Let the Mountain Games begin | AspenTimes.com

Let the Mountain Games begin

Steve Fisher rocks his kayak over an 8-foot drop during last year's Teva Mountain Games at Homestake Creek near Red Cliff. (Shane Macomber/Vail Daily file)

VAIL – It’s time to make a splash.

In Dowd Chute for paddlecross events.

In Homestake Creek for extreme kayaking.

In Gore Creek for the kayak rodeo.

On Golden Peak for the mud run.

And hopefully not in the fly-fishing contest. The idea is to catch a fish.

The smorgasbord that is the Teva Mountain Games starts Tuesday at the new Avon Whitewater Park with East-West freestyle kayak qualifying at 5 p.m. Thus begins six days of nonstop cycling running, climbing, paddling, grinding and smashing – the 8-ball kayak on Sunday is always a favorite – marking the beginning of the summer athletic calendar.

“I would say that, at this point in time, the Teva Mountain Games is a marquee event for Vail,” Mountain Games spokemsman Ian Anderson said. “If you look at the full calendar of events, this one stands out, winter or summer. As far as the outdoor industry, the Teva Mountain Games has really established itself as the preeminent outdoor festival.”

Tour de France winner Floyd Landis is giving the Teva Games a big publicity boost this year by participating in the ultimate mountain challenge, a two-day, four-discipline endurance event.

“We’re excited that Floyd is competing and raising money for a tremendously worthy cause, the Athletes for a Cure, which benefits the Prostate Cancer Foundation,” Anderson said. “I think it’s terrific that Floyd will be joining a huge field of world-class athletes who have come to the Mountain Games year after year. He’s another big name to add to the roster.”

The mountain challenge replaces the 24-hour adventure race on the Teva slate. In the new event, teams or individuals compete in down river sprint from East Vail to Vail Village and then participate in a mountain bike race Saturday. On Sunday, the event concludes with a 10-kilometer run on Vail Mountain and a road cycling race halfway up Vail Pass. It’s safe to say that Landis is going to give his squad a leg up during the biking portions of the event.

“It’s going to give us the best of both worlds,” Anderson said. “I think we’re going to see the same caliber of athletes that we’ve had competing in the adventure race. But we’re expecting much greater participation because it’s a little more accessible because the events that are included in the ultimate mountain challenge are the hard-core mountain sport events.”

The predecessor of the Teva Mountain Games was the Jeep Whitewater Festival, held at Dowd Chute. Teva continues that event with kayak and raft paddlecross on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the kayakers head up to Homestake Creek for the steep creek championship in Class V waters. As the week progresses, the action centers on Vail Village with bouldering, kayaking in Gore Creek, freeriding (biking over an obstacle course) and the 8-ball competition, which is akin to roller derby on water.

While the pros go at it, there are numerous opportunities for local athletes to participate in the events. The public takes part in both the mountain and road cycling races as well as the 10K trail run. There are also numerous gear demos and the ever-popular hunt for SWAG (stuff we all get) during the weekend.

“It is very participatory event,” Anderson said. “It’s always been a special opportunity for a local mountain biker to line up at the start with one of the U.S. World Cup riders. It gives you a chance to measure up your time with theirs.”

East-West amateur kayak freestyle qualifier, Avon Whitewater Park, 4-5 p.m.

Raft and kayak paddlecross semifinals and finals, Dowd Chute, 12:30 p.m.

Steep creek championship, Homestake Creek, 8:30 a.m.

Pro bouldering qualifier, Vail Village, 9 a.m.

Kayak pro freestyle qualifier, Vail Village, 1 p.m.

Freeride challenge demonstrations, Vail Village, 2 p.m.

Ultimate mountain challenge check-in, Vail Village, 4 p.m.

Downriver sprint, East Vail to Vail Village, 9 a.m.

Mountain bike championships: Beginner-expert, starts in Vail Village, 1 p.m.

Freeride challenge finals, Vail, Village, 1:30 p.m.

Mountain bike championships: Semipro-pro, starts in Vail Village, 4 p.m.

Bouldering finals, Vail Village, 4 p.m.

Kayak pro rodeo finals, Vail Village, 5 p.m.

Freeride slopestyle competition, Golden Peak, 7:30 p.m.

Trail running championship, starts in Vail Village, 9 a.m.

Hill Climb, starts in Vail Village, 11:30 a.m.

East-West amateur kayak freestyle finals, Vail Village, 1:30 p.m.

8-ball kayak sprint finals, Vail Village, 2:30 p.m.

Speed bouldering finals, Vail Village, 3 p.m.

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