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The 15th annual GoPro Mountain Games ended as they always do on Sunday afternoon: In chaos.
Believe it or not, that’s by design, as the event’s trademark Coors Light 8-Ball Kayak Sprint closed out the four-day celebration of adventure sports, art and music with a good old-fashioned kayak demolition derby. Boats double as battering rams in this carnage-infused race where live “8-Balls” lurking in the eddies attempt to run interference.
Kayak Freestyle champion Dane Jackson managed to snake his way through the mayhem to claim first prize in the men’s race division, followed by British slalom specialist Joe Morley and 16-year-old Hayden Voorhees of Idaho, younger brother of Coors Light Steep Creek Championship race winner Alec Voorhees. Jenny Chrimes, also of England, won the women’s division, followed by Nicole Mansfield of Washington and Anna Bruno from Pennsylvania.
Oddly enough, the MVP (Most Valuable Paddler?) award for the event didn’t go any of the racers themselves, but to eight-year 8-Ball Chris Baer, the man who wreaked the most havoc on the river.
“I raced once and it turned out that wasn’t the best plan. So I figured I’d join the dark side,” Baer said. “I’ve never hurt anybody, but I’ve broken lots of egos. I think that’s what I’m there for.”
SUP Surf Cross
Contact is supposed to be incidental, but it’s virtually unavoidable in the stand-up paddle battle royale known as SUP Surf Cross. With heats of up to five stand-up paddlers jostling for position on the confined race course down Gore Creek, speed and board control made the difference for men’s champion Spencer Lacy of Boulder, CO, followed by Badfish SUP teammate Mike Tavares and Luke Hopkins of Blacksburg, VA, in a photo-finish for third place. Camille Swan of Utah won the women’s race over Olympic kayaking silver medalist Rebecca Giddens of California and Colorado local Nadia Almuti in third.
Costa 2 Fly XC-Stream fly fishing
High water levels in nearby rivers and streams played into the favor of Costa 2 Fly X-Stream Fishing competition winner Jeremy Sides of Golden. The on-water portion of the combined casting and fishing competition was moved to several nearby ponds, and the Team USA fly fisherman used his expertise as a still-water angler to a total of 38 fish, the largest measuring 18.5 inches, for the top score of 56.5 points. Troy Garner, at age 19, finished second with 31 fishing scoring 45.5 points and Mike Pukas was third with 24 fish totaling 44 points. The youngest finalist in Mountain Games history, 12-year-old Cameron Garcia of Ogden, UT, placed sixth with eight fish scoring 28 points.
In the women’s division, Kristen Sorensen landed 21 fish, including one taped at 20 inches, for a top score of 41 points. Camille Egdorf landed the largest fish of the day (among both men and women) at 21.5 inches and finished second with a score of 38.5, followed by Audrey Wilson, landing 18 fish for 30 points.
Abraham Hernandez bested his first-heat leading score of 477.63 with an impressive 584.8 in the final round to beat the field of top pros from around the globe in extreme trickling competition at the International Slackline Invitational presented by Slackline Industries. Teruto Tanaka used a fluid series of tricks and flips to move into second position with a score of 498.95 on the second round of the best-of-two finals while Haruki Kinoshita’s first-round score of 467.2 stood up for third place.
Joe Gray came to Vail set on clenching his third straight win in the strenuous Superfeet 10K-ish trail run and he handily did so on Sunday, beating his closest competitor (Josh Eberly) by about two and a half minutes.
“The first climb got me a little bit, but I knew everybody was hurting,” Gray said after the race. “When my gun went off, I remembered I came with an intent to three-peat.”
The tough course took racers up and down the service road and trails on Vail Mountain for nearly 2,500 feet of uphill running scattered throughout the course.
On the women’s side, Megan Kimmel landed the victory, beating Nicole Mericle by nearly a minute while 12-year-old speedster Alayna Szuch (see story here) rounded out the podium.
Volvo Road Bike Time Trial
Clearly sparing some lactic acid after his second-place finish in Saturday’s EverBank XC Mountain Bike race, Keegan Swenson pulled it together to win Sunday’s Volvo Road Bike Time Trial.
The historic, 10-mile course that begins in Vail Village and takes riders up Vail Pass for nearly 1,800 feet was used by the world’s top cyclists for the legendary Coors Classic and also the USA Pro Challenge.
Swenson, though more of a mountain biker, was one of just two cyclists along with second place Isaiah Newkirk to break the 29-minute mark on Sunday, finishing in 28:16.57.
On the women’s side, pro cyclist Mara Abbott ran away with the victory, finishing in 30:55.14. But there were again some fast mountain bikers in the mix, including pro rider and second-place finisher Erin Huck, who won Saturday’s XC race and said that she road rides and occasionally races for training purposes. Other impressive riders included local sister duo Hayley and Coco Diemar, ages 12 and 10, who finished in 42:42.80 and 48:51.74, respectively.
Vibram Mountain Masters Disc Golf finals
While the stimulation overload of all varieties of racing was on tap in Vail Village and Lionshead, the tip-top field of 50 disc golfers were calmly and accurately landing perfect shots on and around Vail Mountain. Under the radar as they were all weekend, the Vibram Mountain Masters Disc Golf event sold out almost instantly for this its inaugural appearance in the GoPro Mountain Games.