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Sooners can't adjust to Boulder's altitude
Buffaloes' win spoils some OU fans' vacations

by Berry Tramel Published: September 30, 2007
BOULDER, Colo. — Bob Stoops said altitude shouldn't matter to football teams visiting the Rockies, be it Folsom Field or Mile High Stadium.

Maybe it's time to rethink that.

In the second half Saturday, the Sooners were more than outplayed and outcoached, as Stoops said. They were outconditioned.

Second-half total yards: Colorado 219, OU 56. Second-half first downs: CU 12, OU 3. Second-half rushing yards: CU 114, OU 45.

The Sooners were gassed in the second half, and anyone who has hiked in the Rockies shouldn't be surprised.

Which means Stoops might should implement OU fan Craig Blankenship's plan. Blankenship offered advice for the Sooners the next time they play in altitude. And he's not a sore loser; he trotted this out before the game.

Blankenship's theory: Fly to Colorado on Thursday and take the team to Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, north of Boulder. Have the Sooners hike for an hour or so around Bear Lake, elevation 9,500 feet.

The next day, in lower elevation closer to Boulder, the Sooners would become more acclimated to the thinner air. By Saturday, the Sooners might be close to normal on oxygen flow.

"Stoops made the comment that his team would not be affected because they would only be in Boulder 24 hours,” Blankenship. "That is like saying I would not be affected trying to perform underwater, or holding my breath for that matter, because I would not be doing it that long.”

Blankenship flew to Denver on Wednesday and spent two days climbing near Estes Park, then planned to return to Boulder for the game.

Blankenship says he climbs at a "fairly high” level and trains hard, and that it takes about three days for him to acclimate from hiking in the Wichita Mountains near Lawton to the altitude of Rocky Mountain National Park.

"If you cannot get enough oxygen in your blood, you cannot perform as well as those who can, if they are equally conditioned,” Blankenship said..

"When people breathe hard it is because their body is trying to force more oxygen into their bloodstream. So those who don't have to breathe as hard can perform at a higher level.”

Playing in Boulder is tough enough. The Buffs often have a good team and a tough atmosphere. No reason to play short of air.

Colorado vacation
Colorado ruined more than OU's national title hopes. The Buffs also ruined many a Sooner vacation.

"We planned this three years ago, that's what's bad,” OU fan Hans Cyr of Tulsa said of his weekend in the Rockies.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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