Let the Vail Teva Games begin… | VailDaily.com

Let the Vail Teva Games begin…

TMG Hill Climb 2 DT 6-8-08
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VAIL, Colorado ” Canada’s Ruth Gordon is a world championship kayaker. Big tricks, nasty whitewater? No problem.

Running? Now, we’ve got a problem.

“I like biking. Climbing’s cool,” Gordon said Wednesday as she sat in her kayak, while waiting for her turn in the rapids of Gore Creek. “Running? I’ve got short legs. Endurance is not my forte.”

And this is what makes the Teva Mountain Games, which start today at 10 a.m. with the steep-creek championship up at Homestake, an interesting athletic smorgasbord.

“It represents of the best of the best in the sport,” Gordon said. “It’s across the board in biking and climbing and whatever you see at the Teva Games. For kayaking having the four competitions it shows all aspects of kayaking. It’s a great venue for every type of kayaker. At the Teva Games, you really see a high level of ability and performance. So it’s awesome.”

In the next four days, athletes of all forms (dogs included) will be running, paddling, biking, climbing, fishing, jumping (the aforementioned canines) and yes, running, Ruth, all over Vail as the Eighth annual Teva Mountain Games come to town.

“It’s really cool. Vail is such a sweet venue to be in,” said John Hork of USA Climbing, who was fore-running the climbing wall located near the Vista Bahn. “Last year, we had a huge success with the World Cup. It was the first time we had a World Cup (event) in the states. This year, we’re hoping to have the same success. It’s really cool to be around a bunch of like-minded people because they’re all supportive of every kind of sport. It’s pretty cool.”

What’s new

The Vail Valley Foundation acquired the Mountain Games from Untraditional Marketing last November, and the V.V.F. seems intent on expanding the event.

New this year is Saturday’s half-marathon. And why not? Cyclists already ride up most of Vail Pass in Sunday’s hill climb. The runners will be going all the way up from Golden Peak to the top, covering 13.7 miles with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet.

“When we acquired the games from Joel (Heath of Untraditional Marketing), we said we really wanted to continue in the flavor he visualized,” said Ceil Folz, the president of the Vail Valley Foundation. “One of the things he tought about was adding a half-marathon. We liked the idea of a half-marathon because all the running we have is on trails. It’s a little more mountain running which appeals to a certain type of runner. By having a more traditional running with an uphill component, it brought regular road runners.”

Folz said that the Mountain Games attracted 1,250 athletes last year and that the Foundation is expecting 1,400 this weekend. While mindful of the current recession, Folz believes the crowds will come.

“We try to track with the lodges and see how their reservations are doing,” she said “Certainly, we know we have lots of sponsors who come here from other parts of the country. We notice that they’re bringing fewer people maybe. We don’t know if that will translate to our other guests as well. I think we’re positioned for it. If the weather holds, I think we’ve done a great job marketing and I think we’ll see crowds like the past.”

You can say it …

There’s no shortage of things to see or do at Teva. The Games start today with the steep-creek championships up in Homestake Creek near Red Cliff. Paddlers will definitely have a wild ride here in Class V waters.

Friday is qualifying day in a bunch of sports like bouldering, kayak freestyle, freeride biking, and yes, dog jumping. There are three different kinds of dog jumping this year ” vertical, big air and distance. You can say it ” the Teva Games are going to the dogs.

The weekend opens with the half-marathon and the down-river sprint. The latter is the first leg of the mountain challenge, a two-day, four-event team or individual competition, which includes Saturday’s mountain-biking race and Sunday’s hill climb up Vail Pass and 10K running race.

Other highlights include the finals of bouldering, freeride biking and freestyle kayaking on Saturday. On Sunday, things wrap with the dog-jumping, 8-ball kayaking, raft cross and big-air biking finals.

For a complete schedule check out http://www.vaildaily.com.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.