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Avs Mailbag: Which rookie is ready for a breakout year: Bo Byram or Alex Newhook?

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Avs Mailbag: Which rookie is ready for a breakout year: Bo Byram or Alex Newhook?

Denver Post sports writer Mike Chambers responds to questions in the Avs Mailbag periodically during the regular season. Pose an Avalanche- or NHL-related question for the Avs Mailbag.

What are your thoughts on whether there’s even a realistic shot for prospects like (Shane) Bowers to make an opening-night roster given the numerous veteran signings they seem committed to? Seems like some short-sighted roster management, with some arguably very average vets.

— Jeff, Broomfield

Those veteran forwards include Dylan Sikura, Kiefer Sherwood and Stefan Matteau and they were reassigned to the Eagles on Thursday. That was followed by Jayson Megna being reassigned to Loveland on Friday, when Artem Anisimov (tryout contract) was also released. Bowers and Martin Kaut were reassigned to the Eagles on Friday, leaving Newhook and Sampo Ranta as the rookie forwards still in contention to make the roster. I suspect they both will. But Bowers had a good showing and proved he’s a player for the future.

Hi Mike, I was wondering how you feel about a possible Annunen-vs.-Miska backup battle. Who would you prefer in net, should it come to that?

— Ben, Denver

Well, since Pavel Francouz will miss the first 3-4 weeks of the season, that’s probably your two guys in Loveland with the Eagles. It was supposed to be Jonas Johansson and Annunen before Francouz’s injury. Now, Johansson is Darcy Kuemper’s backup. Annunen is going to get a lot of attention with the Eagles in his first season in North America. He’s the club’s top prospect at that position. Miska probably won’t be around next year because Trent Miner, 20, is also coming up and will need AHL development.

Mike, losing Philipp Grubauer was huge, but I’m happy we were able to land Darcy Kuemper. Do you think we actually got stronger between the pipes with the move? Also, god forbid he goes down with an injury, but who’s our No. 2 guy this year?

— Miles, Parker

Your No. 2 guy was Francouz but he’s now on IR. So it’s Johansson right now. As for the Grubauer-Kuemper comparison, about five inches of height separates them. The 6-foot-5 Kuemper doesn’t give shooters a lot of net to shoot at. It seems like he’s equally as talented as Grubauer, who I consider a terrific 6-foot goalie. This could be an upgrade if Kuemper, like Gruabuer, can keep his goals-against average under 2.00 (among goalies playing 25 games, Grubauer led the league with a 1.95 GAA last season).

Hey Mike, who do you think is going to have a bigger breakout season for the Avs this year: Bowen Byram or Alex Newhook? Also, what’s the ETA for our last couple of first-rounders? Do you see Justin Barron or Oskar Olausson making their NHL debuts this year?

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Vail Resorts is threatening immigration status of foreign investors in Mount Snow project, Vermont regulators allege

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Vail Resorts is threatening immigration status of foreign investors in Mount Snow project, Vermont regulators allege

Vermont regulators this month issued a cease-and-desist order to Vail Resorts, alleging that the Colorado-based ski giant is reneging on an agreement with roughly 30 immigrant investors that could lead to their deportation.

These foreign investors came to the United States under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program — created by Congress in 1990 to facilitate economic development in exchange for the chance to receive a green card, or permanent U.S. residency status.

In 2014, more than 100 people invested $500,000 with Peak Resorts — which Vail Resorts bought in 2019 — for the purposes of building an improved ski lodge and upgraded snowmaking facility at Mount Snow in southern Vermont. In return for their capital and job creation, the investors received temporary residency, with the ability to become permanent U.S. residents in the future.

But Vermont regulators, in their Jan. 7 order, said Vail Resorts is trying to return money to dozens of investors involved in the Mount Snow project before their immigration petitions have been processed by the federal government — which, the state argued, would violate Vermont security laws and could result in investors losing their legal status to remain in the country.

“If your application hasn’t been decided yet and you get refunded, you’re out of possibilities to get your permanent green card,” said Michael S. Pieciak, a commissioner with Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation, which filed the cease-and-desist order. “That’s a very serious outcome for these investors.”

Quinn Kelsey, a Vail Resorts spokesperson, said in a statement that the company is “evaluating our legal recourse” but that it is “confident our practices are fully compliant.”

“Since the Mount Snow EB-5 Project’s formation in 2014, our communications with investors have been transparent, clear and compliant with securities laws,” Kelsey said.

Vail Resorts did not respond when asked why it was refunding the Mount Snow investors.

These investments are primarily an avenue for people to get a coveted green card, rather than make a significant return on investment, Pieciak said.

The state became aware of the refunds in late November and early December when investors told them they had been contacted by Vail Resorts, asking them to complete a form with bank wire transfer instructions.

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These Colorado towns are great in winter – even if you don’t ski

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These Colorado towns are great in winter – even if you don’t ski

Not being a skier in Colorado is the equivalent of blurting “Voldemort” at Hogwarts. People look at you in shock. How dare you not ski?! The thing is, skiing and snowboarding can be pricey — season pass or lift tickets, skis or snowboard, boots, helmet, and layers of cold-weather gear. Plus, trying to get anywhere in the mountains along  I-70 is so … trying.

So what else is there to do, then?

Turns out, there’s a lot more to Colorado in the winter than shredding pow. You can snowshoe to a glorious, four-course dinner, spectate at an elite ice climbing competition, soak your muscles in a hot springs, or ride through a snowy wonderland by train. Read on for tips for finding winter fun off the slopes.

Daniel Brenner, Special to the Denver Post

A competitor loses an edge during the 72nd Running of Leadville Skijoring on March 8, 2020, in Leadville.

Leadville

Billed as the highest city in the country, Leadville is surrounded by fourteeners and is home to snow almost year-round. You could try summiting a peak, but this is recommended only if you have experience climbing in winter. Fortunately, you don’t have to climb one to enjoy great mountain views. There are world-renowned trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Or take the 1-mile trail to the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse for a four-course dinner with a backdrop like no other.

Plan your visit around Crystal Carnival Weekend (March 5-6) and enjoy the skijoring — kind of like waterskiing, but instead of water there’s snow and instead of a boat there’s a horse. That’s right! A horse and rider gallop down the street towing a rope — and on the other end of that rope there’s a person on skis. They race through downtown in a series of jumps. It’s a hootin’-hollerin’ good time! And if someone in your group does want to ski, Ski Cooper is a short drive away.

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Provided by Ouray Ice Park

The town of Ouray offers a few glimpses of natural waterfall wonders, but this man-made (and free!) ice park is truly spectacular. It’s a mecca for climbers and non-climbers to behold, too.

Ouray

This southwestern mountain town isn’t always easy to get to (keep your eye on storms), but once you’re there, you’ll quickly understand why it’s called the “Little Switzerland of Colorado.”

Ouray is a winter dreamscape nestled in a valley between high mountain cliffs. Every year, staff at Ouray Ice Park turn Uncompahgre Gorge into frigid walls of ice fit for the most talented climbers. You can try the sport yourself or simply watch others. Visit in January to watch the best ice climbers in the world compete.

There are plenty of other activities, if ice climbing isn’t your thing. You can soak in the hot springs, walk around Box Canyon Falls Park, drive along the Million Dollar Highway, or hike the Ouray Perimeter Trail. If someone in your group does want to ski, it’s not far to Telluride.

Cortez

If you’re looking for a perfect après ski atmosphere without ever skiing, head to Cortez, between Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and Mesa Verde National Park. It’s a great area in winter since crowds are minimal and the views are endless.

Finding sustenance (in both liquid and solid form) is easy on Cortez’s main drag and in surrounding towns. Grab a pint at WildEdge Brewing Collective, Main Street Brewery, or J Fargo’s Micro Brewery and pair it with pub favorites (the beer nachos are incredible at WildEdge). Dolores River Brewery and Mancos Brewing Co. are good options if you venture further from town. The Farm Bistro just off Main Street has a new lounge that serves only Colorado beer, wine and spirits. Plus, it offers a true farm-to-table experience described as delivering “comfort food with style.” Yum.

1642600101 159 These Colorado towns are great in winter – even if

Liz Copan, Summit Daily News via AP

Dog-sledding guide Tim Thiessen of Leadville brings his huskies down a trail off Tiger Road on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, at Good Times Adventures in Breckenridge.

Buena Vista

Opt to warm yourself instead of freeze on the slopes with a trip to Buena Vista. There’s a large concentration of hot springs in the area to soak the weariest muscles.

Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort offers pools of varying temperatures and even a 400-foot water slide. Or rent a private cabin at Antero Hot Springs or the Merrifield Homestead Cabins for more of a secluded retreat. Head south to find Joyful Journey Hot Springs or Salida Hot Springs and Aquatic Center to swim in one of the largest indoor hot springs pools in the country.

If something more exciting beckons, try Monarch Dog Sled rides. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be in the Iditarod? It’s not as easy as you might think to stay standing on a dog sled. Not to worry, though, if you don’t want to drive the dogs; you can stay seated up front. Make sure to bundle up and wear goggles since snow is bound to get kicked up into your face.

Cripple Creek

Cripple Creek is known for the casinos lining its main street, but there’s more to this town than you might realize. Visit in February, and you’ll find the downtown corridor transform into a sea of ice as the town hosts the state’s largest ice carving competition. Artists from all over try their hand at creating masterpieces from hundreds of pounds of ice. There’s an ice maze for kids to outwit, an ice slide for those who are a kid at heart, and even an ice martini bar! It’s a lot of fun for the whole family.

Draft horses with Horses Are Us, ...

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Draft horses pull sleigh rides during the Georgetown Christmas Market on Dec. 8, 2019.

Georgetown

You may have to fight ski traffic for a bit to get to Georgetown, but it’s worth it. It’s the perfect family-friendly day trip from Denver. Every December, Georgetown’s Sixth Street transforms into a quintessential Christmas postcard. Stringed lights illuminated downtown and the smell of roasting chestnuts fills the air; you may think you’ve stepping onto the set of a holiday movie. Take a sleigh ride around town, listen to carolers, and stroll through vendors to pick out gifts for the whole family. After you’ve filled up on eggnog, head to the Georgetown Loop Railroad. Every year it features holiday excursions that traverse Santa’s Lighted Forest and might even include a visit from the jolly man himself! Every kid goes home from the train ride with a special treat and smiles for days.

1642600101 868 These Colorado towns are great in winter – even if

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

The skies are full of stars above the unique formations of the Wheeler Geologic Area in the Rio Grande National Forest on Aug. 7, 2020, near Creede.

Creede

You might not think of Creede as a winter destination, but there are few prettier scenes than this little town, nearly surrounded by mountain cliffs blanketed in snow.

Plan your visit to take in the annual Chocolate Festival, where local business owners showcase delectable chocolate specialties. January brings the annual TommyKnocker Pond Hockey Tournament. Whether you’re on the ice yourself or just spectating, there’s plenty of live entertainment and good food. If you’re “officially over winter” by February, head to Creede for its aptly-named Cabin Fever Daze. There’s live music, night skating, curling, bonfires, improv theater, and all-around good fun.

1642600101 468 These Colorado towns are great in winter – even if
The Springs Resort and Spa in downtown Pagosa Springs is like a water park for hot springs lovers — and its just a 30-minute drive from Wolf Creek Ski Area. There are 25 pools in a lovingly manicured resort along the San Juan River. The mineral-rich water will soothe body and mind. (T. Carter, The Springs Resort and Spa)
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“This is a crisis”: 672 people died in Colorado traffic crashes last year — the highest number in nearly two decades

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“This is a crisis”: 672 people died in Colorado traffic crashes last year — the highest number in nearly two decades

More people died in crashes on Colorado’s roads last year than any other year in nearly two decades, prompting highway officials to call for drivers to change the way they act to reverse the tragic trend.

At least 672 people died in traffic crashes last year, though Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, said he expects the number to exceed 700 once the year’s data is finalized. Driving is the most dangerous activity many Coloradans do on an average day despite the fact that nearly all crash deaths are preventable, he said in a Tuesday news conference.

The number of deaths last year is 50% higher than the number recorded in 2011 and the highest on record since 2002, data compiled by the Colorado Department of Transportation shows.

“This is a crisis in our state,” Packard said. “This is a crisis we’re dealing with across the country. And I don’t use that word lightly.”

Packard and other officials attributed the rise in deaths to drivers’ lack of personal responsibility. Too many people are driving while impaired, using excessive speeds and allowing themselves to be distracted behind the wheel, he said.

Colorado’s population and the number of people using its roads have increased in the last two decades but they have not risen at the same rate as the number of crash deaths, said John Lorme, director of maintenance and operations for the Colorado Department of Transportation. Traffic deaths increased in 2020 from 2019 even as the use of Colorado’s roads plummeted during the beginning of the pandemic, he said.

“Drivers must do their part,” Lorme said.

At least 246 of 2021’s traffic deaths, or 37%, involved an impaired driver, up from 212 such deaths in 2020. Data about which substances drivers were using last year was not yet available because toxicology reports can take months, Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman Sam Cole said. The department will publish a report when the data is final.

The final number of deaths caused by distracted drivers also was not yet available, Cole said.

Officials urged Coloradans to use seatbelts while traveling. At least 226 of the people who died in traffic crashes last year were not wearing seatbelts — or a third of the total deaths.

The five counties with the highest number of crashes are some of the state’s most populous: El Paso, Adams, Denver, Jefferson and Arapahoe. Of those counties, El Paso is the only one to see a decrease from 2020 and no growth from the average number of deaths from the prior three years. Adams, Denver and Jefferson counties each saw a 14% increase from their three-year averages and Arapahoe saw a 10% increase.

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