Seiler, Gordon tame big trick competition
VAIL – Loops, airwheels and space Godzillas, oh my.It was all about big air at the first big trick kayak competition contested at the Teva Mountain Games Thursday afternoon in Gore Creek at the base of International Bridge in Vail Village.And Jared Seiler and Ruth Gordon came away with top spots on the podium and $500 each for their troubles. Stephen Wright and Todd Baker were second and third for the men, while Valerie Beltrand and Jesse Stone won silver and bronze for the ladies.”It’s really fun. It’s a great event. It’s a really fun feature,” said Stone. “It’s fun how the whole town comes out. Everybody comes out to support. There’s a lot of feeling of support and community participation. It’s great.”
Those who lined the Gore got a look at a new event to the Games. As opposed to the kayak rodeo, which begins with qualifying today, when riders go for a minute of continuous tricks where difficulty of each maneuver is counted, Thursday’s event was all about air.Kayakers tried to get into the hole and perform an airwheel, loop or super Godzilla for the most height. The key was sticking the landing in the hole. Those who didn’t got 6 inches deducted from their score. Those whom were flushed out of the hole got no points for their efforts.New strategiesMaking things all the more interesting for the competitors was a rising water level which moved the position of the hole. It moved to the left of where it was when kayakers were practicing earlier in the day.
“You just had to make a new strategy,” Wright said. “I was going way over on the other side like a half-an-hour before the event. Then, I saw that it changed. A couple of my teammates helped me out and told me where they thought it’s better.”Seiler seemed to have no problem with the new hole. He stuck his loops high, beating a strong field, including Wright, Baker, Carbondale’s Ben Guska, Jay Kincaid, Corey Volt (clad in a Colorado Rockies jersey) and defending rodeo champ, Eric Jackson.”I was surfing past the (left) corner past the good spot, cut back in to try to get back on top of the foam and then charge down in to get as much boat underwater as possible, so it will jump out as high as possible,” Wright said.Go with the flow
Gordon was easily the most consistent of the women’s field during her head. She constantly racked up the amplitude, and showed great strength in sticking her landings in the raging currents.”It felt good to be able to go out there and consistently do it,” Gordon said. “I practiced most of the day and I wasn’t that consistent. So, I think all the practice helped.”Gordon added that observing her fellow competitors helped her adjust to the changing Gore Creek.Stone likely had the toughest road to the podium, She was paired in a two-person heat with Hannah Farrar. Whereas the first heat had six female competitors with a rest for each kayaker as the other five went, Stone and Farrar had to go back-to-back.
“It was just kind of funny. One thing you learn on the river is that you’ve got to go with the flow,” Stone said. “I was definitely trying to get my breath back because the heat was so fast. I was definitely out of breath. But it worked out pretty well. My plan was the same, where I wanted to be in the hole.”Trial run?After hitting Dowd Chute and Homestake, the white water competition of the Teva Mountain Games will stay in Gore Creek with the kayak rodeo today and Saturday. Qualifying is at 1 p.m. today with the finals at 4:45 p.m. on Saturday.While the rodeo format is different, Thursday’s first dunk in the Gore likely helped the competitors get a taste.
“It’s a perfect trial run,” Gordon said. “It’s a nice way to get out there with the other ladies and see what everybody’s capable of.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado