VAIL - The inaugural weekend of the Winter Teva Mountain Games is over, and athletes and spectators alike hope the past few days are just a teaser of what's to come next year and beyond.
The sports and events over the weekend ran the gamut of winter sports. There was telemark big-air skiing, Nordic skiing, snow-shoe racing, an uphill run, ski mountaineer-ing, mixed ice and rock climbing and even mountain biking on snow.
And there was money - about $60,000 total - given away to the best athletes. The crowds grew from just tens of people at the Nordic skiing event Friday morning to a couple hundred people at Friday night's mixed-climbing event to more than 1,000 people at Saturday night's big-air and best trick bike events. It energized Vail during a time when the town might not have neces-sarily needed that extra energy - the slopes and hotels are typically crowded this time of year anyway - but it added that extra some-thing for those visiting.
Some spectators, CU-Boulder students Jack Hamilton and Lincoln Grody, traveled to town just for the games, while others checked them out on an already planned vacation in Vail.
"I go to the summer Teva Games a lot," Hamilton said. "( The winter games) are pretty awesome - it's nice out."
On Friday, the Vail Nordic Center was the first place to come alive, with athletes vying for a win. There weren't many spectators, but the energy at the event proved the weekend ahead would be full of fierce competition.
Friday night, the mixed-climbing wall was illuminated under bright lights at Gold-en Peak, with a couple hundred spectators gathered around to see a lesser-known event take place.
It was exciting for spectators such as Mike Kimmel, a climber who looked on with a personal interest in what was happening up on the 55-foot climbing wall constructed just for the event.
"I like seeing climbing get popular," Kim-mel said. "I hope climbing becomes an Olympic sport."
Vail resident Sam Frank said he had nev-er seen a mountain-climbing competition before.
"It's pretty cool," Frank said. "Especially with this wall - it's pretty interesting watch-ing people climb on this wall."
The athletes were excited, too, to have the Vail Valley Foundation and its Winter Teva Mountain Games embrace a sport that needs to pick up steam. Andres Marin, who competed in Friday night's climbing finals, said the United States needs a larger pres-ence in the sport, especially since it's on its way to becoming a Winter Olympics sport.
Saturday's Winter Teva Mountain Games offered the most spectator-friendly and jaw-dropping events with the Telemark Big Air and Best Trick Bike. There, more than a