Leadville Winter Events Update
It’s “Harrison or Bust” for the Granddaddy of ‘Em All
In true cowboy-up fashion, Leadville Ski Joring (LSJ) organizer Duffy Counsell has confirmed to Leadville Today that one of Leadville’s premier winter events will return to historic Harrison Avenue for its 74th season!
“Harrison or Bust!” Counsell told Leadville Today regarding the location of the annual competition of horses, riders and skiers which will happen March 5-6, 2022 on Leadville’s main drag.
In fact, ski joring was the last big event Lake County had in 2020 as the first-weekend-in-March tradition saw swelling crowds of spectators to view the competition held on historic Harrison Avenue. Meanwhile, the rest of the world began to go into lockdown. It was an eerie last call.
Last year, LSJ organizers were committed to having the event, but large public gatherings were still prohibited by Lake County Public Health officials for fear of spreading COVID. So in 2021 LSJ organizers changed course, re-locating further west to McWethy Drive and away from Leadville’s dense business corridor. It worked through the intense efforts of many volunteers, individuals, and businesses, oh and Lake County Public Works. The crowds had been controlled and the sport still held a competition, thereby not interrupting its run since 1949.
Of course, for anyone who has witnessed this Wild West Show in person, crowds are not just part of the event, they are central to the event’s success formula. For main street shops, restaurants and bars, it is an economic shot in the arm, putting some solid cash into the till until the summer crowds began to arrive. This year, many felt it was important to bring the event back to Leadville’s historic Harrison Avenue. And so it shall be March 5-6, 2022.
The canyon-like chute that Leadville’s most notable Victorian beauties create is unmatched in the sport which generally plays out on open fields or meadows at other ski joring venues. Competitors will tell you the Leadville Ski Joring course is like playing in the Super Bowl in a big arena. The cheering crowds! The fast-paced excitement! And those horses!
No wonder that LSJ made the cut for an art exhibit at the Denver International Airport, highlighting Colorado winter events (see below). After all, the Tabor Grand, Delaware Hotel, and Tabor Opera House sprinkled with Old Glory and surrounded by Colorado’s two highest peaks provide an incredible framework for the racecourse in America’s highest city. It’s dramatic! It’s picturesque! And it’s good to know that Leadville Ski Joring is coming home to Harrison Avenue in 2022! It’s time to Giddy Up and start making your plans for Leadville Ski Joring on March 5-6, 2022 in downtown Leadville, Colorado. We’ll see you on the avenue!
Airport Art Exhibit Feature Leadville Ski Joring
Harrison Avenue isn’t the only place Leadville Ski Joring has been showing up these days. Travelers in and out of Denver International Airport have been learning about this unique cold-weather sport in the Jeppesen Terminal as part of The Colorado Winter Festivals exhibit.
This unique display, which can specifically be found before the Gate A security bridge in Ansbacher Hall features “event and town information, competition apparel, tools and equipment, festival artifacts and photographs – all depicting past and upcoming events,” according to DIA’s public relations officials.
The exhibit displays over 15 long-running Colorado winter events and is sponsored by DEN Arts. Some of the other events include the Rio Frio Ice Fest in Alamosa, Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland, and the International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge.
This arts organization’s mission is to engage, educate and entertain the public audience. Both the public artworks and temporary exhibitions aim to connect a local and global audience to the environment and culture of the vibrant City of Denver and the unique State of Colorado.
So to all you DIA travelers, make a point to swing by the Gate A security bridge display, take some photos and share on LT’s social platforms to help support this Leadville winter sport.
The LSJ Exhibit at DIA
Fishing Derby “On Ice” for Another Year
When it comes to Lake County’s legacy events, the Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby has remained on relatively solid ice since its inception in 1998. However, this year its line has caught a snag and the event is looking for some new leadership.
“We are sad to report that my brother and I will no longer host the fishing derby,” reported Angelina Salazar who along with her brother Danny Gurule has been running the annual event for the past several years. The derby is sponsored by the Leadville Rod and Gun Club (LRGC), a private, non-profit that maintains a public shooting range located near Leadville and offers a variety of fun and educational shooting and fishing events throughout the year.
In addition, the Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby is an economic benefit to the area which is generally a bit quieter during the winter months with Independence Pass closed for the season. In fact, the Twin Lakes Inn reported some additional 2020 restaurant and lodging business with 269 anglers out on the ice and spending money in Twin Lakes businesses. Last year, the event had to take a COVID pass due to public health restrictions.
The 2018 Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby
Now a year later, the club is unable to find someone else to take on the leadership role for the longest, competitive ice-fishing derby not only in the state, but across the region. But maybe that’s you and your group of ice fishing buddies who don’t want to see this event fade away! For anyone who would be interested, it’s worth noting that the forest permit is good through 2022, so that’s one hurdle down. Plus the LRGC has a solid group of volunteers who are used to taking on their regular roles from year to year. For new leaders, the heavy lifting comes in with coordinating applications, awards, and prizes, as well as weigh-in and monitoring during the weekend.
It’s worth noting that the event has really gained notoriety under Salazar/Gurle’s leadership, so there is some solid groundwork laid out. Not only popular among anglers the Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby is keen with industry sponsors who have generously contributed goods and cash towards awards and prizes.
Interested parties should contact Chris Carry with the Leadville Rod and Gun Club at 970-406-0129.
Loppet Confirmed for February 19
The Mineral Belt Committee met on January 5, 2022 to confirm the date of this year’s Leadville Loppet.
“Yes we are going to have the Loppet on February 19,” MBT Committee member Howard Tritz confirmed to Leadville Today.
The race itself is a real winner! The Leadville Loppet has two classes: Nordic and freestyle. The racecourse takes skiers through a rolling, forested network of trails, leading racers on to the MBT, where climbs and descends await. The tracks follow along abandoned rail grades left behind from Leadville’s mining era, offering a passing history lesson to the skinny skiers. It’s a one-of-a-kind course that should be laden (and groomed) with fresh snow.
“Basically it is the same (course),” Tritz explained, “only we are still debating on starting from Dutch Henry or the college soccer field. We prefer the soccer field and using the college trails but they bought a new groomer and it is too large for the trails. They are cutting trees and widening the trail and they are pretty sure it will be ready for us.”
Keep checking the Leadville Loppet website for the details. Tritz also confirmed that “due to covid we will not have the awards ceremony and food in the gym.”
That’s a wrap for today’s winter events update. Stay tuned as more things come together and event organizers navigate an ever-changing landscape Leadville Today will keep you informed on the latest and how you can help or participate. Until then stay warm and shovel a bit further for your neighbors and friends.
© Leadville Today 2022