Kayak ‘hole’ may swallow more money | VailDaily.com

Kayak ‘hole’ may swallow more money

Kristin Anderson/Daily file photoKayakers used plywood to direct water over the "hole" in the Vail whitewater park during the Teva Mountain Games. Proposed inflatable bladders are supposed to have the same effect.

VAIL ” Vail has sunk a quarter of a million dollars into its whitewater park since 2000.

But kayaker Matt Solomon says the town is kidding itself if it even thinks it has such a park.

Solomon and some other kayakers had to put plywood in the river to make sure water was flowing in the right places for events in the Teva Mountain Games.

“Literally the second we took the wood and rocks out of the river, the hole disappeared,” Solomon said. “There’s a very, very small window of flow that makes that hole somewhat usable.”

Vail is proposing more work to make its “hole” ” in Gore Creek below the International Bridge ” more friendly for kayakers. The town has a plan to spend $376,000 on inflatable bladders that are supposed to improve the park.

The hole is formed when the flowing water drops off a manmade ledge in the creek and then flows backwards.

Kayakers can paddle into the hole and do tricks like flips, cartwheels and uniquely named stunts like “space godzillas” and “phonyx monkeys.”

The six inflatable bladders would better direct water over the hole. A computer would read the water levels and adjust the bladders to the right sizes.

Gore Creek has less water than other places that have kayak parks, such as the Eagle River at Avon and the Arkansas River at Salida.

As the park is now, there are few days each spring when the water is even high enough to make the hole kayak-able, said Ken Hoeve, a longtime local kayaker.

“There are too many spots around that are way better,” he said.

Solomon and Hoeve both support Vail’s plan. “It’s probably the only way to have the hole actually work for more than three days a year,” Hoeve said.

Kayaking is a fast growing sport, and the people attracted to the park would spend money in restaurants and bars, Solomon said.

“There’s a huge interest in this valley in whitewater,” he said.

Plus, tourists like to watch kayakers do tricks, he said.

Joel Heath, whose company, Untraditional Marketing, runs the Teva Mountain Games, said the bladders are tantamount to snowmaking for skiers.

He envisions local kids training at the park, even with local schools forming kayak teams.

“The benefits are way outside of just the mountain games,” he said.

With the bladders, the hole would be usable as long as the creek is running at more than 300 cubic feet per second, said Gregg Barrie with the town of Vail. On Wednesday, the creek was running at 575 cfs.

The council could consider approval of the park at its next meeting. If all goes according to plan, the bladders would be installed this fall and would be ready for next spring.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.

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