Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mountain Equipment Recyclers has $50 for you

Posted By on Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 12:23 PM

Since opening a few years ago, Mountain Equipment Recyclers has raised more than $50,000 for area nonprofits and charities via its give-back business model: 50 percent of donated item sales and 5 percent of consigned item sales are gifted. 

Now, to celebrate recently passing that milestone, the store will host a symbolic $500 giveaway, leading up to its Saturday, Aug. 16 Summer Clearance Sale, where some items will also be discounted up to 50 percent. 

Beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, Aug., 6, MER will hide a certificate per day (a voucher to be redeemed in-store for $50 cash) somewhere in town and give clues to its whereabouts via its Facebook page

So, follow to potentially win, if your detective prowess is as honed as your outdoor skills. 

Here's more info about the biz and its mission via a press release:
Those trekking poles and this backpack were purchased at MER. Which should give us no advantage in finding a hidden $50 voucher around town. Would that they hid it under a rock in a stream ... well, that'd be a sweet hiding spot. - CARRIE SIMISON
  • Carrie Simison
  • Those trekking poles and this backpack were purchased at MER. Which should give us no advantage in finding a hidden $50 voucher around town. Would that they hid it under a rock in a stream ... well, that'd be a sweet hiding spot.
Mountain Equipment Recyclers has reached $50,000 in charitable giving since opening three years ago! MER is a retail store selling new and used outdoor gear. The business model is built around giving back to the community. 50% of donated item sales and 5% of consigned item sales are given back to local charities. The store opened in 2011 under the premise of giving to organizations assisting military families. Every year the store chooses new military-focused non-profit partners. Since opening, the store has given to AspenPointe, The Home Front Cares, Lifequest Transitions, Thanks Troops, Veteran’s Expeditions, Paradox Sports, Phoenix Multisport, Project Healing Waters and Project Sanctuary. It has since expanded to an ongoing partnership with local Trails and Open Space Coalition. Other organizations MER has donated to include Upadowna, Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Catamount Institute, Blue Star Recyclers, Urban Peak, Kids on Bikes, and more. Find more about non-profit giving from MER on the web site here

The idea of MER was born from a love of the outdoors, compassion for struggling service members in our community, and a desire to create a humble, friendly atmosphere not often seen in today’s profit-first driven businesses. MER sells new and used outdoor gear including camping, backpacking, cycling, kayaking, skis, snowboards, fly fishing, apparel, and more. The store opened with consignment and donation items with a modest budget. The store currently has 950+ consignors and has grown to include new gear including closeouts, dealer samples, etc. Free coffee and tea are always offered by the friendly staff. Periodic parties are held with live music, free lunch (often grilled burgers from Mike the owner), prizes and giveaways, and more. The store has developed into a true community-oriented enterprise. In 2012, the store introduced online sales through its web site.

MER has received a tremendous amount of media support since opening. Articles, stories, blogs, mentions, have been given from The Gazette, The Denver Post, KOAA-News Channel 5, The Independent, Colorado Springs Business Journal, The Cheyenne Edition, Westside Pioneer, Backpacker Magazine, Pikes Peak Sports, Out There Colorado, Upadowna, and more.  ...

Most important, the store thanks all of the customers and community members, who shop, consign, donate, and promote the store. They are the reason $50,000 has been given to great non-profits!

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

It could be worse: the Rockies could be the Rockies

Posted By on Sun, Jul 27, 2014 at 4:00 AM

The Colorado Rockies organization should be particularly good at canning, jarring and evading tornados by now, considering the time they’ve spent in the cellar over the last 20 years. And as the sweltering portion of summer sets in, the Rockies are coasting down that all-too-familiar road of mediocrity once again.

It’s the pitching some years and the bats in others, but all excuses are moot by October. Sure, they’ve given their fans a few magical rides, once even culminating in a trip to the World Series, but those stretches have always resulted in the feeling of a dream undeserved. It’s in these moments that those true Rockies fans, the ones who want to see their team compete and win (not those who use Coors Field as a gigantic, overpriced bar) begin to feel like they’re stuck in a recurring nightmare.

During these bouts of shame we would all do well to remember the underachieving older brother of the Rockies, their namesake, hockey’s Rockies.

In 1976 the Colorado Rockies began their six-year stint in the NHL. They were terrible. And they never got better.

They made the playoffs once on a technicality and were subsequently embarrassed by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round. The Rockies never won a third of their games in any given season, and had to promote fights in order to boost attendance. They were abysmal and pathetic even with a roster peppered with occasional stars like Lanny McDonald and electric coach Don Cherry, and after the lackluster ‘81-’82 season, the team relocated and became everyone’s favorite crypto-zoological themed club, the New Jersey Devils. It was a dark time for those who had clamored for the NHL to come to Denver.

Most of those wounds were healed after the NHL returned to Colorado in 1995 and the Avalanche gave the state its first major sports championship. By now the Rockies of hockey have been nearly forgotten.

So if you’re sitting on the couch this summer watching another doubleheader turn into double-defeat, and feeling that a trip to the playoffs is laughable at best, remember that even though the Rockies are currently (and usually) pretty bad, things could be much worse. Just ask those fading few old-timers donning peculiar, long-sleeved Rockies jerseys. They’ll be sure to tell you of an icy-cold, bicentennial fever dream they’d prefer to forget.

Nic R. Krause was born a cranky, curmudgeon of a child in a Minnesota suburb. He was plucked from the muggy tundra and relocated to Colorado Springs 22 years ago. From intramural jai-alai, to his complicated relationship with the Minnesota Vikings, Nic, plainly stated, is bonkers for sports. Follow him on Twitter @NicRKrause.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Switchbacks FC break ground on new stadium

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 1:13 PM


With City Council having given its approval for a 10-year lease of Sand Creek Stadium, despite opposition from the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks broke ground on stadium improvements last week. In attendance were local luminaries like Mayor Steve Bach, as well as owner Ed Ragain and others involved in the construction process.

Roughly $2 million in upgrades are being overseen by Populous, who have pretty much designed every sports stadium built in the last two decades, including the Arsenal Football Club's Emirates Stadium. It will be built by Bryan Construction and boast 3,500 seats, a press box, luxury suites and public Wi-Fi. The team already has Nike and Penrose-St. Francis Health Services as sponsors.

"One of the things that Ed told us early on was I want to design something that just speaks soccer — make it soccer," says Populous' Kevin O'Grady. "I don’t want to think about the concerts, I don’t want to think about the multi-use right now. Make it intimate, make it fun, make it interesting."

The team says fall should bring an exhibition announcement, jersey and mascot debuts, tryouts and signings.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

The good ol’ boys of the NFL

Posted By on Sun, Jul 20, 2014 at 10:00 AM

  • Nic Krause
As the National Football League continues to carry out its plan for global domination, it’s only a matter of time before we see another crop of expansion teams ready to capitalize on fresh, new markets in the United States and abroad.

NFL, if you’ll listen, I have a few ideas for new teams:

How about the Beijing Yellowskins, with a cracked fortune cookie spilling out as an emblem, “Ching-Chong” written on the little, white slip? Or the San Francisco Rainbows, with uniforms bursting with fabulous, vibrant colors and cleverly slimming lines? 

What’s that you say? Those racially insensitive ideas perpetuate cruel prejudices on an enormous scale?

Why then is the Redskins, an inherently racist moniker, allowed to continue to represent our nation’s capital in the mighty NFL?

Every time the Redskins logo is shown on television or printed on a T-shirt, it serves as reminder that when our country was founded, somebody else was already here, and the white man had to slowly and systematically remove those previous tenants before finally settling in. It’s a reminder that many of the laws and legislations quartering off and weakening Native American communities were written and passed in Washington D.C.

But the refusal of the Redskins to change their name is only one part of the timeline for a team with a rich history of racism.

The Washington Redskins was the last NFL team to integrate; they did so a full decade after the rest of the league. George Preston Marshall, the owner of the franchise and a legendary racist, held out as long as was absolutely possible before he let an African-American join his club.

On Dec. 4, 1961, the Redskins organization reluctantly drafted their very first black player. They did so not out of any sudden sense of moral obligation, but by way of direct pressure from the federal government. The Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, threatened to end the Redskins’ lease with District of Columbia Stadium. They were, after all, playing in the home of the U.S. government and in direct, geographical alignment with the National Mall.

Twenty-one months later, in that same National Mall, Martin Luther King Jr. told a crowd of thousands about a dream he’d had. It seems unbelievable that in a time when race was coming to the forefront, no one raised a question about the appropriateness of the Redskins name. The team had finally put a black man on its roster, and in such an arduous war, apparently that was enough.

I wonder what would’ve happened if MLK had tacked on a subtle postscript after his historical speech. Something like, “Ya’ll know that ‘Redskins’ is as racist a team name as you can possibly come up with, right? I mean, it’s identifying an entire culture, one with many unique tribes and individuals and ideologies, by the color of their skin. It’s kinda the reason we showed up here today. So, if you’re gonna start somewhere, you may wanna start with that. Just sayin’.” (I imagine him with more eloquence, but you get the idea.)

The Freedom March convened in D.C. because that place should be a beacon of justice and hope to the rest of the United States, and to the world. It’s a place where the highest political discussion is held, and where rights are preserved. It’s a symbol of the freedom and liberties you are granted upon becoming an American citizen. 

Perhaps the U.S. government lacks the chutzpah it had in those Kennedy years, and the team has moved from inside the District to nearby Landover, Maryland, but the Redskins still bear the name of our nation’s capital on prime-time television, broadcast to the world. Someone in the Capitol should have a problem with that.

The National Football League is one of America’s most humongous brands, and is shaping up to be among its greatest exports. As the NFL looks to expand towards Europe and beyond, it may be time once again for the feds to apply a little direct pressure. It is in the best interest, not to mention the duty, of the United States government to make it clear that racism of any kind — especially on such a large scale and in the home of the president — will not be tolerated.

Nic R. Krause was born a cranky, curmudgeon of a child in a Minnesota suburb. He was plucked from the muggy tundra and relocated to Colorado Springs 22 years ago. From intramural jai-alai, to his complicated relationship with the Minnesota Vikings, Nic, plainly stated, is bonkers for sports.
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Monday, July 14, 2014

International Climbers' Festival: the next generation

Posted By on Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 2:24 PM

The International Climbers' Festival, held last weekend, has been around for 21 years. I found out about it two days beforehand. 

My friend Emma called with a proposal: "Hey, I have nothing to do this weekend before I leave on Monday at 5 a.m. for a research trip. Let's go to a climbing festival!"
I am a climber; at least, I was for the three times I've been to a gym in the past year. As an Independent intern, my "projects" include news briefs and a few short stories. I "send" emails, occasionally. So when I climb with Emma, I make sure backs are turned to the wall where I'm bouldering a VI.  Emma tackles 5.11s and makes conversation with the 5.12 climber who lives out of his van, free of commitments and accustomed to accidentally running into the most picturesque landscapes in the country. 

I want to go to these landscapes, too.

"OK, I can make that work," I respond to Emma. "Where is it, again?"

"Lander, Wyoming!" 

Two days later, I find myself in the back of a '96 Ford Explorer with little air conditioning, heading to camp in Lander's City Park. My newfound climbing family and I will enjoy free T-shirts, food and gear, and test our strength at one of the most concentrated climbing areas in the nation. Other events include dyno and pull-up competitions, trail runs, live music and TED-style talks.

With over a thousand routes of sandstone, granite and limestone, the area surrounding Lander is a cragsman's paradise. It's no wonder world-famous free-soloers such as Alex Honnold, and late greats like Lynn Hill, flock to the hidden treasures of Sink Canyon and Wild Iris Crag.  

While there, I half-led my first climb (a 5.7) and send a 5.9. Not bad for the resident yogi tag-along. I am proud — until I attend a photo clinic led by George Bruce Wilson of Three Peak Films. He's recently done a shot movie capturing the "Send Bros;" aka 11- and 13-year-olds Jonathan and Cameron Hörst, both of whom are in the nationwide elite of crag-crushing kiddos.  

Jon Hörst on "County Ten Gunslinger" (12.c). Wilson set up a cable cam to document his ascent. - HANNAH FLEMING
  • Hannah Fleming
  • Jon Hörst on "County Ten Gunslinger" (12.c). Wilson set up a cable cam to document his ascent.

As I watch the "Send Bros" do what they do best, I look around at other photographers and climbers posted at the crag. What have we really done with our lives? 

Jon and Cam's father, Eric Hörst, is a climbing guru and author of several books on how to get fit enough to climb 5.12s. While I'm considering whether or not I should read these books, I'm watching Cam Hörst on "Ghost Moon," a challenging 5.13d up an arête with small pockets and a gnarly overhang. His father is coaching him through it.

Cam falls. Cam swears. Cam rests. Cam tries to move again. I'm exhausted just watching this kid try for the hold, and praying he doesn't rip off his tiny fingers.  

"Stay positive, Cam!" Eric encourages. 

Cam Horst falls after attempting a tricky move on "Ghost Moon" (13.d). - HANNAH FLEMING
  • Hannah Fleming
  • Cam Horst falls after attempting a tricky move on "Ghost Moon" (13.d).

Staying positive is all you can do when you're hundreds of feet off the ground. As Lynn Hill says in a presentation later that day: "Put your ego to the side." The festival is about celebrating climbing in its truest sense, and encouraging younger climbers to continue the sport. 

I hike out of the crag with my fellow photographers, stars in my eyes, and meet Emma in the parking lot. 
"How was the clinic?" she asked.

"I met an 11-year-old that could kick my ass." 

Cam Hörst, age 13, completed his first 14.a in Red River Gorge two years ago. - HANNAH FLEMING
  • Hannah Fleming
  • Cam Hörst, age 13, completed his first 14.a in Red River Gorge two years ago.

The top of "When I was a Young Girl" (13a). Jon's 4-foot-6 frame doesn't hold him back. - HANNAH FLEMING
  • Hannah Fleming
  • The top of "When I was a Young Girl" (13a). Jon's 4-foot-6 frame doesn't hold him back.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Sports related injury

Posted By on Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 4:44 PM

If I were to be accosted in a dark, unfamiliar alley by hoodlums, inter-dimensional beings or any creature of the night, I would almost surely stand still and accept whatever doom was impending. No matter how afraid I was of the grisly teeth or the rusty switchblades wielded by my attacker, I would be so overcome by a separate fear that I would in effect play possum. That thing that I am so overwhelmingly afraid of is simple, basic running.

The threat of prolonged, physical exertion is enough to give me sweaty nightmares. It’s not only running that inspires such fear; jumping, climbing and swimming produce a similar, wide-eyed palpitation. The tools of the human getaway frighten me more than any beasty I might deem necessary to get away from. Thankfully, sit-ups have never developed into a self-defense technique.

I aim to say that I’m particularly out of shape. It’s a fact that makes me ill-suited to participate in sports that even toddlers are meant to get the hang of with ease.

It’s not just my squishy and unbending body that keeps me from becoming an athletic superstar; I throw a wonky spiral, my free-throws clink and clank off of rims (if I’m lucky), I skate like a seizing duck and I hack, thrash and cheat my way to triple-bogeys. I will never have a tall,oak trophy case brimming with golden medals, my name etched on each, and those childhood dreams of fourth quarters, third periods, bottoms of the ninth, last laps and buzzer beaters will remain just that: dreams.

The truth is I have nothing to be sour about. The number of folks that actually get to participate in a game-winning drive or a match-ending ace is miniscule. I’m among the majority, and among friends when considering how many children fantasized on front lawns about victory parades and crowds gone wild. It is a common storyline in the saga that is the dashed American Dream.

We tend to avoid things that have scarred us in the past, specifically things that scarred us in a dramatic way and at a developmental stage. As a kid, I was always picked last for kickball, and I was never able to climb the rope in gym class. On the field, I was repeatedly tackled into a sobbing ball of skinned knees and bloody noses by those lucky few with strong genes and an eye toward athletic scholarship. Why then do I, after being scorned and humiliated by sports, return to watch them with such fervor? Why do I invite the pain, season after season, back into my life?

Maybe it’s because when my guy hits a grand slam, or rushes for a touchdown, it feels a little bit like my wishful thinking helped swing that bat or kept those legs churning. It is inexplicably comforting to holler and cheer and cry alongside a crowd of thousands that know just how I feel. Hell, it could just be the Illuminati programming me to love something that can be merchandised. Or, conversely, it could be because I hope that we’re pushing toward a day when the competitive nature of humanity manifests not as violent crimes, corruption and war but as athletic competition, finally fair. Or maybe it’s just some big, damn mystery that I’m never going to solve.

In any event: I’d like to continue the search. I’d like to dive into the nature of sports and how they are shaped by and help shape our society. Sports can be funny, sensational, empowering, traumatizing, comforting and occasionally just plain old strange. Something as simple as a game can have a resounding, global effect on our human community. I’d like to discuss why and how sports do the things that they do to the world that we live in.

I can read my future like a box score. It’s full of spilt beers, screaming at televisions, embarrassing face-paint ruined by crooked-faced crying, ludicrous superstitions and boneheaded declarations, sleepless nights, and oh-so-much disappointment. But I look forward to every moment of it — even if I can’t begin to tell you why.

Nic R. Krause was born a cranky, curmudgeon of a child in a Minnesota suburb. He was plucked from the muggy tundra and relocated to Colorado Springs 22 years ago. From intramural jai-alai, to his complicated relationship with the Minnesota Vikings, Nic, plainly stated, is bonkers for sports.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Stephen Hawking, the World Cup, and the power of Oi!

Posted By on Wed, Jun 4, 2014 at 5:20 PM

The Business
  • The Business

A bizarrely eclectic array of experts have been weighing in on England’s World Cup prospects over this past week.

First came Dr. Stephen Hawking's hilariously droll unveiling of his “World Cup Success Formula,” which included the observation that, when it comes to penalty kicks, "England couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo."

Next up are a team of economists who announced on Monday that England belongs to a “group of death” unlikely to make it past the first stage.

All of which means it’s time for the Oi! punk movement to weigh in.

Fortunately for Colorado Anglophiles, The Business will be stirring up the punters at Denver’s Marquis Theater this coming Sunday, with Colorado Springs’ own 99 Bottles doing opening honors.

You can read more about the veteran South London Oi! band — whose “England 5, Germany 1” single became a British soccer anthem — in this week’s Reverb. Meanwhile, here's Stephen...

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Six locals who don't get the problem with the racist Donald Sterling

Posted By on Tue, Apr 29, 2014 at 5:31 PM

Sterling: 'We don't evaluate what's right and wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture.' - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
  • Sterling: 'We don't evaluate what's right and wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture.'
Most people in the Colorado Springs area had what's probably the right reaction to the news that noted bigot (and Los Angeles Clippers owner) Donald Sterling was today banned from the NBA for life, fined $2.5 million and will potentially have his team taken from him by the other owners: Pure joy.

Here's the National Basketball Association's decision, as delivered today by commissioner Adam Silver:

"The central findings of the investigation are that the man whose voice is heard on the recording and on a second recording from the same conversation that was released on Sunday is Mr. Sterling and that the hateful opinions voiced by that man are those of Mr. Sterling," said Silver, adding later: "Accordingly, effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA."

But not all locals seemed to think it a good thing that people experience the corrective blowback for outrageous actions — including pretty much everybody in this Gazette thread — so let's look at a few people who just don't quite seem to get the problem. (Plus somebody who takes the issue to Shaq.)

And let's not forget boys and girls: You're free to speech, but not to skip the consequences of your speech-ing.

What a country.


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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Owens resigns as CC hockey coach

Posted By on Sun, Apr 6, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Scott Owens
  • Scott Owens

Scott Owens, head hockey coach at Colorado College for the past 15 seasons, resigned Sunday morning on the heels of his worst year, which ended with a record of 7-24-6.

There had been much speculation about whether Owens would be given one more season to right the ship, considering his overall mark of 324-228-54 — making him CC's winningest hockey coach in the program's long history. Another factor thought to be weighing in Owens' favor was being a former CC goaltender and 1979 graduate.

But a release sent out Sunday by CC's athletic department said that Owens and Ken Ralph, the school's athletics director, agreed after a postseason review that the coach would leave.

“I have been fortunate to have had the best job in college hockey for the past 15 seasons. It is time for a new coach to enjoy working with our players,” Owens said in the release. “I appreciate the support and encouragement I have received during my tenure and I hope the new leader of the team will be treated with the same respect. This is a tremendous institution and I am proud of what we accomplished here. I will always be a Tiger.”

Owens' teams won three regular-season conference titles and earned seven trips to the NCAA tournament, most recently a trip to the national quarterfinals in 2011 after a first-round upset win over Boston College. He coached 16 All-Americans and two Hobey Baker award winners in the past decade.

“We are thankful to Coach Owens for his years of dedicated service as our head hockey coach,” Ralph said in the release. “His accomplishments during this time behind the bench for the Tigers speak for themselves.”

Owens became CC's head coach in 1999 replacing Don Lucia, who left to become head coach at Minnesota.

The news release said a national search will begin immediately for Owens' replacement, though one candidate might be current CC assistant Eric Rud, who captained the Tigers during their run to the NCAA title game in 1996 (when CC lost in overtime to Michigan).

CC President Jill Tiefenthaler said, “The academic achievement of our student athletes always comes first, and under Coach Owens our players were consistently honored for their performance as students. I am grateful to Scott for keeping academics a top priority and supporting our players in their studies.”

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

USA Pro Challenge poster contest wants you

Posted By on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 12:55 PM

2012's winner, by James Billiter
  • 2012's winner, by James Billiter
Hooray! The USA Pro Challenge is coming back to the Springs this year, and with that something for you creative types to show off some hometown pride.

The Stage 4 Local Organizing Committee is hosting a poster contest for the Springs leg of the race. Anyone — "professional, amateur, aspiring" — is welcome to compete in the free contest. The basic image requirement is "something that captures the unique landscape of Colorado Springs as well as the extreme physical and mental fortitude required for success in the USA Pro Challenge," says Peter Scoville, Colorado Springs LOC co-chair, in the press release.

To enter, you must submit your design to the USA Pro Challenge - Stage 4 Poster Contest Page on Facebook. The image must comply with Facebook's rules and uploading requirements, but it must also be able to be enlarged to 11 by 17 or 18 by 24 inches with a dpi of 300 or greater, should the poster be chosen as the winner.

You can submit multiple entries, but they must be done at the same time.

Submission is open now through April 18, and the winners will be announced May 2 after being vetted by a local panel (of yet-to-be-named judges). First place will receive two tickets to the LOC Stage 4 VIP area during the Challenge in August, plus the chance to get your work out there.

In 2012, the last time the Challenge came through town, a man from Ohio won the Springs leg of the poster contest. Yes, he definitely did a good job (according to Mayor Steve Bach, Chris Carmichael of Carmichael Training Systems and Steve McCauley of USA Cycling — not really design experts but whatever) but can we get someone from the 719 to represent this time?

The Challenge proper is also hosting its own poster contest to cover the entire race. The entry period and requirements are largely the same. Find out more here.
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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

20 years later: Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan and Colorado Springs

Posted By on Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 12:36 PM

From the documentary: Bill Hybl speaking in 1994.
  • From the documentary: Bill Hybl speaking in 1994.
Considering the medal shut-out, women's figure skating didn't exactly rock the world at the Sochi Olympics, where Russia's Adelina Sotnikova won gold in a somewhat controversial decision.

What did make a splash, again, were the 1994 events between top skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding and Co. The 20-year anniversary was played up hard by NBC, but the December release of a new ESPN documentary by Academy Award-nominated director Nanette Burstein first rekindled interest in a big way.

30 for 30: The Price of Gold, which can currently be streamed on Netflix, grippingly retells the story that began Jan. 6, 1994 in Detroit, with archival footage and current interviews with related players, including Harding herself. (Another great account of those months is Sarah Marshall's piece in The Believer.) 

In the latter half of the documentary, however, a familiar face makes an appearance: Colorado Springs resident Bill Hybl, a regional power player who runs the El Pomar Foundation, among other responsibilities, and is a former head of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Though he didn't occupy that role at the time, he was asked by the head of U.S. Figure Skating Association to chair the committee — which met on the third floor at Penrose House — that eventually recommended Harding be stripped of membership and banned for life, a move described in the documentary as a death sentence.

We couldn't reach him before the Olympics, but Hybl talked to the Indy last week by phone from a trip in California, where he said that he still agrees with the decision to boot the figure skater who was controversial even before the attack on Kerrigan.

"Oh absolutely, absolutely," he says. "I believe that based on the totality of the evidence that the recommendations and decisions of the hearing panel were not only correct, I think they were appropriate."

Of the documentary itself, Hybl joked about the round glasses he was wearing, and said he thought it was well done, but that "you could argue it was really more sympathetic to Tonya Harding than the facts would have really portrayed."

Nancy Kerrigan in 2007. - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
  • Nancy Kerrigan in 2007.
"Let me just say that I had concluded my first term as president of the United States Olympic Committee at the end of 1992, I think it was November, and Jerry Lace, the executive director of the United States Figure Skating Association, talked with me in January of 1994, after the incident with Nancy Kerrigan in Detroit," he says. "And at that point there was circumstantial evidence that I think pointed to Tonya Harding’s complicity in the event, and the United States Figure Skating Association designated a five-person panel to conduct disciplinary hearings in regard to the incident.

"And there was no foregone conclusion. I think that we had four members of the panel, three from the United States Figure Skating Association who had been actively involved, one athlete, and then they asked me if I would chair the panel." 

As far as the media whirlwind that followed, including media trying to have Harding's car towed so that she would have to come out of the building and talk to them, Hybl says he "was surprised at the amount of national interest, as well as local interest, in what was going on."

In the documentary, Harding's portrayed as a tomboy who flees from an abusive relationship with her mother into an abusive relationship with her husband; who skates with incredible strength — she was the first American woman to land the triple axel in a competition — but with little grace, an impression that she felt always kept her on the outside of the skating world, especially as compared to Nancy Kerrigan.

Hybl says Kerrigan's "a talented, graceful, strong skater," while complimenting Harding as "athletic, with a great deal of determination." It's an opinion based on years of involvement in the sport.

"I think figure skating is truly one of the sports which is not only exacting, but it’s athletic and it’s very graceful in the way that it’s done at the top levels," he says. "El Pomar supported the move of figure skating to Colorado Springs; was involved in their establishment of a museum; and I go clear back to 1977, when I was general counsel for the World Figure Skating Championships, which were held in the old Broadmoor World Arena. So, yes, I have been involved with figure skating — and not as a figure skater, don’t get me wrong — but at that time, I had been involved for a number of years."

As for the ultimate question — whether Hybl thinks Harding helped plan the attack, something she denies to this day, saying only that she helped obstruct the investigation under threat of murder by her husband Jeff Gillooly, which he denies — the former committee chairman offers a careful non-answer.

"You know, that’s an interesting question, and I think each member of the panel would probably have a little view of it," Hybl says. "But I have found through the years that the best answer to that question, and a variety of others, is to go back, as you would in your legal system, and think about the totality of the evidence and that’s what I’ll stick with."

Below are documents released to the Indy from El Pomar and the USFSA detailing the committee's creation, its report and remarks Hybl made to Congress in 1995.

USFSA's decision regarding Tonya Harding

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sky Sox hold national-anthem auditions

Posted By on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 4:20 PM


The Colorado Springs Conservatory and Colorado Springs Sky Sox are teaming up to host auditions on March 8 for the baseball team's upcoming season, which begins April 11. Between noon and 4 p.m., team staff, opera singer Amber Marek and area radio DJs will assess hopefuls at Chapel Hills Mall.

"Soloists, duets, trios and quartets are invited to audition for 'The Star Spangled Banner' and 'God Bless America,'" says a press release. "Interested parties who would like to reserve an audition time between noon and 2:00 PM should contact Brian Paneral in the Sky Sox promotions department at (719) 597-1449 or through e-mail at"

Ultimately, though, however you flex your pipes, you still will probably never be as cute as these kids from Columbia Elementary School. Action starts at 1:35.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Why isn't the U.S. Olympic Committee taxed?

Posted By on Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 1:29 PM

  • Mike Fleming
The Olympics in Sochi is front and center, prompting a policy wonk with the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution to have a thought:

Why doesn't the U.S. Olympic Committee pay taxes?

Read the entire column here.

Or, here's an excerpt:

The law says tax exempt status is granted to groups that “foster national or international amateur sports competition.” But do the hyper-marketed modern games even remotely fit the ideal of amateur sports? Sure, some athletes who represent the U.S. are amateurs but a great many others are highly paid professionals or marketing magnets. Snowboarder Shaun White–who won no medals– makes a reported $8 million-a-year in endorsements.

And then there is USOC itself. By almost any standard, it is a commercial enterprise. It exists primarily to help organize a bi-annual made-for-TV entertainment extravaganza. Yes, it provides some support for athletes (though surprisingly little). But its real business is marketing itself and playing its part in a two-week orgy of athletic commercialization.
Back in 2009, the city provided the USOC with a new headquarters building downtown, which is still held by the City of Colorado Springs Public Facilities Authority but will be given to the USOC If it sticks around here long enough. The city also spent millions to renovate the Olympic Training Center, at Boulder Street and Union Boulevard.

Neither of those is subject to property taxes, of course, because the USOC is tax-exempt.

If you got to the El Paso County Assessor's website and search for United States Olympic Committee, you can see that the USOC's training center is worth $41.2 million. The USOC also owns a tract of land out east valued at $400,000.

So if it paid property taxes to the city, which it doesn't, that would amount to about $51,600 a year. That doesn't include any other agency's mill levy, such as the county or school district.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

To the Denver Broncos: Next year

Posted By on Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Last night's Super Bowl XLVIII played out like some hellish flashback to the Denver Broncos of 1987 through '90. So here's quarterback Peyton Manning arriving in New Jersey, before the onslaught — and here's to next year.
  • Shutterstock/Devin Gustafson

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hick names a Colorado mountain after every Broncos player

Posted By on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 1:54 PM

Pikes Peak — I mean, Joel Dreessen — with the orange and blue. - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
  • Pikes Peak — I mean, Joel Dreessen — with the orange and blue.

Come Super Bowl Sunday, all locals should look to the west and salute the 14,115-foot monster towering over Colorado Springs: Joel Dreessen. For the Denver Broncos tight end will lend his name to Pikes Peak, for just the one day, under Gov. John Hickenlooper's proclamation to name each 14er in the state after a Broncos player.

The governor reasoned that Dreessen deserves the honor since he's "a Colorado State University Ram and only player on the roster to graduate from a Colorado university."

As far as the proclamation, it begins: "WHEREAS, the State of Colorado is confident that the Denver Broncos will beat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII" and goes on to declare Feb. 2 as Denver Broncos-Mania Day (with a snark at Seattle beer thrown in).

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