Energy gum, Zeke, young Hyde and the Vail Teva Games
Welcome to the Teva Mountain Games where the official pastime seems to be manufacturing an energy product into a small a package as possible, preferably containing electrolytes because that sounds cool.
I think my favorite SWAG of Friday’s wander through the assorted product villages was the GoFast Energy Gum. According to its spokesman, a piece has 80 mg of caffeine as well as B-6, B-12, niacin and ribose.
Yes, energy gum, people. Makes you proud to be an American.
I am prohibited by my co-workers from trying any caffeine products, so I haven’t sampled any of it. But if you see people bouncing all over Vail Village today, you’ll know what happened.
With that, we take a look around the venues:
• I get a kick out of this every year – the kids kayaking in the mini-pool, this year at Golden Peak. That’s got to be so much fun to be an age where something like that floats your boat. Again, I am prohibited by my co-workers from participating in kiddie kayaking as that will only result in aquatic disaster that will make the Titanic look like “Gilligan’s Island.”
• Still at Golden Peak, it looks like we’re going to have some serious huck-age – I’m a liberal-arts major and I have no idea if that’s a word – come the slopstyle-biking competition on Sunday. Riders were going large off some of the dirt jumps and we can only imagine what they’ll be doing off the monster step-up feature at the end of the course.
Rider Eric Lawrenuk, from Vancouver British Columbia, takes us through it: “It’s pretty fun. Everything’s not too big or anything. It’s a good size to go big and huck the tricks they want to do. It’s pretty fun. Right now this drop (step-up) is kind of scaring me. It’s some skate-park stuff, some jump stuff. It’s all good.”
• Funny moment: I meet up with Wren Wertin, our special-sections editor, who was checking out the slopestyle. Just as she’s saying, “I’m surprised no one’s wiping out,” a rider naturally biffs. If you went down at around 4:45 p.m. Friday, that was on Wren.
• OK, those who know me are aware that I am not a dog guy, a mild understatement. Yet I have found my favorite dog for this week’s assorted canine competitions – Zeke. Also known as Zeke the Freak, his owner, Chris Haddad of Newport Beach, Calif., was having some minor issues with his dog Friday. When Haddad threw a tennis ball into the jumping pool, Zeke did not seem overly enthused. After much prodding, Zeke slid into the pool and eventually retrieved (not -so-speedily) the ball.
“We entered him in the big wave but he doesn’t like the water apparently,” Haddad said. “I don’t know. We’ve got to get him in the water where it’s not a ramp or a launch. Maybe a lake. We’ve been to the ocean. He doesn’t like the ocean either. He may not like water.”
With Zeke not a favorite in either the speed-retrieve or the big-air competitions, Haddad checked out the possibilities of the vertical event.
“Let’s see,” Haddad said, throwing the ball up in the air, only to see Zeke just sit there and catch it. “He waits for it.”
That’s a dog after my own heart.
• The giveaways are not only for the humans at Teva. A dog-food company is giving away samples of chow which sound down-right good if they weren’t, well, dog food. Seriously, New Zealand venison sounds good to me if prepared for humans.
• Over in the village, near International Bridge, GNC has a 210-pound concrete ball. You can try assorted GNC products and give the big ball a whirl. This led to one of the great debates of our era between GNC’s Bill Sienervh and me.
“It’s you vs. you,” he said. “The only challenge is your own self. It’s a mental challenge. When you overcome the challenge, the serotonin flows to the brain and puts you in a positive mood.”
“I thought that was what Paxil was for,” I reply, having used the well-known anti-depressant for years.
“It helps as well. But you don’t need Paxil because of the ball. It’s a substitute for Paxil, easier on the liver,” Bill says.
“Well, I quit drinking, so the liver is OK,” I retort in a Lincoln-esque fashion.
“It’s easier on the liver, harder on the back,” Bill responds in his best Obama. “It’s the adrenaline that helps you lift the ball, and once the ball is lifted because you have overcome the challenge, the serotonin has become released putting you in a positive mood. That’s what it’s all about. See how happy I am.”
He’s happy because he can lift that thing. I’m happy that I don’t have to lift 210 pounds – not happening – and will live to se another round of golf.
• At the whitewater park, the qualifying for today’s kayak freestyle finals was happening. First, good on the town of Vail and the organizers of Teva for getting the bladder system going in the park. No, that’s not what you think it is. The bladder is a series of pipes which blow air into Gore Creek changing the features of the park, depending on the natural waterflow. Very cool.
• Also very cool was Henry Hyde of Frisco, Texas. All of 8, the kid was in the qualifying rounds for today’s final. Understandably, he didn’t make it, but got some time in the hole and major applause from the crowd.
“He started when he was 3-years-old. It’s good for him,” said Henry’s dad, Mike. “He does a lot of whitewater slalom, so this is colder for him. He’s having a ton of fun. He’s doing the 8-ball, the down-river sprint and the mud race.”
• Prediction time: The Jacksons will do well in the freestyle today and young Hyde will be a small target in Sunday’s 8-ball.
• Moving over to the freestyle venue, no more water on the course, but a nice new tweak from course designer Jeff Lenosky. Enjoy those Z-shaped obstacles at the start, boys.
“This year we’ve added a lot of curves to the course,” Lenosky said. “Every year, it’s been pretty much a straight drag race. It seems like the races were getting really, really close, like hundredths of second. I still think it’s going to be a tight race. We added in some slalom gates like last year, but we also have about three turns from the start. If you nail them, you nail them, but it’s really easy to screw them up, too.”
• How you know you’re in Vail for the Teva Mountain Games. There are dog rehydration stations. I really can’t make this stuff up.
• How you know you are in Vail for the Teva Mountain Games, part II. The Vail Marriott Mountain Resort booth is serving is serving mahi fish tacos.
• How you know you are in Vail for the Teva Mountain Games, part III. There are wine-tasting booths. We give a shout out to Fetzer from Mendocino, Calif., a longtime vacation spot of the Freud family.
• OK, we know that the r-word is a four-letter word when it comes to the Mountain Games and there’s a 30-percent chance of precipitation today. That said, it’s nice to have the climbing venue in a tent. Wonder why it took eight years to figure that one out.
See you at the Games.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
There Marco Odermatt was, in the Birds of Prey finish corral following his gutsy super-G run, wondering just how fast he was. As the second skier on course, and the first to finish, the confusion was understandable.