Little ripper, going big: Alex Mason at the Teva Games. Photo: Teva Mountain Games
Competitive slacklining. If that sounds like an oxymoron, you must not have been in Vail this past weekend, when the sport made its debut at the annual Teva Summer Mountain Games. No one brought his A-game more than Alex Mason, a 14-year-old wunderkind from southern California who edged out big-name rivals, including Japan’s Gappai Osug; reigning world champ Michael Payton, 24; and wild man “Sketchy” Andy Lewis, 25, to win Teva’s inaugural Gibbon Games event.
Slacklining, in case you’ve been in a cave for the past year, entails balancing on a narrow, flexible piece of webbing that’s rigged a couple of feet off the ground between trees or other stable anchors. It was born in the 1970s, when bored climbers in cut-off jeans and weeks-old beards, looking for something to do on their days off, tied their climbing ropes between trees in Yosemite Valley and tried to walk them without falling off. Since then, it has evolved from a dirtbag’s fringe hobby into, well, a flashy halftime show at the Super Bowl (see Andy Lewis’s performance with Madonna earlier this year) and the extreme sport of choice on late-night talk shows (check out Mason on Conan O’Brien and Payton on Carson Daly). Athletes now wow crowds with freestyle jumps, acrobatic flips, and tricks, not to mention sheer vertical: High liners like Lewis and Dean Potter routinely rig their lines hundreds of feet off the deck.
Duggan becomes the national champion. Photo: Casey B. Gibson.
Liquigas-Cannondale racer Timmy Duggan didn't enter last week's U.S. National Championship road race as a heavy favorite, but he proved that the odds don't always matter. By wresting the win from an elite breakaway the hard-working American earned the right to don the stars and stripes for the coming year.
Duggan rode a gutsy and tactically savvy race. After making the early split then nearly getting caught out by the back-to-back attacks of Tejay Van Garderen and Tom Danielson on the final ascent of Paris Mountain, Duggan clawed his way back to the four-man break, slipped away during a lull, and powered to the finish solo. He crossed the line nearly half a minute up on the splintered field to take the biggest victory of his career. The achievement is all the more impressive when you consider that he and his Liquigas-Cannondale teammate Ted King were a two-man team up against powerful 11-man squads like Garmin-Barracuda.
Big air, bigger views kick off this weekend in Vail. Photo: Teva Mountain Games
With long days and warm nights, summer is festival season. But if you want more from your weekend than sitting on your butt on a blanket, swilling beer, and listening to live music, check out these 10 family-friendly outdoor festivals that put the emphasis on adventure.
Summer Teva Mountain Games Vail, Colorado; May 31-June 2 Stand-up paddleboarding, mud running, freestyle mountain biking, and slacklining are just a few of the events on tap this weekend in Vail at what’s arguably the standard-setter for summer sports festivals. The mountain mash-up attracts elite athletes, local die-hards, and weekend warriors from across the country—and the mix is what keeps it fresh. Kids can take a shot at any of the events, but the youth bouldering contest and XC bike race breed are where the next generation of rippers can be found. Plus: adventure flicks, gear demos, free yoga, casting clinics, and big-air contests for dogs round out the action. www.tevamountaingames.com.
If you watched the Amgen Tour of California, you might have seen a catchy advertisement from Spy Optics that pitted outgoing U.S. national road racing champ Matthew Busche against freestyle rider Mike Montgomery. The ad starts with footage of Busche racing down an asphalt road before cutting, as if we're going inside Busche's head, to scenes of what looks like Busche doing tricks and flips on a jump course. In fact, that's Montgomery (dressed up to look like the road race champ) doing all the stunts.
With the ESPN X Games and the Teva Mountain Games, we've gotten used to seeing athletes with more skill than fear pulling physics-defying stunts. But the sight of a biker doing doubles and backflips on a production-model road bike is still a bit breathtaking. Which is probably why Spy decided to release this behind-the-scenes documentary, with even more stupefying footage.