Vail Teva Games: What are these events?
VAIL, Colorado ” Freeride has nothing to do with the Edgar Winter Group.
Freestyle does not involve swimming, hopefully.
And when it comes to the 8-ball competition, there are no sticks and felt.
The Teva Mountain Games can be overwhelming not only in the way the event takes over the Vail Village and the surrounding area, but with what every athlete is doing.
There are five different paddling events during the Mountain Games and four separate cycling events which range from the traditional to happenings which are designed for carnage.
At times, we reporters feel like we’re making this all up, but there is a method to the madness. We’re here to breakdown all the events to make you an expert in all things Mountain Games.
Steep creek: This is today up at Homestake Creek at 10 a.m.. This is a kayaking event where paddlers go down these Class V waters (the fastest on a scale from 1-5, er, I-V) with the top-25 men and top-10 women advancing to the finals. This is not for the fait of heart.
Freestyle: This is also known informally as the kayak rodeo. Taking place at the base of the International Bridge, kayakers have 60 seconds in which to tricks like flips, cartwheels (spins), and the ever-popular space Godzilla (a flip with a twist at the top), phonyx monkey (a cross-bow pirouette) and the McNasty (a 180-degree turn upstream followed by a flip). Kayakers accumulate points for tricks and other improvisations.
The key is to stay in “the hole,” the center of the venue, especially when landing a trick. But with the Gore Creek speeding westward, that’s not always possible, and so kayakers are “flushed out,” losing points and valuable time for their routine. The finals are Saturday at 4:15 p.m.
Down-river sprint: This is straight-forward kayaking on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Kayakers start out in East Vail and head 4 miles down to the International Bridge. This the first event in the mountain challenge, four events during Saturday and Sunday, where the best combined time in all four disciplines by an individual or team wins.
Eight-ball: This is where kayaking meets roller derby Sunday ” the finals are at 2:30 p.m. In each heat, innocent kayakers start at the Covered Bridge trying to paddle to International. The kicker is that there are other boats (known as 8-balls) in the creek whose sole purpose is to impede their progress and otherwise make their lives miserable. A certain number of racers advance from each heat, with those eliminated becoming 8-balls, which means the final is total and delightful chaos.
Raft cross: This is 8-ball’s cousin, except in rafts (bigger boats with two people), where the same mayhem is encouraged. The finals are on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
X-Country: This is another name for a mountain-bike race Saturday. The course starts at Golden Peak and heads up Windisch Way and west to Lionshead. and then up to Onza Alley before heading back to the start. The course crosses over itself at several times, hence X-country.
One lap is 5.6 miles. Riders of varying abilities will be doing different numbers of laps with the pros going around four times for a ride of 22.4 miles. This is event No. 2 of the mountain challenge as well.
Hill climb: This is a traditional road race, starting Sunday at 10:30 a.m. from Vail Village. Traditional, expect for the fact that it goes the 9-or-so miles up Vail Pass. This is a time trial with racers going out every minute. This is also the fourth event in the mountain challenge.
Freeride: Freeriding is head-to-head mountain-bike racing on identical obstacle courses. The fastest racers in two heats ” bikers pedal on both the left and right side ” advance in a single-elimination format. The course changes just about every year, sometimes out of necessity.
Two years ago, course designer Jeff Lenosky discovered that a ladder-like apparatus had rotted. He used the healthy remains of the wood to form bridges over a pool of water at the end of the course. The finals of this wide-open event are Saturday at 3 p.m.
Slopestyle: Think a halfpipe for bikes, instead of snowboards. The finals are Sunday at 3 p.m.
Mud run: This is not exactly one of those Mountain Games technical terms. It’s 1 kilometer and it’s at the Vista Bahn Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Spring runoff: Why not start Sunday morning with a 10K? The race starts on Bridge Street and heads east along Gore Creek and then veers east and up Berry Picker. Then it’s up Post Road to Gitalong before coming back down. The course rises 1,528 feet. The gun goes off at 8:30 a.m. This is the third leg of the mountain challenge.
Half-marathon: If a 10K is just a jog for you, new for 2009, you can run 13.7 miles up Vail Pass. Bring an extra set of lungs.
IFSC bouldering: The alphabet soup means the International Federation of Sport Climbing. This constitutes a World Cup event, just like the skiing at Birds of Prey in December at Beaver Creek. In each of the rounds, a climber challenges a “problem,” or a path to summit the rock. Athletes score points by completing the problem with bonus points for achieving certain goals. The finals are Saturday at 3:45 p.m.
Since everyone in Vail owns a dog (or at least one), Fido can compete as well. We’ve got three categories here. Big air is for the longest jump. Vertical is high jumping, and in speed retrieve, Spot returns a toy as quickly as possible.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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