Copper Mountain man celebrates five years of daily telemark skiing … righteous! |

Copper Mountain man celebrates five years of daily telemark skiing … righteous!

Devon O'Neil / My $0.02
Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge ” Before I get to the national conversation, we should celebrate an athletic achievement that carries little to no relevance outside the mountains.

It is something so absurd that it’s tough even for us, here, to comprehend, like imagining what it would be like to inherit a trillion dollars.

Last Friday morning, on Halloween, no less, Copper Mountain resident Rainer Hertrich marked his fifth consecutive year of daily telemark skiing. No sick days. No injuries. Just the most dedicated skier in the history of the world doing what he’s done every day since Nov. 1, 2003.

That’s a long time. Dubya was still in his first term. The Marlins had just finished off the vaunted Yankees in the World Series. Yet not even Hertrich knew the journey on which he was embarking.

In many ways, the mark means nothing. Hertrich isn’t doing this to set records anymore. He pays attention to the numbers, yes, but more to the point, this has become his life, just like eating and sleeping. He wakes up and he skis. Very little changes, aside from location.

Sometimes he sleeps in a tent in Oregon. Other times in a hotel in Chile. From October to June he sleeps at home at Copper.

By definition, Hertrich is a professional athlete. He gets skis from K2 (five pairs thus far) and Voile (two pairs plus two pairs of bindings) and clothing and luggage from Spyder. His family helps out with logistics. A friend ships his motorcycle back to Colorado from Oregon each summer. Random people in random places buy him dinner and drinks.

And like every other pro athlete, Hertrich earns his keep. He plays through pain ” like that recent two-week span in Chile, when he came down with “a nasty, cruddy flu thing” that woke him up at night, unable to breathe.

During that same span, however, he averaged a career-best 44,000 vertical feet per day (equal to lapping Loveland’s Chair 1 44 times), thanks to a 9-5 lift-operating schedule that kept him happier than Hugh Hefner.

Hertrich estimates he’s spending $10,000 a year to maintain his streak. “That’s pretty righteous,” he says of the figure.

He is 47 years old. Can’t fathom doing anything else with his life. Righteous, indeed. …

As much magic as Allen Iverson makes on the basketball court, I think the Nuggets are getting a steal by trading him for Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess, two proven winners and former Nuggets who give Denver a better overall shot at contending. …

Isiah Thomas reached a new level of ugly last week. He reportedly overdosed on sleeping pills at home ” to the point where police said he stopped breathing ” but then, when the poop splattered on the fan, he fingered his 17-year-old daughter as the one who OD’d.

Luckily for the rest of society, the police chief boldly refuted that claim, but still. Who does that? …

Headline of the Week is a tie between rival brands with contrasting styles. First, from, one that captures it all: “Daly drunk, detained outside of Hooters in N.C.” And then, this is how SportsCenter’s graphics department summed up the Raiders’ offensive futility on Sunday: “Just Wince, Baby.” …

Which brings us to the Stat of the Week. You might recall a recent episode in which we brought attention to Washington State’s utterly pathetic offense.

In contrast, the Raiders are getting PAID to be as bad as they were Sunday, when they finished with three first downs, 10 yards passing and possessed the ball for only 14 minutes, 45 seconds of a 60-minute game – the result being a 24-0 thrashing by Atlanta. …

It doesn’t mean much, with how woeful Denver’s defense has been this year, but Broncos fans can at least say their middle linebacker, D.J. Williams, is tied for the NFL lead in tackles (77). …

Quote of the Week comes from Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell, who was asked on ABC moments after his team upset No. 1 Texas to describe the game-winning play, in which Michael Crabtree beat two Longhorn defenders to score a scintillating touchdown with 1 second left.

“They tried to man up Crab,” Harrell said. “There’s not anyone in the country that can man up Crab.” …

Best player in college football who doesn’t get the pub? Wide receiver Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State. He strides like a greyhound and hangs in the air like a kite. Can’t wait to see him and Crabtree on the same field this weekend. …

In parting, it is almost inconceivable that the Broncos ” who have looked like a mid-pack Big 12 (North) team over the last month and a half, scoring no more than 19 points in their past five games ” still remain alone in first place in the AFC West.

” Breckenridge resident Devon O’Neil’s $0.02 column runs Tuesdays. He can be reached at

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