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It’s official: The U.S. Ski and Snowboard team now lists two-time Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin as an Edwards resident. Last season the squad inexplicably listed her mostly as an Avon resident instead of EagleVail – her hometown for most of her career.
I irresponsibly speculated that was likely because of the name Vail contained in EagleVail – sometimes with a hyphen and sometimes not – and because Shiffrin is sponsored not by Vail Resorts but by Alterra, a company partnered with Aspen Skiing Company. Taking off my tinfoil ski hat, I’m ready to punt on that conspiracy theory – unless, of course, it’s true.
But now it really doesn’t matter anymore because Shiffrin built a house in Edwards – a town 15 miles “down valley” from Vail that isn’t really a town because it’s actually in unincorporated Eagle County. For that matter, the same is true of the “town” of EagleVail.
But up until now, the most famous person associated with Edwards was Kobe Bryant, who made some headlines when he stayed nearby at Cordillera in the early 2000s. And Kathy Lee Gifford used to hang out at the Gashouse in Edwards when she was a Cordillera resident. Now Edwards is Shiffrin country.
Still, it sounds kind of awkward this season to say “Edwards’ Shiffrin wins again,” so maybe I’ll just say she’s from the Vail Valley – a mythical place not associated with any river, creek or other body of water but forever etched into our marketing lexicon.
Easy solution to that is to rename Gore Creek as Vail Creek when we get around to taking the name of 19th-century Irish aristocrat and infamous animal slaughterer George Gore off the iconic Gore Range of mountains that serve as a backdrop to so many Vail ski photos. Then there really would be a Vail Valley, and, given his history, the Gore name is an awkward one.
What’s even more awkward is all these places in EagleVail, like Mikaela Park, and Avon (a street named Mikaela Way) that give tribute to a former resident — or, in the case of Avon, a never-ever resident — while Edwards, as far as I know, has nothing named Mikaela. Maybe one of the new roundabouts? Or does anyone want to be associated with that much pain and suffering?
The issue of who can claim a great ski racer is a little dicey. There’s a pretty big swath of New England that can say Shiffrin honed her craft there, and it’s a little like hotels back east claiming George Washington slept there. May or may not be true but it’s perceived as a good marketing tool.
I once got an angry email from a disgruntled Minnesotan claiming Lindsey Vonn was not from Vail and should forever be associated with the state of her childhood (before she came to Vail and became the all-time women’s World Cup winner).
Of course, once a ski racer becomes great and starts dominating the circuit the way Vonn and Shiffrin have for so many years, they don’t actually spend much time in their “hometowns” because, other than a handful of races in late November and early December, the vast majority of the World Cup occurs in Europe.
Vonn, who’s now retired and kept the last name of her first husband, bought a home in East Vail around the time she was dating the second-best golfer in that sport’s history, Tiger Woods. But now that Vonn is getting married to hockey player P.K. Subban, one has to wonder a couple of things.
First, will she stay Lindsey Vonn or take P.K.’s last name and become Lindsey Subban? And second, will she keep a home in Vail?
According to a recent story in the Vail Daily, Subban popped the question last month at “their home” in Los Angeles, and the couple is preparing to move to New Jersey, where Subban will play this season for the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League.
Now, Vonn was a major Vail Resorts-sponsored athlete (not sure if that’s still true now that she’s retired) and always has proudly proclaimed herself a Vail resident. A run on the front side of Vail Mountain was renamed “Lindsey’s” after for years being known as “International” – a nod to Vail’s international ski racing legacy.
Now that she’s no longer racing, none of the wretched sportswriters still covering World Cup ski racing have to decide if it’s “Vail’s Vonn wins again” in a headline, but it certainly has a better ring than “New Jersey’s Vonn (Subban) does anything.”
And, sorry Lindsey, but The Boss will always be the most famous New Jersey resident.