Vail Teva Games: Hitting the slopes in a different way
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – Paul Basagoitia knew his last run of the slopestyle mountain bike competition at the Teva Mountain Games was going to be sweet.
“I was like, ‘This is gonna be good,'” said Basagoitia, 22, who claimed the championship Sunday afternoon. “The last run was perfect. It couldn’t have gone any better.”
The Nevada native had a smooth and powerful run through the course, executing a “tailwhip,” where the rider spins the bike under him while in the air, with precision.
Despite intermittent rain and snow, big crowds came to watch the riders jump, flip and spin off the ramps at Golden Peak.
Californian Cameron McCaul, 23, took second place despite an elbow injury sustained while riding on the unfinished course.
McCaul’s moment came on the last big jump of the course, when he launched himself into a front flip amidst a screaming crowd of riders and spectators, and successfully landed the flip. Moments later he wiped out in a cloud of dirt into the fencing.
“I still didn’t feel comfortable doing (the flip), but it was a personal goal of mine to land it,” he said. “I just had to remember I could do it. The landing was fine, but I was so excited I flipped out and blew a couple gaskets and ended up in the fence.”
Two other riders had attempted front flips on the course, both ending in pretty spectacular crashes.
Greg Watts, 22, of California took third place, getting huge cheers and probably points from the judges after executing a back flip, then doing a “truck driver drop,” spinning the front handlebars while dropping off the highest box on the course.
“I wanted to try it all weekend,” Watts said . “I was probably thinking, ‘Please land, be all right.'”
The riders agreed that this year’s competition had brought out some of the top talent in the nation.
“These are the highest caliber of athletes out here. I can definitely see this getting way bigger,” McCaul said.
Watts said that a European competition was canceled, bringing many riders to Vail instead.
“Basically these are some of the best riders in the world,” he said. “Crankworx (Mountain Bike Festival later this summer) is pretty much the biggest competition of the year, and you would pretty much find any of these guys there.”
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.