In Summit County, questions linger for indoor/outdoor recreation and future sports events

Dmytro Zadykhylo, Billy Robinson, and Boaz Berman play a physically distanced pick-up game of basketball outside the Breckenridge Recreation Center on Thursday, May 21.
Liz Copan /

DILLON — Breckenridge is a mountain town renowned globally for its sports. But questions still remain across the county as Breckenridge Recreation Director Scott Reid prepares to present the Breckenridge Recreation Center reopening plan to the Breckenridge Town Council at Tuesday’s virtual meeting. Those uncertainties continue to hang over recreation locations like the Breckenridge Recreation Center and Silverthorne Recreation Center – as well as sports leagues and staple summertime events that haven’t already been canceled.

Reid said Breckenridge Recreation’s first priority in reopening recreation for the town will be getting the Breckenridge Recreation Center open for public use with council-approved COVID-19 protocols. Reid said up to this point, the facility has been open for more essential-type services, such as childcare, physical therapy and one-on-one personal training.

He added the recreation department is looking at similar mountain-town models, such as those for rec centers in Gypsum and Fruita, to steer the plan he’ll present Tuesday night.

“We are working hard to find a way to get people in there safely get back to somewhat normal workout exercise routines,” Reid said. “But we need to get information from our elected and public-health officials.”

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Reid added the recreation department has gotten confirmation from local and state public-health officials regarding summer camps, and said the rec department will begin summer camps on June 8. He added that the town tennis center will likely be on the same reopening time frame as the rec center, as reopening indoor public facilities is the department’s first priority after outdoor spaces, like the town skatepark, basketball courts and ball fields, have already opened.

Talking on programs that would bring together large parties, such as softball and soccer leagues and the town’s trail-running series, Reid said they are likely to have a postponed opening or not operate at all this summer.

Over at the Silverthorne Recreation Center, Silverthorne spokeswoman Kristina Nayden said though the staff at the Silverthorne Recreation Center is currently working on plans for a safe reopening according to the county’s roadmap to recovery, no date has been specified. She said the center’s programming would resume with the center’s opening.

“Maybe on Monday if the Gov. (Jared Polis) addresses this, we may be able to dig back into best protocols for safe opening (of recreation centers),” said Summit County Environmental Health Manager Dan Hendershott on Thursday.

On the heels of last week’s announcement that the Breck Epic — the annual August 6-day mountain bike tour-de-Summit — has been canceled for this year, an announcement was made that the annual Firecracker 50 also won’t take place.

In a direct and heartfelt email message to the event’s mountain bikers, Westcott said he felt he had to cancel the event despite considering “many machinations, gyrations, and ideas,” over the past couple of weeks.

“We’ve conceptualized the Firecracker as a time trial, a 250-max-no-spectator event, (to) start at the (Stephen C. West) ice rink, (a) limited gathering at Carter Park all with adherence to physical distancing protocols.,” Westcott wrote. “You name it we’ve considered it.”

In the email, Westcott described the reasoning behind the cancellation as a “moral issue, not logistical.”

He added after a brainstorm process of how to do the Firecracker amid COVID-19, including the thought of rescheduling for it to take place later in the year, it wouldn’t be in the best interest of the race or racers to postpone. Westcott added he felt he couldn’t guarantee the safety of those at the Firecracker while maintaining most of the elements that make the event what it is — including the festive, crowded party-like star-spangled scene in Carter Park full of tourists and locals alike.

As of Thursday, May 21, Westcott remains hopeful he will still be able to host Mav Sports’ annual summertime staple, the Summit Mountain Challenge series.

While Mav Sports continues to iron out a virtual concept for the Firecracker 50 — something McCormack and the Breck Epic have also done — Westcott said things are changing daily in terms of if, how and when the Summit Mountain Challenge, and the accompanying junior mountain-bike league, may be able to take place.

This coming Monday Westcott and other sports event and league directors hope to learn more about the prospects of Summit County entering into a Stabilization Stage 2 on its Roadmap to Recovery from COVID-19, which would allow for gatherings of up to 50 people. This would allow the Summit Mountain Challenge to operate with an amended format, including widely-staggered time-trial-like starts to distance competitors out on the course.

On Thursday Westcott said he’s penciling in June 13 as a possible replacement date for the year’s first Summit Mountain Challenge event: the Frisco Roundup at the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area. If the Roundup can take place, other later races in the series would likely take place in a similar way — on a Saturday to allow for proper social-distancing and staggered starts over the course of a whole day. This would be a departure from the event’s usual Wednesday evening time over a several-hour afternoon and evening window.

Other Summit Mountain Challenge events would follow on June 17 (Gold Run Rush), July 15 (Pennsylvania Gulch Grind), July 29 (Soda Creek Scramble), a to-be-determined event on August 12, Aug. 26 (Peaks Trail Time Trial and Sept. 13 (the Fall Classic).

Westcott said any mountain-bike events that are allowed would include precise instructions on COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

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