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Teva whitewater competition lives on

Summary headline: Low water actually raises excitement, returning kayak say

With 25 world-class professional kayakers scheduled to compete, the threat of low water levels draining the excitement right out of the three-day event is unfounded, says Joel Heath, the event organizer.”These guys can rip it up in a bathtub if they have to,” he says, adding that newer, smaller boats allow athletes to pull goosebump-generating tricks even in the shallowest of pools in the Vail Whitewater Park at the Gore Creek Promenade while exposed rocks in the Eagle River at Dowd Chute will make the competitions technically challenging for the participants and therefore more exciting for spectators.”We never even considered cancelling it,” Heath says in response to a rumor that has been stubbornly floating around at local kayak hot spots and on the Internet for the past week.Lower water levels will change the name of the game – but only for the better, says Ian Anderson, communications manager of the Vail Valley Chamber & Tourism Bureau, which has been organizing the event in various formats for the past eight years.”It’ll be different, that’s for sure,” he says. “In years past, water flows in have been so big and crashing that we had to scramble worried about moving the venue because it might to dangerous. This year there will be more rocks to avoid, less space for the competitors to make it through, so there will be more contact and that should raise the level of excitement for kayakers and the audience alike.”Water flows at the Vail Whitewater Park, where the Saturday Pro Rodeo and Eight-Ball-Sprint competitions will be held, are considered ideal between 100 and 400 cubic feet per second, or cfs. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the flow of Gore Creek as of May 14 was recorded at 156 cfs. Anderson predicts snow runoff to raise that to somewhere near the 200 cfs level by next weekend.Eagle River’s Dowd Chute, where participants will compete in raft and kayak PaddleCross events Sunday, is currently running at about 447 cfs – about half as high as in years past, when venue changes were contemplated.Two professional kayakers who took part in the Vail whitewater competitions last year say they will come back – regardless of low water levels.”I don’t think low water flows are going to be a big factor at all,” says Tao Berman, a well-known professional kayaker from Washington State, who is looking forward to participating in next weekend’s kayaking competitions.”The lower flow changes the features in the river and in the park and it changes how you ride, but we’ll still be doing all sorts of cool tricks,” says the 23-year-old Berman, who holds the world record for longest waterfall descent after dropping 98.4 feet two years ago.”More exposed rock makes it trickier for us and more exciting for the people who watch,” he says. “It definitely won’t be lame. I’m looking forward to being there.”Tanya Shuman, a Durango-based kayaker who “has to stand her ground” as the defending U.S. Women’s Champion, says smaller boats will be the key next weekend.”There are boats now that are designed for very shallow water,” says the 29-year-old professional kayaker. “If you had asked me 10 years ago when boats were huge I wouldn’t have said that. There are boats now that allow us to have fun no matter how high a stream is.”Lower water levels, Shuman says, will make competitions more power-oriented.”With the smaller boats you can do aerial moves,” she says. “They are like beach balls. When you push them under water they pop up. I think you are going to see a lot more dynamic moves next weekend than in past years,” she says.”I think the audience is definitely going to be entertained.”The Teva Mountain Games, scheduled to run from Wednesday through Sunday, is an expanded version the Teva Whitewater Festival, which has brought world-class kayakers to Vail for the past eight years.Competitions this year will include mountain-biking races, climbing competitions and a trail-running series in addition to whitewater competitions. A total purse of $23,000 promises to attract the best of the best in all four disciplines.Teva Mountain Games schedule- WednesdayGore Creek Promenade, International Bridge – Vail Village.4 p.m. – Competitor registration begins.5 p.m. – Competition begins for Teva Pro Rodeo Invitational local qualifier.- ThursdayGore Creek Promenade, International Bridge – Vail Village2 p.m. – Practice runs for participants in the Teva Pro Rodeo.- FridayGore Creek Promenade, International Bridge – Vail Village2 p.m. – Courses for kayaking, speed trials, and “dyno-climbing” open for practice.3 p.m. – Registration begins.5:30 p.m. – Competition Begins for speed trials.6 p.m. – Teva Pro Rodeo preliminaries.6 p.m. – Dyno Climbing preliminaries.7:30 p.m. – Teva Pro Rodeo preliminaries.NOTE: In the event of inclement weather, all preliminaries will begin at 5:00 p.m- SaturdayGore Creek Promenade, International Bridge – Vail Village.7:30 a.m. – Registration begins.9 a.m. – 8-mile Trail Running start.10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Speed Trials quarter finals, semi-finals and finals10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Dyno Climbing quarter finals, semi-finals and finals10 a.m. to 4 p.m – Eight-Ball-Sprint preliminaries and finals10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Teva Professional Rodeo Invitational quarter finals, semi-finals and finals3 p.m. to Raft Challenge4:30 p.m. – Music, awards and prizes- SundayDowd Chute, Eagle River – Dowd Junction, near the U.S. Forest Service Ranger Station.7 a.m. – Boater registration9:45 a.m. – Dowd Chute PaddleCross Raft Time-Trial qualifiers10:15 a.m. – PaddleCross Time-Trial qualifiers11:30 a.m. – Dagger Open Time-Trial qualifiers1 p.m. – Dowd Chute Raft PaddleCross rounds1:30 p.m. – Kayak PaddleCross rounds2:15 p.m. – Dagger Open rounds2:45 p.m. – Dowd Chute PaddleCross raft finals3 p.m. – PaddleCross Kayak women’s finals3:15 p.m. – PaddleCross finals3:30 p.m. – Dagger Open finals6 p.m. – Awards ceremonies (at 8150 in Vail)Geraldine Haldner covers Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. She can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 602 or at ghaldner@vaildaily.com


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