The hardest thing about going to the Teva Mountain Games is deciding what to see and what to do. With so many events to choose from it's impossible to catch everything.
This year, the IFSC World Cup of Climbing was a must-see event with the championship for both men and women coming down to the final climb. The crowd kept the energy levels roaring from Chris Sharma's struggle in the Semi Finals right up until Kilian Fischhuber crushed the last boulder problem in the finals. It has been 20 years since such a high caliber climbing event was on U.S. soil. Alex Johnson placed first for women and Alex Puccio made up for her 6th place finish with a first place finish in the speed climbing competition the next day.
Down on the river the 8 Ball Kayak Sprint was a tried and true crowd pleaser. Paddlers raced against each other in a chaotic 200-meter sprint where they were not the only ones on the water. Kayakers called 8 ballers wore black shirts and black helmets and hid behind bushes. Their job was to charge, ram, hit and try to knock the lead kayakers out of the race. This event, that sounds more like a hockey match than a boating race, is pure mayhem making it impossible to predict a winner. This year's lucky male sprinters were Todd Anderson who took first, Casper Von Kalmathaut (2nd) and Pat Keller (3rd). The frisky females that out smarted the 8 ballers were Emily Jackson (1st), Eleanor Perry (2nd) and Ruth Gordon (3rd). (Video to come)
Raft cross was just as exciting as the 8 Ball Kayak Sprint, with two-man teams racing their way down Gore Creek, navigating around two upstream gates. In this race anything goes and ramming IS allowed. Team Teva / Mongo must have had some inside secrets as they stole the first place spot right out from under the United States National Whitewater Center team and team Timberline. Both teams were trying to wind around the final gate when Team Teva / Mongo came flying down the rapids. Team Teva used the other two boats to stop themselves right in front of the gate claiming the first place spot. (Video to come)
In the two-wheel category, Ryan Trebon flew in the X-Country Mountain Bike race finishing nearly 7 minutes ahead of the second place rider. On the women's side, Katie Compton crossed the line 5 and a half minutes ahead of the second place woman.
Watch out for road biker Benjamin Day, who set a new course record in the Backcountry Hill Climb, clocking in at 25:48 with an average of 22.6 miles per hour...up hill!
Speaking of which, my teammate Nina Baum placed 7th in the women's Hill Climb shooting us into a second place finish in the Ultimate Mountain Challenge team category.
My Rockin' Teammates: Rachel Friedman and Nina Baum
The 10K Spring Run Offmy portion of the Ultimate Mountain Challengecould well be a speed hiking competition as the start sends runners straight up the Vail ski slope. No zig zag, no fire roads, just straight up the mountain. For as much as the uphill was a killer, the downhill was fast and plenty, taking runners across the slopes on hiking and biking trails that wound through crisp woods. The overnight rain and snow kept the air cool and the trails muddy, making everyone wish they had a little more traction.
And I didn't even mention the dog competition, fly fishing, or the adventure film school. As the town quieted down and exhausted athletes headed home, film students stayed behind in Vail to sort through three days of footage. It's those films that help keep us energized until we get to play in the mountains again next year.
Scroll down for footage from the 2008 Teva Mountain Games and Check back here for more Active.com video coming soon.
I was on the fence about whether or not I wanted to do the 10K trail run. Then I got a call from a friend in Santa Fe asking if I wanted to be part of an all girls team for the Ultimate Mountain Challenge. The challenge combines scores from four events including the Kayak Down River Sprint, the Sobe Cross Country Mountain Bike Race, the Road Bike Hill Climb and the 10K Spring Run Off.
It didn't take much convincing but as soon as I committed I got super nervous. I have been living at sea level for four years and I knew the altitude would be a killer. Now that I am here I can only hope that three days is enough time to acclimate. Adding to my nerves is the fact that our mountain biker has been racing professionally for several years and they decided to name our team after her sponsor (and the sponsor of the cross country mountain bike course)...Sobe.
Luckily these girls are a blast, super laid back and just want to have a good time...which is exactly what we plan to do starting with Rachel rocking the down river sprint this morning.
In what turned out to be a cold and rainy morning, paddlers raced their way down homestake creek in the event that kicked off a weekend of outdoor competition. Tao Berman (#371) took first place with a combined time of 3:41.51 from two runs down the quarter-mile creek.
2. TODD ANDERSON 0:01:50.54 0:01:54.15 0:03:44.69 380
3. ANDREW HOLCOMBE 0:01:53.82 0:01:50.99 0:03:44.81 393
While the Teva crew got ready for the big weekend, a small group went out to 4 Eagle Ranch for a morning of zip lining. A series of cables were set up crossing nearby Alkali canyon, some more than 400 feet across. The idea of dangling several hundred feet about the ground made me want to pee my pants but once I got into the harness and felt the security system I started to calm down. In the end, stepping over the cliff's edge was more exhilirating than anything, and flying across the canyon from 200 plus feet in the air, watching the river roll by below, turned out to be surprisingly peaceful.
And true to Colorado style, the clouds parted, the rain cleared and it was a crisp and sunny Rocky-Mountain day.
The Teva Mountain Games sent out an email highlighting the top 11 things to see at the games this year. So if you haven't decided to celebrate the start of summer in the mountains, maybe this will help convince you.
1. Free Ozomatli Concert & special guest APOSTLE and DJ Quest - Friday, June 6th @ 6pm
2. Opening Ceremon y - Thursday, June 5th @ 6pm. Featuring: A human powered parade, International athlete welcome, live music and giveaways!
3. Dock Dogs® - Three new dog events this year in the tank!