Vail river festival not just for paddlers |

Vail river festival not just for paddlers

Jason Starr

The Vail Whitewater Festival has grown up. In this its ninth year, the annual Memorial Day Weekend event has been renamed the Teva Mountain Games and will include running, climbing and biking competitions in addition to the traditional paddling events.

“It’s the first year with these new events, so it will be interesting,” said Scott Ritter, manager of Alpine Kayak in Avon. “People will come to see their events, but they’ll be watching everything else as well.”

There will be a lot to watch, and a lot to compete in. The paddling events begin Friday with preliminaries of the kayak rodeo starting at 6 p.m. at the Gore Creek venue in Vail Village. Action at Gore Creek will heat up Saturday and Sunday, when the rodeo continues and an eight-paddler-per-heat downriver sprint competition begins.

Rafters will also get involved Saturday with an obstacle course race on Gore Creek that involves gates, a throw-bag toss and a capsizing component.

The venue switches to the Eagle River on Sunday at Dowd Chute, near the Minturn exit of Interstate 70. There, rafters and kayakers will compete in a paddlecross, with heats of three and four boats barreling down Class IV water – first one down wins.

This is all standard whitewater festival fare. What’s different this year is the trail running, trial biking and dyno-climbing contests.

The eight-mile trail run starts at 9 a.m. Saturday and follows undulating terrain on Vail Mountain. The bike trials – where cyclists hop, jump and skip over obstacles – start Friday and continue Saturday in Vail Village. Usually riders go one-by-one in trials riding, but this weekend’s event will follow a head-to-head, elimination format, which promoters think is better for spectators.

The climbing event – called dyno climbing – was definitely created with spectators in mind. It will take place on a climbing wall in Vail, and involves sport climbers making one-time lunges to hand-holds that are assigned different point values.

“It’s like what rodeo has done for kayaking,” said event spokesman Joel Heath of Untraditional Marketing in Vail. “It’s taken the more dynamic, spectator-friendly aspect of the sport and put it into competition.”

Registration will be available all weekend. Go to for more information.

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