Teva Games web extra: You’ve got to see this |

Teva Games web extra: You’ve got to see this

John O'Neill and John LaConte
Special to the DailyDamien Cooksey of Gibbon Slacklines walks the mid-line hung across the International Bridge in Vail Village. Different than the competition held in front of the Solaris, the mid-line is higher, thinner and more intimidating, said Cooksey.

VAIL – Walking a long, thin, 40-foot rope – or, “line” – proves a difficult task despite it being only a step off the ground. Take that same line and elevate it to 15 feet and string it across the Vail White Water Park and you have a task cut out for the pros.

Friday, the professional slack liners from Gibbon slackline took the Teva Mountain Games festivities to new heights stringing what is called a “mid-line” slackline across Gore Creek at International Bridge, where the kayak freestyle finals will be held.

In slacklining there are three heights: trick height, a low-strung and bouncy line good for jumping; a mid-line, good for some standing poses and a challenging walk; and a high-line, strung high enough that a fall would kill the walker.

“What we have over the river is considered a mid-line,” said Michael Payton of Westminster, who also carries the title of top slackliner in the world. “What we have for the competition (in front of the Solaris) is a trick-line to show the people of Vail the kind of creative movement and flow you can get into. Mid-lines and high-lines are much more personal. They are a lot more for yourself, to overcome fear and keep yourself in check.”

The mid-line strung across Gore Creek is one-inch wide, 15-feet high and about 40-feet long. It will remain throughout the games and spectators can expect the Gibbon pros to continually challenge themselves today and Sunday.

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While the flips and tricks will be absent from the mid-line, Payton describes the experience as intense and something the audience can respect.

“It is all about the mental game,” Payton said. “A line that is 5 feet of the ground is comfortable and relaxing. But once you step up to a mid-line or a high-line your fear is off the charts. You’re feet are shaking. You’re quaking in fear. You’re sweating. And it is a process of overcoming that.”

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