Every year hundreds of athletes descend onto the small ski town of VAIL, Colorado to compete in the TEVA Mountain Games. This massive event is a celebration of mountains, athletes, music and art. The events vary from dog jumping and fishing to kayaking, climbing, slack lining, extreme racing and mountain biking. It is an impressive display of some of the best extreme mountain sports by the best athletes in the world and draws massive crowds to the exclusive ski town.
Day 1 – Home Stake Race
This year’s event kicked off on Thursday with the Bud Light Lime Steep Creek Championships known as the Home Stake race. A 500m Class 5 race down an extremely technical section of whitewater on an impressive creek, 20 mins outside of town. This year due to the low snow pack water levels are extremely low so the creek is even more technical than usual. Described as manky / very manky by competitors there is no margin for error in this race as a pin or flip would be painful and highly likely to lead to an injury.
The race kicked off early and competitors took it turns to race against the clock. It was a great display of skill and courage by some of the best white water creek racers in the world. There were a few surprise results in the qualifiers with some of the top ranked paddlers, getting caught on rocks and losing vital seconds and just missing the finals cut. In the end it was no surprise in the men’s finals as 4x Teva Mountain Games Home Stake Champion Mike Dawson (NZ) took the lead, White Water Grand Prix Champion Dane Jackson (USA) came in second and Adidas Sick Line Race Champion Sam Sutton (NZ) finishing in third. In the ladies it was a close fought finals with Martina Wegman (DK) taking the win, with Louise Jull (USA) in 2nd and Anne Hubner (GER) in 3rd, with some consistent fast, clean lines.
Day 2 - Freestyle Event Kicks Off
Friday was the start of the main events in town. With events, stands and activities situated all over the ski resort the place quickly came to life as the events began to kick off. First up was the Bud Light Lime Kayak freestyle qualifiers. The freestyle is one of the main event here at the Teva Mountain Games and takes place in an incredible arena in the heart of the town. Two bridges either side of the feature make an amphitheater and 360 degree viewing platform for spectators to watch the athletes perform.
Stephen and Clay building the hole
This year the event was almost cancelled due to the super low water levels but luckily thanks to a lot of creative imagination, design and hard work by Stephen and Clay Wright, and the help and hard work of a strong team of paddlers in the days leading up to the event, the little flow that was in the river was successfully constricted to create a competition worthy ‘small’ hole. Small, shallow and tricky the feature didn't stop the freestyle athletes putting on an impressive display of aqua aerobatics in the qualifying rounds. In the ladies event World Champion Claire O'Hara (UK) finished in 1st place closely followed by USA paddlers Hayley Mills, Elaine Campbell, and Adriene Levknecht. They will also be joined in the final by Junior World Champion Courtney Kerin (NZ).
In the men's the scores were lead by the freestyle big air specialist Stephen Wright (USA), 3x World Champion Dane Jackson (USA) and current World Champion James 'Pringle' Bebbington (UK).
Over on the other side of town a whole load of other events kicked off throughout the day including the Dock Dogs Big Air Ramp, the IFSC Bouldering World Cup and Gibbon Games Slack line Competition. Finishing off with the very impressive Teva Slope Style Big Air Bike Finals, where the bikers took it in turn to run the course throwing the biggest most technical tricks possible in an attempt to win the Teva title and massive $3,000 purse. The tricks were massive and the wipe outs were huge impressing the large crowds. World No 1 and UK Teva athlete Sam Pilgrim dominated the event landing a massive back flip superman at the end of his ride to take the win.
Stephen trys to avoid the rocks as the slackliner tries not to fall
After the event the parties began at once with DJ Juggy appearing out of nowhere turning the slope style course into a massive TEVA party whilst the bikers performed a 30 min big air jam session amidst the partying crowds, only one of the many big parties around town!
Day 3 - Freestyle Finals
Its an early start for the competitors in Bud Light Lime Down River Sprint who set off on the 4 mile sprint route at 8am!!! Despite the early start loads of paddlers take their massive race length kayaks to take part in the event where any boat!!! is allowed. Next up its back to the Freestyle hole for the mens semi finals. The holes lower again today so the holes even flushier and shallower. Everyone paddles hard but the heats through up some surprising results. Pringle, Mathieu and Nick Troutman all hit rocks hard and find themselves out of the finals. Dane and Dustin throw another set of impressive rides taking the top 2 places with Greg Parker showing massive improvements going into the finals in 3rd place with Stephen and EJ taking the last 2 spots.
Pringle super smooth big moves put him into the top 3 for the semi finals
At the moment there is loads happening all over Vail. The freestyle spot has turned into a fly fishing competition feature!!!, the bouldering world cup semi finals, X country mountain bike races and Dock Dogs big air are taking place, the Teva Freeride dual and Gibbon Games Slackline competition is going of in the centre of town and the Eddie Bauer Mud Run has just set off. There are over 23 competitions happening across Vail over the 3 days of the events, its non stop action everywhere.
That said i'm chilling in the hotel room trying to regain some energy ready for the freestyle finals which kick off in the fly fishing freestyle hole in just under 2 hours.
What an event so far :o)
deep water soloing
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