Jackson (Eric) makes his call | SummitDaily.com
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Jackson (Eric) makes his call

Chris Freud
Eagle County correspondent
Preston Utley/Vail DailyBen Guska of Glenwood Springs tucks his head before he flips his Kayak over during the Teva Mountain Games Saturday in Vail.
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VAIL ” During Eric Jackson’s first run during Saturday’s Teva Mountain Games’ pro rodeo kayaking semifinals, the announcer predicted that Jackson was setting up for a McNasty.

Jackson yelled at the announcer, “Back loop,” and promptly stuck his maneuver in the hole in Gore Creek.

Jackson was calling his shots all day and cruised into today’s finals with the top score of 97 points, followed by Dustin Urban (83.5) and Jay Kincaid (78).

While calling his shots definitely was a crowd pleaser and likely played well to the judges, there was actually another strategy involved for Jackson.

“Actually, it’s a little mental strategy for myself,” he said. “It keeps me from having a broad external focus, meaning in order to call the move out I’ve got to call the move out to other than someone myself. So, I look up at somebody on the bridge and say ‘Air loop, back loop, whatever.’ That gives me focus, which makes it easier to spot the wave and then do the move.”

Jackson stuck plenty of moves with two air loops, right and left cartwheels, an airwheel, the aforementioned back loop and ended with a pose with his kayak and back stood up against the International Bridge.

But today’s finals at 12:30 p.m. will be a new day and Jackson will have plenty of competition from Urban and Kincaid. Urban rode his first run conservatively and then really let it hang out on the second.

“I was really psyched on that second ride. It’s pretty hard to stay in the hole, doing loops at this level,” the Sedgwick, Maine, native said. “So, I was psyched with that big leap that I got. I heard that 15-second buzzer, so I went for the McNasty. I kind of came through.”

He came through a tough pack of 10 to qualify as did Kincaid. He put on a technical clinic with a sequence of splits, cartwheels and loops.

“I just had a list in my mind of all the moves I wanted to do in a specific order and I went out and was pretty successful in doing that,” he said. “Some places you really psych yourself up, get yourself really amped up before you ride. You want to be really fast. In this place, I always try to keep calm.”

While Jackson is a competitor this weekend at the Teva Games, he’s also a proud spectator. His children, Emily and Dane, are also competing in this weekend’s pro rodeo.

“(Dane) will be kicking my butt before I know what’s up. Same goes for Emily,” Eric joked. “They’ll be my coach before I know it.”

That statement could be awfully prophetic. Emily Jackson, 15, punched her ticket to today’s finals with the top score for the women with 41 points. She’ll be joined by Australian Tanya Faux (39 points) and Tanya Shuman (16).

Jackson proved her mettle with a nice second run. She started with a good roll and executed some solid cartwheels. She like many did get flushed out of the hole, but recovered well with a nifty rock side spin in the eddy.

Faux advanced in large part to her prowess in the hole. She held her position well, racking up technical points. The key to her success was a little R and R after three days of tough racing at the Teva Mountain Games.

“Yesterday, I paddled really poorly and I was pretty fatigued from a lot of the racing before, from the extreme trace and the paddlecross,” Faux said. “I decided to rest up and let my body recover from a pretty intense last three days. I just regathered myself.

“I was just ready. I was just fired up. I was ready to perform and ready to show what the Aussie spirit’s made up of. I’m happy. I’m proud and I’m psyched to have a good ride.”

Spectators at Saturday’s Teva Mountain Games East vs. West amateur rodeo finals could have been confused if they thought Cuba Gooding Jr. was in the house.

The West’s Darin Kellum was screaming, “Show me the money,” after the competition was over. And the $1,000 prize did go to the West in a battle between kayakers from the High Country and the Front Range.

The West’s Kasey Ankney, Kellum and Peter Benedict topped the East’s Maya Feuer, Eric Bissel and Reed Koeneke, 81-65.5 not only for the check, but for bragging rights.

” Dude, west side,” Ankney chirped. “… It was kind of funny. All the mountain people were old farts. It was old farts against the young bucks. Their oldest team member was 21 years old. I’m the youngest team member on our team and I’m 31. It was old-school-new school.”

With 10 inches of snow on Vail Mountain, Gore Creek was icier than usually, a major factor in the competition.

“I tried to keep my head above water a bit longer,” Kellum said. “I was under a lot during the first run and I got cold quick. I just tried to do a variety, try not to do the same thing twice. Some of the bigger tricks were loops. Some of the other guys pulled better ones. It’s all about trying.”

“It’s a super flushy feature,” Koeneke, an Arvada resident said. “My first run, I got four consecutive ends without resetting, so that was kind of nice. It’s just so flushy. I’ve been having a trouble linking more than three or four ends. I wanted to throw a McNasty, but I was so tired by the end of my second run I had no energy left to do it.”

Bissel, also of Arvada, had a tough first go of it, but laid down likely the best run for the East in his second try.

“No. 1, I actually got in the hole. I wasn’t able to make into the hole my first run because of my fantastic bridge splat,” he joked. “I just got in and got the spots I wanted to go and I managed to hit them.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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