Fresh from a win at the National Rafting Championships on the Arkansas River’s Royal Gorge, Vail, Colo.’s Team 8 Ball is looking to put teams from 40 other countries behind the eight ball at November’s World Rafting Championships in New Zealand.
After battling for the national title, the team reclaimed the responsibility to represent the USA at November’s World Championships, consisting of Sprint, Head-to Head, Slalom, and Downriver events. After several top 10 finishes, it’s pushing for the podium this time around Down Under.
“We’re well into our training for New Zealand,” says team captain Chris “Mongo” Reeder, adding that this year marks the retirement of 12-year-captain Mike Reid, who went out on top with a final win at Colorado’s Gore Canyon race. “There was some stiff competition at this year’s nationals. The Men’s division was a battle and we won a tie breaker for the victory.”
Indeed, the reigning women’s raft team was dethroned by The Red Ladies, who will be traveling to New Zealand to represent the USA.
As for Reid’s absence, he’ll be sorely missed, says Reeder, but it opened up a spot on the boat for fellow Coloradan Matt Norfleet. “He’s kind of Vikingesque and brings a ton of power to the left side of the boat,” says Reeder.
In front of Reeder on the right side of the boat will be brothers Seth and Jordan Kurt-Mason. Also on the team are John Mark Seelig and slalom specialist Andrew Bishop. “We have a great team this year,” says Reeder. “Seth is one of the most powerful paddlers in the world and has now moved up to the front of the boat, which should help a lot.”
“The current team is a little bigger and more powerful, which bodes well for Sprint events and Slalom can benefit as well,” he adds. “These are the disciplines we’ve agreed to target with our training. The team is looking strong and our chemistry seems great . Everyone works in a positive manor. I have faith we’re capable of coming home with some hardware.”
Sponsorship spots are still open for the team in its bid to represent the U.S., and can be received in cash, flight mile donations, housing donations, meals and expense donations and more. Click HERE (or call 970-306-8524).
For video of the USA vs. Brazil match from 2011, click HERE: