Tad Elliott tapped by USA Cycling

Another Durango athlete is pedaling off toward the big time. Tad Elliott, recent Durango High School graduate and cycling and Nordic phenom, scored a spot on the USA Cycling U23 National Mountain Bike Team this week. The prestigious team is often a fast track for athletes with Olympic and World Cup aspirations.

The 18-year-old Elliott is a product of the Durango Development (DEVO) Team and spent the 2006 season racing the DEVO jersey. During that season, his impressive results came to the attention of USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Coach Matt Cramer.

“Tad is a very well-rounded athlete who performed well in 2006 domestic events, and I have a feeling that his personality will mesh well with the team.” Cramer said. “He wants to focus on mountain biking after his Nordic season is over, and hopefully if his season goes well, we can give him a reason to stick with it.”

Elliott joins the program as a project athlete, meaning he will ride with the team part-time at domestic events. “Tad’s focus will be at North American races,” explained Cramer. “Competing against the pros in top domestic events will assimilate him into the pro field without any pressure on results or performance.”

Sarah Tescher, director of Durango DEVO, said that seeing Elliot make the jump to the Under-23 Team is gratifying for her and Durango cycling. “Durango DEVO was created for just this reason: to support young cyclists and hopefully give them a boost into the world of professional and/or collegiate racing,” she said. “I hope that Devo has helped Tad to reach some of his goals. He is an incredibly gifted athlete who makes cycling and skiing look like all fun and no suffering, though the opposite is true.”

For his part, Elliott is excited to be joining the U23 Team. “I’m really stoked on it,” he said. “It’s been a goal for to get on this team ever since it was created. I hope to further my mountain bike career and get on a full factory pro team, do some racing and eventually get to go to the World Cup.”

Elliott is also grateful to Durango DEVO, and particularly coach Chad Cheeney, for pointing his aspirations in the right direction. “The DEVO team really helped me out,” he said. “Chad is an awesome coach and I finally got some specific bike training instead of just riding for fun. My descending skills also improved hugely by riding with Chad and the other guys on the team.”

Elliott’s first spin with the U23 Team is still a ways off. Elliott is also one of the nation’s top junior Nordic athletes and was chosen by the U.S. Ski Association to represent the U.S. at the Nordic Junior World Championships in the Italian Alps next month. Elliott hopes to continue to balance the complimentary disciplines of cycling and Nordic skiing in the years to come.


New mine seeks public lands access

A controversial proposal to resurrect silver and gold mining in La Plata Canyon is now seeking permission to cross public lands. The Wildcat Mining Corp. has requested access to private mining claims in the canyon and approval to make minor improvements to an existing road.

With metals prices still at an all-time high, the Durango area has seen a renewed interest in mining precious metal. A San Diego-based company, Wildcat Mining is attempting to start up a gold and silver mining operation in the La Plata Mountains. Wildcat proposes to set up mining and milling operations on the old Idaho Mill property, a 141-acre parcel north of Mayday. The operation would include refurbishing the old Idaho mill on the property as well adding a portable crushing plant, office trailer, storage for chemicals, a tailings pond and a tailings pile to the site. The facilities would be used to concentrate ores from the Idaho Mine, the Mayday Mine and from waste dumps and tailings piles on these and other properties.

The company has also submitted a special-use application for use of an existing road for the next five years just above Mayday. The applicant proposes to use the road to transport personnel, processed ore, delivery trucks and heavy equipment. Wildcat has requested use of the road five days per week on a year-round basis, entailing snow plowing in the winter.

An environmental analysis will evaluate the impacts of the propososals. For more information or to submit input, contact Cindy Hockelberg at 884-1418 prior to March 9.

Rendon announces candidacy

Michael Rendon, former Fort Lewis College Environmental Center director and runner up in the 2003 election, has announced his candidacy for Durango City Council. Responsible growth and open space, accessible and quality heath care, energy-resource efficiency, affordable housing, and support for local businesses are his top issues. “I am a common-sense progressive,” said Rendon, “which means acting on issues that affect people’s lives.”

Rendon decided to run for the City Council after volunteering in New Orleans, Romania and other places he recently traveled to. “I saw a lot of things communities are doing to create a better world,” Rendon said. “And I think it’s time we do some of them here in Durango.”

Rendon said it is time for Durango to start acting on affordable housing. He also believes the city can play a role in finding solutions to the local health-care crisis. Finally, Rendon discussed the specifics for a Durango that supports energy efficiency.

Thus far, Linda Geer, Sidny Zink, Tom Howley, Leigh Meigs and Peter Tregillus are also in the running for three vacant seats in the April 3 election. Other prospective candidates have until Feb. 27 to return their nominating petitions.


Fort Lewis names new soccer coach

The former head coach of the major league soccer team the Colorado Rapids is taking over operations at Fort Lewis College. Tim Hankinson has been named the new head men’s soccer coach, replacing Jeremy Gunn who led the Skyhawks to their first national soccer championship in 2005.

“We are very excited to have Hankinson as our new men’s soccer head coach,” said Director of Athletics Kent Stanley. “He’s proven himself at all levels of the sport and has an enviable network in the soccer community.”

Hankinson’s ascent through the coaching ranks included successful stops at Alabama A&M, DePaul University, and Syracuse University. He then entered Major League Soccer (MLS) where he experienced head coaching stints with the Tampa Bay Mutiny and the Colorado Rapids. His career also includes head coaching with the Nike Project-40 team and the 2005 U-17 Guatemala national team.

“It’s spectacular,” said Hankinson when asked about his visit to Fort Lewis and Durango. “First I need to meet with the team and get organized for spring training. Then I really need to get aggressive with recruiting.”

– compiled by Will Sands