Nick Troutman in the play park hole during the Teva Mountain Games' kayak freestyle prelims Friday. Photo: Tim Mutrie

By Tim Mutrie

The Kayak Freestyle semifinals are on tap for later this morning on Gore Creek at the 10th annual Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colo. Yesterday saw Kayak Freestyle qualifying and Thursday was the Steep Creek Championship, on Homestake Creek, where two paddlers—Mike Dawson and Honza Lasko—tied down to one-hundredth of a second for first place, and that after two runs down the quarter-mile (or so) stretch of whitewater. Both paddlers finished with a combined time of 3:34.62. (See results below.)

Meanwhile, yesterday, C&K caught up with defending world freestyle champ, Nick Troutman, following his second prelim run at the play park hole in Vail (note: next week, Troutman will defend his title across the pond):

Apart from the dead-heat draw for first among the men in the Steep Creek race, one lingering storyline is that Tao Berman did not win… for the first time this season or last season. Berman, who is expecting a baby girl, Violet, in two months, with his girlfriend, Jamie, was on hand—but not competing—during Friday’s Kayak Freestyle qualifying.

“I was trying to have an undefeated season, but that just came to an end, and I ended up having my worst showing in five years,” says Berman, who had won four races this spring coming into the Teva Mountain Games. “I got caught in a hole, ended up seventh.”

“It’s always disappointing when it comes to an end. But congrats to Dawson”—who had the fastest single-run time—”for a super-fast run,” Berman continues. “Mountain Games really attracts the fastest paddlers in the world, and you have to put together two perfect runs to win.”

Tao Berman's undefeated streak in creek races ended Thursday at the Mountain Games, but he was on hand Friday taking in the kayak freestyle prelins creekside. Photo: Tim Mutrie

On another note, Berman did win the Mountain Games’ pull-up contest yesterday—he did 41 pull ups (down from 44 last year). Berman is also involved in prepping for his Red Bull-sponsored “Big Wave Project”—a scheme to surf kayak the biggest wave. “It’s on standby now, waiting for the right swell,” he says, noting the exact swell locale has not yet been identified.

Friday – Men’s Kayak Freestyle Qualifying (pdf)
Friday – Women’s Kayak Freestyle Qualifying (pdf)
Thursday – Steep Creek Championship (pdf)