Kayakers sculpting waves in Vail | AspenTimes.com

Kayakers sculpting waves in Vail

Edward Stoner
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

VAIL ” Skiing in Vail? Of course. Surfing? That can be a more difficult endeavor.

At the kayak hole in the middle of Vail, at International Bridge on Gore Creek, kayakers surf, spin and flip. But the spot usually doesn’t have enough water to make it rideable. It’s functional when the river is high in the spring, but that could be for a few weeks or less.

A new project seeks to remedy that by putting balloons in the creek to sculpt the water into the right places.

“This’ll kind of give it a fresh boost to make it fun a little longer,” said Nick Turner, a local kayaker who is helping build the project.

On Friday, part of the creek was blocked off with sandbags and jersey barriers as workers drilled holes into a concrete slab on the creek’s floor.

They had already cut through the slab to make room for air lines. The air is fed from the banks of the creek into the inflatable bladders.

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The town is spending $376,000 to install the computerized bladders.

“It helps us make a better wave for a longer period of time,” said Gregg Barrie, who is heading up the project for the town of Vail.

Six bladders will go into the river, and two more could be added later. A touch-screen computer will control the bladders.

“Just a little adjustment here and there can make the difference between a good wave and a great wave,” Barrie said.

The hole is created by strategically placed rocks under the water.

“You surf it just like a surfer in the ocean,” Turner said.

The International Bridge hole is the venue for the Teva Mountain Games, which attract thousands of people to town. At last year’s mountain games, boaters had to use plywood to constrict the river so enough water would be flowing over the hole.

Work will continue through the end of the month in the creek, and the kayak hole should be ready for next spring, Barrie said.

The water work wasn’t too uncomfortable, Turner said.

“It’s probably about as warm as the Gore Creek gets,” he said.