Tao is on a tear.
Fresh off a Class V creek race victory on the South St. Vrain at the Lyons Games a week earlier, His Berman-ness also laid claim to a win at the Dagger Steep Creek Championships on Homestake Creek, kicking off the Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colo. Berman’s two-run of 03:41.51 bested second-place finisher Todd Anderson by nearly three seconds.
But Anderson didn’t make it easy. After the first run, Anderson was ahead of Berman by 1.5 seconds, meaning the pressure was on. “Usually I go into races in first place after the first run,” says Berman, “but my first run wasn’t that good and Todd was ahead. But it was fun to go into the second run knowing I had to win.”
Tao’s blistering second run of 1:49 (which he prophetically called out at the start) was nearly three seconds faster than his first run, giving him the win. “It’s hard to put together two perfect lines on that course,” he says.
Berman adds that the levels didn’t necessarily help him. While Vail Resorts secured a release to ensure 100 cfs on the rock-strewn course, that wasn’t an issue as near-record snowfall brought the flow up to 180, nearly 80 higher than in previous years. Mother Nature even continued adding to the tally on race day, as cold rain and drizzle greeted the 58 men and 8 women competitors at the 10:30 a.m. seal-launch start.
“It’s easier for me at lower water,” he says. “It requires you to be in better shape and have better lines, which are my strengths.”
Not everyone had good lines. True to form, there was plenty of carnage the shole day through. Kicking things off out of the gates were Pyranha’s Josh Bechtel and Jared Seiler, who pitoned off the starting launch pad. Then women’s current freestyle world champion
Ruth Gordon suffered a rock-banging swim.
Causing the most consternation was Leap of Faith, an ugly Class V with line-tweaking rocks, tight slots and meaty holes. And competitors had to stay focused on their liens rather than looking up at John Grace hanging from a rope above while filming the event for Lunch Video magazine.
As for Berman, all has to do next is survive the notorious Eight Ball event on Gore Creek, and Hobie the Human Missile. “They’re usually all gunning for me so I get taken out first,” says Berman, who afterwards is planning to fly home to take some time off.
Mens Final Results
1. Tao Berman – 0:03:41.51
2. Todd Anderson – 0:03:44.69
3. Andrew Holcombe – 0:03:44.81
4. Geoff Calhoun – 0:03:47.46
5. Pat Keller – 0:03:48.20
Womens Final Results