Sunday at Teva: Carnage on the water |

Sunday at Teva: Carnage on the water

John LaConte
Vail, CO Colorado
TMG raft cross 1 KA 6-3-12

VAIL – You know it’s a good 8-ball competition when it ends with a bootie beer.-

The Teva Mountain Games wrapped up Sunday the same way they always do, withthe 8-ball kayak sprint, the competition’s marquee spectator event. The object is for kayakers to sprint down the Gore Creek the fastest while avoiding the “8 balls,” — kayakers playing defense in an effort to slow up the sprinters.

Fans come expecting carnage on the creek in the full-contact event, and this year, they got all they were hoping for and more when Ken “The OG 8 Baller” Hoeve found himself pinned underwater for a scary amount of time while boat after boat stacked up upon his.

“I tried to hit the first person, and they flipped me,” he said. “It felt like I was under for 8 hours, I could feel people bumping me and I was floundering my roll, getting worked.”

Fans watched, some in shock and horror, as the underside of Hoeve’s boat faced the sky and took a beating from about 8 other kayaks.-

Support Local Journalism

“Hoeve is underwater, Ken Hoeve is under the water,” the announcers said, as spectators watched and waited for him to right his boat. At one point he was able to make it up just enough to get a breath of air before being sent right back under.

“I came up for a second and looked around and literally saw some of the competitors looking at me and laughing out loud. In eight years of doing this, it was one of the more embarrassing moments for me,” he said with a laugh.-

The climactic incident ended with Hoeve taking the last resort for any kayaker and “popping his skirt,” (releasing himself from his kayak) underwater, swimming out of his boat and harm’s way, exiting the creek, climbing a pedestal high above the sidewalk bridge, pouring a beer into his shoe, ceremoniously slamming it, and finally spiking the shoe onto the concrete like a receiver in the end zone.—

“To inspire you not to swim out of your kayak, it’s a tradition that if you pop your spray skirt and you swim, you take your footware off and drink a bootie beer out of it,” said Hoeve. “Fortunately Bud Light is a sponsor and so is Teva, so I had a fresh beer and a new pair of shoes. It was awesome.”

Whitewater specialist Dan Gavere said Hoeve’s swim was a personal highlight for him.-

“(Hoeve) created the event, so for him to get plowed and come out of his boat is certainly a history-making moment,” said Gavere.

The incident came during the “Ball Off,” the final event of the games, while Hoeve was trying to slow up Canadian Nick Troutman. Troutman went on to win the Ball Off.-

“Hoeve hit me, and I was able to lift his bow with my elbow over my head and go,” Troutman-said. “I didn’t see what happened after that. It was pretty sweet though.”

If Hoeve was the OG (original) 8-baller, then Henry Hyde would be on the other side of that spectrum. The 11-year-old kayaker from Littleton made his mark this weekend as the youngest 8-ball ever to be featured at the games.

“It was awesome,” he said. “When guys came down, I’d push them into the wall.”

He took his fair share of hits as well, scraping his face against that same wall. When asked if he’d be willing to be an 8-ball again after his virgin voyage this weekend, he replied “I’m really hoping I will be.”

Top honors in the Kayak 8 ball went to Bryan Kirk from Fayetteville, W.Va. Fifteen-year-old Coloradan Max Carlson took silver and Tyler Fox of Ottawa, rounded out the podium-in third.-

Support Local Journalism