Sports

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Transit Mix announces plan for mountain bike park in Colorado Springs in midst of controversial quarry fight

Posted By on Wed, Apr 4, 2018 at 11:54 AM

Graphic renderings of the proposed mountain bike park were produced "at the direction of the City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, which financed the renderings with funds Transit Mix donated to the City for the purpose." - FLOWRIDE CONCEPTS
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  • Graphic renderings of the proposed mountain bike park were produced "at the direction of the City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, which financed the renderings with funds Transit Mix donated to the City for the purpose."
In the midst of a controversial fight over a proposed new quarry, Transit Mix has announced plans to make an older quarry off West Woodmen Road (that would close if the new one is approved) a world-class mountain biking park. The Springs currently lacks such an amenity, and this would be the largest such park in the state.

Transit Mix, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Continental Materials, has long been trying to establish a quarry on a portion of the 1,200-acre historic Hitch Rack Ranch, just outside Colorado Springs to the south on Highway 115. The beautiful property is known to be home to a great variety of wildlife, and is surrounded by a scattering of homes.

Not surprisingly, the idea of a quarry in the area has been met with resistance. Many homeowners certainly don't want it (and many say they did not suspect they'd end up next to a quarry when they built their homes). Some environmental groups oppose it. And, perhaps most damagingly, the powerful El Pomar Foundation, which owns land in the area, vocally opposes the proposal.

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In a unusual move, the state Mined Land Reclamation Board initially denied a permit for the quarry, in spite of staff recommendations to approve it. Transit Mix is shooting for approval a second time. The proposal will be considered by MLRB on April 25 and 26. If approved, the proposal would next go to the El Paso County Commissioners, which would consider a special use permit.

In the meantime, Transit Mix has been wooing leaders and citizens in Colorado Springs to latch onto the idea of a new quarry. Many City Councilors and state legislators have come out in support of Transit Mix's offer to close and move two batch plants (on Costilla Street and North Nevada Avenue) and accelerate the closure of two existing quarries (Black Canyon near Manitou Springs and Pikeview in northwest Colorado Springs) if granted a permit to open a quarry at Hitch Rack Ranch. (Opponents have claimed that Black Canyon and Pike View have been closed for some time and that they are marked as "open" only to avoid required restoration. Although Daniel Cole, speaking on behalf of Transit Mix, says Pikeview produced 300,000 tons of limestone in 2017.)
FLOWRIDE CONCEPTS
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Now, Transit Mix has announced yet another goodie: A mountain bike park that would be the largest in the state on the Pikeview quarry site — again, only if Hitch Rack is approved. The city's parks system would be given control of the property and would be responsible for building the park.

A Transit Mix release notes:

A mountain bike park in Colorado Springs has been a community vision for a number of years. In 2013, the Colorado Springs Parks Department led an extensive community planning process to update the Parks System Master Plan. The approved 2014 Parks System Master Plan recommends broadening recreational opportunities within Colorado Springs, to include a destination mountain bike park. The master plan, viewable here, mentions the need for a bike park on pages 136 and 141.

When Transit Mix informed the City of Colorado Springs of the potential accelerated closure of Pikeview, the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department shared its vision for a community mountain bike park on the property.

Subsequently, Transit Mix, the Colorado Springs Parks Department and area cycling advocates and organizations engaged in a series of conversations about what the Pikeview Mountain Bike Park should look like. The ideas generated from these conversations shaped the concept plan released today.
Transit Mix notes that the plan has the support of local cycling advocate groups including USA Cycling. The Indy has also spoken to Cory Sutela of Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates, who expressed great excitement for the plan.
FLOWRIDE CONCEPTS
  • Flowride Concepts
Transit Mix details the plan:

The concept plan for a mountain bike park at Pikeview envisions an extensive variety of trails, loops and features that cater to all types and styles of riders. Projected amenities include mountain, downhill and slopestyle tracks, a BMX and pump track, a youth learning area, flow trails, a cyclocross course and a bike polo field. The plan allows for trail networks that could be utilized for organized races and events. It also provides space for facilities and amenities that are compatible with the bike park, including family picnic areas, a playground and a large dog park.

Pikeview offers several unique characteristics conducive to a bike park. The size of the parcel, approximately 150 acres, would provide significant space to create a variety of trail types, features and experiences. Other bike parks along the Front Range are much smaller in size, ranging from a few acres to 40 acres. The nearly 900 feet of vertical change in elevation at Pikeview would allow for longer, steeper and more challenging trails. Local rocks from the site could be used to create sustainable technical features in the trail as well. Transit Mix’s existing maintenance shop could serve as a small events center, offering rental space for parties, bike clinics, races, bike service and rentals and a small coffee shop or concessionaire.

Furthermore, Pikeview’s location adjacent to the Pike National Forest provides for possible trail connections to the national forest and an existing trail network atop Rampart Range. The views from the property are uninterrupted and expansive, further enhancing the users’ experience of the property. There are also opportunities for regional trail connectivity with the existing Foothills Trail, a tier II urban trail at the entrance to Pikeview.
John Hazlehurst contributed to this report. This post has been updated.
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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

USOC CEO resigns; Suthers extols his leadership

Posted By on Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 4:12 PM

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As news broke of the resignation of U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers called him "a principled and ethical leader."

Blackmun had come under fire in recent weeks for his apparent reluctance to, as the Washington Post reported, "intervene in a series of sex abuse scandals, most recently the Larry Nassar case that has engulfed USA Gymnastics and prompted three Congressional inquiries."
Mayor Suthers: Sorry to see Blackmun resign. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Mayor Suthers: Sorry to see Blackmun resign.

The news comes in the wake of calls by two senators for Blackmun to resign over the Nassar case, the Post reported, but USOC board chair Larry Probst said his departure stems from health concerns. Blackmun, 60, recently had surgery for prostate cancer and needs additional treatment, Probst told the Post.

The USOC is based in Colorado Springs, which adopted the moniker "Olympic City U.S.A." In an interview on KRCC on Feb. 28, Suthers called the brand unique and among the most valuable in the world.

The sports agency has headquartered in Colorado Springs since it moved here from New York City in 1978. In 2009, the city spent roughly $50 million to revamp a downtown building into a new headquarters for the USOC and upgrade the Olympic Training Center. Following the controversial deal, the developer was indicted on fraud charges at least partially linked to the deal, and ill will grew between citizens and City Council over what some called an unnecessary give-away.

But Suthers believes the label Olympic City is a sturdy one and gives the city an incomparable distinction.

In a statement issued on Feb. 28 shortly after news broke of Blackmun's resignation, Suthers said:
Scott Blackmun has done an outstanding job as the CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee and I am sad to learn of his resignation. I have found Scott to be a principled and ethical leader of the USOC and it has been a pleasure to work with him. The relationship between the City of Colorado Springs and the USOC has never been better and much of the credit for that belongs to Scott.

My staff and I wish Scott the very best as he deals with his health issue and we are genuinely grateful for all he has done for the Olympic movement and for Olympic City USA.
The USOC made Blackmun the secondary topic in a lengthy news release about reforms and initiatives aimed at protecting athletes from abuse. Allegations of various types of ill treatment have hit not only gymnastics but also swimming, taekwondo, speedskating and judo.

The USOC's release:
Today, the United States Olympic Committee announced additional reforms and new initiatives designed to protect athletes from abuse and respond quickly and effectively when issues surface. The USOC also announced that CEO Scott Blackmun is resigning due to ongoing health issues resulting from prostate cancer. Susanne Lyons, a current board member, will serve as acting CEO, overseeing the USOC’s day-to-day operations while the search for a permanent successor is underway.

“Given Scott’s current health situation, we have mutually agreed it is in the best interest of both Scott and the USOC that we identify new leadership so that we can immediately address the urgent initiatives ahead of us,” said USOC Chairman Larry Probst. “The USOC is at a critical point in its history. The important work that Scott started needs to continue and will require especially vigorous attention in light of Larry Nassar’s decades-long abuse of athletes affiliated with USA Gymnastics. We will be working with key stakeholders to help identify a permanent successor to Scott. In the meantime, I am confident that Susanne is the right person to help us navigate this critical transition period.”

Blackmun has served as CEO of the USOC since 2010. He was the driving force behind many of the improvements the USOC has made to help protect athletes – notably the establishment of the U.S. Center for SafeSport and the development of the SafeSport initiative. Blackmun also led the effort to bring the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games back to the United States, ensured record financial support for Team USA athletes, renegotiated the USOC’s revenue sharing agreement with the International Olympic Committee, and substantially enhanced the USOC’s presence and influence in the global Olympic Movement.

“Serving the USOC and its many stakeholders and working with our board, our professional staff and many others who support the Olympic and Paralympic movements has not only been immensely rewarding, it has been an honor and the highlight of my professional life,” said Blackmun. “I am proud of what we have achieved as a team and am confident that Susanne will help the USOC continue to embody the Olympic spirit and champion Team USA athletes during this transition.”

In January, Lyons was selected as chair of the USOC board’s working group addressing issues the Nassar case has brought to light. Since then, she has been leading the USOC’s efforts to ensure a process that is independent, transparent, sensitive and accessible. Lyons has been serving as an independent director to the USOC board of directors since December 2010. She has extensive global and Olympic experience, including 40 years of expertise in general management, marketing, sponsorship, business strategy and revenue generation. Lyons served as the executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Visa USA – a member of the IOC’s The Olympic Partner Program – from 2004-07. Prior to this, Lyons held leadership roles for Charles Schwab & Co. and Fidelity Investments.

“While we are eager to review the findings of the independent investigation, the USOC is taking important actions now based on what we already know,” said Lyons. “We are evaluating the USOC’s role and oversight of all the National Governing Bodies, considering potential changes to the Olympic structure and aggressively exploring new ways to enhance athlete safety and help prevent and respond to abuse.”

The reforms and new actions the USOC is announcing today include:

Providing new funding and resources for support and counseling for gymnasts impacted by Nassar’s crimes and launching a new resource for athletes from other Olympic and Paralympic sports recovering from similar abuse.

Forming an advisory group to bring together survivors, advocates, child psychologists and other medical professionals to guide the USOC on stronger safeguards against abuse throughout the Olympic community, and effective support for victims. This may lead to additional changes to the USOC policies and methods for addressing cultural issues and conflicts of interest that may exist in sports, hampering prevention of abuse.

Launching a review of the USOC and NGB governance structure as defined by the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act, including seeking input from safe sport advocacy groups, the NGB Council, the Athletes’ Advisory Council, current athletes and policymakers to consider clarifications and changes to this structure. As the leader of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic community, the USOC must ensure that its governance structure unequivocally provides the ability to oversee and act when necessary to protect athletes.

Revisiting USOC SafeSport procedures to determine what measures are necessary to ensure allegations of abuse are reported to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, in addition to law enforcement, and that necessary follow-ups occur. This also would enable NGBs and the USOC to be more aware of problems as they arise, spot trends, and know where more oversight and engagement are necessary.

Effectively doubling USOC’s funding of the Center for SafeSport to enable it to hire more investigators and staff, improve the speedy resolution of cases, enhance ongoing communication for victims and their families, provide age-appropriate training on recognizing and helping to prevent abuse, and offer better and more accessible resources online.

Ensuring that athletes have a stronger voice within the USOC. In addition to the AAC already in place, the USOC will seek input on its decision making from currently competing athletes and athletes who have competed in the past.

Working with USAG to address its governance issues, implement a culture change, and act on the results of the independent investigation once it is complete.

“The goal of our organization is to protect and support each and every athlete,” said Whitney Ping, an athlete representative on the USOC board. “We are absolutely committed to our ongoing and increased efforts to ensure current and future athletes can train and perform in an environment where they feel safe and supported. As the independent investigation continues, we will continue to look for ways to strengthen them even further.”

A factsheet about these initiatives can be found at TeamUSA.org.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Switchbacks FC up for USL goal of the year

Posted By on Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 11:07 AM

COURTESY SWITCHBACKS FC
  • Courtesy Switchbacks FC
We recently noted how the Switchbacks FC gained a TV deal with Fox 21 for its 2018 home soccer matches.

Now, the club's made it to the final round of voting for the USL's goal of the year.

You can view the goal below and vote for player Masta Kacher at the above link.

Voting ends tomorrow at 8 a.m. mountain time, and as of this posting Kacher leads the contest with 62 percent of the vote.




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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Switchbacks FC gain TV deal with Fox 21 for 2018 home soccer matches

Posted By on Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 8:30 AM

COURTESY SWITCHBACKS FC
  • Courtesy Switchbacks FC
Earlier this morning, on Nov. 21, Colorado Springs’ soccer team, the Switchbacks FC, announced a new partnership with FOX 21’s SOCO CW to broadcast all 17 home games for the 2018 season. Those are played Saturday nights, April through October, at Weidner Field (6303 Barnes Road), typically around 6 p.m.

“It means a lot for us and the community,” says James Ragain, executive vice president of Switchbacks FC. “It brings a little more legitimacy of the type of professional athletes we’re bringing... and it exposes us to a bigger network so that people really understand who we are and what we’re about, and the kind of entertainment we bring.”

The 2018 season will be the Switchbacks’ fourth as an organization, all as a member of the nationwide United Soccer League, which hosted 30 teams in 2017. That’s up from only 12 teams in 2012 — a testament to the sport’s growth in popularity, despite recent upset over the U.S. national men’s team’s failure to qualify for the next World Cup. (Side note: the U.S. national women’s team stands as the most awarded in international play, holding three Women’s World Cup wins and four Olympic golds.)
COURTESY SWITCHBACKS FC
  • Courtesy Switchbacks FC
Ragain cites average attendance of 3,500 fans this past season, admiring clubs like FC Cincinnati, who broke USL attendance records with upwards of 24,000 fans at their matches. (Weidner Field’s current capacity is only 5,000.) The Switchbacks finished in 9th place in 2017, down from 3rd and 4th places in their first two years. Though not terrible to hit the top third, Ragain, hopeful for the season ahead, says make no mistake, “we’re here to win.”

Here's the full press release:
The Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC officially announced today that the local Fox 21 CW affiliate will broadcast all 17 of the Switchbacks USL home games.

The Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC will be entering their fourth season playing in the United Soccer League, the largest second division soccer league in the world. To better serve its fans, the Switchbacks have partnered with FOX21 and SOCO CW to give local fans a unique viewing experience of their home matches. The Switchbacks are excited about the partnership with FOX21 and SOCO CW as they hope the partnership will also help them reach an unprecedented number of fans throughout southern Colorado.

The Colorado Springs Switchbacks Football Club began playing in the USL during the 2015 season after officially announcing the franchise on December 5th, 2013. The Switchbacks led a successful 2015 campaign, finishing 3rd in the Western Conference and reaching the Western Conference semi-finals. The Switchbacks followed up their inaugural campaign with a consecutive top-three finish and reaching the playoffs in the 2016 season. The club set numerous attendance records during the 2017 season, playing at newly-named Weidner Field. The Switchbacks will continue to compete in the Western Conference alongside 33 other teams including expansion franchises, Fresno, Las Vegas, Nashville, and Atlanta. Austin, Birmingham, and Memphis are all set to join the league in 2019.

FOX21 News has provided news and weather information for southern Colorado since 2001. Broadcasting over an antenna located atop Cheyenne Mountain, FOX21 reaches Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and southern Colorado on over-the air channel 21, Comcast channel 3, DirecTV channel 21, and Dish Network channel 21. FOX21 produces nearly 38 hours of local newscasts every week, in addition to showing FOX network entertainment and sports programming. The station shares a studio in southeastern Colorado Springs with sister station SOCO CW. In 2013, the FOX21 News team won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for Continuing Coverage for its coverage of the Waldo Canyon Fire.

The Switchbacks will kick their 2018 USL campaign the weekend of March 16. Season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased here.
COURTESY SWITCHBACKS FC
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