Holcombe and Faux cruise to wins in Dagger Open | VailDaily.com

Holcombe and Faux cruise to wins in Dagger Open

Vail Daily/Shane Macomber Pro Paddler Eric Jackson, behind, paddles hard with Nejc Poberaj and the finish in his sights during Thursday's Dowd Chute Race at the Teva Mountain Games.

There was blood in the water at Thursday’s Dagger Open kayaking finals in Dowd Chute. Shannon Carroll spilled some in the women’s pro final. Brent Redden drew some in the men’s amateur final.And Andrew Holcombe, well he was just cold-blooded in the men’s pro final, swooping in front of Jesse Murphy, Eric Jackson and Nejc Poberaj for the win to close out what was a fierce first day of kayak competition at the Teva Mountain Games.With racers starting out in a tight pack at the top of the chute, a number of competitors felt the sting of an enemy paddle once the starting whistle blew. Start off in the middle of the bunch and you might get smacked. Try to cut someone off and you might get smacked. Make it to the end of the run first, though, like Holcombe or women’s pro winner Tanya Faux and you got some fat cheese – as in $700 and $500 dollars respectively.Or, if you were Brent Redden of Eagle-Vail, you got a new Dagger kayak and bragging rights over your three good friends who all qualified for the amateur final with you.

“I’m not afraid to hit somebody,” Redden said jokingly while gesturing to his friends at the finish line. Holcombe won the men’s pro race by starting off on the far left, after earning his place in the final starting out from the right bank. He said he chose the left side because he nearly ended up in third-place in the earlier qualifier, after falling behind in the beginning. “(Starting from the left side) actually turned out a lot better than I thought it was going to,” Holcombe said after his win. “I had the same amount of speed as everyone else, but I had an angle on them a little bit, so I could cut to the right in front of their boats and edge them out.”Faux won the women’s final easily as she too chose the left-bank start and cruised to the finish line banner with nearly a 10-foot lead. For No. 2 finisher Carroll things didn’t go as smoothly, as she earned a fat, bleeding lip in exchange for her second-place $300 check.”This race was pretty aggressive,” Carroll said. “In the first round, I took a paddle to the wrist and it totally made my thumb numb. In the second round, I took a paddle in the face. It wasn’t intentional, we were just all really grouped up together and it split my lip. It should heal up pretty quickly.”It ain’t over till it’s over

Racers in both the pro and amateur races agreed that this year’s course was better than previous years, since paddlers were forced to go around one of two buoys on their way down the river.The buoy dilemma made for more strategical planning, and more unpredictable finishes. “I got the quickest out of the go, and then it felt like I was miles in front of the other guys,” said amateur racer Randall Stone.” Before you know it these guys were blowing right by me. I took the first obstacle, and these guys took the second one. Maybe next time I take the second one instead of the first one.”Stone wasn’t too upset about ending up in fourth place after his quick start. Wearing bib No. 34 on what was his 34th birthday, the Eagle-Vail local said that winning was one thing. Enjoying a great day on the river with his friends was another. “We’ll do some celebrating tonight,” Stone said. “But, we’ve got another race tomorrow.”The men’s pro final aslo featured some exciting jockeying. Holcombe’s blast out of the start earned him his win, but the battle for second and third place was heated, as Poberaj and Jackson ceded the second-place finish and the $500 check that went with it to Jesse Murphy.

“I was on the far right, which you think would be kind of an advantage, because it’s kind of in the current,” Murphy said. “But, the more direct line is on the left, and the other three got a head start on me from the start. I figured that the only way to get ahead was to tangle these two up (Poberaj and Jackson), so I was driving on their sterns trying to get them to catch an eddy or lose an edge or something.It turned out to happen for me. They fully got caught up and stuck on each other, and I was able to pass them by. From there, I was just trying to stick with Andrew Holcombe to make sure I at least got a second.”More kayaking todayThe paddling action continues today with the Paddler Magazine Extreme Creek Race on Homestake Creek in Red Cliff at 9 a.m., followed by Teva Pro Rodeo Qualifiers at 3 p.m. in Vail Village and then speed trials at 5 p.m. Contact Nate Peterson at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at npeterson@vaildaily.com

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