By Kim Fuller Published in the Vail Daily
There’s so much to love in the Vail Valley, and maybe that’s why so many people fall in love here and decide to tie the knot. Here are some local proposal stories to swoon over this Valentine’s Day.
PATRICK AND MENINA STADLER
Engaged at the top of the Vail Hill Climb in 2011
It was a gorgeous, sunny morning in Vail when Patrick Stadler and his girlfriend, Menina, geared up for the annual Vail Hill Climb. It was July 3, 2011.
“I knew there was no way I would maintain Patrick’s running pace,” Menina said, “so I gave him a kiss and said I would just see him at the top of the hill … whenever I got there.”
Patrick ran the whole race with the ring in his Carhartt shorts pocket. He arrived before Menina, but soon she trekked up the final hill and had the finish line in sight.
“I was hot, tired and thirsty but tried to pick up the pace to cross the line strong,” she said. “And there he was, down on one knee, ring in one hand and flowers in the other. I stopped dead in my tracks and tears filled in my eyes, emotional from finally being done with the race and from seeing Patrick down on his knee. ‘You wanna?’ he asked. I couldn’t speak, so I just nodded my head yes.”
The crowd cheered, and they hugged and kissed and crossed the finish line arm-in-arm, side-by-side.
Patrick and Menina had run the Vail Hill Climb together the first summer they started dating, although Menina admits that she only did it to try to impress him and vowed that she would never run it again.
“Somehow, five years later, I got roped into running up that same hill again on the day of our engagement,” she said. “Ahhh, the things we do for love.”
GREG AND YVONNE SCHWARTZ
Engaged at the Beaver Creek Rodeo in 2008
Greg and Yvonne had been together for seven years when they got engaged.
“I had been pestering him about when I was finally going to be upgraded from ‘live-in girlfriend’ to ‘fiancé,'” she said.
Greg wanted to make sure Yvonne was totally caught off guard.
“One day before work, he let me know that he signed us up to compete in the Burro Race at the Beaver Creek Rodeo,” she said. “I agreed, as I thought it would be fun.”
Yvonne met Greg at the rodeo later that day, and the announcer asked each of the teams to pick a burro and decide who would lead the donkey, who would ride and who would push. Yvonne was nominated as the rider. The announcer started the race, and the burro took off kicking and she was bucked to the ground.
“As I got up off the ground and removed the dirt from my teeth, the rodeo clown began to interview me about the ride,” she said. “This was a total distraction while Greg ran out to get the ring. I was super embarrassed and even more embarrassed to find my boyfriend grabbing the mic from the clown as he walked back into the ring. I was still totally clueless. Greg then took a knee in the center of the arena and asked me to marry him.”
They have been married for seven years now, and Yvonne said she loved getting engaged near Beaver Creek.
“The scenery was beautiful,” she said, “the proposal was super creative, and of course, we could have margaritas and enjoy the rest of the rodeo.”
BRYANT AND BRITTANY RICHARDS
Engaged on Muddy Pass in 2014
Bryant Richards had been planning the engagement for a while and was waiting for the perfect day. It was Nov. 8, 2014, and he told his girlfriend, Brittany, they were taking their golden retriever up Muddy Pass Road to let him run around in some snow meadows.
“We drove up the snow-covered road, accompanied by some sunshine, to one of the first big meadows we saw,” he said. “We got out of the car, immediately let the dog run free and started walking farther out into the meadow.
“After we took in the view of the Gore, we started to walk back to the car and I said, ‘Oh, one more thing, I want the spend the rest of my life with you and would like to know if you would marry me?’ She screamed with excitement and said, ‘Yes, of course.'”
They stood at the base of the meadow and Bryant said he could just feel the love and excitement of what had just happened.
“We walked back to the car, and I had some champagne glasses with the year on them and a bottle of Veuve,” he said.
Bryant chose the spot because he and Brittany had always dreamed of getting married at Piney Lake, and Muddy Pass is in that same area. They did get married at Piney Lake in August 2015.
ERIC AND KRISTEN OLSEN
Engaged in the Back Bowls of Vail in 2010
On a big powder day in December 2010, Eric Olsen and his girlfriend, Kristen, woke up and made breakfast before heading to Vail to meet some friends on the mountain.
“Eric was being a little weird, but I didn’t think much of it,” Kristen said. “We headed straight to the back, and as we entered into the Ricky’s area, he asked my if it was my favorite part of the mountain. I was like, “Sure, it’s great back here.’
“I headed across the mountain and dropped into one of the tree areas. Eric headed to me and dropped to one knee — telemarking helps in these situations. He made a very sweet speech and gave me the ring.”
After she said yes, Eric asked, “So where exactly are we?” She started laughing and answered, “Somewhere between Never and Oh Sh-t.” They laughed about how he could have planned better and gone to Lover’s Leap.
“We skied over to Chair 5 where a random single skier asked to join us,” Kristen said. “We were both a little giddy and fairly silent for a while, not sure what to say.”
About halfway up the chair, Eric leaned over and said, “I just need to tell you, I just asked her to marry me and she said, ‘Yes!'”
“The guy was excited to celebrate with us and share his own engagement story,” she said. “Eric then surprised me with a couple’s massage at the Arrabelle Spa and dinner at Kelly Liken.”
Kristen said she loves that every time she is in Vail’s Back Bowls, she is able to look over and see the spot where they were engaged.
“Vail is a happy place for so many people, and after years skiing the mountain, it is fun to have such a memorable day have taken place there,” she said.
JARED AND MEGAN SAUL
Engaged on Meadow Mountain in 2015
When Jared Saul asked his girlfriend, Megan, to go for a snowmobile ride, she had only been in the valley for two years. For her, the February adventure was “novel and fascinating.”
“So he hitched up the sleds, picked me up, and we drove out to Meadow Mountain,” she said. “It was a bluebird day, cloudless, with sparkling sugar snow.”
When they reached the top, Jared suggested she hop on his snowmobile so he could show her how to put it on edge and do powder turns. They sprayed snow all the way to the back of the filed until they had almost reached tree line.
“He came to a stop and turned off the snowmobile,” Megan said. “I asked him why he was stopping and he said that we had been riding for a while — which we hadn’t — and that we should take a break and enjoy the view. I thought that was strange, but I still didn’t suspect anything at that point.”
Jared hopped off the sled and opened his backpack and pulled out a book. He sat down with Megan and started looking through it, and it was a photo book of them.
“If you know my husband at all, he is not the artsy type so this was a surprise,” she said. “When we got to the end of the book, the last few pages were pictures of my cats who we love dearly, Darbe and Smokey Joe. They were posing carefully with a sparkling diamond ring.”
He dropped to one knee in the snow and pulled out a ring box from his pocket.
“He told me how much he loved me and wanted to share his life with me and asked if I would marry him,” Megan said. “My response … ‘Of course!’ I slipped the ring carefully on my finger so as not to lose it in the snow and we kissed and hugged. He said that he had one more surprise for me.”
Out of the trees popped her closest friend, Sherri Innis, who had been staked out there hiding for hours just to capture this special moment. Jaren had taken Sherri up to that spot and dropped her off before he came to pick up Megan.
He pulled out champagne and flutes, strawberries and chocolate.
“We popped the cork and shared the champagne while basking in the sun and the sparkling snow, and Sherri captured more photos for us,” Megan said. “We headed down before the sun set and returned a few days later to inscribe our initials and the date of our engagement in the line shack.”