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Sallinen lands on X Games halfpipe podium in debut, Ferreira crashes out

A local kid got on the X Games Aspen podium on Sunday night, but it wasn’t the one most people expected. Even Jon Sallinen didn’t think he’d be taking home a medal.

“It was a little loose — the whole comp was a little loose — with a lot of crashes and a lot of people not landing their runs. But I got two pretty OK runs down, and I stayed in third place somehow,” he said. “I thought (Aaron) Blunck was going to take it for that last run but somehow managed to get it, and I’m super, super stoked.”

In his X Games debut, Sallinen finished third in the men’s halfpipe skiing contest that closed out the festivities at Buttermilk, behind silver medalist Birk Irving of Winter Park and Nevada’s David Wise, who won Aspen gold for the fifth time.

Aspen’s own Alex Ferreira — who won X Games gold in both 2019 and 2020 — crashed hard in both of his first two runs and ultimately withdrew from the competition, finishing in last place.

“Both looked super painful and gnarly, so I hope he’s doing fine, and I wish the best for him,” Sallinen said of Ferreira. Sallinen himself was battling through pain in his ribs from a crash he suffered recently at the World Cup competitions in Calgary. “Right now, I feel fine. Got this medal, so I’m super stoked.”

Sallinen grew up ski racing in his native Finland before moving to the Roaring Fork Valley as an exchange student. He closed out his high-school education at Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, graduating in 2020. Through his brief time working with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, which really got him going on the path toward becoming a professional halfpipe skier, he connected with local freeskiing icon Peter Olenick, who has become his primary coach.

Sallinen has made a rapid rise up the sport’s ladder, even competing in the 2022 Beijing Olympics for Finland, finishing 23rd. He had a breakthrough win on Jan. 19 at the Calgary World Cup — Ferreira won the second event two days later — but an X Games podium is the sort of thing that can truly change a career.

“I don’t know what’s going to go on from here, but this is the biggest achievement I’ve got so far, and I’m super happy to see what’s coming up,” Sallinen said.

Crested Butte’s Blunck, a former X Games champion, did his best to knock Sallinen off the podium with a strong final run, only to have the judges slot him into the fourth spot. Canada’s Brendan Mackay was fifth, Canada’s Simon D’Artois was sixth, and Canada’s Noah Bowman was seventh, with Ferreira in eighth.

Notably absent was New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the reigning Olympic and X Games champion, who did not compete this year.

Old Man Wise takes charge

Wise, the 32-year-old from Reno, is ancient by today’s standards, when anyone over 25 is considered a savvy veteran. But it seems the old man can still shred.

“Every X Games gold that I’ve won has been a surprise. And I kind of want to live my life that way. I don’t want to go in with this entitlement or this expectation that I’m going to win,” he said. “I’m an entertainer at the end of the day. If my entertainment for folks earns me a gold medal, great. So I’m just as surprised this time as I was the very first time I won it. It’s such an honor to still be here in the game.”

Wise, a three-time Olympic medalist (including gold in both 2014 and 2018), first competed at X Games in 2011. The first of his now five gold medals came in 2012, with others coming in 2013, 2014, and 2018.

While it may be hard to accept, he has also embraced his role as mentor and wise sage for the younger generation — as long as they know he can still keep up with them.

“I wasn’t feeling old today while skiing because I was feeling great. But I did start to feel old when they told me,” he said about being told his first medal came 11 years ago. “A lot of my younger teammates have grown up watching me ski, which makes me feel really old. But it’s also exciting. It’s like a living legend thing. Not only was I there then, but I’m still here now, and I have a lot to give those guys.”

Don’t expect Wise to slow down anytime soon. Sunday’s X Games win only fuels his fire to compete, and he already has eyes on a fourth trip to the Olympics, with the 2026 Games in Italy next up. He would be 35 if he were to go, much like Shaun White was this past winter when he competed in his final Olympics in Beijing.

“I love being able to still be out here competing but also take on this mentorship role and enjoy the ride with my peers,” Wise said. “I wouldn’t be here sending it as hard as I am if I didn’t think I was going to make a run for ’26. I love this job. I just do.”

acolbert@aspentimes.com

PI Editorial: Stay safe as you enjoy Colorado’s winter recreation opportunities in the backcountry

Avalanche risk has decreased throughout Colorado recently, but don’t mistake that for meaning navigating the backcountry is a walk in the park.

The best thing you can do to stay safe is take a backcountry safety course and pay close attention to reports from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center at avalanche.state.co.us/. Recently, CAIC Deputy Director Brian Lazar visited with our editorial board to talk about current snow conditions in Colorado’s high country. 

First, the great news: Our snowpack is well above average for this time of year. It’s still possible that we finish the season below average if we end up having a dry, warmer winter from here on out but it’s a good start to ever-so-slightly easing our ongoing drought conditions.

The bad news is that our November storms followed by dry weather created an unstable layer of snow for all of our recent snow to pile up on. That weak layer isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The good news is that an unstable snowpack has become a bit safer due to the sheer volume of powder this season, Lazar said. An early weak layer of snow has been buried so deep — in many places but not all — that it is getting more and more difficult for humans to trigger avalanches.

But the risk remains elevated in areas where snowpack remains less than 5 feet deep, Lazar added.

And things can change quickly. After this past weekend’s snowstorm, the CAIC issued a Special Avalanche Advisory for the Flat Top Mountains north of Glenwood Springs through Monday. “You can easily trigger a large avalanche in the storm snow. Safe travel in backcountry avalanche terrain requires cautious route finding. Avoid travel on or below slopes steeper than about 30 degrees,” the advisory states. The same storm brought “High” avalanche danger to the mountains around Steamboat Springs.

Depending on how the spring goes, the deep snow today could mean a risk of larger than normal avalanches later in the season. Time will only tell, Lazar said, which is why it’s important that skiers, snowmobilers, winter hikers and anyone else looking to go into the mountains during winter check avalanche reports as often as possible.

Awareness and knowledge are the baseline tools for anyone who wants to venture out into the backcountry. In Colorado, we are lucky to have a dedicated group of people (and volunteers submitting observation reports) analyzing weather and data to provide as accurate an avalanche forecast as possible through the CAIC.

Before going out, be sure to familiarize yourself with CAIC’s most recent reports — and make sure you understand what it says. Bolster that knowledge by attending an avalanche safety course through one of the providers listed on CAIC’s Resources web page. That will give you a good foundation for safe practices and an opportunity to practice with the necessary equipment such as a beacon, probe, shovel and snow saw.

Then, when you have a good base for avalanche safety, partner up with other safety-minded individuals; don’t go out into the backcountry alone. When coming up with a plan for what you want to do and where you want to go, consider the overall risk of your goals and consider crafting a Plan B in case it’s too risky to proceed with your original trip. Having a good backup plan can ease some of the mental pressures you might feel to proceed with your first, more risky option. The bottom line is it’s hard to call off a backcountry trip when the options are to do it or go home, so give your group a viable alternative so you still have a fun day.

The Post Independent editorial board members are Publisher Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud and community representatives Mark Fishbein and Danielle Becker.

On the Fly: Learning to tie your own flies will elevate your game on the water

To the uninitiated, tying flies may seem daunting, but it’s never too early (or late) to start. When your creative juices start to flow, the sky is the limit whether you are tying for freshwater or salt. If you are blessed with attention to detail, tying your own will pay big dividends — especially with the picky fish we encounter here locally.

The benefits are paying closer attention to the size, shape and color of your offerings, plus building an understanding of why the fish key in on a certain insect, or more specifically, the life cycle stage of that insect. One caution — many people who are starting to tie try to bite off more than they can chew, attempting the most difficult flies before learning the basics, which ultimately leads to frustration on the vise.

We recommend starting with simple-yet-effective flies like San Juan Worms, midge larva, brassies and simple streamers. Learning how to throw consistent thread wraps on a hook and how to whip finish without giving it a lot of thought is half the battle. We also steer folks away from buying a “kit,” and suggest that they simply build up their selection with materials they’ll actually use, versus a bunch of stuff that they won’t.

It doesn’t take much to get started — all you need is a quality pair of scissors, a comfortable chair and table, cool and bright light, a rotary vise, and a few other oddball tools and materials to get going. No one ever forgets the first fish that they caught on a fly they tied themselves, I know I never will. It may have just been a simple San Juan Worm, but my heart leapt out of my chest when that fish was in the net.

Don’t forget about the 7th annual Iron Fly Competition at the Tipsy Trout in Basalt on Feb. 11; you’ll see some of the best tyers in the valley spin up some of their creations in a fun-filled evening and perhaps get some inspiration to pick up a new hobby!

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.

Skier dies after terrain park crash at Snowmass

A 27-year-old man died after a ski crash in the Makaha Terrain Park at Snowmass Ski Area on Thursday, according to Aspen Skiing Co.

The Pitkin County Coroner’s Office, in a statement issued Thursday night, identified the deceased as Tyler James Updegraff of Silverthorne, Colorado. He had been program director at Summit County Public Health Department since June 22, according to his professional profile on LinkedIn. He was from Pennsylvania and a 2018 graduate of Drake University, where he played football, according to LinkedIn.

Updegraff was wearing a helmet and skiing with others at the time of the crash, which happened in in the landing zone of the park’s first jump, Skico said.

Snowmass ski patrol, after receiving a report of the crash at 2:24 p.m., found him unresponsive and began life-saving measures that continued while they transported him to the Snowmass Clinic. He was pronounced dead at the clinic, Skico said.

The cause of death is pending medical review and the manner in which he died was ruled accidental by the coroner’s office.

“This is a tragic accident, and our hearts go out to his family and friends,” Skico said.

It was the second death stemming from an inbounds crash at Skico’s four ski areas this winter. Seventy-year-old Basalt resident and Buttermilk ski instructor Dave Turner died two days after crashing into a tree at the bottom of black-diamond Why Not run at Aspen Highlands the first week of the year. He was not wearing a helmet, according to reports.

In February 2019, a Skico employee died after attempting the first jump at Makaha Terrain Park. He was riding a snowboard and wearing a helmet at the time.

The Makaha park is located on the Lower Blue Grouse trail by Village Express Lift. Skico’s website describes the park a “logical next step up the progression ladder with its mix of intermediate and advanced features, ranging in size from medium to large. There are about 25 features in total, a progressive line of midsized jumps, and about 15 jib features including all shapes of boxes and rails. Great area for learning new tricks and developing your style.”

X Games Aspen 2023: Predicting who comes out on top in snowboarding

Let’s send it.

X Games is back for its 22nd consecutive year at Buttermilk Ski Area starting Friday, with many of the world’s best skiers and snowboarders set to compete in halfpipe, slopestyle, big air, and knucklehuck over three days.

The big story this year is the new ownership, with MSP Sports Capital having purchased the majority stake in the franchise from ESPN. So far, the message from the new bosses has been a desire to return X Games to its glory days — welcome back, Selema Masekela — which is more than enough reason to be hyped about this year’s contests.

As I’ve done in recent years, I’m making my predictions on who will win each contest this weekend, beginning with the snowboarders. Surely, I’ll get at least one of them correct.

Women’s Slopestyle, 11:30 a.m. Friday

Projected winner: Zoi Sadowski-Synnott

The first contest of X Games 2023 has one giant omission in Tahoe’s Jamie Anderson, the unquestioned GOAT of the discipline, who is sitting this one out due to her pregnancy. Her heir to the throne, New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, is back and the unquestioned favorite. Sadowski-Synnott has won slopestyle gold in Aspen twice — first in 2019 and again last year — on top of her big air gold from 2022. She’s also the reigning Olympic gold medalist in slopestyle and won the Laax Open over the weekend. Only 21, she’s the sport’s new star.

New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott laughs at the bottom of the course after a run during the women’s snowboard slopestyle final on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, at Buttermilk Ski Area in Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Men’s Halfpipe, 8:30 p.m. Friday

Projected winner: Ayumu Hirano

The entire Olympic podium from Beijing is here, including the champ, Japan’s Ayumu Hirano. Hirano, who won X Games Aspen gold in 2018, dazzled last February at the Winter Games, putting down arguably the best halfpipe run ever in finals — he did it twice, actually — to hold off Australia’s Scotty James and Swiss Jan Scherrer. James did edge Hirano to win X Games Aspen gold in 2022, but my money is on Hirano this time. The halfpipe belongs to the Japanese these days — half of the eight-man field on Friday comes from the country — and Hirano is their leader. The only American slated to compete this year is Telluride’s Lucas Foster, who was fifth last year.

Women’s Halfpipe, 1:30 p.m. Saturday

Projected winner: Xuetong Cai

There is no Chloe Kim this year, with the superstar sitting out. Her absence means the contest is again wide open, and any of the eight women could realistically win. The lone American in the field is California’s Maddie Mastro, who took silver here in 2021 and probably has the most upside, but I’m going with China’s Xuetong Cai. She’s a savvy veteran with three prior medals in Aspen, including silver in 2017. Although, last year’s runner-up is back, the timeless Spaniard Queralt Castellet, so it should be a close contest. Last year’s winner, Sena Tomita, is not slated to compete, although her sister, Ruki, is in the projected lineup.

Women’s Big Air, 6:15 p.m. Saturday

Projected winner: Zoi Sadowski-Synnott

Picking Sadowski-Synnott again may be boring and a bit cowardly, but she’s simply on another level, and I’m not much of a gambler. Austria’s Anna Gasser did beat the Kiwi to win Olympic gold in February, with Japan’s Kokomo Murase winning bronze, but I’m going with Sadowski-Synnott to get Gasser back at X Games. Zoi swept the two contests last year at Buttermilk. No reason she can’t do the same this weekend.

Men’s Big Air, 8 p.m. Saturday

Projected winner: Chris Corning

I’m trying to will this win into existence for Chris Corning, who is a Colorado native who even spent a few years training here in Aspen. He has immense big air talent but has struggled at X Games since his 2018 debut, for various reasons. His lone X Games medal is a bronze from Norway in 2018, while his best Aspen finish was fourth in 2021. Maybe it finally comes together for him? His competition includes the best the sport has, like superstar Mark McMorris of Canada and Marcus Kleveland of Norway, who pound-for-pound might be the best big air snowboarder ever. The name to watch is China’s Yiming Su, the shocking gold-medal winner from the Beijing Olympics last winter who is making his X Games debut.

Canada’s Mark McMorris catches his breath after a run during the men’s snowboard slopestyle finals at the U.S. Grand Prix and World Cup on Saturday, March 20, 2021, at Buttermilk Ski Area in Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Men’s Slopestyle, 12:40 p.m. Sunday

Projected winner: Red Gerard

A smart bet here is always Mark McMorris, whose 21 Winter X Games medals are second to none (other than Jamie Anderson, of course, who also has 21). He won Aspen slopestyle gold in 2022 (and 2019, 2016, 2015, 2013 and 2012, but who’s counting?) so picking against the GOAT is a brave move. My confidence in Summit County’s Red Gerard to win isn’t all that high, but the 2018 Olympic gold medalist is due. The reigning Olympic champ, Max Parrot, isn’t competing at X Games, but silver medalist Yiming Su of China is. McMorris won yet another bronze in Beijing (he’s now 3 for 3 in third-place finishes at the Olympics), while Gerard just missed the Olympic podium in fourth.

Knucklehuck, 4:30 p.m. Sunday

Projected winner: Moritz Boll

Yep, knucklehuck is back. Now, let’s be real, there is no rhyme or reason to the judging or who wins, but it’s super fun and will undoubtedly lead to at least one entry into SportsCenter’s Top 10 that night. So, how do you begin to predict a winner? No idea, but this is a contest where any random Joe can legitimately win. So, why not Moritz Boll? He’s a Swiss rider making his X Games debut, so he’ll probably be pumped and want to put on a show. His competition only includes the discipline’s inspiration, Marcus Kleveland, fan favorite Zeb Powell, and Colorado’s own Jake Canter, another rider with Aspen ties. Should be an easy win for Boll, right?

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Public comments are being sought for post-flood Hanging Lake Trail improvements

The White River National Forest is seeking comments on its proposal to redesign and reconstruct sections of the Hanging Lake Trail following the damage caused to the trail by massive flooding in summer 2021.

The trail and associated bridges suffered significant damage when mud and debris flows were triggered by heavy rains in Glenwood Canyon over the areas that were burned during the 2020 Grizzly Creek Fire. While a temporary trail was opened in June 2022, more extensive repairs are still needed for long-term sustainability, the Forest Service said in a Wednesday news release.

A combination of trail improvements and ecological restoration are being proposed to make the 1.2-mile Hanging Lake Trail more sustainable, safe and resilient, the release said. The project would be funded through Great Outdoors Colorado, the National Forest Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service.

Proposed work includes reengineering six of the trail’s seven bridges to better accommodate high water and debris flows. Two of the bridges would also be slightly relocated to crossing locations that provide better stream clearance, according to the proposal.

A new boardwalk, similar to the one at Hanging Lake, is also proposed at nearby Spouting Rock to reduce erosion and other impacts by guiding visitors on a defined pathway looping around the falls.  

Minor regrading and rock work, flood debris removal and native seeding and planting would occur by hand along the trail to stabilize stream banks and reduce erosion.

At the trailhead in Glenwood Canyon, remaining debris would be removed and the stream channel reconstructed to protect the adjacent paved recreation path, restrooms and trailhead facilities. An accessible plaza with seating and shade would also be constructed in that area.

In addition, the historic Civilian Conservation Corps shelter along the trail would be stabilized in consultation with the Colorado Historic Preservation Office to ensure the longevity of the structure.

“This work would not be possible without the close support from the many partners who help us with Hanging Lake, especially Great Outdoors Colorado, the National Forest Foundation, city of Glenwood Springs and Colorado Department of Transportation,” White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said in the release. “These repairs and improvements will ensure that we continue to provide a world-class visitor experience at this iconic Colorado location for decades to come.”

Work is expected to begin in September 2023 and continue through fall 2024. Trail closures could be necessary as work progresses, the release states.    

Additional details about the proposal and information about how to comment can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=63318. Comments will be most helpful if received by Feb. 25, the release states.

In the meantime, year-round reservations are still required to visit Hanging Lake and are available through visitglenwood.com. Reservations for May 1 through June 30 are to be made available beginning at 10 a.m. Feb. 15. Reservations for July 1 through Sept. 4 open at 10 a.m. March 15.

PHOTOS: This Carbondale school has its very own winter wonderland to promote physical activity

Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale has its very own winter play park, complete with a mini ice rink and cross country ski tracks. The facilities are regularly used during the colder months for physical education classes, under the watch of longtime CRES P.E. teacher Marty Madsen.

A combination of parent donations and other fundraising allowed the ice rink to be built four years ago. Continued fundraising goes toward maintenance of the facility, as well as ice skates and skis. Cross country skiing has been part of the P.E. program at CRES for more than 15 years.

Crystal River Elementary School fourth graders Tatum Rice, left, and Celeste Revilla Serrano look to corral the puck in the corner of the CRES ice rink on Monday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
A group of Crystal River Elementary School third graders carry their skis to the baseball field on Tuesday where the school cross country ski course is set.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School fourth graders Siena Katzenberger, left, and Yoanna Garcia work on their ice skating form at the CRES rink on Monday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School third grader Fernando Chimal Medina takes off for a lap around the school’s cross country ski course on Tuesday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
A group of fourth grade students at Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale enjoy some outdoor physical fun on the school’s ice rink.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School third graders, from left, Kenya Rodriguez Hernandez, Victoria Miner and Carlos Garcia make tracks on the school’s cross country ski course Tuesday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School fourth graders, from left, Celeste Revilla Serrano, Liam Sisneros and Sammy Palomera-Dominguez jockey for the puck on the school ice rink Monday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School third grader Lili Baiardo sets out for a cross country ski lap on Tuesday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School physical education teacher Marty Madsen clears snow from the school ice rink during a class on Monday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School third grader Harbour Stephens makes tracks on the school’s cross country ski course on Tuesday.
John Stroud/Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School third grader River Smith sets out for a cross country ski lap on Tuesday.
John Stroud/Post Independent

On the Fly: We can find our humanity in our fishing journeys

I have always seen my life in terms of landscape and journey. My earliest memories are of water, sky, mountains and streams. I have been inspired by the natural world in ways that, even in my later stage in life, are both fulfilling and mystifying.

For one who was trained as a scientist, I see things in very mystical and weird ways. I look for the meaning when it is elusive. I look for metaphor when my rational brain tells me that a rock is just a rock and a storm is just a storm. I search for and see trout in my sleep. I believe that time spent in nature exploring the wonders of fish and their habitat teaches us more about ourselves and our lives than we would ever learn otherwise. We find our humanity and wrestle with its dark side: fear, desire, failure, and weakness.

Like most of us, I am enchanted with the notion of journey. I have done my share of wonderful road trips — I love to explore wander, dream, and engage creation on its own terms. The human spirit is always best expressed in terms of journey. In my life in medicine, I meet people in all stages of journeying. They are the walking, the broken, the wounded and the glorious.

Fishing captures and symbolizes the completeness of the human spirit and journey. I see each journey to the river as a tiny recapitulation of my own humanity and the things I share in common with my fellow travelers.

Early in my fly fishing career I remember telling a friend that there is so much to learn! Some 40 years later, that is still true. Every trip I learn something new about rivers, fish and the natural world. Most importantly, I learn something new about myself. Every encounter with the waters of our planet draws me deeper into who I am and who I want to become.

(Excerpts, originally published in “Fly Fishing — the Sacred Art,” by Rabbi Eric Eisenkramer and Rev. Michael Attas, MD, Skylight Paths Publishing)

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.

Sweetwater residents warn federal, state officials they are ready to fight plans for Colorado’s 43rd state park

GYPSUM — Sweetwater Lake is supposed to be the state’s 43rd state park. A 2019 “Save The Lake” fundraising campaign helped the White River National Forest land its largest contribution from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to acquire the 488-acre property above the Colorado River. A one-of-a-kind partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife is planned to modernize the property’s facilities and manage recreation at the remote lake surrounded by homes and wilderness at the end of a long dirt road. 

Now, the community of Sweetwater is raising a red flag. After two years of meetings with the Forest Service and CPW, a group of residents last week warned the federal and state agencies that the community is ready to stop cooperating and start fighting as plans unfold for a highly trafficked destination.

“I think we have moved from ‘save the lake’ to ‘save the community,’” said Janet Rivera, who raised her family near Sweetwater Lake.

The 11-member Sweetwater Lake community group — which has been meeting with the Forest Service, CPW and Eagle Valley Land Trust to hammer out a plan for the property — warned that  a lack of progress on short-term plans for the lake and its nearly 40-year operator is eroding their support for a state park. 

Read the full story here.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

On the Fly: Who is the best fly tyer in the valley?

The seventh annual Iron Fly Competition is taking place on Feb. 11. Hosted by the Roaring Fork Valley Fly Fishing Club and the Roaring Fork Conservancy, this fun-filled evening begins at 5:30 p.m. with the Youth Division at the Tipsy Trout in Basalt. Adults usually start around 7 p.m., and all participants need to pre-register at www.roaringfork.org/events to ensure their spot at this immensely popular event.

For local kids wanting a little practice before the event, check out the after-school fly tying program happening on Wednesday afternoons at the Basalt Regional Library. Call 970-927-4311 for information.

Rules? There are none. Bribing judges? Definitely encouraged. Cheating, lying and stealing are par for the course, and all proceeds fund the RFVFFC’s youth and veteran fly fishing activities throughout the year. This competition is totally free for the youth division, $20 for adults, and a nominal $5 fee will get you in the door as a spectator. Larger donations are encouraged for those hoping to foster the club’s many fishing-oriented outreach programs.

How does it work? There are multiple “rounds” in each division, and tyers get a bag of materials and a hook to utilize for each phase. Flies are “judged” and the best tyers advance to a final round. All participants should bring their own vise, threads and tools; although the Conservancy and Fishing Club will have extras on hand.

Tyers are thrown some curve balls during the competition, so be prepared to see a round where all are blindfolded or perhaps asked to turn their vise around and tie with their non-dominant hand. Tom Skutely (who heads the RFVFFC and the Iron Fly Competition) will certainly get the participants out of their comfort zone and this also tends to level the playing field. We hope to see you there, come and mingle with your fishing friends and make some new ones, too!

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.

If you go…

What: Iron Fly Competition
Where: Tipsy Trout, 181 Basalt Center Circle
When: Youth division at 5:30 p.m., adults 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11
How to register: Visit www.roaringfork.org/events before Feb. 11, space is limited
Hosted by: Roaring Fork Valley Fly Fishing Club, Roaring Fork Conservancy, Tipsy Trout Bar and Grill