Durango takes on Worlds

Durango has pedaled back to the top of the Worlds. A Durangoan scored a coveted podium spot at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, last weekend.

Local rider Willow Koerber took her second medal at Worlds, once again earning the bronze in the cross country race. The finish capped off a stellar season for Koerber and vaulted her to second overall in the World Cup standings. It bears noting that her bronze last year was the United States’ best finish at Worlds since 2001. Koerber rides for Team Subaru-Trek and relocated to Durango early last summer from Asheville, N.C.

In what was arguably the most exciting race of the world championships, the ladies set out for 26 slick kilometers on a wet, foggy morning. On the second of six laps, Polish rider Maja Wloszczowska pulled away, making the decisive move that would win her gold and the world title.  

Koerber and Canadian favorite Catharine Pendrel chased the leader for the duration of the race, swapping positions frequently on the technical course. On the final lap, Koerber pulled away and appeared to have taken over second place for good, but then slipped on a rocky section, came off her bike and fell back into fourth.

“Oh crap,” Willow said when asked what she was thinking during the slip-up. “I was stuck in fencing. I like to make it exciting and stressful for my fans.”

But on the last half of the final lap, Koerber jumped on the gas and moved back into the bronze medal position. “You go into the World Championships wanting to win but third place is great,” she said afterwards. “Especially since I was like fourth until the last three seconds. So I’m happy.”

Koerber’s fellow Durangoans also charged at the Worlds. Todd Wells posted the second-best finish for an American male, clinching 20th place. And Sage Wilderman, who cut her teeth at Fort Lewis College, claimed 35th in the U23 cross country competition.

FLC inaugurates Common Earth Series

The Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College will explore the “common earth” in coming weeks. A new lecture series dedicated to environmental topics and brought to the community by scientists and experts begins this Fri., Sept. 10.

The Common Earth Series will kick off with “People and Predators: Who’s Eating Whom?” a talk by nationally known anthropologists Donna Hart, from the University of Missouri, and Robert W. Sussman, from Washington University. Joint authors ofMan the Hunted, Hart and Sussman assert that human nature originated not because we were the hunters but because we were the hunted. The authors argue that early humans were the prey of a wide range of predators and base their theory on fossil evidence, observations of naturalists, and their own studies of primates. This free event meets in 130 Noble Hall and begins with an authors’ reception at 6 p.m.

The series continues Sept 13 at the Center of Southwest Studies Lyceum with a 5:30 p.m. screening of “Lords of Nature: Life in a Land of Great Predators.” Also on tap for next week is the talk “The Role of Predators in the Rocky Mountains,” by leading predator experts, Ken Logan and Gary Ferguson. That session meets in the Center of Southwest Studies Lyceum at 7 p.m., Wed., Sept. 15.

The Common Earth Series is an effort by a group of local partners to find practical solutions to environmental and social issues through open public dialogue. The series will continue with a second screening of “Lords of Nature” on Sept. 21 and the talk, “Wolves at our Doorstep,” on Sept.22. For more information, visit http://swcenter.fortlewis.edu

Report spotlights oil and gas disasters

Colorado has had its fair share of oil and gas disasters, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation. Inspired by BP’s Gulf of Mexico disaster, the study catalogs oil-related accidents across the country during the past decade.

Report author Tim Warman says the list illustrates that the production of oil and gas is fraught with problems, and these problems lead to accidents more often than many realize. “Generally, the public doesn’t hear about these outside of their local area until you have a big disaster,” Warman said.

The underlying message of the report and the Gulf disaster is that it is time for increased oversight and regulation, Warman added. “The petroleum industry is inadequately regulated, and they do not take full responsibility for the problems that they cause,” he said.

Among Colorado’s missteps, the report highlights: a 2005 tanker truck spill near Silt; the release in 2008 of more than 1 million gallons of hydraulic fracturing fluids near Parachute; and the critical illnesses suffered by a Durango nurse after treating a patient who had been splashed with fracking fluid. It goes on to count at least a dozen such accidents and spills in Colorado since 2000.

9-R Schools offer local foods lunch

Colorado stepped into the cafeteria this week. Local schools put local foods on the tray for the sixth annual “Colorado Proud School Meal Day” on Sept. 8. “Colorado Proud School Meal Day” was developed as a day to celebrate Colorado agriculture and to educate schoolchildren about the value of local and healthy eating.

“We are very fortunate to partner with a group of local farmers who are committed to providing our schools with wonderfully nutritious foods on a daily basis, and I’m happy we’re able to celebrate that fact with our community at our ‘Colorado Proud School Meal Day,’” said 9-R’s supervisor of student nutrition, Krista Garand.

The menu for “Colorado Proud School Meal Day” included a baked potato bar with local Colorado potatoes; chili made with beef from James Ranch; mixed green salad and greens from Farm I and Gardens at James Ranch; and organic apple sauce and fruit juice from Wacky Apple Snacks in Hotchkiss.

Garand added that since local farms are harvesting now, 9-R students can expect more local fare on their plates in coming weeks. Approximately 2,200 local students and a handful of their parents sat down for the local lunch.

– Will Sands




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