Stand-up paddle cross makes its debut at Vail Teva Mountain Games
VAIL – OK, there are four people on surfboards paddling down a swift creek with rocks at the same time racing each other around gates and then to finish. What could possibly go wrong here?Surprisingly, not too much.Hawaii’s Noa Ginella and Mariko Strickland ended up winning the first stand-up paddle (SUP) cross of the Teva Mountain Games Sunday on Gore Creek.”It seems a little crazy, but it’s such a blast,” said Strickland. “Coming from Hawaii, we surf and paddle rivers, but nothing like this with the river-rafting type of water.”Without seeing the event, one imagined the type of carnage as seen in such events like raft cross or 8-ball kayak, where the contenders have absolutely no qualms about smashing into each other. This seemed rather ill-advised with men and women racing down relatively-shallow Class II waters with just a helmet for protection.But SUP cross is actually more like ski cross, where collisions can happen, but the strategy is more about the hole shot, a clean, quick start, finding a line and positioning down the course.”At first I was like, ‘You get in there first, you’re going to get that thing (the buoy) and everyone is going to pile up. Maybe you just hang back and go last,'” said Ginella. “I watched a few races before me and what seemed to happen was that the first person got in there and everyone else had the same line. No one was going to get by him. Once you get to that buoy, you touch it and go.”Ginella did just that getting to the white buoy on the paddler’s left, and left the rest of the field get clogged up at that turn. Adam Cumming of San Clemente, Calif., finished second, while Nick Troutman, of Walling, Tenn., took bronze.It is worth noting that the boards used in SUP are not standard surfboards. They are actually inflatable floatation devises, so there is some give in the case of a collision.That said, the sport originated in Hawaii, where the water is considerably warmer than in the Gore and the Pacific Ocean doesn’t have crags of rock sticking out from it.”To tell you the truth this is the first time I’ve done an event like this, and was lucky enough not to get into any carnage with the other girls,” said Strickland, who also won the women’s SUP sprint on Saturday. “It does happen back home and you just have to keep paddling.””I feel like the river is much more dangerous than the ocean,” Ginella said. “The ocean is forgiving. You get stuck in one of these holes in the river, you get stuck.”SUP is likely here to stay. Forty people registered for last year’s Mountain Games event. This year, that number rose to 75.”People were flying in from all over the world to participate,” Ginella said. “Who knows what will happen next year?”
for a complete list of results from every event at Teva Mountain Games 2011. Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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