Faces of the Vail’s Teva Mountain Games
How does the Ultimate Mountain compare to some of the other difficult competitions you’ve done?
This is a unique competition with true mountain events. Since each event is separated (not continuous), the intensity level is very high and with Vail Mountain as a playground, the terrain is grueling.
How did you get into enduro competition as a professional?
The high altitude mountains of the Vail area have proved to be the perfect stimulus for me. We moved to Vail 12 years ago and I had an aerobic engine but no skills. I pretty much just followed along and picked up a few new sports along the way. I always want to compete against the best so as soon as I was good enough, I made the jump.
Fond memory of competing at Teva?
I had never kayaked before the first year of the Ultimate Mountain Challenge so that was the most intimidating part. I thought I would be more comfortable on the water, but I found out quickly how difficult it is. I used an old kayak that my brother had bought for $100 from a garage sale and it turned out to be a very fast boat. I taught myself how to roll in a local lake and I usually have to use it. One year I had to roll three times during the race. There is a lot of action and anxiety above the surface, but underwater everything becomes calm and quiet.
Is the Ultimate Mountain Challenge similar to adventure racing?
In a way, the mountain challenge is actually harder than doing an adventure race. The individual competitions are much more intense because we’re racing with all the pros who aren’t necessarily doing the mountain challenge. In adventure race everything’s together, you go from one competition to the other and it’s a lot less intense because you’re doing it for so long. The way the mountain challenge events are broken up makes it very challenging in that respect.
Any advice for an up and coming mountain biker?
First and foremost, especially if you’re young, is to make sure you’re having fun. There’s a point where you’re so focused on the training where you forget you’re mountain biking, and mountain biking’s super fun. If you’re training too hard too early, it’s easy to burn out and a lot of the younger kids do that. Another thing that can be really helpful is to work with a coach, and if you can’t afford a coach get some books on training and do some reading on training, because if you actually structure it a bit it really does make a difference, rather than just going out and riding every day at the same pace or doing the same thing. From there just pick some races and pick some goals for the year, watch how your body feels and take rests when you need to.
Is there potential for boaters to be pinned on Homestake?
Huge pin potential. The more water the better but regardless of flows there is always a number of places that will snag you up, flip you, pin you and spin you. You name it and it can and has happened there. Two years ago I dislocated my shoulder right in the middle of the race off one of the drops. I landed off the race line and tried to just muscle it back and POP, shoulder came out. That creek has knocked both of them out of socket in my 15 years of kayaking it. You have to respect that place.
Top Teva memory?
My favorite memories always come from the 8 Ball. Top memory from it? Laying a huge hit on Steve Fisher, smack in the mouth with the bow of my boat, crowd goes “ooooohhhhhhh” and he simply takes the hit and paddles past me like I was a bug on his windshield. That dude is an animal.
How did you get into slacklining?
One of my close friends showed me how to set up a rudimentary slackline and for some reason I had to have one. The next day I bought a slackline of my own, 65 feet of 1-inch tubular webbing and a couple a carabiners. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but that didn’t stop me. For the next year I developed and addiction to rigging and walking my slackline. I would even carry it around with me every day. For almost two years I literally had a slackline on me at all times. My addiction has barely subsided.
What do you for see the future of slacklining/what are you hoping for from the sport as it evolves?
The future of slacklining is amazing! There is so much potential. In every artisanship of slackline there are people around the world pushing boundaries. There is trickline, longline, waterline, and highline; and I can assure you that the next generation of each of these sub sports has their own surprises. Longlines over 600 feet are being rigged regularly, with the record nearing 500 meters long! The highlines being rigged now are more than 100 meters long! Some of the most amazing progression though, is seen in trickline. Flips, spins, off-axis rotation, hand-and-foot work, combos, there is actually a sport now. It’s crazy to think about inventing some of the tricks that are now standard in competitive trickline.
For me, I just want to continue to live the slacklife, push the sport, and do what I can to make it something that will carry on for generations. You will probably see me around doing crazy stunts, appearing on Chinese and Japanese TV shows, and maybe even catch me out in the desert.
Which photo was your favorite of all those awarded at Teva and why?
I won my first gold in the mountain magic competition with a photoshop composite. It is an image of a wooden table with a camera, coffee cup, phone, car keys and a pile of Polaroids on it. I used an empty Polaroid frame that was copied multiple times, and then placed different photos in it in Photoshop. I came up with this idea because it was really hard for me to pick only three shots out of so many, and I got to show off more of the amazing images that I captured.
What can an aspiring photog hope to find by entering a competition like Teva Mountain Click?
The Teva Mountain Click is an amazing event for every aspiring photog. In exchange for a small fee, everyone can get to shoot world-class action, with some of the best athletes in their respective sports. It is a great experience and it will give you a pretty good idea of what it is like to photograph events like X Games, Dew Tour or Crankworkx. Not only that but as long as you know which side of the camera faces forward, you are guaranteed to walk away with some amazing images.