Seas of spectators were on hand in Day three of action at the GoPro Mountain Games. Besides one passing rain shower, which only served to delight the Volvo Mountain Mud Runners, weather was stellar.
Check out the video highlight reel of Day three HERE.
See full results HERE.
Here’s what went down:
Coors Light Down River Kayak Sprint
For a lot of folks, the idea of waking at sunrise to paddle a three-mile whitewater kayak race, followed by a three-mile downriver stand-up paddle (SUP) race, then a hyper-technical whitewater SUP skills contest and finally a pro freestyle kayak rodeo, all before dinner, might feel just a little too ambitious.
For Dane Jackson, it felt like just another Saturday at the GoPro Mountain Games.
The 22-year-old from Tennessee was essentially a one-man team in whitewater paddling competition on Gore Creek in Vail on Saturday, finishing fifth among the field of 48 men in the Coors Light Down River Kayak Sprint, 11th in the Coors Light SUP Sprint and third in the inaugural GoPro SUP Skills Invitational before winning his third Coors Light Kayak Freestyle championship in three years.
His only complaint? Not enough hours in the day.
“It was a fun day and a lot of fun events, but tomorrow there’s still more to come,” Jackson said before trading his contest bib for a clean shirt to take in the after dark entertainment, which included a max-capacity crowd for the FREE Bonfire DUB and Stephen Marley show at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. “I’m just bummed I missed the Onewheel race, which unfortunately was happening at the same time as the kayak freestyle.”
Jackson only needed one attempt in the freestyle feature at the Vail Whitewater Park to post the top score of 1,276.67 points with a dizzying combination of spins and big aerials highlighted by a massive front flip with a 270-degree twist known as a “McNasty.” Upping the difficulty, he did the trick without the assistance of paddle, or “clean.” Despite several high-flying tricks of their own, second-place finisher Greg Parker of Denver and third-place finisher Hunter Katich of Auburn, AL, never got within 250 points of Jackson.
“It’s all fun,” said Jackson, crediting the raucous crowd of spectators for helping energize his effort. “I love each of the events, but freestyle finals is my favorite one because it’s such a cool stadium-like atmosphere around the hole and it’s just so much fun.”
Fellow Jackson Kayaks team member Claire O’hara of Great Britain topped the women’s freestyle kayak competition for her third time at the Mountain Games as well, dialing in the rapidly rising runoff for a score of 380 points on her second of three rides in the finals.
“The feature was massively different on every minute of every run today,” O’hara said. “So it truly was ‘freestyle.’ You had to respond to the changes in the wave and have the ability to adapt in the moment.”
Adriene Levknecht of Greenville, SC, was second among the women (353.33) and Erin Clancey of Anacortes, WA, was third with 253.33.
IFSC Climbing World Cup
The largest climbing event to land in the U.S. year-round, the international field made a strong case as to how humans are such close genetic relatives to monkeys. Colorado’s own Megan Mascarenas, an 18-year-old Valedictorian at her high school, came off with a decisive victory among the women for her second year straight. She said the problems were easier this year than last year (although nobody in the mass audience would call the sets of tiny nubs and plates anything close to easy). On Saturday, she was the only woman to make it up the walls in all four rounds, something which nobody on the men’s side could manage. Round 4’s wall on the men’s side looked particularly impossible, with completely rounded, orb-like features that even Spiderman would have struggled with. Japan’s Kokoro Fujii, who crawled up Wall No. 1 like a boss while all the other men failed to make it to top, walked away with the victory.
EverBank Half Marathon: The Vail Pass Kicker
The 13.7 miles of this all-uphill half marathon took runners nearly 3,000 vertical feet up to the summit of Vail Pass. Even cars struggle along this route. But Boulderite Andy Wacker, who finished third last year, nabbed the win on Saturday, maintaining an average breakneck pace of 6 minute, 20 second miles for a total time of 1:26.53, beating second place Josh Eberly by more than three minutes. Vail’s own Rachel Viele ran away with the women’s race, winning in 1:51.44, nearly seven minutes faster than next up Amy Smith … but both made the haul faster than the majority of the men’s field. However, it must be noted that 19-year-old Tayte Pollman of the US Junior Mountain Running Team put on a good show with his 1:37.49 finish.
Coors Light Down River Kayak Sprint
Paddlers agreed that the bank-full river flow on Gore Creek set the stage for ideal racing conditions as British slalom kayaking ace Joe Morley dug just deep enough to pull out a 3-second victory over Isaac Levinson of White Salmon, WA, in the Coors Light Down River Kayak Sprint on Saturday. Morley’s winning time of 16:23.85 was 7.86 seconds faster than fellow Brit Phil Mitchell of York, England, who finished third.
Wildwater race veteran Jana Freeburn of Durango blitzed the course in 16:57.10 for the women’s kayak sprint victory over Adriene Levknecht in 17:01.44 and Nicole Mansfield of Underwood, WA, in 17:15.31.
Coors Light SUP Sprint
In the stand-up version of the downriver race, Spencer Lacy, 24, of Boulder took his first Coors Light SUP Sprint title in three attempts, besting his Badfish SUP teammate Mike Tavares 17:52.37 to 17:55.44. Japanese 42-year-old Masayuki Takahata posted an impressive third-place time of 18:02.43.
Olympic kayak racing silver medalist Rebecca Giddens of Kernville, CA, blew away the women’s SUP Sprint field in 18:50.64. Second place went to relative newcomer Camille Swan of Spingville, UT, more than 47 seconds back (19:37.95). Ashley Bean of Carbondale, CO, was third in 19:53.15.
Tavares and Lacy swapped places on the podium for the inaugural GoPro SUP Skills Invitational after both men paddled perfect lines through the slalom course on Gore Creek, although Tavares finished just a bit faster. Dane Jackson also paddled the course cleanly, good enough for third in the wildly popular new event that drew a huge audience. Natali Zollinger was the top finisher among four female competitors, followed by Giddens.
EverBank XC Mountain Bike: The Season Shifter
For the first time in Mountain Games history, the XC bike race launched out of Lionshead, giving racers a little extra granny gear climbing right from the get go. Besides one mud hole, the course was dry and ranged from lung busted climbs to turny descents. In a déjà vu finish from last year’s race, Howard Grotts edged out Keegan Swenson for the pro men’s victory while reminiscent of the 2014 race, Erin Huck beat out Georgia Gould – who was also on the podium in Friday’s Enduro – for the win on the women’s side.
Raft and Ultimate River Challenge
The Shake and Bake rafting team of Joe Sialiano and John Ancito from Colorado stroked its way to victory in the Down River R2 Raft Sprint with a time of 19:04.27, besting their local rivals, Robert Prechtl and Jeremiah Williams from Team Chupacabra, in 19:20.93. The local Colorado combo of Brent Redden and Kurt Kincel finished third in 19:29.33, just ahead of Aspen/Snowmass teammates Charlie MacArthur and Connor Flynn in 19:36.41.
The third-place finish by Redden provided just enough padding for the Vail Valley firefighter to repeat as the Tudor Ultimate River Challenge Champion for the second straight year. Redden combined the raft race result with an eighth-place overall Kayak Sprint finish and fourth-place overall in the SUP Sprint for a total time of 54:27.98 in Saturday’s back-to-back-to-back races. MacArthur, 56, wasn’t far behind in 54:54.54, followed by Prechtl in 55:14.45.
Jenny MacArthur, Charlie’s wife, also retained her title as the women’s URC champion with a combined time of 59:48.13. Elaine Campbell of Readsboro, VT, was second in 1:00.31.
Seven men and three women made the final cut for the Costa 2-Fly X-Stream fly fishing competition, dropping casts from Vail’s International Bridge into a series of tricky targets to earn the opportunity to fish for the prize package awarded to the competitors who catch the most trout on Sunday.
Vail Valley local Michael Pukas posted the top score of 1,400 in the casting competition, and will be joined by Nate Bronson, Nick Ryska-Filipek, Troy Garner, Jeremy Sides, Cameron Garcia and Travis Ruiz on the water.
Audrey Wilson was top qualifier among the women, competing against Camille Egdorf and Kristen Sorensen in the women’s division on Sunday. Due to high, fast river flows, the competition will be moved to a sail-water venue, rather than the traditional river venue. Competitors are allowed to select two fly patterns and a total of six flies to fish with in the finals.
Volvo Mountain Mud Run
Flagrant hugs abounded from the mudrunners, evidenced by the hug-shaped sludge markings on the arms, backs and shoulders of random folks strolling around the scene. The kids in particular delighted in dousing themselves early and often, but the childlike sensation of being filthy was enjoyed by one and all in the afternoon mud races.