Vail Teva Games: Racer in modiﬁed boat wins down-river sprint
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL – Jeremy Rodgers won Saturday’s down river sprint in a kayak some of his competitors weren’t so sure about.
Rodgers finished the 3-mile race in 17 minutes, 30 seconds in a downriver kayak that’s normally about 13.5 feet long, but Rodgers had it cut down in the back to make it the legal 12 feet for the Teva Mountain Games race, he said.
“It’s a little heavier than the carbon fiber boat I’m used to driving,” Rodgers said.
Competitors could be heard questioning the fairness of Rodgers’ boat after the race – some weren’t so sure the boat should have been allowed.
Isaac Levinson, who came in third with a time just over 17:43, felt the disadvantage because of the winner’s modified boat.
“The guy who got first was in a wave hopper. He sliced a couple feet off the end of the stern to make it race length,” Levinson said. “That boat is just a lot faster.”
Mike Dawson, of New Zealand, finished the race in second place with a time of 17:41. He, too, said boat choice had an impact.
“I think the boat choice makes a big difference in the results,” Dawson said. “One guy’s paddling a modified boat, we’re all paddling a boat from Dagger, so that comes into account. Most of the field were in the same (playing field).”
The down river sprint was a cold one Saturday morning. Many racers could be seen trying to warm up their bodies after crossing the finish line and exiting the water.
Honza Lasko, who came in fifth, said by the time he was half-way down the course he couldn’t feel his fingers.
“It’s so freezing,” he said. “It’s a good race, but it was freezing cold.”
The down-river sprint can be a big challenge for competitors, some of whom think it shouldn’t even be considered a sprint.
Women’s winner Nikki Kelly, who finished in 18:15 said she spent the first three minutes of the race “huffing and puffing.”
“What’s a sprint, 16 minutes? I don’t think so – a sprint is more like 60 seconds, so it was hard,” Kelly said.
The cold water and the 3-mile course is also what made Martina Wegman, who came in second place for the women, feel like she didn’t race very fast.
“I’m not really used to this,” she said.
Tao Berman, the fourth-place men’s finisher, said he likes the cold water. He was one of a few racers who chose not to layer up to stay warm.
“(The cold water) hits my muscles and wakes me up in the morning,” Berman said. “It’s a nice shock that I think gives me a little extra boost.”
Berman said the course isn’t technical, which rewards the athletes who are in good shape.
But even guys like Dawson, one of the best in the sport, felt the challenges in Colorado.
“This race is probably the hardest physically I’ve ever had to paddle in my life,” Dawson said. “It’s 16 to 17 minutes long, it’s 10,000 feet, the water’s shallow – it really hurt. I felt like throwing up on the finish line, but I made it through and had alright results, so that’s cool.”
Community editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at email@example.com.
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