Vail Valley’s home to rafting dynasties |

Vail Valley’s home to rafting dynasties

VAIL, Colorado – The Vail Valley’s Team Timberline raft teams will do something next month they’re very good at – defend their titles as national champions.

But this year, there will be a bit of a twist. They will compete as teams of four rather than six.

Still, both teams are confident they will again win the championship – something they’ve both done seven times – and go on to compete in the worlds next summer.

“We have a lot of confidence, and we’re pretty comfortable with where we are (in our training),” said Mike Reid, captain of the men’s team, which is also known as the Eight Ball.

The national championships will be held on the Lower Youghiogheny River in Maryland and on the Ohiopyle River in Pennsylvania next month. The championships consist of a sprint, a slalom and a longer “down river” event.

The sprint is a strength for the men’s team, which won a silver medal in that discipline in last May’s world championships in Bosnia. At the furious start of that event, which usually takes around two minutes, the men are paddling at about 90 strokes per minute.

The other members of the men’s team that will be competing at the national championships are Chris “Mongo” Reeder, Todd Toledo and Andrew Bishop.

The four-man format is a little different from six-man racing, Reid said.

“The boats are going to be more nimble, a little bit more agile,” he said.

The winner of the national championships will represent the U.S. in the world championships next year in the Netherlands.

The women’s team is similarly confident in its chances next month, said team captain Lisa Reeder. The four-woman team will be Dawn Vogeler, Jessica Kurt-Mason, Katie Smith and Jody Swoboda.

“We’re veteran teams,” Reeder said. “We’ve been training and practicing and competing together for a long time. We take it seriously and work hard.”

The teams are now doing several days of strength training in the gym combined with several days of training in the water.

“You have to be stronger and more fit than the other guys,” Reid said. “The higher your fitness level, the more advantage you have.”

Mongo Reeder said he loves to compete with his teammates.

“That’s what’s kept me in it for so long,” he said. “Competing is just so fun, to have someone racing against you. It’s awesome.”

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or

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