The GoPro Mountain Games are the country’s largest celebration of adventure sports, art and music Professional and amateur athletes from around the world converge upon the mountains and rivers of Vail to compete in nine sports and 25 disciplines for more than $100,000 in prize money. This year I got the chance to go compete in the freestyle kayaking rodeo. There were athletes from all around the world. Athletes ranged from the United States, Mexico, Canada, France, and Switzerland.
The first kayaking competition at the Mountain Games was the Coors Light Steep Creek Race. Which took place on the famous Homestake Creek in Red Cliff, Colorado. The competition was about 50 of the world’s strongest whitewater kayakers against each other in a race to see who could clear the Class 5+ whitewater rapids in the fastest time. The paddlers’ main focus has always been navigating the course quickly and efficiently, but this year, due to an extraordinary amount of water pouring down the river, there was plenty of emphasis on simply making it down in one piece.
Later in the day was the freestyle kayaking rodeo in down town Vail. Each kayaker has a timed run to throw his/hers best cartwheels, loops, tricky-wu’s, phonics monkeys, space godzilla’s and more in an attempt to impress the judges and the crowd for the highest combined score. Each competitor will have two 1 minute runs to use their skills and athleticism in the park to try and score the most points possible.
The women went first with about 15 competitors. There were 3 heats and each heat had 5 women and I was in the first heat. Then it was my turn to go into the feature, and since we are in 8,000 ft of elevation and the water in 33 degrees it is very difficult to flip and flop around for one minute straight. I ended up coming in 11th place and just barely missing the cut into semi-finals.
There is this competition called Docs Dogs Big Air Competition. This was the coolest event at the Mountain Games. The easiest way to imagine a Dock Dogs Outdoor Big Air competition is to think of it as the long jump in track and field, but for dogs. The dog sprints down the dock runway, leaping off the end as its master throws the dog’s favorite toy out in front and landing in water. The canine with the longest measured distance wins.
My trip to Colorado was an amazing experience. I met so many of my role models, and made many new friends. I plan to go back next year and do the entire Colorado circuit and compete in all of the completion around the state of Colorado, and hopefully go to Idaho too. I recommend just going to go to the GoPro Mountains Games even if you’re not a competitor. It’s a great experience, and you get to watch all of the events of the Mountain Games and even learn about new events that you never would have thought existed.
Hope to paddle you on the water,