SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald
Thursday afternoon’s snow flurries and chilly winds would seem to augur well for winter in the Tug of Weather, Durango’s version of Groundhog Day.
But the season with the most pull in a tug of war on East Second Avenue in front of Steamworks Brewing Co., to determine if Durango would see six more weeks of winter was Mild to Wild’s “River Rat” summer team. It’s a victory that indicates Durangoans can expect an early spring.
“We’ve often commented that Durango should handle all community disputes with a tug of war: plastic bag vs. nonplastic bags, leash laws, whatever,” said Pam Glasco, the Business Improvement District’s community relations coordinator. “We could handle a number of controversies with a tug of war if we wanted to.”
Sean Clark, general manager at Steamworks, cheered for a winter victory.
“If winter wins, no one looses,” he said. “Big winter means a big river in the summer.”
Others were ready to trade in cabin fever for summertime leisure.
“Bring on the summer – I’m ready for it,” Glasco said.
Of course, some wanted it both ways: “I hope spring wins, but I want the snow to stay at Purg,” said Cameron Cansler, a referee of the event from Durango Community Recreation Center. “I’m looking forward to warm skiing weather.”
In the main event, Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort’s Ski Bums took on Mild to Wild’s River Rats in a grudge match to control a 100-foot long rope.
The River Rats needed a only 10 minutes to take two matches, winning the day for clear skies and temperatures in the 70s.
“I’m blaming it on La Niña,” said Mark Ross, the winter team’s anchor.
Alex Mickel, owner of Mild to Wild and summer’s captain, said “brute force” led his Rats to victory.
“Summer is hot, winter is not,” he said.
But the Mickel family has proved victorious in all types of weather. Recently, Mickel’s three children won four gold medals at the U.S. Ski Association Rocky Mountain Freestyle Devo State Championships at Arapahoe Basin.
But in the Tug of Weather, Mickel pulled for summer.
“We love winter, spring and summer,” Mickel said.
The impending storm seemed like a sign from the snow gods promising “six more weeks of winter,” Durangoan Chase Reed said.
Snow flurries were frequent throughout the chilly event, which saw a smaller turnout then last year’s first Tug of Weather, Glasco said.
Four teams opened proceedings with “friendly tugs” using a 50-foot rope.
The first match pitted Ska Brewing Co. against Steamworks Brewing Co. The home team claimed the sweep, taking two matches in a row.
In the second “friendly,” The Durango Herald team went face to face with a team of “misfits.” Though the Herald put forward a valiant effort, the Misfits won two tugs in a row.
“I was the anchor, I held it down,” Matt Kern, from the Misfits team, said. “I was pretty sure that no one was going to move me.”
Rob Sweet, 21, and Rob Drozynski, 22, vacationing from New York spontaneously decided to lend their muscle to the Misfits.
“We picked the biggest guy we could find as our anchor,” Drozynski said. “That was a key part of our victory.”
Last year’s inaugural event saw winter win. That leaves the series tied at 1.
The “battle of the seasons” was developed by Bob Kunkel, director of Business Improvement District, as a local version of Groundhog Day.
Only time will tell if spring truly is around the corner.
“After the 2011 tug, we did indeed have six more weeks of winter, so the Tug of Weather proved accurate,” Glasco said. “We’ll see how it goes this year, and if it proves accurate again, we just may have a reliable weather prognosticator for all the Rocky Mountain ski resorts.”