(Vail, Colo.)--Over the past 11 years, Mother Nature has thrown every manner of curve ball at the organizers of the Teva Mountain Games—from sinkholes and snowstorms, to floods and fires. This past winter, as every skier in Colorado knows, left the state with a historically low snowpack, resulting in unseasonably low water conditions for the Teva Mountain Games, taking place May 31-June 3. While organizers remain hopeful all the events will take place as planned, the whitewater SUP, kayaking, and rafting competitions have been listed as tentative with a final race status decision scheduled for May 29.
“Last year at this time we were snowblowing singletrack for our mountain bike and trail running racers because it was such a snowy winter and spring—this year it’s completely the opposite,” says Mike Imhof, vice president of sales and operations at the Vail Valley Foundation, which produces both the summer and winter Teva Mountain Games. “We have our fingers crossed that there’ll be enough water to run the whitewater competitions, but our first concern is always the safety of the competitors.”
The whitewater kayaking is scheduled to start on Thursday, May 31, with the Bud Light Lime Steep Creek Championships on Homestake Creek outside of Red Cliff, Colorado. Vail Valley Foundation whitewater expert, Charlie Ebel, explains that, “Homestake Creek is currently running at 100 CFS (cubic feet per second) and we’ve run that race at levels as low as 27 CFS. I think we have yet to see the peak flow for the season and I’m pretty confident we’ll be able to make this race happen. It’s amazing how the paddlers can navigate even the smallest flows on the creek and it’ll still be super exciting to watch.”
Similar to the Steep Creek Championships, the Vail Valley Foundation is confident the Down River Sprint, the 8 Ball Kayak Sprint and the Teva Raft Cross on Gore Creek through Vail Village can still be raced as planned, though some changes to the courses may be necessary.
The SUP races at the Teva Mountain Games, including the Maui Jim SUP Sprint and SUPCross presented by C4 Waterman, present a larger challenge for the organizers. SUP boards have fins that can easily rip off or snag in shallow water and falling onto rocks is a saftety concern for racers. “Gore Creek is running at 170 CFS today and we agree that’s probably too low for safe SUP races,” says Ebel. “Of course, the water level could worsen or become more favorable in the next two weeks.”
Lastly, the Kayak Freestyle event, which takes place in the Vail Whitewater Park, is listed as tenative. The Vail Whitewater Park features specially designed baffles that can be adjusted to maximize the whitewater play feature or ‘hole’ for kayakers. However, if flows stay below 200 CFS, hosting a rodeo will be challenging.
In the case that any of the Teva Mountain Games whitewater events are canceled, all registrants will receive a full refund on their registration fees. Should low water levels warrant a change in start and/or finish lines in a given event, the cash purse awarded to winners will remain the same.
While the conditions are less than ideal for some of the Teva Mountain Games whitewater events, the dry spring has allowed for early construction of the mountain bike and trail running racecourses, both of which are in great condition now. Athletes from around the world will be coming to the Teva Mountain Games to compete in 24 different races over the course of the four-day festival.
Complementing the full slate of athletic competitions, the Teva Mountain Games also features free concerts including Keller Williams, DJ Juggy and The Expendables, in addition to a free film series and retail, expo and demo areas showcasing the newest products from countless outdoor brands. The 11th annual Teva Mountain Games are sure to be as thrilling and fun-filled as ever.
Stay tuned for an official announcement on the status of the whitewater events on May 29.
The 2012 Teva Mountain Games is a project of the Vail Valley Foundation. For more information on the Teva Mountain Games, visit www.tevamountaingames.com. Follow Teva Mountain Games on Facebook and @TevaMtnGames on Twitter.