about 2,600 but, at one time, more than 40,000 people lived here; the stories about some of them fabled. In fact, it’s because of those “fables” which have been repeated through the years – and perhaps sometimes exaggerated – that Leadville pays homage to those pioneers with its annual Boom Day Celebration – a celebration that, in some ways, brings out a bit of raucousness in those who attend.

And, oh what fun it is! It all began in 1877 at the start of the Colorado Silver Boom, when the town was founded by mine owners, Horace Tabor and August Meyer. Initially, the settlement was called “Slabtown”. But when a post office opened, the name Leadville was officially chosen; the carriers went down to Denver one week and tried to return the next. The first daily newspaper, The Chronicle, was founded, and despite many threats, soon began outing criminals in an effort to clean up the shady goings-on that soon began in nascent town.

The first saloon opened for business in 1877 and that same year, Leadville’s first theatre, The Coliseum Novelty, too, opened and offered a variety of entertainment including dancing girls, dogfights, cockfighting, wrestling and boxing matches as well as rooms for gambling. The first legitimate theatre, the Wood’s Opera House, was soon built and, with one thousand seats, was a first-class concert hall where “gentlemen removed their hats and didn’t smoke or drink in the presence of a lady.”

By 1878, the town, with its booming population, had the reputation as one of the most lawless towns in the West. Leadville’s first city marshal was run out of town a few days after he was appointed, and his replacement was shot dead by a deputy within a month. Meyer, who was then the mayor brought in a bold gunfighter named Matt Duggan who, with lawless tactics, brought order to Leadville. Within two years, the town had innumerable stores, hotels, boarding houses, more than 100 saloons, dance halls, gambling parlors and over 30 brothels. At the same time, over 70 lawyers were trying to keep their clients’ lives on the right track.

Along with the ruffians who lived in Leadville, an upper-class developed that would eventually bring a flurry of excitement and notoriety to this storied town. And the arrival of the Denver & Rio Grande railroad that brought tons of freight and thousands of people of every echelon to the bustling town.

Tabor, who owned the general store with his wife, Augusta, invested in mining and had incredible success with their Matchless Mine. In 1879, they built the Tabor Opera House as well as the Bank of Leadville and the Tabor Grand Hotel. Over the years, the opera house hosted a staggering plethora of talent including the great actress, Sarah Bernhard; world-famous magician Harry Houdini; composer and conductor, John Philip Sousa; playwright, Oscar Wilde and an assortment of many other operatic performers.

However, in 1883, Tabor divorced his wife of 25 years, to marry the beautiful, flamboyant, “Baby Doe” McCourt, a woman who was said to have “defied Victorian gender values,” and was half his age. This caused a scandal in Colorado and beyond, considering that, by then, Tabor was a senator and one of the wealthiest men in Colorado. However, Tabor lost his fortune in the Panic of 1893, when a spectacular financial crisis contributed to an economic recession.

Convinced that the price of silver would rebound, Tabor told Baby Doe to hold on to the Matchless Mine as “it will make millions again when silver comes back.” Doe spent the rest of her life believing in Tabor’s prediction, living in a cabin at the mine for three decades. In 1935, after a snowstorm, Doe was found frozen in her cabin. She was 81 years old.


Other future millionaires, too, showed up in Leadville to get in on the action. David May, who eventually would found May D & F, opened an auction house and clothing store, later buying out his biggest competitor. German immigrant, Charles Boettcher, provided blasting powder needed for blasting away part of the mountains to build mines and tunnels. He later founded the Ideal Cement Company and, later, the Boettcher Foundation, which has built many cultural attractions in Denver, including Boettcher Concert Hall and the Denver Botanic Gardens. The Guggenheims and Marshal Fields, also had Leadville beginnings.

But, it’s really the colorful characters who added so much vibrancy to Leadville’s boom days. Alice Ivers, known as “Poker Alice,” a card player and dealer of the Old West, learned her trade in Leadville. She and her family moved to the town during the silver boom when hundreds of others arrived. At age 20, Alice married a mining engineer who, like many other men, frequented Leadville’s gambling halls. At first, she just observed the games, but eventually took her place at the table. After her husband died in a mining accident, Alice, with cigar in hand, played cards to support herself and, eventually, was in great demand as a dealer. Of course, the fact that she was very attractive and dressed in the latest fashions certainly helped and, for that reason, the gambling halls thought she was good for business.

Margaret, “Molly” Brown, who was known as The Unsinkable Molly Brown, moved to Leadville when she was 15. In 1896 she married James J. Brown, who was twice her age and instrumental in the discovery of a substantial ore seam at the Little Jonny Mine owned by his employers, the Ibex Mining Company. Molly became famous because of her survival of the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic, after persuading the crew of Lifeboat No. 6 to look for survivors. The Broadway musical and movie, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, is based on her life.

Billy the Kid and John W. Booth, whose headstone is in the Evergreen Cemetery, spent time in Leadville along with a gunfighter and professional gambler, Luke Short. But, probably, Doc Holliday’s stay in Leadville is the most infamous. A good friend of Wyatt Earp, Holliday was a notorious gunman and gambler and the town offered him the fast-paced action the he enjoyed. He had some friends in Leadville, and was looking forward to fattening his bankroll at some of the classy gambling parlors. But, the town’s climate hindered Holliday’s health. Its cold weather brought his tuberculosis out of remission and that, coupled with his drinking made him very weak.

leadville_2In August of 1884, records indicate that Holliday shot and wounded an ex-Leadville policeman from whom he had borrowed $5, but was toobroke to pay back. Holliday was released and, penniless, his bail of $8,000 was raised by his wealthy friends. Allen was the last man that Holliday shot.

So, it’s these colorful cast of characters the ne’er-do-wells, the fortune seekers, the gamblers, even the millionaires – that passed through Leadville during those rip-roaring years that today’s residents of Leadville honor in their Boom Day Celebration, a celebration of the Old West. From a parade, to burro racing, and mining activities, to a pie-eating contest, a sack race and much more, the town commemorates its past the first weekend in August. Essentially, it’s a three-day party that pays homage to Leadville’s boom days which, essentially, was a fifteen-year party!

The manic thrill of those frenzied years is long gone – but its fascinating history is still very much alive. Never to be forgotten.


Getting Down and Dirty

Used to be that kids spent almost every waking moment outdoors. From the time they played hopscotch on the sidewalk to playing baseball or, perhaps, building a fort, kids were outside getting dirty, getting scraped up – but having good old messy fun and loving every minute of it. Ahh, those were the days.

These days, kids are spending a lot of their “play” time on the phone, a video game or a computer. Gone are the days when getting home from school meant having a snack, getting homework out of the way – then heading out the door for hours of adventure. Times have changed – but getting down and dirty is no longer a thing of the past. Enter the mud run, where kids and adults alike can slog through muck, get as grimy as they want and have gobs of fun in the process! So, once more, the Town of Gypsum will encourage folks to get sloppy in its annual mud run – Team Mudzulla Run – on Saturday, July 8, with obstacles galore to challenge participants. This year’s run, however, will not be a traditional distance course. Instead there will be five laps – each one-mile long. Racers are encouraged to finish as many laps as possible within the hour, but can stop at any point.

Of course, there will be a slew of obstacles – 12 per lap – that will take people out of their comfort zone and push their limits. But, then again, that’s what the fun’s all about. Right? So far the list includes mud pits and tunnels, cargo net climb, rope wall climb, steep hill climbs with mud pit landings, bucket carry swinging rings, low crawl mud crawl, wall climbs tire drags and monkey bars. As well, the KEEN Family Mud Run, slated for Saturday, August 12, during the Kids Adventure Game, will also see who can get the muddiest and dirtiest. We’re told that, at the finish line, there will be some “cool ways to wash off.” Of course, after a run through some heavy, wet mud, a cool way to wash off will be a welcomed surprise!

And the best tip when participating in a mud run? Secure your shoes with duct tape! Remember, this is not a walk in the park…it’s a sludgy, squishy, grubby, grungy mud run!


One Epic Event

When it comes to the coolest kids’ race on the planet, the Kids Adventure Games can’t be beat. It’s a time when kids put down their phones, tablets and X-boxes to take part in an epic, adventure packed, fun-filled weekend for an experience of a lifetime. The games push kids further to do more than they think they can do; they’re mountain biking on singletrack, belaying down a cliff, then slogging through a mud pit.

The Games are all about challenging the kids, yet meant to teach them to be determined, develop good character and teamwork along with building grit and resiliency. It pushes them out of their comfort zones and allows them to do more than they think they can do. And through it all, the kids learn how to think on their feet – and finish the day with a smile that won’t quit – for at least a week! It’s that much fun!

The Games are open to kids age 6 to 14, with the 12- to 14-year olds having a harder, longer course – none of it marked. Each child is given a map to follow, which they keep in a plastic bag so it doesn’t get wet. Throughout the course, racers are challenged with cargo nets across the river or creek, ziplining, repelling, slip ‘n sliding, slacklining over mud pits, mountain biking and hiking up and down through the trees -– all the while, navigating their way through the course. The teams leave in waves – perhaps three teams at a time, every two minutes. They may start on foot, or on a bike, or inner tube; it all depends on how the course is set up on the mountain. The kids who are the strongest and work well together usually complete the course in just under an hour.

A day or two before the event, the “adventure” racers can take a clinic to sharpen their skills and increase their – and their parents’ – confidence. Each clinic covers the core essentials of the adventures the kids will experience: climbing and rope skills, mountain biking – even managing an inner tube. It’s all about team building. The clinics are all about preparing the kids for the race day by building their confidence, teaching them teamwork and exposing them to some of the challenges they’ll encounter. It gives them a “heads up” so that they’re ready to rock ‘n roll! Essentially, the Kids Adventure Games is about building self confidence and teamwork. A life-long lesson, for sure – and lots of fun to boot!


Skate On

Hear that? It’s the sweet sound of the skate park. Not just for skateboarders (bikers and scooters utilize it, too), skate parks are the alternate heart of a community. Riders of all ages congregate here to learn, hone their craft or simply hang out with friends and spectate. In the Vail Valley, there are now three skate parks: one in Gypsum, one in Edwards and now in Vail. Each park is unique, just like the community that it serves, accommodating a variety of abilities.

“When I moved to Vail, in October of 1999, there were only two skate parks in the Vail Valley, one in Vail, and one in Gypsum,” says C.J. Poulin, a skateboard instructor and longtime Vail resident who recently moved to Durango. “Since then, the valley has seen several skate parks come and go and some that have been changed or updated since their first installment.”

The first skate park in Vail was a temporary structure, an outdoor obstacle course complete with half-pipes, banks, spines, hips and rails, that the town and recreation district created in 1997 for a six-week trial. It continued as a seasonal structure for almost two decades as the need for a permanent structure was discussed and debated. There were indoor ramps in Avon and Eagle for many years, as well as another outdoor sectional ramp in EagleVail that stayed up year-round. The outdoor park in Gypsum opened in 2001 and the Freedom Park skate park in Edwards opened in 2005. Vail finally got its permanent skate park last summer.

The oldest park in the valley, located in Gypsum, is the smallest park in the valley. “The concrete bowl is shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head,” Poulin says. “The best features of this park are the ‘top’ of Mickey’s head, where you can air into/out of the ‘ears’ and the long low ledge.” This park is great for “never-evers,” beginners, and intermediate skaters. The bonus for beginners is that it’s rarely overcrowded; it’s a great place to learn.


In all parks, helmets are required; knee pads and wrist guards are recommended. Skateboarding is an activity that you can enjoy as a youngster, as a mature adult and every age in between. Whether you’re just getting into skateboarding or are a seasoned pro, there is sure to be a park that will get you pumping through the bowls. Chuck on your Vans, grab your board and head to the park; it’s the perfect way to enjoy the sunshine.

The newest skate park in the Vail Valley, the Vail skate park is located in the Lionshead parking structure, utilizing a space between the parking areas that was previously vacant. Built by California Skate Parks with input from local skaters, the park is named for Zeke M. Pierce, an avid local skateboarder who lost his life in 2013 due to a mountain bike accident when he was just 15 years old. It’s a beautiful space, full of graceful lines and generous curves, rails to slide and gaps to fly. Artist Valerie Theberge created four colorful mosaic murals that brighten the $1.7 million facility, which is managed by the Vail Recreation District. Lights allow skaters to enjoy the park until at least 11 p.m.

“The Zeke M. Pierce Skatepark in Vail has a unique personality among skateparks,” says Chad Young, community programming director at the Vail Recreation District. “It is long and narrow and we optimized this layout to build a no-push street course. Skaters enjoy skating linking the street features with flow and skating some tranny.”

It’s also an interesting space: 25 feet wide, but more than 230 feet long, it was a challenge for the designers that resulted in some unique features, like the “vert” feature. The park has a half-pipe, street course and mini-bowl feature, with a couple signature features such as the pole-jam rail and tranny to wall-ride, Young explains. “I love the design of this park and think that the use of this until recently over-looked space is absolutely brilliant,” Poulin says. “I think this is a great destination park. This is definitely one of the parks you want to visit if you’re on a skate trip through Colorado.”



Geared more towards intermediate to advanced skaters, the new Vail park is perfect for those with a bit more practice under their wheels; expert and pro skaters will also love this park. In the summer, there are clinics from 10 a.m. – noon for skaters ages seven to 14; private lessons are also available.

Located in Edwards, this park has a decidedly different feel than the Vail space. Near both the high school and CMC campus, this park is accessible by the bike path with grass surrounding it and consists of two big bowls and a “street” course. While Poulin says that there are some features that don’t really make sense, like a “strange ripple in the seven-foot pool coped section” and a raised planter where there could be features or seating or shade, he also says that it’s a good all-around park.skate_2

“Lessons are taught at this park frequently throughout the summer because this park has features that are good for ‘never-evers,’ beginners, intermediate and expert skaters,” Poulin explains. “Pros would love the newer of the two bowls, but it might get boring quickly as that bowl is limited compared to other concrete bowls in Colorado.”


Next level Lacrosse Camp

What started as a fun adventure, something to do in the summers when the mountain was closed, has become a lifelong passion for Jon Urbana—and thousands of young lacrosse players are winning as a result.

Twenty-five years ago, Mark Foster, the father of one of young Jon’s friends, started a lacrosse (lax) team in Denver. This was well before the popularity that the sport is enjoying today here in the Rocky Mountains—it was more of an East Coast thing. It was one of two teams in the area; they played each other a lot.

“We took it seriously and fell in love with it. From those two teams, sixteen of us went on to play Division 1 lacrosse,” Urbana says. Playing with Division 1 athletes doesn’t usually happen until, well you’re also a Division 1 athlete. This isn’t the case for young laxers who sign up for Urbana’s Next Level Lacrosse Camp. The kids, some as young as seven, get to learn the basics from some of the top athletes from around the country. The energy is palpable, the excitement obvious and the skills they learn take them to the next level of their game.

After playing Division 1 lacrosse, Urbana founded Next Level Lacrosse Camps, which has become a go-to for young players and is run the same time as Vail’s popular, month-long Vail lacrosse shoot out. “It’s been awesome. Kids are learning a lot from guys on the East Coast, the sport is progressing. I love seeing it,” Urbana says with enthusiasm. “We’re bringing top playing talent to Vail Valley.”

“I think it’s a good sport for Colorado-minded people. It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s team oriented, it’s high scoring. Athletes can transfer their skills from lacrosse to basketball or ski racing. It teaches you so many forms for movement and hand, eye coordination,” Urbana waxes almost poetically about the sport he loves.

This year the camp will initiate a new format. It will be a one-day shooting camp; and young athletes will be coached by none other than All-American Notre Dame grad and lacrosse phenom Sergio Perkovic this year—before he heads off to Wall Street to start ‘real life’.

The camp staff is more than goofy counselors. Just ask any of the parents who love watching their kids learn new skills. “The number one thing that has made an impression on all of us is the quality of the staff that Jon puts together,” says Ryan Dienst.

“The current and former Division 1 lacrosse players are amazing. The better part is that Jon brings in really great guys who connect with the kids, build a relationship with them, and do so in a fun, relaxed atmosphere that both campers and coaches really enjoy.

“Becker (Dienst’s son) has kept in contact with a few of the coaches from every year he has done it and I love seeing him connect to older guys that he really looks up to and wants to emulate.”

And here’s the reason why the coaches love the camp so much: it’s held in Vail. They get to golf with the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, rock climb, white water raft, then get to coach young kids who emulate them; want to be them and follow in their cleated footsteps. The pros have a blast on and off the field—and it shows. “The coaches are truly elite as players and even more so as fine young men. They have a great way of relating to the boys and making hard work and learning fun,” says Paul Kessenich. “Not only are they instilling the essential lacrosse skills and teamwork philosophy, they are teaching the boys how to be respectful competitors. I cannot say enough good things about the organization of the camp and the quality of coaches for every position.”

The passion the kids have for the sport is trickling up—the Colorado Mammoth, the professional lax team based in Denver, has the largest attendance in the country and is one of the top teams in the U.S. and Canada. From a few kids tearing it up in Denver to thousands of lacrosse fanatics today, the sport is growing—thanks in part to passionate athletes and coaches like those found at Next Level Lacrosse Camp.

Who knows? Maybe one of the sharp shooters at the NLL camp will be headlining New Clubhouse and Restaurant with the Colorado Mammoth at the Pepsi Center in a few years.


Tour Fit Golf Labs

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Tour Fit Golf Labs utilizes state-of-the art technology including TrackMan, Sam PuttLab, and Radar to diagnose your swing and ball data.

Tour Fit Golf Lab, will be doing club fittings at the Cordillera Golf Club. Cordillera is a private Club in the Vail Valley with a wonderful value proposition, extreme exclusivity, Troon Prive’ management, and 7000 acres, hosting 4 different championship golf courses at four different elevations, topographies, climates, and weather patterns. The perfect place to perfect your swing this summer in the valley.

Tour Fit’s golf club fitting process utilizes diagnostic and scientific data derived from Trackman, high-speed cameras, radar, and proprietary fitting software to ensure precision and reliability during the examination of their clients. Tour Fit will analyze 21 various measurements including the best combination of head, shaft, grip, profile, weight, frequency and length to ensure that each club is built to maximize performance.

Tour Fit has opened their fittings to the public, offering 20% off at the Cordillera Golf Club. Schedule an appointment for your best game ever at www.tourfitgolflabs.com.