A spectator guide to the Games in Vail | VailDaily.com

A spectator guide to the Games in Vail

Daily file photo/Dominique TaylorFreeriding is a mountain-biking competition at the Teva Mountain Games where races make their way " some more successfully than others " through an obstacle course.

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 the Vail Village and the surrounding area, but with what every athlete is doing.

Bouldering essentially is rock-climbing, but what’s the difference between the World Cup Competition which starts today and Sunday’s speed bouldering? There are five 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 breakdown all the events to make you an expert in all things Mountain Games.


Steep creek: This took place Thursday up at Homestake Creek. This was a kayaking event where paddlers go down these Class V waters (the fastest on a scale from 1-5, er, I-V) with the best-combined time of two runs, winning. Tao Berman and Tanya Faux are your 2008 champs, and remember those names because you’ll be seeing more of them.

Freestyle: This is also known informally as the kayak rodeo. Taking place at the base of the International Bridge, kayakers have 60 seconds in which to tricks like 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 the Gore Creek speeding westward, that’s not always possible, and so kayakers are “flushed out,” losing points and valuable time for their routine. The father-daughter combo of Eric and Emily Jackson tend to own this event. The finals are Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

Down-river sprint: This is straight-forward kayaking on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Kayakers start out in East Vail and head 4 miles down to the International Bridge. This the first event in the mountain challenge, four events during Saturday and Sunday, where the best combined time in all four disciplines by an individual or team wins.

Eight-ball: This is where kayaking meets roller derby Sunday ” the finals are at 2:30 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 1:30 p.m.


X-Country: This is another name for a mountain-bike race Saturday. The course starts at Golden Peak and heads west toward Lionshead and the Cascade Loop and Lower Simba before heading up Gitalong road and back down Windisch Way. One lap is 5.2 miles. Riders of varying abilities will be doing different numbers of laps with the pros going around five times for a ride of 26 miles. This is event No. 2 of the mountain challenge as well.

Hill climb: This is a traditional road race, starting Sunday at 11 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 the fourth 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.

Last year, course designer Jeff Lenosky discovered that a ladder-like apparatus had rotted. He used the healthy remains of the wood to form bridges over a pool of water at the end of the course. Not surprisingly, Lenosky edged out Lyle Strait just coming off these bridges for the title.

Slopestyle: Think a halfpipe for bikes, instead of snowboards. Saturday’s activities wrap with a big-air competition at Golden Peak.


Mud run: This is not exactly one of those Mountain Games technical terms. It’s 1 kilometer and it’s at Golden Peak Saturday at 7 p.m.

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 8:30 a.m. This is the third leg of the mountain challenge.


IFSC bouldering: The alphabet soup means the International Federation of Sport Climbing. Today’s qualifiers at 9 a.m. and the finals Saturday at 6 p.m. constitute a World Cup event. 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.

Speed bouldering: A route up the rock is mapped by tape, and competitors race head-to-head purely based on time to get to the top. The finals are Sunday at 1 p.m.

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

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