Local rafters win national paddle battle | VailDaily.com

Local rafters win national paddle battle

EAGLE COUNTY – Two local raft teams returned from Oregon with two more national titles, a clean sweep for both the men and women.

The Teva U.S. National Champion Men’s and Women’s Whitewater Raft Teams rolled into Oregon for the Clackamas River Festival and delivered a top notch performance.

Most of them are raft guides with Timberline Tours, which sponsors the teams along with Teva.

Between the men’s and women’s teams, they had won 14 national titles before last weekend. You can now make that 16.

Both the men and women did it in a big way, sweeping all four events: The time trial, down river, sprint and slalom.

They earned the right to represent the United States in the IRF World Rafting Championships this October, in Costa Rica on the Upper Pacuare River.

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“It’s an incredible honor to be able to compete at that level and to represent your country,” said Lisa Reeder with Timberline Tours, who helped pull the teams together.

Winning a little respect

Given the pre-event hype, it didn’t seem to occur to anyone that the eight-time defending national champions (make that nine-time after last weekend), could roll into Oregon and roll out with a win.

“It’s a great feeling to win. You never want lose, and when you can win by that much it’s even better. That’s what we call a good time,” said Andrew Bishop, a member of the men’s team. “We know many of the competitors and we’re friends with a couple teams, so they let us know what they were thinking. Even though we are the nine-time national champion they continue to underestimate us.”

There is that point when that sort of thing will get a competitive person’s back up a little, and it’s time teach some folks a lesson.

For the locals, that came after the men and women had both won three events and their latest national titles were in the bag.

“Even after we have the event sealed up, we still had a point to make,” Bishop said. “We wanted them to understand that there’s a reason we’ve won all those national titles.”

So, just for good measure they ran everyone into the river.

“We wanted to send them home with their egos bruised a little,” Bishop said.

Now they compete through the summer as the Teva U.S. National Championship Raft Team.

The Teva Mountain Games in Vail are next up. There are a couple races on the Arkansas River, then Lisa Reeder’s Gore Canyon Festival on August 20.

“That keeps us in competition mode and in the boats,” Bishop said.

Then it’s hard training for the world championships, October in Costa Rica.

The men’s team has remained intact since competing in Bosnia for the 2009 world championships. Three members have been together for nine years and the team finished fourth in the Netherlands at last year’s worlds.

They missed the podium by one point.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.