Teva Games a natural blast |

Teva Games a natural blast

Andrew Harley
Bouldering 6-6 CS

Rock climbing, kayaking, rafting, trail running, mountain biking. All of the adventurous sports showcased at the Teva Mountain Games this weekend seemed to share a refreshingly elemental focus compared to America’s athletic darlings: “Ball sports.”

The Mountain Adventure Sprint Race represents, perhaps, the most spherical sport of the them all considering the variety of adventure sports incorporated in Billy Mattison’s cloverleaf-shaped Vail Mountain course.

Local favorites and Eco-Challenge masters Team Nike ACG Balance Bar – Mike Kloser, Michael Tobin and Danelle Ballangee – came out on top, as expected, with a time of 3 hours, 33 minutes.

“The race was exciting. We had to battle it out for almost the whole race. Team Nike ACG (#19) was ahead of us early on,” said Kloser. “The water was awesome. The biking, the navigating on the trekking, it was a hoot.”

Teams navigated their ways through the course with maps and compasses. The event included mountain biking, hiking, inline-skating, ropes, and whitewater tubing.

“The adventure in an adventure race, for me, is always experiencing the unknown. You’re never certain what’s around the next corner. Even on a mountain that’s in my backyard, there’s still unknowns out there, and you really gotta think ahead. You gotta stay up on top of the maps, avoid the big mishap with navigation,” said Kloser. “In comparison to other sports, the adventure aspect’s really great because it’s so many disciplines thrown at you in such a short period of time.”

Kloser is always proud of his teammates, Tobin and Ballangee.

“We’ve got a few years under our belts – racing together – so we kind of know how each of us click. It’s really great to have that experience of fellow teammates to help pull you along, pull you through, if you’re having a moment of stress, so to speak,” said Kloser. “Michael’s just a motor on bike, on foot and he’s really becoming great with the paddling. He’s great with map and compass. He’s a well-rounded teammate. Really awesome.

“Danelle’s a little machine, a fireplug. She’s definitely got a personality of her own. Her speed and skills are nearly unrivaled in this sports when it comes to females. And, having a girl like that on your team is awesome. I’d certainly rather have her on our team than have to race against her.”

Team Nike ACG #19 came in second with a time of 3:52, and Team Golite Timberland placed third with a time of 4:04.

In the water pocket

The Teva Mountain Games “8” Ball Sprints brought 26 competitors and 30 total kayakers from far and wide to the Vail Whitewater Park on Sunday in Vail Village.

Essentially, the “8” ball sprints is the roaring-river kayak version of the swimming-pool game sharks and minnows. Four “8” balls geared in black lurked on the (approximately) 200-yard stretch of water between the covered bridge and the western end of the Vail Whitewater Park. All of the competitors surged down the course in a tidal wave of kayaks, reminiscent of the liquid horses Arawen summons to ward off the wraiths in “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings.”

Nikki Kelly emerged from the rack of kayakers with the victory in the women’s division, and Josh Betchel won among the men.

Brooke Winger took second and Brenna Kelleher placed third in the women’s division. Steve Fisher took second and Jesse Murphy placed third in the men’s division.

Results from Saturday

The Teva Mountain Games Speed Bouldering Finals saw victories from Tori Allen and Zak Farmer.

Among the women, Alex Johnson placed second and Angela Payne took third.

Simon Villeneuve took second in the men’s division, while Obe Carrion placed third.

For more information on the Teva Mountain Games, visit

Andrew Harley can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or at

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