Surprises abound at Teva Games |

Surprises abound at Teva Games

Ryan Slabaugh
Vail Daily/Melinda KruseCompetitors in the Smith "8" Ball Sprint Finals make their way around the human "8" balls and race to the finish line in the Gore Creek Friday.

As the camera crews and judges moved from the Mountain Bike Speed Trials to the “8” Ball Sprint finals down the street, Chris Santos stayed on his bike. A finalist in the trials, he leapt down the sidewalk to International Bridge, scaled the rock steps, and with the crowd taking notice (and moving out of the way), hopped the 10 feet onto a rock centered in Gore Creek.

He was wet soon enough.

The Detroit, Mich., resident landed waist-deep in water after skipping to another boulder, and before he could perform a grand finale – off the bridge and into the rapids – the next competition began with a whistle.

And so it went at the latest incarnation of the Vail Whitewater Festival, a Memorial Day tradition in Vail. Blue skies and warm temperatures had the crowd sipping drinks and meandering from white water to obstacle courses to rock walls, while the world-class athletes soaked in the large cheers.

“It’s a lot more hype than I’m used to,” kayak professional Ben Selznick said after his semifinal run in the Pro Rodeo Invitational. “There’s a lot more spectators. It’s really low water for tricks, but with the kind of athletes you have here, it will be hard to notice.”

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The water was low, especially when you know where the athletes spent the last week. Selznick, along with Edwards resident Brad Ludden, flew in three days ago from a film they were making in Norway, featuring the duo leaping off 100-foot waterfalls and making pass after pass at death.

“It’s definitely a different sort of adrenaline,” Ludden, 21, said. “When we were filming, we just stared straight ahead at our line and were scared for our life. Here, it’s a matter of knowing what the competitors are doing and nailing the tricks.”

The home-town crowd praised Ludden’s efforts. Even when the announcer informed the Village that the Colorado Avalanche had, in fact, defeated Detroit in the playoffs (it was on the big screen), Ludden received the bigger ovation. Like the Avs, Ludden won. Of course, Patrick Roy never came to Vail and did somersaults in his boat.

He also never climbed a 30-foot rock wall in the middle of the street. Salt Lake City native Steven Jeffery did, and let loose a barrage of sounds before his attempt at scoring points in the Dyno Climbing. He had the crowd grunting with him as he tried again and again for an elusive bell at the top of the wall.

When he succeeded, he joined the chorus of cheers.

“Holding the hold is not especially difficult,” said Jeffery, who’s headed to Telluride next weekend for a bouldering event. “It’s landing the hold that’s hard. It’s a lot farther than it looks.”

Despite Jeffery’s leaps, 13-year-old Tori Allen had everyone’s attention. The Indianapolis native stunned the crowd by completing a series of tricks that previous competitors had only lunged for. She won with style.

On the mens side, Denver resident Josh Cook tried his hand at Dyno Climbing competition for just the second time.

“I just heard about it from a friend that was doing it,” the 18-year-old said. “I love to climb. So I came out.”

Cook won, too. On a day of surprises, the sun and heat were a far cry from Friday’s here-we-go-again snow storm. Even if the cheers were for Ludden’s ride down the river in a Denver Broncos helmet, or when Santos waded in the river, or when the Avs won their playoff game, something was happening.

“If it was rugby, it might matter,” New Zealand native and pro kayaker Nikki Kelly said after the score was announced. “But it’s hockey. No.”

Surprise, surprise.

Official results for Saturday’s Teva Mountain games.

Dyno Climbing

Some of the world’s best sport climbers battled it out during the Dyno competitions held on a specially-designed climbing wall in Vail Village. Dyno climbers leaped from a variety of holds that were assigned a point value depending on the degree of difficulty. The winners were:


1st: Tori Allen

2nd: Claire Murphy

3rd: Lauren Lee


1st: Josh Cook

2nd: Ty Foose

3rd: Stephen Jeffery

Mountain Bike Speed Trials Riding

During this unique exhibition event, spectators watched as elite trials riders competed head-to-head in a challenging speed trials course through Vail Village. The winners were:

1st: Lance Trappe

2nd: Ryan Leech

3rd: Aaron Chase

Trail Running

Trail running participants tested their strength and agility on an eight-mile course on Vail Mountain. The course began and ended in Vail Village and took trail running participants through dirt, mud and snow for the largest cash purse of any trail run in the country. The winners were:

Women’s Overall:

1st: Anita Ortiz

2nd: Danelle Bailengee

3rd: Monique Merrill

Men’s Overall:

1st: Josiah Middaugh

2nd: Bill Franselow

3rd: Darren Lacy

Tevar Pro Rodeo

The second annual Tevar Pro Rodeo returned to the Vail Whitewater Park in

Vail Village. Each boater had two, 1:45 second runs to show off their best skills and stunts on the park’s features in front of a panel of judges.

The winners were:


1st: Brad Ludden

2nd: Andrew Spino-Smith

3rd: Dan Gavere


1st: Brook Winger

2nd: Nikki Kelly

3rd: Erica Mitchell

Raft Challenge Obstacle Course

The raft challenge pitted raft teams against one another in a timed skill event over a stretch of Gore Creek, which entailed running with their raft, followed by navigation of an on-river obstacle course and a raft flip and

re-flip. The winners were:

1st: Behind the “8” Ball

2nd: Team Canada

3rd: Team Nova

“8” Ball Sprint

The second annual “8” Ball Sprint provided spectators and boaters with a no-holds-barred battle on the Vail Whitewater Park. With a rolling, on-water start, amateur and pro kayakers sprinted approximately 200 yards through the Vail Whitewater Park where in each of the Park’s three elements “Eight Ball” kayakers slowed down and knocked out sprinters. The winners of this racer-punishing event were:


1st: Pro Kayaker Keith Liles

2nd: Pro Kayaker Clay Wright

3rd: Pro Kayaker Jed Selby


1st:Pro Kayaker Erica Mitchell

2nd: Pro Kayaker Brenna Kelleher

3rd:Pro Kayaker Nikki Kelly

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