Teva Mountain Games: An event primer | VailDaily.com

Teva Mountain Games: An event primer

TMG Raft Cross 2 DT 6-8-08

VAIL, Colorado – Freeride has nothing to do with the Edgar Winter Group.

Freestyle does not involve swimming, hopefully.

And when it comes to the 8-ball competition, there are no sticks and felt.

The Teva Mountain Games can be overwhelming not only in the way the event takes over Vail Village and the surrounding area but with what every athlete is doing.

There are six different paddling events during the Mountain Games and four separate cycling events, which range from the traditional to happenings which are designed for carnage.

At times, we reporters feel like we’re making this all up, but there is a method to the madness. We’re here to break down all of the events to make you an expert in all things Mountain Games.

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Steep creek: This is Thursday up at Homestake Creek at 10 a.m.. This is a kayaking event where paddlers go down these Class V waters (the fastest on a scale from 1 to 5, er, I to V) with the top 25 men and top 10 women advancing to the finals. This is not for the faint of heart.

Freestyle: This is also known informally as the kayak rodeo. Taking place at the base of International Bridge, kayakers have 60 seconds in which to do tricks such as flips, cartwheels (spins) and the ever-popular space Godzilla (a flip with a twist at the top), phonyx monkey (a cross-bow pirouette) and the McNasty (a 180-degree turn upstream followed by a flip). Kayakers accumulate points for tricks and other improvisations.

The key is to stay in “the hole,” the center of the venue, especially when landing a trick. But with Gore Creek speeding westward, that’s not always possible, and so kayakers are “flushed out,” losing points and valuable time for their routine. The finals are Saturday at 4:15 p.m.

Downriver sprint: This is straightforward kayaking on Saturday at 8 a.m. Kayakers start out in East Vail and head 4 miles down to International Bridge. This the first event in the Mountain Challenge, five events during Saturday and Sunday, where the best combined time in all four disciplines by an individual or team wins.

Stand-up paddle: Athletes surf down Gore Creek on boards, paddling as they go. That sounds like a good idea. The event made its debut last year, and it’s now part of the Mountain Challenge – why not? Stand-up paddle is Saturday at 9:30 a.m. There also will be a stand-up paddle cross event on Sunday at 3 p.m., when surfers all go down the creek at once. We’re calling this the Charles Darwin Bowl.

Eight-ball: This is where kayaking meets roller derby Sunday – the finals are at 4 p.m. In each heat, innocent kayakers start at the Covered Bridge trying to paddle to International. The kicker is that there are other boats (known as 8-balls) in the creek whose sole purpose is to impede their progress and otherwise make their lives miserable. A certain number of racers advance from each heat, with those eliminated becoming 8-balls, which means the final is total and delightful chaos.

Raft cross: This is 8-ball’s cousin, except in rafts (bigger boats with two people), where the same mayhem is encouraged. The finals are on Sunday at 2 p.m.

X-Country: This is another name for a mountain-bike race Saturday. The course starts at Golden Peak and heads up Windisch Way and west to Lionshead and then up to Onza Alley before heading back to the start. The course crosses over itself at several times, hence X-country.

One lap is 5.6 miles. Riders of varying abilities will be doing different numbers of laps with the pros going around four times for a ride of 22.4 miles. This is a Mountain Challenge event, as well.

Hill climb: This is a traditional road race, starting Sunday at 9:30 a.m. from Vail Village. Traditional, expect for the fact that it goes the 9-or-so miles up Vail Pass. This is a time trial with racers going out every minute. This is also an event in the Mountain Challenge.

Freeride: Freeriding is head-to-head mountain-bike racing on identical obstacle courses. The fastest racers in two heats – bikers pedal on both the left and right side – advance in a single-elimination format. The course changes just about every year, sometimes out of necessity.

The finals of this wide-open event are Saturday at 3 p.m.

Slopestyle: Think a halfpipe for bikes instead of snowboards. The finals are Friday at 6 p.m.

Mud run: This is not exactly one of those Mountain Games technical terms. It’s 1 kilometer, and it’s at the Vista Bahn on Saturday at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. for families and individuals, respectively.

Spring runoff: Why not start Sunday morning with a 10K? The race starts on Bridge Street and heads east along Gore Creek and then veers east and up Berry Picker. Then it’s up Post Road to Gitalong before coming back down. The course rises 1,528 feet. The gun goes off at 8 a.m. This is a Mountain Challenge event.

Half-marathon: If a 10K is just a jog for you, then run 13.7 miles up Vail Pass. Bring an extra set of lungs at 8 a.m. on Saturday.

IFSC bouldering: The alphabet soup means the International Federation of Sport Climbing. This constitutes a World Cup event, just like the skiing at Birds of Prey in December at Beaver Creek. In each of the rounds, a climber challenges a “problem,” or a path to summit the rock. Athletes score points by completing the problem with bonus points for achieving certain goals. The finals are Saturday at 5 p.m.

Since everyone in Vail owns a dog (or at least one), Fido can compete, as well. We’ve got two categories here. Big air is for the longest jump. In speed retrieve, Spot returns a toy as quickly as possible. Finals are Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Golden Peak.

If you are one with the rod and the reel, Saturday has various casting competitions throughout the day. The best qualify for Sunday’s final at 8 a.m. at an undisclosed location. Please do drop us a line if you see former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.