Scroll to the bottom of the page for more photos from Saturday’s big air and best bike trick competitions.
Saturday was an action-packed day in Vail, Colorado for the second day of competition at the inaguaral Winter Teva Mountain Games. It began at 7:30 a.m. with ski mountaineering, and wrapped up under the lights that night with a mountain bike and telemark skiing big air competition.
Despite the cold, the snowy slope at Golden Peak was packed for the big air competitions with beer and the tunes of DJ Mo:Rockin keeping them comfortable. On wheels and skis, the athletes delivered a thrilling performance off the 70-foot jump with a belching fireball on the knuckle.
Chad Kagy—a BMX rider competing in his first mountain bike competition ever—topped the field of 10 bikers, winning best trick with a huge back flip. “It was awesome, hopefully this happens again because it was a good time,” he said. “This is my first time snowboarding and my first time riding a bike in the snow. Next time I’ll dress a little more appropriately—my toes are frozen.” Mike Montgomery took second, and Sam Pilgrim was third. The bikers drew roars from the crowds with big airs and spectacular crashes.
It was a similar story for the tele skiers, who delivered competition firsts for the crowd. Christopher Ewart won with a double front flip, and the Beaver Creek local was greeted by girls in sports bras screaming his name. “We just wanted to get out there and stomp tricks,” Ewart said. “I had absolutely no idea I was going to even place tonight. I’m extremely surprised I even made it on the podium.” Jeremy Clark didn’t quite nail his double rodeo 1080, but the audacity of the trick earned him second place. Kjell Ellefson was third with a switch misty 9.
That morning, while most people were waking up and heading for the lifts, 130 skimo racers were off and climbing. For the elite field, the route began at Vail’s Lionshead base area and went out to the back bowls and Blue Sky Basin for a total distance of 20 miles and 8,000 feet of climbing.
The men’s race was a close-fought battle, with Marshall Thomson of Crested Butte, Colorado crossing the line at 4:04:07, just two seconds ahead of Bryan Wickenhauser, from Gunnison, Colorado. Brian Smith, also from Gunnison, was hot on their tails, finishing in 4:04:17. For the women, it was a duel between champions. Sari Anderson, the U.S. National Champion, and Janelle Smiley, the North American National Champion, were close all day before Anderson, from Carbondale, Colorado pulled ahead for the win in 4:17:57. Crested Butte’s Smiley finished in 4:22:20, and Stevie Kremer took third with a time of 4:45:53.
Other events kept the crowds entertained through the afternoon, including a boot race (rear-entry ski boots and fancy dress encouraged) around the village and a dual slalom bike race that saw Vermont’s Kyle Ebbett beat New Jersey’s Aaron Chase in the final. A cross-country snowshoe race rounded out the endurance events.
In the on-snow bike crit, Colorado’s finest cross-country riders spun laps around Golden Peak in a blur of spandex and fat tires. Racers had 40 minutes to notch as many laps as possible. Mitch Hoke, from Boulder, won the men’s race, and two men from Avon, Colorado, Jake Wells and Jay Henry, took second and third. Boulder’s Judy Freeman took the women’s title, with Avon’s Gretchen Reese and Gunnison’s Eszter Horanyi rounding out the podium. A cross-country snowshoe race rounded out the endurance events.
The Vail Uphill, a footrace covering two miles and 2,200 feet of climbing, will determine the Ultimate Mountain Challenge winners today. Sari Anderson and Brian Smith are in the lead for that title. —Olivia Dwyer / Photos by Johnathan Greenham