Hockey is a sport near dear to our hearts here at VSO. Two of our surgeons, Dr. Peter Janes and Dr. Erik Dorf, competed at a high level during their younger days on the ice. And while they don't "mix it up" like they used to, both men still play competitively in Summit County/Vail, when their busy schedules allow.
At VSO we are also proud to support some of our fantastic area hockey teams, such as the Vail Mountaineers, Summit High School, Vail Mountain School, and Huskies hockey. We are blessed to have amazing hockey programs at the local level here in Vail and Summit County.
Bringing Vail Youth Hockey to China!
A program that we are beyond excited to support is the Vail International Hockey program. Dr. Janes has attended several international trips in support of Vail International hockey. If a player needs medical attention on the trip, Dr. Janes is there to help. As a parent sending your child across the world, it must be comforting to know one of the region's most respected orthopaedists is there to spring into capable action in case of emergency.
This year, VIH youth players made the trek to China to hone their skills against some of the PRC's best youth teams. Traversing across China will give the team an experience that transcends sports. These trips also provide an invaluable cultural adventure that will help us bridge the gap between cultures in the future.
About Vail International Hockey
A letter from Founder Mev Lapin on the importance of exposing our youth to different cultures, especially China:
"I first traveled to East Europe in a VW camper in 1967, My experience crossing the border from Finland was like entering a prison camp due to all the military border control. The conditions were very spartan in Russia and the Eastern block back in those days, nothing like was being portrayed in the media. It gave me a unique perspective during the “cold war” years to follow.
I first traveled to China in 1977 immediately after Mao Tse Tung died. Since then, I have made over 50 trips to all parts of China, both as a tourist and as a hockey coach for Chinese teams.
For three years I lived and worked in China helping the Chinese Sports Committee develop a youth hockey program. In 2002 and again in 2008 I took the U.S. Olympic/National Women’s Ice Hockey team to play at the World Championships in Harbin.
Since I first traveled to China, there have been tremendous changes – from a drab green and dull blue Communist society to a freer and dizzying Capitalist one. These changes have created an interest for me in how the country and its society have developed over 3000 years.
My most memorable trip was from April-June 1989 during the Cultural Revolution. It was on this trip that I witnessed first-hand the Tiananmen massacre. It is my opinion that China will be the most important country in our future.
I feel it is important to try and understand how as Americans we both differ and are the same as the Chinese. There is no better way to do that than to travel there. I also feel that youth need to better appreciate how lucky they were to be born Americans in Eagle County, Colorado. And so was born the Vail International Hockey trips for the youth of Vail – and China Cultural Adventures for Adults.
Eric and I have designed the China trip for the first time visitor to China and the East Europe trip to highlight the Amazing old world cities of Europe as well as the atrocities and impacts of WWII. We will see the most important and interesting sites with experienced guides – many that we have used for decades."
A Word From VIH and Photos from the Trip!
"Every three (3) years since 1985, Eagle County local hockey players and families have traveled the world for a cultural tour that includes USA Hockey sanctioned exhibition games and training sessions.Over the years going on the trips to China and Eastern Europe has impacted over 700+ Eagle County locals. Providing a global prospective, assistance in creating culturally sensitive Americans and sharing in the love of the sport of hockey is this organizations mission. This year the International trip took place December 18 2018- January 3 3019, a 16-day adventure to China. The trip was made up of two (2) teams of players 13-17 years old, 15 adult chaperones, a doctor and three (3) coaches.The 36 person group has traveled through six (6) distinct cities to focusing on Chinese history and local culture. China is has the world's longest continuous civilization, dating back over 40 centuries.
A true jet setting adventure. The teams have played games in Shanghai, Harbin, Jilin and Beijing, China. Cultural highlights have included a visit to the 120th floor of the shanghai tower, a night cruise on the Huangpu River to view the impressive lit up skyscrapers in Pudong, a all day river cruise on the Li River, a visit to the terra cotta warriors in Xi’an, a -20 below visit to the world famous Harbin Ice festival, a hike on the Great Wall of China and tours to Tiananmen Square, the temple of heaven and the forbidden city in Beijing.
The growth of the game of hockey in Bejing is especially impressive. There is now 30 rinks where just 6 years ago there was only 3, there is plans for over 200 rinks in the next 5 years. The Chinese government is putting a great amount of resources into hockey development in anticipation of the 2022 Olympics hiring Wayne Gretzky as its global ambassador and bring NHL games to China. It was a fun time to share the love of hockey with a place we are confident with change the sport.
We enjoyed an especially warm reception in Jilin a industrial city north of North Korea as this where Merv Lapin our programs founder coached hockey for 3 years in the 80’s. Lapin also brought the Jilin team to Vail for the international hockey tournament in the early 90’s. We were treated like VIP’s practicing and played in a NHL style arena that was built in the last two years.
China as a whole is changing rapidly and We have been blown away by the progress since our last visit. Beyond ancient culture we witnessed and learned about what will clearly be our worlds future influencing factors. Home to the world largest system of High speed Trains, China leads the world in electric vehicles and renewable energy. Two thirds of all investment in AI happens in China and China is the largest marketplace in the world. All this has left us certain we must embrace the Chinese and work together in trade, avoid political confrontation and collaborate as the top global influencers.
Beyond visits to 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites The food has been another trip highlight We have enjoyed Peking duck, Szechwan specialties, table side noddle shows, Mongolian BBQ, dumpling making classes, hot pot banquets and many other tasty dishes. Everyone has become an expert in using chop sticks!
We have traveled by team bus in all 6 stops of the trip, there was a total of 10 flights, 2 boat rides and a high speed train in this busy itinerary. It has been adventure filled days! A good attitude, an open mind and comfortable shoes have been a must!
The living standard in China has greatly increased, WiFi everywhere, everyone on smart phones, clean bathrooms and an impressive amount of wealth. The mantra for the trip is “it’s not good or bad, better or worse, just different”.
To learn more about Vail International Hockey, please visit the VIH official Facebook page.