In what organizers are calling the busiest single day in the event’s 13-year history, over a thousand athletes, (both human and canine) jumped, paddled, ran, rode, climbed and even crawled their way on and around Vail Mountain today at the GoPro Mountain Games. Tens of thousands of spectators filled the streets of Vail to enjoy the competitions and check out the latest and greatest gear featured at over 80 booths in Gerber Gear Town.
The day kicked off early as road runners tackled the First Bank Vail Pass Half Marathon, which climbed over 2,900 feet to a finish above 10,000 feet. Joseph Gray from Colorado Springs crossed the finish line first with a time of 1:26:36, ahead of Zach Miller and Peter Maksimow, both from Manitou Springs, Colo. In the women’s race, Olympic Nordic skier turned mountain runner Morgan Arritola, from Ketchum, Idaho, out-sprinted Allison McLaughlin from Colorado Springs and won by one second in a time of 1:39:16. Stevie Kremer from Crested Butte, Colo., was third.
Coming off a second place finish at last year’s Games, Akiyo Noguchi of Japan upset three-time champion Anna Stohr of Austria and electrified a massive crowd in the finals of the International Federation of Sport Climbing Bouldering World Cup. France’s Fanny Gilbert clinched second place and Stohr came in third. Dmitri Sharafutdinov of Russia successfully defended his first place finish at last year’s Games amidst fierce competition from Guillaume Glairon Mondet of France who took second and Sean McColl of Canada who rounded out the podium finishing in third.
In the Thule X-Country Mountain Bike race, two-time national collegiate cross country champion Howard Grotts (Specialized Racing) of Durango, Colo. pedaled to victory for the second year in a row finishing in a time of 1:22:50. Shortly behind Grotts was 20-year-old Keegan Swenson (Cannondale) of Park City, Utah who took second and Fernando Riveros Paez (Scott Rotor USA) of Colorado Springs, who landed in third.
The women’s race saw defending champion Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe’s) of Boulder, Colo., finish the course in 1:39:29 to secure a first place finish, $3,000 in prize money, and a Gerber Golden Axe. Second place went to Olympian Georgia Gould (Luna) of Fort Collins, Colo., and third was claimed by Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com) of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Coming off a second place finish at Thursday’s Steep Creek race, Dane Jackson of Walling, Tenn., pulled off a rarely seen quad combo to beat out Dustin Urban of Buena Vista, Colo., and Hunter Kaditch of Columbus, Ga. In the women’s competition, two-time World Champion freestyle kayaker Claire O’Hara of Great Britain overtook France’s Marlene Deville for the win, while 13-year-old sensation Sage Donnelly from Carson City, Nev., finished in an impressive third place.
In the Bud Light Lime-a-Rita Down River Sprint, the high water levels on Gore Creek made for fast finishes. Isaac Levinson of White Salmon, Wash., who won Thursday’s Steep Creek Championships, once again showed his paddling strength and endurance to claim victory with a time of 17:05.26. Joe Morley of Great Britain, was second and Dane Jackson of Walling, Tenn., finished third. Martina Wegman from The Netherlands, who won the women’s division in Thursday’s Steep Creek Championship, finished in 17:38.83, ahead of Louis Jull from New Zealand and local girl Natalia Gray from Eagle, Colo.
Finally, in the SUP Surf Sprint men’s race it was a battle of ocean surfer versus whitewater pro, with Kai Lenny of Paia, Hawaii, duking it out with Michael Tavares of Apex, N.C. In the end, Lenny won in a time of 18:24.23, only twenty seconds ahead of Tavares. Takahata Masayuki of Japan finished third. In the women’s race, Gillian Gibree of San Diego, Calif., won with a time of 19:49.92 ahead of Natali Zollinger from Moab, Utah, and Jenny MacArthur from Snowass Village, Colo.
Image courtesy Logan Robertson - GoPro Mountain Games / Vail Valley Foundation