Check out the Day 2 Wrap-Up video HERE.
During one of the hottest days in the history of the event, the sun shined all day during day No. 2 of the GoPro Mountain Games.
GoPro Mountain Enduro
The thermometer climbed to around 85 degrees in Eagle, where dozens of super fit pedalers hammered singletrack for around four hours during the inaugural GoPro Mountain Enduro race.
Throughout five stages of which only the three downhill portions were timed for the race result (as is the format of Enduro racing and which amounted to between 18 and 22 minutes for most riders), the course was unquestionably more oriented to the cardiovascular type.
Race winner Alex McGuinnis summed up the intensity best when he said “I was covered in boogers for the entire first stage,” and proceeded to sample the smooth white sand of the Eagle trails intimately by doing a header into the dirt during Stage 2. By the time Stage 3 rolled around, he had fought off the urge to call it and instead ran away with the race by a decisive 11 minutes. “Enduro is all about being able to take fast corners. That’s the secret … fast corners,” said second-place finisher Adam Craig, who was followed in rapid succession by Brian Lopes.
On the women’s side, Cyclocross champion Katie Compton won after spending the entire day pedaling and chatting (all while maintaining a breakneck clip) with cross country Olympic bronze medalist Georgia Gould, who took third in what was only the second Enduro race of her career, as Joanna Petterson took the second step of the podium.
“It really is a social event,” said Compton, who was heading home to Colorado Springs after Friday’s race as Gould, Petterson and many others were off to rest their legs for Saturday’s EverBank XC Mountain Bike race.
Coors Light Kayak Freestyle
The Vail Whitewater Park was the star of the paddling events on Day Two at the GoPro Mountain Games, as kayakers competing in the semi-final round of the Coors Light Kayak Freestyle drove their boats into the frothing wave-hole to show off their skills while two-person teams competing in Raft Cross competition used all their expertise to avoid it.
The man-made wave on Gore Creek in the heart of Vail Village worked to perfection as Adriene Levknecht of Greenville, SC, notched the top score among eight women’s semifinalists with a first-ride tally of 416.67 points, followed by Clair O’Hara of Great Britain with a score of 390 and Emily Jackson of Walling, TN, 323.33. Jackson, a multiple Mountain Games champion in freestyle competition, is competing while seven months pregnant, mirroring her victory run three years ago when she won the contest three weeks before giving birth to her son, Tucker.
“For me, when it comes to competition it’s just really important for people to see that it’s not always about being the very best, but just going out and having fun,” said Jackson, 26. “Most people forget why they are kayaking and wind up too focused on wanting to come out on top instead of enjoying their time on the water. But having fun and enjoying yourself on the water is really a competitive edge.”
Younger brother Dane Jackson seemed to take that advice to heart as he enjoyed the top qualifying score among 15 men vying for five spots in the finals on Saturday. His first-run score of 1,553.33 points was nearly 300 points higher than any other competitor in the field as he linked a dizzying sequence of aerial flips and contorted “Phonics Monkeys” and “Space Godzillas” to separate himself from the field.
“The wave is really good right now, but it has to be changed throughout the day as the water levels rise,” Dane Jackson said, noting the state-of-the-art air bag system of the Vail Whitewater Park that can be inflated and deflated to accommodate changing river conditions. “It’s hard to be super consistent because the wave is a little different every round.”
As water levels on Gore Creek rose as much as 100 cubic feet per second every hour beneath sunny afternoon skies, the 26 teams competing in Raft Cross races had their hands full paddling through the wave that spanned most of the river just above the finish line. The wave grew more ferocious as competitors advanced through the brackets, flipping as many as five rafts throughout the head-to-head heats won by the team of Jeremiah Williams and Rob Prechtl.
The bumping and grinding of Cross racing came into play more than once as several teams strategically wedged their boats around a series of gates hanging above the river to come from behind and advance through the ranks. Local Vail Valley boaters John Seelig and Bill Hoblitzell snuck through to finish second while Natalia Gray and Masayuki Takahata placed third.
Rafters will have another chance to prove who is the fastest among them on Saturday during the Down River R2 Raft Sprint on Gore Creek in advance of the Coors Light Freestyle Kayak Finals scheduled for 4 p.m.
Vibram Mountain Masters Disc Golf qualifying
Colored discs flew in highly calculated fashion all morning as the field was whittled down to only the most precise golfers for Sunday’s final.
The Yoga Girl Experience
While lots of quick motion was happening elsewhere throughout the valley, Rachel Brathen led a nicely aligned mass of calm and steady yogis through a series of solid power poses at Ford Park.
One epicenter of hypnosis and nonstop eye candy was the climbing wall, where the massive field of bionic spidermen and spiderwomen took their turns scaling problems preceding Saturday’s IFSC Bouldering World Cup finals presented by Chipotle.
Superfeet Apres 5K
This 5K course was no walk in the park, but that didn’t stop a festoon of costume-clad party runners, including a dude donning what looked like a 20-pound Viking helmet, from hauling up and down Vail Mountain. There were of course, some sleek trail runners, too, outrunning their own shadows in the alpenglow.
Rocky Dog Trail Run presented by The Secret Life of Pets
You’d think that the German shepherds would have the speed advantage over the corgis, but even the stubbiest legs were moving fast in the Rocky Dog Trail Run. A great time for upright and four-legged runners alike, the canines indeed appeared to be communicating among themselves at times, as they do in their secret life.