The Mountain Games

by Susi on June 12, 2013

in Colorado, Dock Diving, Eukanuba, Mountain Games, Mud Run, purebred dogs, Vail

Over the weekend, I visited one of my favorite places in Colorado: Vail. Most people associate Vail with skiing, money and elitism  – and that is there, it’s true. But Vail demographics is complicated and the “good life” is to be found not only by the well heeled, but by a segment of the population heavily into outdoor life and the pursuit of happiness (see: skiing, kayaking, mountain climbing, rafting, cycling and x-games). They are mostly young (25 to 34), mostly male (58% male to 41.6% female), and well educated: 48.89% have a college degree compared to the national average of 27%. Money is important to this demographic only insofar as its ability to buy a better mountain bike, upgrade to a fatter ski, get custom orthotics and have enough left over for IPA beers with friends. Ninety-two percent of these folks moved to Vail after 1999, and many never left. They’re the young families I saw over the weekend, but they’re also the 48 year old “dudes”  – ski instructors or patrolman over the winter –  who are “chilling” during Vail’s mellow summers.

My own fondness for Vail goes back thirty years when it was smaller and its owner, George Gillette, ran the place like it was a family owned pizza parlour. I was in college when I once stood next to George in a ski lift line, ignorant of his identity. Unhappy with our lack of progress, he unstrapped his skis, stuck them in the snow, marched to front of the line and helped break the log jam of expert skiers and ski bunnies. Satisfied when things got moving, he came back to his place in line and gave me a wink. That was vintage George Gillette: Owner of the Miami Dolphins, Harlem Globetrotters and Vail. When he sold the resort, I never thought it was quite the same, but his legacy remains in the high speed detachable chairlifts he had installed, and the fact that Vail will host another World Cup in 2015. Before George, most ski areas in America wouldn’t host international races, but George did.  Now the mountains fight over it.

The Mountain Games banner against a Colorado sky that really is that blue. Elevation at the base:  8,120 ft. At the summit: 11,570 ft

The Mountain Games banner against a Colorado sky that really is that blue. Elevation at the base: 8,120 ft. At the summit: 11,570 ft

When George welcomed international ski races at “his” mountain, he opened the door for other venues like the Eukanuba sponsored Go-Pro’s Mountain Games touted as the country’s largest celebration of adventure sports and music. Professional and amateur athletes competed in nine sports and 25 disciplines for more than $100,000 in prize money, and while I never need an excuse to visit Vail, what could be more fun than watching dock diving and a mud run for dogs?  I was curious, too, about a different kind of demographic. With the inroads made by the shelter and rescue message, would I find many pure bred dogs at the Mountain Games?

Happily, the answer is yes! There was a strong presence of purebred dogs and, in my estimation, a healthy mix of loveable mutts and loved purpose bred dogs

Happily, the answer is yes! There was a strong presence of purebred dogs and, in my estimation, a healthy mix of loveable mutts and purpose bred dogs who, like this Rottie, were feeling the love

 

Summer in the mountains is a great time of year in Colorado and the ski trails, though bereft of snow right now, don't go to waste: trail cycling is HUGELY popular

Summer in the mountains is a great time of year in Colorado and the ski trails, though bereft of snow right now, don’t go to waste because trail cycling is hugely popular. Teeth chattering, bone jarring bike rides down double diamond slopes. Good clean fun, but know an orthopod.

Still, seeing the last of the snow makes me a bit wistful.

Seeing the last of the snow makes me a bit wistful……

.......and old habits die hard. Why won't this thing MOVE???

…….and old habits die hard. Why won’t this thing MOVE???

 

The walkways in June are strangely quiet......

The walkways are strangely quiet because in June……

....quiet because the "clump clump clump" of ski boots has been traded for flip flops

……..the “clump clump clump” of ski boots has been traded for flip flops. No matter. I can be a klutz in either footwear

As they say, a good time was had by all.  I threw together some snapshots taken at the games. They include the Golden Retriever who did not  want to leave the dock diving pool, the antics of the mud run where the dogs wanted to stay clean,their owners were happy to get muddy, and it took some powerful persuasion to get some dogs through the course. The rest are of some Vail scenery and people and dogs I spotted along the way.  A parenthetical note about that mud. It was tenacious stuff. My soil scientist husband tells it’s mostly bentonite but I came to regard it as kryptonite. It took three days for it to come off the sole of my flip flops and my hat goes off to the owners of the Old English Sheepdog and Bernese Mountain Dogs who probably thought it was a good idea at the time to take their coated dogs through it.

A final note: Hands down, the most popular breed (in terms of numbers) seen in Vail?  The Bernese Mountain Dog.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

julie June 13, 2013 at 9:56 am

is ‘bentonite’ hungarian for ruination of cords?

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Susi June 13, 2013 at 10:48 am

You have that right, Julie. All I could think was how impossible it would be to ever really remove that mud. It was almost oily, the way it adhered to skin.

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julie June 13, 2013 at 11:35 am

i was surprised at berners being the most common breed you saw at the event. in my neighborhood goldens are far and away the most frequently seen dogs being walked. and a new trend that has cropped up in the last few years are sibs. there are at least 10 in my little neighborhood area.

in many areas of san diego pitties and chi’s are the overwhelmingly most popular breeds.

i never really look for popularity trends at my agility classes or ringcraft classes because i don’t think that represents john q public.

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Susi June 13, 2013 at 11:43 am

I was surprised too, Julie, but in a good way. I had expected to find a preponderance of mixed breeds and was happily proved wrong. I wish I were a better photographer: one of the dock diving dogs that knocked everyone’s socks off was a Belgian Malinois – AND – two of the other really great dog diving dogs were his “kids.”

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Julie E June 13, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Isn’t bentonite a main ingredient in clumping cat litter? You can’t get that stuff off anything!

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Jessica@YouDidWhatWithYourWeiner June 19, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Your demographics description makes me want to move to Vail :) The mud run with dogs looks like fun. I am not sure Chester and Gretel could have made it through except on my back because they are so short :)

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