East ends West’s run in rodeo
VAIL ” It’s not like the Montagues and the Capulets or the Jets and the Sharks when it came to Sunday’s East-West amateur Kayak rodeo finals.
It more like a minor spat between “Beverly Hills 90210” and “The O.C.”
All the same, the East picked up jawing rights by beating the paddlers from the West of the Continental Divide, 146.5-138.5, for the first time in the history of the competition.
“This is my third consecutive year in a row coming to the Teva Mountain Games, and the East has not pulled through,” Golden’s Eric Bissel said. “But this year, I feel like we competed our best. I’m so happy.”
Zach Mitchell, Bissel, and Amy Leppo topped Josh Oberlas, Nick Vanderhoot and Jaime Goode.
“We finally won the competition,” said Zach Mitchell, who came up from Evergreen. “The West was always beating it. We’re excited to win this one. It’s definitely a first.”
Teva organizers added a twist to this year’s East-West showdown. Instead of just duking it out in the hole rodeo-style, the competitors had to make one run down Gore Creek during a minute’s stretch, pulling tricks off the water’s rocks.
“It was good,” said Oberlas of Gunnison. “It was a little shallow. Sometimes, I hit the rocks. It was cool because it kind of puts a different discipline in it. Instead of doing something in the hole, you can go down river. It’s for the fans, too. It gives them something else to see besides just the hole.”
Mitchell capitalized on the new arrangement, putting the best run down Gore Creek, good for 21 points. He lined up some rock 360s with a paddle twirl and a big roll coming into the hole.
The East expanded its slight lead with big performances from Bissel and Mitchell in the rodeo portion. With the best run out of two counting, the two recorded 48s to ice the win.
“I was going for amplitude and fluidity basically,” Bissel said. “I tried to throw as much flair in there as possible. The rest of the team did super great.”
Bissel, who dubs himself “The Missile,” landed a loop, space Godzillas in both directions and added a few cartwheels.
Mitchell impressed the judges with some big loops and when flushed still managed to rally for a closing air wheel.
“It was sick. It was so close,” Oberlas said. “The East, Eric Bissel, he tore it up on his first ride and Zach ripped it on his second.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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