I had never heard of the Teva Mountain Games prior to looking up the Subaru Trek Mountain Bike Team’s schedule. It was an event in which the team was entering riders, so I looked up the website for the games. The listed competitions were intriguing; it seemed like extreme games for outdoor sports. So I headed to Vail to cover the Subaru Trek Mountain Bike Team, knowing my experience would stretch beyond the trails.
By the time I arrived on Friday, the dog events were already in motion. The big air wave competition was the first one for dogs. All weekend locals commented that they had never seen so many dogs around. Owners brought dogs as spectators and participants. Besides the big air wave, there were dog events for speed retrieval and vertical jump.
The slopestyle bike competition took place later on Friday. Extreme riders started on the lower part of the mountain and dropped into a series of jumps, performing flips and other tricks that were judged for a score. The second-to-last rider attempted a double flip on his final jump and came up short. I thought I had just witnessed him snapping his neck. I later learned he had suffered only a concussion.
Slopestyle was followed by the same riders competing in the big air competition. Their last jumps were measured by height and by trick height, which was measured by height marked on a pole above the final jump. Instead of scores, cash prizes were awarded for jumping including highest air, highest air doing a flip, and even lowest air.
Saturday revolved around the cross-country mountain bike race, featuring Subaru Trek riders Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Heather Irmiger. The 20-mile race resulted in Jeremy winning the men’s race and Heather coming in fourth in the women’s race. Read more about the event here.
Following the mountain-bike race, I headed to an area called “the hole” to watch freestyle kayaking. It’s an event in which riders score points for tricks that they perform in their kayaks while keeping them in a small part of the river where the water swirled. Spectators lined up three-deep on the International Bridge, trying to get a glimpse of the women’s competition.
The International Bridge also was the spot for the 8 ball kayak race. Kayakers wearing black 8 ball jerseys positioned themselves on the side of Gore Creek. As another group of kayakers raced to the finish line, they were attacked by the 8 balls, who tried to knock the second group out of competition. It was survival of the luckiest to make it to the finish line.
As if that weren’t enough action, the kayakers were followed by raft cross. The rafters floated down the river in groups on two to three and had to circle a red-and-white striped stick. Doing well in this event was based on strategy, timing, luck, and staying in the raft.
I ended the weekend with surf cross, which had groups of paddle boarders racing down the river. Their route included making to a touch point and under bridges. Surfers had to be in control of their board when crossing the line for the finish to count.
It was an amazing weekend filled with extreme adventure sports and packed with so much exciting competitions that every spectator could fill their day. I even made a new friend, my cousin’s dog Gus.
View more images from the 2011 Teva Mountain Games.