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Local entrepreneur Eric Sampson wants skiers to protect their skis and their eyes with two of his newest products: eco-friendly ski wax and team issue goggles.

A competitive skier from childhood, Sampson dove into the ski accessory business about eight years ago when he founded Event Gear, an online storefront with roots in Glenwood Springs.

Known around the area for his brick-and-mortar bike shop, Sampson Sports, 819 Grand Ave., Sampson has specialized in outdoor recreation for decades. But his latest products move him one step closer to protecting the environment and the people who share his passion.

Designed by a team of researchers, Speed Glide Competition Wax blends lubricants and hydrophobic elements within a synthetic wax matrix to provide skiers with friction coefficients as low or lower than high fluorocarbon and hydrocarbon-based waxes.

“When you melt these waxes to your skis, they don’t give off the typical harmful fumes you find in other petroleum-based waxes,” Sampson explained, holding a solid black block of wax in the palm of his hand.

The biodegradable wax comes in four types — warm, cold, medium and universal — to meet a wide range of skiers needs, and prices range from about $30 to about $90, depending on the formula.

“There’s no paraffin in the wax, and though the recipe is proprietary, I can say it’s made with all natural ingredients,” Sampson said.

Born in Denver, Sampson grew up in Winter Park, where he discovered a love for competitive ski racing. In 2015, he and his wife moved from Denver to Glenwood Springs for the area’s year-round access to mountain recreation.

“We wanted to get back to the mountains, and though I love skiing, we wanted to be someplace that existed outside the ski bubble that surrounds some resort towns,” Sampson said.

After opening Sampson Sports, which provides bikers with everything from brake calipers to bike racks, Sampson was approached at a bike race about providing event organizers with grab bags of gear for riders and vendors. A niche was discovered, and Event Gear was born, he said.

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Over the past year there have been more job openings than ever in the United States. It is a hiring climate where potential employees are looking for more than a paycheck and the usual benefits. It has motivated some employers to expand the way they attract employees. The result can be some unique workplace opportunities.

A program at Vangaurd Skin Specialists intended to enhance the medical field has broadened into an asset for attracting good hires. They hire college grads as medical assistants who have little to no experience in a medical setting, but show excitement and passion for the field.

“With the right character we can train competence. We can mold them and give them the skill sets they need to become a future medical provider.” said Clinic Founder, Dr. Vinh Chung.

Jessie Stanek got an undergraduate degree in biology and was thinking about furthering her education in the medical field. “What a lot of grads find out is that you can’t get experience in health care until you have experience somewhere and you get kind of trapped in a cycle.”

She applied for the program at Vanguard and got the job. The experience led to a job in healthcare, only it is one different than Stanek was first considering. “I ended up really finding my passion in healthcare administration, so I ended up staying at Vanguard.”

Dr. Chung says this program brings in great employees. One trade off, however, is seeing them move-on in a couple of years. A lot go on to become nurses, physician assistants, and doctors.

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SAGUACHE COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Interested in owning your own Old West cow town? There’s such a place on a 320-acre ranch less than four hours southwest of Denver.

The property, located at 36710 County Rd CC 36, was bought by two brothers in 2005 for $730,033 and they spent $10.8 million developing the property into a modern Old West town.

What Old West town wouldn’t have a saloon? This rewind in time not only has an eclectic drinking spot, but it also has a general store and chapel.

Other amenities on the property:

Mini golf
Shooting range
Outdoor stage
Dance hall
Two original cabins from the historic Hoaglund Stagecoach line
RV hookups
3-bed, 3-bath luxury Ponderosa Lodge
5-stall livery stable
Barn with 13 stalls round

“The property is incredibly unique and one of a kind. It’s old town charm with all the conveniences of modern amenities. All the buildings are actual buildings and not just a fake facade. It’s a great horse property,” Haydu said.

The lodge has an indoor glass floor that sits atop an indoor stream that is fed by a waterfall that you’ll see as you enter the living room.

The brothers sold the property in 2011 for nearly $2 million. And it has changed hands two more times since then.

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Shelter Distilling, a distillery, brewery and kitchen currently located in Mammoth Lakes, California, announced plans on Wednesday to build a two-story, 23,000 square-foot facility within the Colorado Outdoors campus.

Shelter Distilling co-founders Jason Senior, Matt Hammer and Karl Anderson told the Montrose Daily Press that the company’s headquarters are moving to Montrose.

The new building, which will be located south of the Mayfly Outdoors building between the Ninth Street roundabout and the start of the pond at Mayfly along the Connect Trail, will complement Shelter’s current 3,600-square-foot facility in Mammoth where operations will continue.

The current estimated cost for the project, including equipment, is between $9 and $10 million, Mayfly Outdoors Founder David Dragoo said.

Senior, Hammer and Anderson said that a current loose estimate to break ground on the project is the second or third quarter of 2022. An official opening would follow a one-year timeline following a groundbreaking.

The trio estimated that they will hire 40 full-time employees within five years — 25 to 30 of that total are estimated to be hired before the facility opens, in which three to four will be employees that relocate from Mammoth and around seven will be part-time positions.

They also plan to add 15 to 20 part-time employees in five years.

The two-floor plan includes a downstairs restaurant, main bar and distilling area. 

“We want to be able to create two separate spaces that also feel unified,” Anderson said in an interview.

The co-founders “looked everywhere” during their relocation search, including Reno, Nevada, before settling on Montrose, which they visited in fall 2021.

They called Montrose’s water sources “unparalleled” and raved about the Western Slope’s outdoor recreation opportunities.

The trio also said it was “very critical” that their new location exemplifies the spirit and aura of Mammoth.

“Montrose is a great town that we can be a part of and enjoy living in,” Senior said. “It also feels like it can be great for business for an on-premise restaurant and bar. Montrose also allows us to have the building size and production capabilities we are looking for.”

In Mammoth, Shelter produces one barrel per week. In Montrose, Anderson said the company expects to produce 15 to 25 barrels per week.

Shelter’s capacity limit in Mammoth is 119 patrons. The company’s current site plan in Montrose boosts that total to 350.

Anderson, Hammer and Senior added they plan to use locally-sourced grains in Montrose and the surrounding area for their products, which include spirits and cocktails — distilling and spirits are the trio’s focus.

“We want to source the grain and corn from the valley that are pure for the Colorado experience,” Hammer said. “That’ll go into the gins and all the different aspects. Those unique experiences are really important.”

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Sens. Hickenlooper, Bennet join Gov. Polis in urging the owner of Outdoor Retailer to renew the contract with Denver, while Utah fights to regain the show it lost.

The outdoor industry flexed its newfound political muscle five years ago by leaving Utah and taking its twice-a-year Outdoor Retailer trade shows to Colorado.

Outdoor brands and advocates, irked over Utah’s push to dismantle protections for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, moved their annual gatherings — which draw 85,000 visitors and stir an annual impact of around $110 million — to Denver’s Colorado Convention Center. 

Now, as Outdoor Retailer owner Emerald X negotiates a new contract with Denver and the annual Snow Show is set to begin in a week after skipping last year, Utah is lobbying to get the trade show back. And Colorado is not letting go. 

“The leaders of the outdoor industry have spoken with an articulate and strong voice that this cornerstone event belongs in a state that shares its values on public land and recreation,” reads a letter sent by Colorado’s U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to Emerald X executives on Wednesday. “Colorado is the perfect match to continue as the home of the Outdoor Retailer Show.”

The last five years have not been smooth for Denver and the Outdoor Retailer shows. The original plan when the shows moved from Utah was to hold three gatherings a year: a Snow Show in January, the Summer Market in June and a new Winter Market in November. Visit Denver, the city’s convention and visitor’s bureau, said in 2018 that it had moved several other trade shows to accommodate Outdoor Retailers’ need for three dates a year through 2022. 

After the first November show in 2018 — designed to give outdoor retailers an early start on the buying season — Emerald X canceled the 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 November shows and merged the market with the January Snow Show. 

Then COVID canceled the 2020 Summer Market and 2021 Snow Show. The Summer Market in August last year was scaled down, with fewer manufacturers attending due to pandemic concerns. The Snow Show kicks off next week with attendance again impacted by the coronavirus.

Utah began courting Outdoor Retailer last fall, urging the trade show to reconsider Salt Lake City. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said in a video that Salt Lake City’s hospitality industry saw “incredible growth” during the 20 years the city hosted Outdoor Retailer – “and much of that was attributable to you.”

“We’ve missed you for the past several years,” Cox said, noting the multibillion-dollar expansion of the Salt Lake City International Airport and a new 700-room Hyatt Regency hotel set to open at Salt Palace Convention Center later this year. He also said the state was working with the Interior Department “to establish sustainable ways to manage” the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

It was Utah’s plan for those monuments that sent Outdoor Retailer packing for Colorado. Former President Donald Trump, with support from Utah’s then-Gov. Gary Herbert and other politicians, slashed the size of the monuments by about 2 million acres in 2017, a year after President Barack Obama expanded them. 

The outdoor industry was establishing itself as an economic and political powerhouse back then. Federal economists were measuring its economic heft, ranking it among the top industries in the country. States were designating offices dedicated to outdoor recreation. The industry was growing from a loose band of fun-seeking hobbyists to a movement capable of shifting national policy on public lands and climate. And its first big move was divorcing Utah. 

President Joe Biden in October restored more than 2 million acres to the Utah national monuments, which Cox called “a tragic missed opportunity” and a demonstration of Biden’s “unwillingness to collaborate with and listen to those most impacted by these decisions.” Cox has suggested Utah will sue the Interior Department over the restoration of federal protections.

“Oh, Utah! Will you ever learn? You can’t have the things you love like clean air, wild lands and a stable climate and destroy them at the same time,” Aspen Skiing Co. chief Mike Kaplan wrote in an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday. “You can’t roll back historic land conservation practices and hope your state will seem welcoming to hikers, climbers, fishers and skiers.”

Kaplan said Emerald X must realize that outdoor companies “are not environment-agnostic anymore.”

“The show that produces $56 million in revenue is about business, but business more than ever requires protecting the environment,” Kaplan wrote, highlighting Colorado’s “robust public lands protections and aggressive environmental leadership” in arguing that Outdoor Retailer remain in Colorado.

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(NEXSTAR) – Cancel your dinner plans*, because Yelp has just released its list of the “Top 100” restaurants in the country.

The ninth annual list, released Wednesday, seeks to highlight some of Yelp’s highest-rated eateries, based on suggestions provided by Yelp users from coast to coast. This year, restaurants from 35 different states and Washington, D.C. made the cut, with cuisines ranging from Afghan to Vietnamese and everything in between.

The lone Colorado restaurant on the list is Woodie Fisher in Denver at No. 82. The restaurant populates one of the oldest fire stations in Denver.

The Woodie Fisher resides in oldest remaining structure in Denver’s iconic Union Station neighborhood, historic Hose House No. 1 was one of the first fire stations in Denver. Established as a volunteer fire station in 1881, before the City of Denver created a paid fire department, it has been lovingly restored and re-imagined as an iconic, inclusive kitchen & bar.

Named after one of Denver’s earliest fire foremen, Redwood “Woodie” Fisher, Woodie Fisher Kitchen & Bar reflects the historic building’s symbol of heritage, quality, and character. Those same values return to the historic Hose House through intentional, thoughtful design and menu items that will surprise, intrigue, and welcome. link to website about info

In order to compile this year’s list, Yelp first solicited suggestions from users. The submissions were then ranked by their ratings, their number of reviews, and the number of times they were suggested by Yelp users. The rankings were further narrowed down with the help of Yelp’s own Community Managers (i.e., Yelp team members from different regions of the country) and a “Trend Expert.”

“The resulting list is collaborative and passion driven — an accurate reflection of the Yelp Community itself,” Yelp wrote in an emailed statement

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Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs is accepting applications through the end of January.

SCAPE is accepting applications for its upcoming six-month program. The program aims to teach entrepreneurs the “science of startups,” Brittany Cupp, SCAPE program and community manager, said in an email to The Durango Herald.

The program is held for Southwest Colorado and northern New Mexico entrepreneurs, first and foremost those who want to expand and provide products and services outside the region but remain headquartered in it.

Since its inception, SCAPE has launched 43 companies that raised $27 million in capital and created 200 jobs across Southwest Colorado and northern New Mexico, according to a news release provided by Cupp. The accelerator program supports companies with mentors, staff members, local investors and other entrepreneurs.

“Our proven business education curriculum, dedicated mentor network and successful investment fund are sure to make our 2022 program the best startup support yet,” Cupp said.

The accelerator program is entering its ninth year and is built to help companies prepare for expansion. The previous year was full of acquisitions, fundraising and community events, according to the release.

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Martin Luther King Jr. weekend saw the grand opening of The Culture Museum at 26th and Walnut in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. The ambitious effort led by Charlie Billingsley is the artist and entrepreneur’s second installation in Denver, following the Museum for Black Girls which debuted in 2019.

Unlike the placid mood of your average museum, The Culture Museum is alive. Its vibrant, interactive exhibits burst with stories, memories and shared history. One key element — “We never have guests in the space without music,” explained co-founder Von Ross. The walls are covered in murals depicting a diverse history of a culture with many voices. There’s a wall plastered in Source Magazine covers, a boxing ring where you can square up against Mike Tyson, Muhammed Ali or Claressa Shields, and even a barbershop tucked into the corner.

Everything is interactive. You can sit in the barber’s chair, flip cards at the game night table or talk into the mic with the WuTang “W” emblazoned on the wall in front of you. Vendors line the entrance with artists like Zanib, founder of Freedom Waves, selling hand-painted clothes and Egyptian jewelry. Her piece from Billingsley’s last effort — The Museum for Black Girls — still hangs on the wall behind her. “I believe in the vision, to see these visionaries come to life is powerful.”

Each piece shares an artist’s experience with Black culture, be it Motown, Muhammed Ali or shoes hanging from a telephone wire. Ross says it’s to no surprise the museum is humbly described as “The Selfie Museum with heart.” Simply put, the space is an ecstatic celebration of Black culture. Many of the painted particle board murals brought over from The Black Love Mural festival in Civic Center Park last year have been lovingly restored and given new life. The activism of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor protests breathes from the murals, providing the backdrop for new artists’ expressions of their own experiences. 

“We are here to elevate Black creators who might not otherwise get opportunities like this,” Billingsley said. 

The museum is a product of community and family developed by Billingsley and Ross, her aunt. It represents a grassroots movement of people being given the opportunity to open up and share something unique from their past. The artists were gathered from an open call on social media and each one has produced something that shaped them and was shared with their community. Walking around, you’ll find artists from around the country working next to friends of Billingsley’s from high school. 

“I remember being young and having a dream, you just need some to help you, to give you the space to do it,” said Ross.

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A new podcast, a rescue sled, an education app and a guidebook offering mellow follow last year’s deadly avalanche season.

Responding to one of the worst avalanche seasons on record, backcountry skiers are developing tools to help fellow adventurers move more safely through the snowy mountains.

The innovation follows a season in which 37 skiers, climbers and snowmobilers were killed in avalanches nationwide, including 12 in Colorado. The 2021-22 avalanche season has claimed three lives in Colorado, including two snowshoers and their dog on Jan. 8 in Summit County.

One mountain guide created a fun and informative weekly podcast. Established guidebook authors are writing books to highlight safer backcountry ski routes. A longtime avalanche educator is developing an app that will help skiers avoid dangerous avalanche slopes.

Chris Dickson is a mountain guide and avalanche educator based in Telluride. His new podcast, The San Juan Snowcast, discusses recent observations and avalanche forecasts for one of the country’s most avalanche-prone zones. Like many in the industry, the 2020-21 ski season motivated him to try something new.

“The anomalous avalanche fatality season created a motivating force in a lot of people in the avalanche world,” Dickson said. “All of us realized the message we were sending wasn’t being heard, or we were not sending it the right way.”

In addition to providing “bonus content” from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s daily forecasts, he hopes to facilitate more communication and community between the secluded ski towns in Colorado’s southwest mountains.

The podcast relays community events and offers brief educational nuggets for listeners of all experience levels – from preparing for a backcountry tour, first-aid and repair kit checklists, discussions on technology and debriefs of accidents.

One of Dickson’s recent guests, Hannah Trim, is the owner of Sew Alpine. The episode explored emergency preparedness, and the two discussed Trim’s backcountry rescue sleds.

“Backcountry skiing is one of those sports that we do that can go from really fun to really dangerous pretty quickly,” said Trim, a former outdoor educator and guide.

Trim started Sew Alpine in January 2021 and worked closely with San Juan Expeditions, a guide operation in Silverton, to design a durable rescue sled for mountain guides and avalanche instructors that packs into a backpack.

The sleds, which cost about $300, can haul an injured skier out of the field, roll up as an emergency bivy sack, and create an A-frame shelter when used with ski poles.

Trim produced a handful of sleds for San Juan Expeditions, and after friends asked her to make more, she adapted the guide sled to create a lightweight version for recreational users to keep in their packs for emergencies.

Now she sells two made-to-order sleds, the O.G. Rescue Tarp for professional and heavy-duty use and the Lightweight Rescue Tarp for recreational use. She’s currently backed up with 40 new orders, and she estimates a 10-to-12 week lead time.

Terrain choices can help backcountry skiers stay safer:

“I do think there are a lot of accidents we could point to where people get into terrain they probably didn’t want to be in the first place,” said Andy Sovick, whose Gunnison-based Beacon Guidebooks just published a second edition of a guide by backcountry skiing pioneer Lou Dawson. Light Tours of Colorado details more than 60 mellow backcountry routes for travelers who want to minimize avalanche exposure.

Beacon Guidebooks publishes maps and guidebooks of backcountry ski areas in Colorado and Washington. Sovick stumbled into the publishing business in 2013 after compiling his own photos and information to create the Crested Butte Ski Atlas. Eight years later, his company has published 26 maps and guidebooks. The maps are available in print, or can be uploaded to backcountry ski apps like Rakkup or OnX.

Each guidebook is written by a local expert. Sovick, for example, has skied 90% of the lines in the Crested Butte Ski Atlas, measuring slope angles and exploring complex terrain.

They also use Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale, a tool created by Grant Statham and Parks Canada 25 years ago to help determine the avalanche risk of each slope or ski area. Beacon Guidebooks uses an ATES rating to help skiers understand the terrain.

In 2015, Sovick and Dawson discussed the value in creating a guidebook with simple backcountry ski tours. Dawson is a Colorado ski mountaineering legend and the founder of Wild Snow, the first blog dedicated to backcountry skiing.

Andy Sovick skis up Snodgrass Mountain near Crested Butte for an early morning backcountry tour on Dec. 22. Sovick created Beacon Guidebooks, a map and guidebook company based in Gunnison, to provide backcountry skiers with more information to make safer decisions. (Dean Krakel, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Dawson, who has spent more than 50 years in mountain environments around the world, was the first person to ski all of Colorado’s 14ers. After losing friends to backcountry accidents, the downside of the sport started to bother him.

“If you are careful and you pick the right runs on the right days, you can eliminate danger,” Dawson said. “The objective of the book came out of that idea.”

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When Speciation Artisan Ales opened in early 2017, it was going to offer cider and wine along with the house-made beer, says founder Mitch Ermatinger. Delays put those plans on hold until a year later, when Native Species Winery finally opened. When it did, the company became another in a small handful of breweries that are entering the wine space, producing both under (or near) the same roof.

The idea of alcohol producers being known for just one item is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Beverage companies is the preferred term, and while breweries adding spiritshard seltzer, soda and even coffee to their portfolios is more common, wine production has found a place as well.

“I had a natural interest in natural wine even before I was diagnosed with celiac disease,” says Ermatinger. “For us, adding a winery was not complicated. You go to breweries all the time and you’ll see red and white wines on the menu that are a total afterthought. I honestly do not understand why that is the case.”

Tasting room customers want choice. Not everyone drinks just beer or wine or spirits, and business owners want customers to feel comfortable. Offering a variety of products, especially when house-made, keeps people around longer and contributes more to the bottom line.

It also allows the companies to tell a story. For Ermatinger, it’s the use of Michigan-grown grapes crushed by foot or fermented via carbonic maceration.

Existing breweries have come to wine in several different ways, but most say their projects stemmed from an existing passion for the product, and a creative spirit.

At Odell Brewing Company in Colorado, it was also about diversification. As the beer industry has grown in the U.S. over the last 20 years, breweries with a long history have sought new avenues to customers.

Odell launched the OBC Wine Project in June 2020 and recently opened a tasting room on the company’s Fort Collins campus. It currently has eight wines, including small-batch selections made from grapes harvested in Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

Some of OBC’s bottlings include a skin-contact Aromella aged in Friek beer barrels, a red blend fermented via carbonic maceration, and an off-dry blend of RieslingVignoles and Aromella, all sourced from Sauvage Spectrum Winery.

“We’re not experienced winemakers,” says Matthew Bailey, production manager at Odell Wine Project. “A few of us have backgrounds in wine, but not in a professional way. This came down to passion, experimentation and innovation.”

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