Stand-up paddling grows at Vail Teva Games
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL – Dan Gavere is just excited that the Teva Mountain Games has embraced stand-up paddling and that he’s able to race in his favorite sport.
Gavere, of Hood River, Ore., won the stand-up paddling (SUP) surf sprint Saturday morning, even after he face planted into the water toward the end of the 3-mile run from East Vail to the Covered Bridge in Vail Village.
“Luckily, all my bits and pieces were right there. I stood back up, jumped on my board – I think I only lost about 8 or 9 seconds,” Gavere said.
At last year’s Teva Mountain Games, Gavere, who finished second last year, said the stand-up surf sprint was one of the first competitions of its kind. He predicted that the Teva Mountain Games would bring the sport a lot of exposure.
He was right.
Last year, registrations were cut off at 45. This year, there were 75 racers paddling their way down the Gore Creek on boards that resemble long surfboards.
Ken Hoeve, who has been racing in the Teva Mountain Games as a kayaker for 10 years and now as a stand-up paddler for two years, said it’s just crazy how the sport has taken off.
“We came up with this idea three years ago and told the (Vail Valley) Foundation about it,” Hoeve said. “It was amazing, right from the get-go. This year there’s 75 racers in a sport that’s just taking off here in the mountains. … I imagine next year we’re going to have 150 people here. It’s probably going to be one of the biggest events that takes place at Teva in the future I’d say.”
For the many Hawaiian athletes who traveled to Vail last year and this year for stand-up paddling, the acceptance of the sport in the mountains is huge.
Noa Ginella, the 17-year-old Hawaiian who won last year and came in third on Saturday, said it’s crazy to be nowhere near an ocean and still see more than 70 competitors in what started off as an ocean sport.
“It’s so big. Last year we had 40 people and now it’s 75 – who knows what’s going to happen next year,” Ginella said.
Ginella said the course was a lot slower than it was last year. The river isn’t as high and it’s not moving nearly as fast, he said.
He said the slower conditions almost made this year’s race harder because everyone had to paddle much harder, although it was easier to hit the drops cleanly.
Second-place finisher Charlie MacArthur, of Snowmass Village, said having some river knowledge probably helped him out this year. He said he was thrilled to see so much excitement for the sport coming from both the athletes and the spectators who watched from the banks of the river.
“It’s pretty exciting,” MacArthur said. “We’re still in the infancy of the inland version of this, so it’s pretty cool.”
The ocean version of the sport kicked off about seven or so years ago, and some of the sport’s innovators – the athletes of C4 Waterman, a company out of Hawaii – are now traveling the world to compete.
Slater Trout, 16, from Maui, has been traveling the world competing for three years already. Trout finished sixth Saturday.
“I grew up surfing and stand-up came along and now I’m trying to make a living at it – I love it to death,” Trout said. “It’s huge. There’s already Olympic talk for racing; there’s world championships starting up. … For it to come this far, this fast, is pretty amazing.”
Candice Appleby, one of the best of the best in women’s stand-up paddling, came in from Hawaii for the Teva Mountain Games for her first run on a river. She and women’s winner Mariko Strickland both got just a couple of practice runs in before Saturday’s race.
“It’s such a rush and so challenging,” said Appleby, who finished third. “Going down the river is a lot different – it’s really humbling.”
It’s even humbling for Steven Nyman, a U.S. Ski Team World Cup racer who competed in stand-up paddling for the second time at the Teva Mountain Games Saturday.
“This is different,” Nyman said. “Skiing is so intense. Skiing is two minutes long of just sheer life-on-the-line sort of stuff, you know, and this – I don’t know how long that took, but man, it burned.”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teva stand-up paddle
1. Dan Gavere, Hood River, Ore., 18:49.27
2. Charlie MacArthur, Snowmass Village, 19:02.53
3. Noa Ginella, Honolulu, Hawaii, 19:09.45
1. Mariko Strickland, Honolulu, Hawaii, 20:58.24
2. Nikki Kelly, New Zealand, 21:14:09
3. Candice Appleby, San Clemente, Calif., 21:23.38
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