The water can see through to the bones
RED CLIFF – When a paddler launches into the water with the wrong attitude, Nikki Kelly says, the river will find out.Kelly, of New Zealand, won Thursday’s Teva Mountain Games women’s extreme race on Homestake Creek. She, like the rest of the pro paddlers taking on the quarter mile of steep and narrow water near Red Cliff, has tackled much larger, stronger and faster waters in her boating career. But the multitude of rocks, drops and technical lines make the course one that can get under one’s skin, or at least put a few bruises on it.”This is a really hard, manky piece of water that no one really likes, to be honest,” said Kelly, who won the women’s race in a two-run combined time of 4 minutes flat, and maintained her status as women’s champion after last year’s victory.
“It’s really horrible to paddle,” she said of the course. “It’s really boney. You break your paddles. People hurt themselves. … It’s this funny balance. When you’re on it, it’s actually really good. But when you’re looking at it, you’re like (vomiting noise). When you run it and hit it clean, it’s great. But, you have to be a little conservative. You can’t race full tilt, because you can really hurt yourself. “You definitely have to have a good attitude, no matter what you do. Because if you have a bad attitude, this is going to kick your … It’s all karma. If you’re attitude is negative, you deserve to be spanked.”If the unmistakable sound of plastic hitting rock is any indication, many racers did get spanked Thursday. “Waterfall champion” Tao Berman claimed a win for the men, with the fastest combined time all day of 3 minutes, 33 seconds and the fastest single-run time of 1:42.82. Pat Keller, the 2003 Teva Games extreme creek champion who was a little less than three seconds behind Berman after the first run, made up two full seconds in his second run to take second in 3:34.”The first time, I was out to win that round so I could have something to work with and run it a little more conservative the second time,” Berman said. “I just had to play it safe. This is actually one of the more difficult courses I’ve ever raced on. It’s so boney and technical, it makes for so many opportunities to hit one rock wrong and lose the race. I’ve raced on stuff that looks much bigger and more spectacular than this, but with easier lines to hit. This race course isn’t really beneficial to the strongest paddler. It’s most beneficial to the paddler with the cleanest lines.”
Every extreme has a close callThe closest call of the day lost the race for Jay Kincaid, who took the drop before the final Leap of Faith section nearing the finish of his first run and lost his boat. Racers said the drop required some very fine-tuned maneuvering involving speed checking and twisting in the air. When Kincaid hit the foam at the bottom of the drop, his kayak was pinned under the rush of water and he shot out of it before the pressure of the water could pin him in. He said it was the first time in eight years that he’s had to exit his boat. It took safety crews about 10 minutes to dislodge his kayak, which, thankfully, was pinned right-side up. The drop sent several ensuing racers upside down and into forced rolls. Kincaid, unscathed but inevitably dead last, insisted on doing his second run.
South African paddler Steve Fisher ended his second run prematurely when he broke his paddle on a rock, and a couple other racers lost control and were forced sideways into the banks.Eric Jackson took third Thursday with a time of 3:41; Andrew Holcombe was hot on his tail to finish fourth in 3:42; and John Grace took fifth in 3:45.On the women’s side, Tanya Faux finished second behind Kelly in 4:12; Robin Betz was third in 4:25; Shannon Carroll (4:47) took fourth; and Eleanor Perry (5:02) finished fifth.Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or email@example.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User