It was also a year of the predictable, with Mountain Limo once again sweeping the 2004 Women's Softball League Tournament, local freestyle skiers keeping Telluride's triumphant reputation untarnished, and THS sports teams making their mark on the regional competitive sports circuit. The 2004 Sports Year in Review takes a glimpse back at some of the stories that swept the Telluride sports world during the last 12 months. The look back begins with a story a long time in the making (and one that will likely change the face of winter sports in Telluride forever), as the Telluride Town Park became the new home of the Hanley Ice Rink and Town Park Pavilion.
On the (Brand New) Rink
The first weekend in December marked the beginning of an era for Telluride's favorite off-the-mountain winter sport, when Telluride's men's, women's and youth hockey teams played their inaugural games during the Hanley Ice Rink's weekend-long Grand Opening celebration.
The new covered and refrigerated ice rink brings a whole lot more hockey to Telluride, thanks to the facility's ability to extend the hockey season far beyond when Telluride hockey players have been able to grab ice time in the past. The Lizard Head Men's and Box Canyon Beavers Women's teams rang in the new season on the Hanley rink with heavily spectated games, and a few rowdy wins over the Crested Butte's men's and women's teams the Powder Pigs and the Red Ladies. Watch for Lizards Mike Fenton, Teddy Errico, Moe Bellerose, Mike McIntyre, Bobby Murphy, and Chris Neylan to storm the rinks this winter, and Beavers Mo Hannah, Kim Richard, Tiffany Holmen, and Elizabeth Gaz keeping the women's side strong under the lights at the new rink.
The 2004 year in hockey was also highlighted by the Lizard Heads youth Squirts team sweep of the Southwest League Tournament – despite their lack of ice rink practice in the month leading up to the March tournament date! The team's impressive 18-2-2 season record ended with dominant play at the Glenwood Springs regional tournament, from which the team took home the coveted regional Squirts league trophy. With more ice time in their future thanks to the new covered ice rink, the Squirts may be joining some of the town's similarly strong youth hockey teams, the Midgets, Bantams, PeeWees, and Mites, in making more Telluride hockey history this winter.
2004 also marked a turning point in youth hockey for girls, as the Telluride Girls Hockey team played their first-ever games on the Town Park Rink. This year, the girls team will be making their first 2005 season appearance at the upcoming Winter Carnival, to be held over the Martin Luther King holiday in late January.
Telluride's Town League Co-ed Broomball season featured the "longest overtime championship victory in broomball history" (a title previously held by last year's championship game between the Artichokes and Cleaners). The heavily spectated 2004 Silverbroom Championship game found the Cleaners atoning for their heartbreaking overtime loss to the Artichokes in 2003 with a final 2-1 overtime win over the Buzzards. It was the first season in many years that saw the Artichokes choked out of the championship tournament.
On the Slopes
Looking back at the 2004 winter season in competitive skiing, we should don sunglasses to protect our eyes from the luminous sparkle given off by members of Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club's Freestyle team! TSSC freestyle skiers the Discoe brothers, Joe and Jimmy, once again proved that whatever their mama has been feeding them is working, as both Discoe boys dominated their competition throughout last season and into this one. Local bump luminaries Jarrett Arguelles and Page McCargo joined the Discoes in making the Telluride mark on the freestyle world, with all four young athletes qualifying for the North American Cup (NorAm) tour following spectacular performances at this winter's U.S. Team Selections event, held in early December.
Fellow TSSC teammate and big air/freeride competitor Gus Kenworthy became one of the first Freeride team athletes to absolutely demolish his competition throughout the 2003-04 season. Kenworthy took first at a regional qualifier event in Durango to earn a spot in the Junior X-Games, held in Steamboat in early April.
On the TSSC Snowboard Team side, it was the Cooney sibling snowboard trio that made the news in 2004. All three Cooney kids – Dylan, Molly and Beecher – made an impression at the USASA Snowboarding Nationals event in Angel Fire, N.M., last spring.
Local boardercross competitor Brett Huet also splashed the Telluride name across the USASA Snowboarding Nationals scoreboards by first qualifying for the event and then following through with a spectacular second-place finish in his ultra-competitive division.
The TSSC's Alpine Ski Team sent Telluride racers Lang Schuler and Isabel Waldman to the Division J3 Junior Olympics, after a tough schedule of home events held on the top-notch Milk Run course. For the first time in many years, Telluride regained a reputation in the alpine race world for hosting world-class events after the Milk Run course became the setting for the 250-racer FIS College Race in February, and then hosted the U.S. Qualifier race in March.
For the first time in Telluride Adaptive Ski Program history, TASP-trained skiers competed in Special Olympics events in 2004. TASP skiers Ian Frame, Erica Peters, Joshua Valdez, and David Minton were all invited to the Southwest Region Special Olympics event, held in Durango in early February. Thanks to their stellar performances on the racecourse, Peters and Minton ventured onto the competitive courses at Copper Mountain two weeks later to participate in the Colorado Special Olympics. Both skiers received medals.
On other Olympic fronts, Telluride bred U.S. Ski Team aerialist Kate Reed was dealt a hard blow when a tumble at an event in Italy left her with a fractured rib and contused lung on March 10. Not one to succumb to a little adversity, Reed returned to the aerial circuit soon after her injury and is still pursuing her 2006 Olympic dreams.
Here in Telluride, the winter of 2004 will be remembered best for its superb mid-season snow conditions. Mother Nature let loose a torrent of snowstorms in February, and after 82.5 inches of snow for the month (the average for February is 41.4), local skiers and boarders were riding high, and well above the rocks, for much of the remainder of the ski season.
On the Court
The THS Boys Basketball team made history in 2004 by making their first appearance at the district tournament in many years. This year, the team is likely feeling the strain of losing All Star player Kevin Ludwig, but will still field a strong team spearheaded by senior player Dillon Bosch.
The Lady Miners Volleyball team made school history as well last season when they also advanced to the district tournament, seeded at a strong second place behind powerhouse Mancos. They were dealt a disappointing, season-ending loss at district, however, when they succumbed to Mancos and Nucla to take third place overall.
On the Field
The THS Track Team recorded their "Best day in the history of Telluride Track and Field," according to coach Brent Crumb, after the team took fourth place overall at the Hotchkiss Invitational 2A Championship tournament in late March. Senior Kevin Ludwig (who has since joined Montana State University's Division I track team) broke a record in the triple jump event – by an incredible two feet! The team continued to dominate at the Pueblo State Championship, with Ludwig winning two golds, Dillon Bosch taking home two silvers, and the 400-meter relay squad comprised of Ludwig, Bosch, Wiley McCreedy, and Patrick Dunivan taking the gold for THS.
The THS Lady Miners Soccer Team began the season with a bang and boasted an undefeated record, with nearly 40 goals scored by Telluride and none scored by any of their competition against star Telluride goalies Caitlin Kirst and Ashley Blouse! Seeded 7th going into the league tournament, Telluride succumbed to tough competition, but not before players Riley McIntyre, Traci Ranta and Shannon Oldmixon were eyed as Telluride representatives to the Cortez-based Tri-City Soccer Team, which made an appearance at the Schwan's USAA Cup in Minnesota in July.
A new sport in Telluride revved up in the spring of 2003, with veteran lacrosse player Dennis Sullivan bringing lacrosse to THS boys. The lacrosse team played their first competitive games ever in the spring of 2004, ushering in their first season with a home field win over Glenwood/Eagle.
In Telluride's Town League Softball, the team with Telluride-born roots, T.W. Green, dominated the Men's C league tournament, with players Pat Drew, Blake Kees, J.J. Ossola, Matt Rich, father-son duo Jim and James Guest, and more playing their hearts out for a drink from the championship trophy. The proud T.W. boys won't be moving up to the A league, however, since Hoins Construction stole the overall season trophy for the B league in a heated end-of-season match against powerhouse West End Tavern.
New B league team the Lizard Loungers did not let an early-season losing streak, nor a mid-season newspaper letter-to-the-editor commotion resulting in the nickname the "Chicken Loungers," sully their first ever season. Members of the Telluride Ski Patrol's Lizard Loungers team proudly took home the
Sportsmanship trophy for the 2004 summer season.
In the A league, six-year champions Billy Ball took a seat to up-and-coming Fat Alley in the end-of-season tournament; Billy Ball did, however, take home yet another overall season trophy for their already impressive collection.
In the women's department, the Mountain Limo Riders took home the 2004 A league trophy, again, by beating ASAP/TMT Slammers, again, in the season championship game to finish the month of July. With a lineup that includes star hitters and fielders Darcy Levtzow, Susan Heard and Eileen Andrews, will any other team ever have a chance at drinking from the victory cup?
And though they didn't win the B league trophy, Studio Frank The Spank became the pink-ribbon wearing sweethearts of the Town Park ball fields with their spankalicious antics, which garnered them the Sportsmanship Award for the second year in a row. It was the Dirty Divas who eventually brought home the B league trophy.
No baseball fan will ever forget the 2004 baseball season, with the curse-reversing Red Sox World Series win. Here in Telluride, the old Yankees/Red Sox rivalry was also alive and well, but within the town's 9-10 year old Little League Yankees and Red Sox teams. Both teams began the season with nearly immaculate records, and went into the regional end-of-season tournament ranked first and second, respectively. It was the Yankees that took the Championship title for the Southwest Colorado Youth League, with a rousing 22-12 victory over the Cortez Astros. Ten Telluride 9-10 year-olds made the All Stars; and the older boys also made waves in baseball, with players Carlos Cagin, J.D. Kirkendoll and Shayne Oldmixon selected to play on the Southwest Colorado Junior All Star baseball team, which played at the Colorado Junior Little League State Championships in Denver in July, coming in second.
The 2004 Telluride Co-ed Soccer season saw an old team with a new name revamp their winning skills. It was none other than the Moussa Konare, Dave DelCarlo, Sarah Palmer-led West End Tavern (previously Bluecorn Roma) team that retained the championship title from 2003 in a heated end-of-season match against Fat Alley BBQ.
All Around the Town
The First Annual Mountains to Desert Ride took some of Telluride's best and burliest, and a few just very determined, road bikers on the largest organized ride between Telluride and Moab in September. The 132-mile ride was a fundraiser for the Just For Kids Foundation, and is sure to become an annual Telluride tradition.
Nearly 400 downhill and cross-country bike racers converged on the freshly cut trails on the Telluride Ski Area for the Full Tilt in Telluride. The July race was a stop on the Mountain States Cup schedule, and allowed the chance for a number of local riders to shine on their home course.
In the fast and furious mountain biking scene, it was Telluride's Daniel Murray who emerged from the 2004 season as one of the region's top riders. Expert division rider Murray, who consistently ranked in the top three throughout the summer-long competitive Mountain States Cup schedule, will be competing in the semi-pro division beginning this summer.
The Imogene Pass Run marked its 31st birthday in 2004, with another sold-out event taking runners into ultra-high altitude environments and across mega-hard course conditions. It was the first race in recent memory that dawned sunny, warm and beautiful. Silt resident Bernie Boettcher took advantage of the superb race conditions to break the standing decade-old record for the 40-46 year old age division, and took the overall title for the third year in a row by crossing the finish line in just under two-and-a-half hours.