One more win for the 8-Ball raft team
Vail, CO Colorado
DOWN JUNCTION ” Any team hoping to unseat perennial Teva raft paddlecross champions Teva 8-Ball needs to have a near-perfect race.
And an even better time trial.
When Teva-8 Ball won the time trial in Wednesday’s race in Dowd Chute, the slim chances for anyone else to sneak in ahead became exponentially smaller.
With the choice of starting position, Teva-8 Ball (formerly known as Behind the 8-Ball), opted for the right side of the in both semifinals and finals. After an early challenge in the semis, Teva 8-Ball moved ahead and won its heat. Then, in the finals, Teva 8-Ball jumped out to a quick lead and cruised to yet another title.
“We had (the right side) the last two years, and won it the last couple years on that side, so we’re sticking with what’s working,” said Teva 8-Ball’s Chris “Mongo” Reeder.
Team Maravia edged out Team Pinche Time in the finals to take second place.
Behind the 8 Ball, which is also the U.S. Rafting Team, had more than just its title to defend.
“It was a huge, huge win,” Reeder said. “We get a lot of support to send us to the World Championships (in South Korea starting at the end of June), but we really need the money from this event, too. We’re counting on it. Today was business. We won $1,000 ” that’s a big chunk towards the $14,000-$15,000 it takes to send our team over there.
“We’ve got all of our fans and all of our support right here, so it’s nice to be able to show off in our backyard and be able to show them what we do.”
But before the team could race for the title, Teva 8-Ball, which includes Reeder, Mike Reid, Ollie Dose, Brent Redden, Chip Carney and Todd Toledo, had to earn some workplace bragging rights.
Team Combined United Nations of Timberline squared off against Teva 8-Ball in the only two-raft semifinals (the other two semifinal races had three boats each). Both teams’ members guide for Timberline Tours.
At the start, Combined United Nations of Timberline looked to bump Teva-8 Ball.
“We knew they had the faster boat and have been training for a longer time than we have,” said Boomer Rennie of Combined United Nations of Timberline. “We tried to push them onto the right shore, so we could get ahead.”
But Teva 8-Ball quickly pushed forward.
“We kind of pulled back into the middle of the river behind their wake,” Rennie said.
At the confluence of Gore Creek and the Eagle River, Combined United Nations of Timberline looked to make another move.
“You could either go river right of the rock (in the middle), or go river left,” Rennie said. “They went river right, so we thought we had a chance one more time because we’re been training on the left side. We never thought we were out of the race. That’s a tough area, though.”
The semifinal matchup nearly paired the U.S. Men’s Rafting Team against its female counterparts (Team Timberline Women), both of whom are based in Eagle County. With a time trial of 4 minutes, 6.4 secods, Team Timberline Women edged out Combined United Nations of Timberline by 0.4 seconds.
Only a few strokes into the finals, Teva 8-Ball had moved ahead of the other two boats, and by the time they hit the rapids, the defending champs had gained a solid lead.
“We kind of figured if we just ran clean once we got into the rapids, they weren’t going to catch us,” Reeder said.
But Reeder ” the only member of the team allowed to look back ” made sure to keep the rest of the boat in the dark for long enough.
“I told them the (other boats) were right on us,” Reeder said. “Towards the end, I told them, ‘I think we’ve got it, start shutting down.'”
While Behind the 8 Ball only has been down that stretch of the Eagle River three times together, its members paddle together as a team four nights a week and guide the river nearly every day.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.