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Vail raft teams dominate again

Matt Zalaznick
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyAfter winning their eighth national titles in a row, the men's and women's whitewater teams from Vail Valley-based Timberline Tours will represent the U.S. at the world championships in the Netherlands next year.
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VAIL, Colorado – There are two teams from the Vail Valley that have won eight national titles in a a row.

To find them, don’t look up on the slopes –look down in the river.

This weekend the men’s and women’s whitewater teams based out of Timberline Tours both won their eighth straight national titles. If that isn’t dominant enough, a second team from Timberline, Team Colorado, finished second in the women’s competition.

“I think it’s a lot of dedication and teamwork,” said Dawn Vogeler, a member of the women’s Team Timberline and a paramedic with the Eagle County Ambulance District. “The team’s developed over many years – this team is really dedicated. All the teams ever since we’ve had this, have been very dedicated.”

The other members of the women’s team are Jessica Kurt-Mason, Katie Smith and Jody Swoboda. The men’s Team Timberline is Mike Reid, Chris “Mongo” Reeder, Todd Toledo and Andrew Bishop.

This year’s Whitewater National Championships were held in two different locations. The downriver race was held on the Lower Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle, Pa., and the other races were held at the ASCI Whitewater center in Maryland.

The men’s team swept its events, winning the sprint, in which teams go all-out, head-to-head; the slalom, which tests technical skills; and the downriver, a “point-A-to-point-B” that which displays a team’s all-round river skills and power.

The women’s Team Timberline came in second the sprint to Team Colorado, which consists of Margaret Ritz, Caroline Stone, Molly Edders and Ronni Malson.

Team Timberline dominated the slalom and downriver.

“Our challenge has always been slalom because we don’t really have anywhere to practice,” Vogeler said. “We have some gates set up down in Dotsero but it’s flatwater. It helps with awareness of gates, but it’s not ideal.”

The Timberline teams usually have six members but raced with four to prepare for the 2010 World Championships in The Netherlands, at which they will represent the United States. In May, the men’s and women’s teams represented the U.S. at the 2009 World Rafting Championships in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The men finished sixth, taking silver in the sprint, and the women finished eighth.

Another reason they raced with four was the hope that whitewater rafting will someday be an Olympic sport, said Lisa Reeder, the team’s captain. She couldn’t compete in the national championships because she had to stay in the valley and work.

Any whitewater race in the Olympics will likely be held on a manmade course, which means smaller boats, she said.

“All our teams have been training for a really long and have a really good training regimen,” Reeder said. “Both the teams have been at a lot of world class events and they want to stay at the top level.”

So is this whitewater rafting dynasty really the valley’s best kept secret?

“We don’t need the glory,” Vogeler said. “We love traveling to all the world competitions. We love doing it.”


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