Monday, June 4, 2012

It's Not About the Boat...Teva Games 2012

Teva Games Bud Light Downriver Podium: Jeremy Rodgers USA (2nd), Mike Dawson NZ (1st), Eric Jackson USA (3rd)

So many of you remember the the coup d' etat of Teva Games 2011 and thought the story couldn't get better. Well, for the most part you were right but it was all smiles on race day after a last minute rule change that became known as the "Jeremy Rodgers rule" that kayaks cannot be customized in any way and must be a mass produced production kayak. Rather than debate the minutia meaning or origins of this rule, I called up my go to guys, Landis Arnold and Trung at the North American Prijon distributorship in Boulder, CO and told them to troll the warehouse relics for anything under 13 feet, plastic, no rocker, and light as possible. They scored a gem in the rough with a 1986 Prijon Taifun (pronounced Typhoon) at 12 foot 9 inches, 10 lbs lighter than a Dagger Green with less rocker. Rocker, my friends, is the upsweep of the front and rear of the kayak which allows it to turn or not turn easily and when it comes to downriver racing rocker is not your friend as we've only got one place to go and it's not left or right:) The only kicker of the deal was I had to wear the original 1986 rainbow striped skirt (see closeups below) to make the package complete!

With last year's controversy about my custom creation, the Wavechopper, need I say more?
 After chumming it up on pre race practice runs  with Ultimate Mountain Challenge favorites Travis Macy, Josiah Midaugh, and Sari Anderson, we ironed out all the nanosecond saver moves on the downriver race course from East Vail into Mountain Village. With record flows last year producing my winning time of 17:30 seconds, we weren't so lucky in 2012 with record low snowpack producing a technical paddlers dream race....the lower the water the harder it is to read the fastest lines. In high water years any line with a kayak right side up is a good line and the field gets compressed into closer times. In short...keep in the middle, paddle like hell, fastest time wins. In sparkling contrast, low water years spread out the field as you just have to weave magic to avoid running aground or wave friction.

Post race cool down in the Prijon Taifun....take a gander at the rainbow striped skirt straps and  grab loop aka Garmin 310 anchor! Guys in 1986 wore this? Classic! Lost a few letters on my fellow racer message sticker as well but quickly repaired!

So the story played out that New Zealand Olympic slalom paddler Mike Dawson, who finished second to my Wavechopper last year by same margin, edged my time of 22:57 by 3 seconds in a Liquidlogic Remix Stinger and US whitewater freestyle and slalom icon Eric Jackson finished in 3rd by the same margin. It seems it's not about the boat but the rule change will live on:) Complete results subdivided by classes and story linked here in the Denver Post. Mike Dawson is on fire this spring leading up the the Olympics in London and his checkbook after Teva Games shows it with a sweep in all events! Good job Mike.

On a side note, we saw a power output of almost 400 watts! No, not from a paddle blade but from the latest addition to the Ultimate Multisport Van! Heather and I had a 600 watt wind turbine added to the van this spring via a partnership with Keen and Southwest Windpower. The adventure van is now officially self sustainable just in case we have to make a fast getaway and leave the world behind. Combined with the solar system, we never have to start the engine to make it through watching Top Gun and Braveheart back to back. Even better, NO annoying generator noise or fumes for our fellow free spirited campers.

New to Teva Mountain Games in 2012 was the Gibbon Slackline Amphitheater and what a show these guys and gals put on. I thought how entertaining can balancing on a slack line be but man was I wrong. Big air back flips to straddle landing to double front flips was the theme of the day. Good thing the Nuun tent was only a few yards away as these athletes were sweating up a storm with their aerial performances. I think all boisterous 40,000 spectators were piled around the slack line venue all at once so find the lack liner in my photo from my cheap seat in the nosebleed seats.

If over 8 sports and 40,000 spectators weren't enough, even the dogs had their day in the limelight with dock dog jumping competitions and trail races. Mazzy, our 1.5 year old cattle dog, pulled off a coup d'etat of sorts and outlasted the competition in the Rocky Dog 5K race straight up and down Vail Resorts switchbacks. Mazz even snuck in a few dives into the creeks along the way to cool her afterburners on a warm Teva Games morning with me in tow. My Keen A86 new issue trail racing flats handled the loose mountain trail terrain like a pro and at a slim 9 ounces with lots of retro flashy appeal, I think Keen is onto a winner. Trailrunner magazine agrees with me! The Mazz and I finished a smooth 3rd overall in the 5k to top off a great mountain weekend and Heather snuck in an age group placing as well. .Here's the Mazz strutt'n through town with her medal...does it get any better than this dog lovers?

See you all back on the river and trails with 3 more mountain festivals in the next 4 weeks!