Teva Games flows downriver to Avon
Vail CO, Colorado
AVON ” The Teva Mountain Games took a trip down the Eagle River Tuesday to open this year’s competition.
And that was before the competitors even got in the water.
The new Avon Whitewater Park hosted the west portion of the East vs. West Amateur Kayak Freestyle Qualifier, which in previous years had been held in Vail.
“A lot of the Teva love is being spread throughout the valley,” said Ken Hoeve, a local kayaker. “I think the town of Avon should give themselves a huge pat on the back for going out and doing this.”
Brad Ludden, a local competing in the Teva Games who was on hand to watch, echoed Hoeve’s feelings.
“I think it’s about time. This valley, as all the locals know, is such a great place from top to bottom, so to incorporate another part, I’m pretty proud of it,” Ludden said.
Others were glad that out-of-town kayakers, who may not come otherwise, can test out Avon’s park.
“It’s great publicity for the new feature,” said John O’Neill, who was competing. “Everyone will get to know about it and it will become more popular.”
More than half of those competing in Tuesday’s event were from outside the county and got their first peak at the park. Like any boaters, they were happy to see a new park, but they pointed out some of the issues that come in the first year.
“It’s a small pocket, but it’s a good hole,” said Josh Oberleas of Gunnison, one of two male riders to qualify. “It’s rough because of the eddy access.”
Once the boaters came out of the hole, it was difficult to battle their way back upstream.
“If you mess up, you go all the way downstream,” O’Neill said.
Spectators lined up on the pathway of the north bank of the river, as well as on BOB the Bridge.
“I can’t recall ever coming down here and ever being able to walk down the stairs and have such easy access to the river,” Hoeve said. “You can come down and watch ” it’s a beautiful area. And it’s not just for kayakers.
“It’s exciting to look up on shore and see people waving and excited to see you just as excited as you are to be out there paddling.”
Ross Herr, a competitor from Gypsum, appreciated the easy walk down to the water as well as the ample parking in Beaver Creek’s lot across U.S. Highway 6.
“The access to the river is awesome, and the boat ramp for rafters is cool,” Herr said. “You can’t find that big a parking lot for other water parks.”
The competition featured a knockout format, where boaters performed a trick that others had to replicate or they would receive a letter. When someone earned the letters “BOB” they were eliminated. Boaters entered the hole and were permitted as many tries to attempt a trick as long as they didn’t pass a marked rock down the river, which proved to be a difficult and tiring task.
Jamie Goode of Steamboat won the women’s qualifier, while Gunnison’s Oberleas and Glenwood’s Nic Vanderhoof and will be the two men’s representatives from the west in the Sunday’s finals at 1:30 p.m. The east qualifier will be Friday in Golden.
“Last year we had the qualifier in Vail, and finals were in Vail. The (east) came from Golden, so it was kind of unfair,” Oberleas said. “Now we both have the same chance.”
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.
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