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The opening event for the Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado was the Boatercross at Dowd Chutes on the Eagle River. This event has been a paddlers’ favorite with no lack of excitement!

The first trial is a 4 minute downriver sprint, with 2 minutes of class 1-2 whitewater into 2 minutes of class 3-4 whitewater at the end. In the Class 3-4 section, there are 4 buoys that must be negotiated and make things interesting with only one person on the course. The purpose of the time trial is to pare down the field to a reasonable number for the head to head action. For the women the top 8 made the cut, for the men it was the top 16.

After the time trial the racers were set up in groups of 4 with a mass start BACKWARDS! Watching 4 people go from backwards to front wards in a narrow river and then sprint full speed for the first buoy on river left is an incredible sight! First off the buoys are only 3 feet off the bank and a kayak is 2 feet wide making it impossible to get more than one kayak through the small space at once. The locations of the buoys were intentionally set to slow down anyone intending to negotiate it. What this means is that 4 people will all be piling in on each other in the first buoy, then the second and so on. It is like American Gladiators but in kayaks and with the speed of a class 3-4 river and top athletes.

In my races; I was 3rd in the time trial but didn’t have a great race. In the first head to head race I was really fast in the start and had Pat Keller on my side into the first gate and his bow ended up in my armpit but couldn’t get by me in the first gate. I headed him off and had a fast race to the finish to take the win and move on into the finals with Pat second but out of the race (only the winner moves on)

In the finals race in the women’s class it was crazy when Tanya Faux and Shannon Carroll battled for the 2nd place spot for the bottom half of the course while Nikki Kelley took the lead from the start. With a crazy finish Shannon Carroll took the silver while Tanya took the bronze.

In the Men’s class it was Tao Berman, Todd Baker, Jason Beakes, and myself. The start was very even and I managed a slight lead after about 40 seconds but was pushing a bad position for the first gate to stay in the lead against Jason and Tao (I was on the far left (outside of the turn)). I backed off hoping that they would miraculously pull in behind me but didn’t, of course. I went into the first gate in 3rd place with Todd Baker just behind me. Both Tao and Jason got tangled trying to push through the gate together and were also pushing the gate all around (buoy). I managed to get my bow on the inside (between them and the buoy) and was coming in hot enough to just pile into Jason’s boat and deflect off of him to make the critical turn and then take a big stroke over his bow to get in and out of the gate without stopping and passing both of them in one of my best boatercross passes. I took advantage of the 10 medium paced strokes that I took in place of their 10 hard ones and accelerated ahead by more than a boat length and ran the rest of the course as fast as I could to stay clear of the potential traffic and made it to the finish line first.

After all was said and done, Tao got second and Jason third and Todd Baker 4th. Jason actually finished behind me but both him and Todd ran the buoy over instead of going around it getting a penalty that neither Tao or I got.

We got sweet carhart jackets and some cash for prizes! Awesome!

Whew! That was exciting and tiring, but incredible to do. Tomorrow is the Homestake Extreme Race where I have a 3rd and a 2nd from the last two years but no 1st.