Like Skiing Groomed Runs? Thank The Inventor of the Bradley Packer Grader

When you ski groomed snow that looks like corduroy, you can thank the late Steve Bradley. In 1951, he invented the Bradley-Packer Grader. These human-powered machines smoothed the slopes at Winter Park and were the precursors to today’s giant machines. His daughter Kat Bennett, of Longmont, tells Colorado Matters about growing up with a dad who also directed Winter Park. Listen to their conversation on by clicking here.

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Can You Fingerprint Cannabis? Research Is Underway At CSU-Pueblo

Rick Kreminski of the Institute of Cannabis Research at Colorado State University in Pueblo tells Colorado Matters about the latest ideas for tracking cannabis, as well as the challenges. Listen to their conversation at by clicking here.

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A customer shows off his marijuana themed items as he waits in line to buy marijuana on the first day of legal sales of recreational pot in Pueblo. -Photo by Shanna Lewis


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Gender Is Evolving For Colorado Poet Andrea Gibson

Boulder poet Andrea Gibson.

(Courtesy Coco Aramaki)

For years, the concept of gender was painful for Boulder performance artist and poet Andrea Gibson. But now, it’s something to celebrate. Gibson has released a new book called “Take Me With You” along with an audio collection called “Hey Galaxy.” Listen to Gibson on Colorado Matters.

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1968 Olympic Gold Medalist Peggy Fleming Jenkins Reflects On Figure Skating Then and Now

The only American to win Olympic gold in Grenoble, France Peggy Fleming twirled and leapt her way into the hearts of Americans. Among the sports heroes pictured on Wheaties boxes, the skater inspired a generation of young women’s dreams. Fifty years later she remembers her own dreams and hard work.  Click here to listen to her conversation with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

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Peggy Fleming – Courtesy photo

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Ski Pioneer Dick Durrance’s Son Talks About His Father’s Legacy

Dick Durrance skiing in 1937.

Courtesy of Steve Bradley

A native of Florida who grew up in Germany and then ski raced at Dartmouth, he went on to become a major force in skiing both in Colorado and around the world. He won 17 national championships, developed new ski technology and helped put Aspen on the map as a destination ski resort.

The Olympic Alpine Skiing competition in 1936 combined the results of the downhill and the slalom. Despite being one of the world’s best ski racers at the time Durrance came in 10th overall. His son and namesake, Dick Durrance Jr. tells Colorado Matters that his father sprained his ankle on a training run before the Olympics. But, he says the real problem was that his dad “missed the wax.” In those days every skier tuned his own skis in those days by waxing them appropriately for the temperature and snow conditions. The younger Durrance says, “waxing is a tricky business.” Sudden changes in temperature caused by the sun popping out of the clouds or a difference from higher to lower altitude on the mountain can all have huge effects on how wax works. In this race there was  a long flat part in the downhill and the elder Durrance got to it and the wax slowed him down to a crawl. Yet he still came in 11th in the downhill and 8th in the slalom. ​

The elder Durrance kept ski racing after the 1936 Olympics and began racking up other titles. His skiing prowess even got a mountain named after him in Sun Valley, Idaho. He also made the 1940 US Olympic team, but those games were canceled because of World War II.  He went on to launch skiing at Alta, Utah, develop the first soft snow skis, train the skiing troops that would evolve into the legendary 10th Mountain Division during World War II and serve as the general manager of Aspen in it’s early days. He was also a skilled ski photographer and filmmaker.

Listen to the conversation on Colorado Matters by clicking here.

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Looking Back 50 Years At A Coloradan’s Photographic Journal Of The Vietnam War

An unidentified soldier is a crewman on a M-113 armored personnel carrier in Tan Thoi Nhut, Vietnam in March 1968 during the Vietnam War.

Courtesy: Dick Durrance


Fifty years ago Dick Durrance of Carbondale was in Vietnam with the U.S. Army, but instead of an M16 rifle, he carried cameras. His 1988 book “Where War Lives: A Photographic Journal Of Vietnam,” provides a look into the experiences of the soldiers and the civilians whose lives were forever changed by the Vietnam War.

Durrance said words and images can’t convey much of what combat is like, but it’s important for people who don’t go to war to understand more about those who did.

He was drafted into the Army in 1966 and began a photographic journal at the induction center, even capturing an image of swearing in ceremony. He continued shooting right through boot camp at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. After that, with some help from his famous ski racer father for whom he was named, Durrance was assigned to the Department of the Army’s Special Photographic Office in Hawaii. From there he was sent across Vietnam, taking pictures everywhere from jungles to cities to boats and helicopters.

Durrance said he put away his photos from Vietnam and didn’t look at them for 20 years, until he decided to publish this book.

Listen to Dick Durrance on Colorado Matters by clicking here.

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The Wolf Who Became A Legend, And A Pawn In American Culture And Politics

Journalist Nate Blakeslee chronicles the life of a wolf in the Rockies and the forces both natural and human that shape her destiny. His new book is “American Wolf: A True Story Of Survival And Obsession In The West.”

Blakeslee tells Colorado Matters Wild wolves were systematically hunted and by the 1920s they were mostly exterminated in the American West. In the mid-1990s, wildlife managers reintroduced wolves in Yellowstone National Park.  He says the program’s success gave researchers opportunities to see wolf behavior rarely observed in the past. But it wasn’t just scientists watching the wolves, it was tourists too.

O-Six, a wolf named for the year she was born, was a descendant of the reintroduced wolves. She and her pack became well known to parks visitors and millions of people around the world through social media. Blakeslee, who’s based in Austin, Texas, uses her story to illustrate the political and cultural battle over wolves in the West. The book is set in Yellowstone National Park, but in the not-too-distant future Colorado could have a similar story.

Blakeslee spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. To listen to their conversation, see more photos and to read an excerpt of the book, click here.

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A Favorite Public Radio Voice Leaves The Airwaves. NPR’s Robert Siegel Retires Today

Robert Siegel, host of NPR’s All Things Considered

(Stephen Voss/NPR)

Robert Siegel, known to millions as the longtime host of NPR’s All Things Considered, retires today after 40 years with the network.

Siegel covered countless major stories for NPR. He was at Ground Zero in New York after the collapse of the World Trade towers on Sept 11, 2001. When a huge earthquake hit China in 2008, he and his colleagues headed for the epicenter to report on the devastation and its effect on the people who lived there.

Siegel told Colorado Matters the worst moment of his career came when he was NPR’s acting news director at a time when the network was struggling to stay afloat. Once the finances stabilized, he said, he was proud to be part of the launches of Weekend Edition Saturday and Fresh Air.

Siegel said he’ll miss getting to talk to authors and filmmakers and ask questions about their work. “The whole idea of going to see a movie and never talking with the actors or the director, it feels a little incomplete to me at this point.”

Listen to Robert Siegel’s conversation with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner by clicking here.

Listen: By and about Robert Siegel:

​Audio of this interview will be available after noon Friday.

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85-Year-Old Gives An Insider’s Look At Life In Big Eldercare

Sue Petrovski and her husband on their wedding day.

(Courtesy Sue Petrovski)

Moving into senior independent living is a little like being back in a college dorm, with all the pluses and minuses of communal living. Then there’s the fact that much of life is dictated by the corporate bottom line of the “big eldercare” industry.Coloradan Sue Petrovski is 85. She reflects on for-profit elder care in her new book “Shelved: A Memoir of Aging in America.”

Petrovski and her husband lived in the same home in a Denver suburb for 47 years. Her decision to move to a senior independent-living apartment began when it became clear that her husband had dementia.

Petrovski told Colorado Matters she made a list of things to consider as she decided where they should move, ranging from costs and medical help to lifestyle. “Where is this paradise I wanted,” she writes. “Meals, housekeeping, places to exercise and walk, socialization, activities, and help when needed? I had decided that these things were almost a necessity if we were going to go through the work and anxiety of a move at our age.

Listen to Petrovski’s conversation with Ryan Warner on Colorado Matters by clicking here.

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Pueblo’s Forward Thinking Funeral Director: Remembering Charles McCulley

Puebloan Charles McCulley’s family says he was “born into the funeral business.” He assisted with his first embalming at the age of eight. His mortuary served southern Colorado’s African Americans and Hispanics in an earlier time when others wouldn’t. Charles McCulley died in October at age 78. His daughter Yanera McCulley-Sedillo runs Angelus Chapel Mortuaries in Pueblo with her family.  She says her father was a visionary in the funeral business, who implemented many innovations, like taking women out of the back office and putting them in jobs that many funeral homes saw as the exclusive domain of men.

Listen to McCulley-Sedillo speak with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner by clicking here.

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