Mountain Sports Haus changes hands

by Steve Fleming

Special to The Mail

Good news for snow lovers who rely on Mountain Sports Haus in Poncha Springs for skis and snowboards: Although the winter sports shop was recently sold, providing quality equipment and friendly service remains its primary mission, its new owner said.

“We don’t have any real plans to change things,” said Ryan Taverna, a Salida native who recently purchased Mountain Sports Haus from Salidan Scott Breunich after working there for six years. “I’m not worried about the business – it’s 100 percent established and it’s solid.

“I’ve wanted to buy this business for a long time, and I’ve worked hard to learn everything about it.”

Taverna said a Nov. 5-7 grand opening is planned at the store near the intersection of U.S. 50 and U.S. 285, after which the shop will be open on weekends until Monarch Mountain opens for business around Thanksgiving.

“Then it’s seven days a week for the season,” he said.

Traditional hours at Mountain Sports Haus are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more than four decades, Mountain Sports Haus has provided ski and board rentals to snow enthusiasts headed to Monarch and surrounding ski resorts, including Crested Butte, Vail, Aspen, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge and Wolf Creek. Colorado skiers from the Arkansas River Valley and beyond, as well as those from states close to Colorado, have flocked to the Sports Haus for ski rentals for generations.

Mountain Sports Haus was established in 1976 by Jack Defarge, who sold it in the ’90s to Dave Potts. Breunich and Salida native Greg Wall purchased the business in 2000. At the time, Wall, a former high-school chum of Breunich’s, was working in real estate in El Paso, Texas.

“I called Greg and asked if he was interested in working together, and he said he’d always wanted to come back to Salida, and that was it,” Breunich said.

The original store consisted of a single A-frame, but a second smaller A-frame was added in 2005, creating more business space and, Breunich said, prompting a local nickname for the shop: “the double A-frame.”

“It’s a great business that local people have supported forever,” Breunich said. “I’ve seen kids come in here to get skis from the time they were 6 or 7, and now they’re bringing in their own kids.”

Breunich said his immediate plans for “life after the Mountain Sports Haus” are simple – to travel with his wife, Marla, “and enjoy every single second.”

Breunich grew up in Salida after moving here in 1969 with his family. He graduated in 1981 from Salida High School, where he was a defensive standout in basketball and ran hurdles and high jumped in track and field. Meanwhile, his father, Tom Breunich, was a physical education teacher at Salida who coached basketball, football and track until 1974.

Following high school, Scott Breunich attended Western State University in Gunnison (now Western Colorado University). After working in the Denver area, he returned to Salida and, in addition to purchasing the Sports Haus, Breunich and Wall began leasing and operating the Salida Golf Club Bar and Grill in 2002. Wall exited the partnership about 10 years ago when he opened Wallbangers Sports Bar & Grill at 720 E. U.S. 50 in Salida.

“While I was growing up here, Salida had a nice small-town feel about it,” said Breunich. “It still does, though it’s changed. There are a lot more people, but change is inevitable, and I think the change has been good.”

Taverna is a fifth-generation Salidan who graduated from Salida High School in 1995. He worked at Scanga Meat Co. during high school and until 2010. He later worked at Safeway’s meat department and at the Salida Golf Club, where he developed a passionate relationship with the game of golf.

He said he’ll continue to work at the golf course each summer and will work with his brother’s elk-hunting guide company each fall but will concentrate on Mountain Sports Haus during ski seasons.

Taverna added that his wife, Jessi, will work with him at the ski shop on the retail side of the business.

He said his favorite aspect of Mountain Sports Haus is working with its customers, “helping them get what they want and visiting with them to understand their needs.”

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