This year at the Teva Mountain Games (TMG) I placed 3rd in the freestyle and won the Big Trick contest with a huge, aerial version of my signature move the “Clean McNasty.” I also competed in bouldering for the first time, placing 3rd in the Men’s Intermediate Citizens’ Bouldering competition. It was a great weekend from a results perspective, but here’s why I’ll go back to TMG even if I stop competing there.
I love how the Teva Mountain Games are a celebration of mountains as multi-sport paradise. Since I moved to Buena Vista, Colorado full-time 5 years ago, I have fallen in love all the different ways of exploring this rugged landscape- particularly rock climbing and mountain biking. Kayaking, climbing and biking provide such different ways of interacting with the elements and exploring my environment, and by pursuing all three, each activity stays fresh and exciting. If I’m bored with one, I pick another that day and find another angle on that joy and inspiration that I get from outdoor adventure.
So I love coming together with the top athletes in these sports to showcase these incredible activities and the mountains that make them possible.
There is a hilarious role reversal which I experience when I run into the top climbers in the world in Vail. I have become really passionate about climbing, and so I look up to the Chris Sharmas and Daniel Woods of the climbing world. I remember when I was a young kayaker and looked up to, even idolized the pros. And it was a great life lesson getting to know pro kayakers and learn that they’re just normal folks too. Becoming a top kayaker only reinforced this.
And yet there’s still this part of me that I almost laugh at when I run into a top climber… this star struck feeling of “should I say hi? If I did, what would I say? Should I tell him about me as a kayaker to level the playing field? That would seem conceited though…” Ridiculous, really. And an opportunity for awkwardness which I’m glad TMG provides.
So yes, I love that TMG hosts a World Cup bouldering event, and I had a killer time competing in the Citizens Bouldering. Having the opportunity to climb problems almost 20 feet tall, put up by the world’s best route setters was super fun. And I couldn’t help noticing the irony when suddenly I was being filmed and interviewed for the TV coverage of the event. Combine that with the announcer talking about how the 3rd place finisher in freestyle was “on the wall now,” and I may have blushed a bit. Sometimes I enjoy being “part of the pack” in a sport like climbing, being able to “fly under the radar.”
But it does make an interesting story, and the joy and thrill I get from kayaking, mountain biking and climbing are similar. I’m glad that TMG showcases the diversity of ways to find thrills and adventure in the mountains. And I’m even more glad to being living in multi-sport paradise.