VAIL — Happy GoPro Mountain Games.
This event has certainly come a long way from a rafting race down Dowd Chute and a kayaking comp in Vail Village.
The water sports are still there, but now there’s running, biking, slacklining (a questionable verb, but definitely fun to watch), Ultimate Mountain Challenge (definitely not a verb), dog jumping, slopestyling, fly-fishing and people, for some reason, running and cycling up Vail Pass.
Here’s a rundown of the events:
Steep Creek Championship
While a lot of things are dubbed “extreme” or even “xtreme,” this is actually rather extreme. The best kayakers in the world take on Homestake Creek at 10 a.m. with two runs. Homestake usually runs quickly and this year’s snowmelt should make it an adventure. Best two combined times win.
This is like snowboarding, which is good, since it’s at Golden Peak, but the competitors are using mountain bikes over a course set up at the base of the Riva Bahn. Big height and air time are rewarded.
Vail Pass Half Marathon
This is pretty self-explanatory. At 8 a.m., run from Vail Village up Vail Pass. The why is the bigger question. It’s much easier driving in a Toyota Rav-4.
Ultimate Mountain Challenge
This is actually a two-day comp in which teams or individuals compete in four events. It starts with either the Down River Sprint, kayaking down Gore Creek, on Saturday at 8 a.m. or the stand-up paddle sprint at 9:30 a.m. The latter is better known a SUP, and involves a person standing on a surfboard and paddling for dear life.
Leg No. 2 is Saturday’s mountain-bike race, followed by a 10K running race Sunday morning and a road bike race up Vail Pass. We like Josiah Middaugh’s chances here.
This is a somewhat glorified name for a mud run. If you see people caked in mud walking around Vail Village, don’t be alarmed. It was just a mud run.
X-County Mountain Bike
This is a fancy name for a bike race on Vail Mountain. Various divisions based on ability go off throughout the day.
At 4:15 p.m., gather around International Bridge to watch kayakers throw down tricks like space Godzillas and McNasties. Each kayaker has three 60-second runs to impress the judges with gravity- and water-defying tricks.
Bouldering World Cup
The finals of rock climbing are at 4:30 p.m. at Golden Peak. Watch athletes try to scale the wall and solve problems without falling off the rock. (Don’t worry — they have harnesses.)
10K Spring Runoff
If the Vail Pass Half Marathon and/or the mud run wasn’t enough, here’s 10K of running on Vail Mountain at 8 a.m.
2 Fly X-Stream
This would be the fly-fishing finals competition at an undisclosed location. No word of whether anglers will be in contact with Dick Cheney, although the former vice president is serious about his fishing.
Road Bike Time Trial
While we still recommend the Toyota approach to Vail Pass, competitors will bike up the Pass. This race goes back to the old Coors Classic and is a chance for people to get a preview of August time trial for the USA Pro Challenge.
Raft Cross, SUP Cross and 8-Ball
This is roller derby on the water of Gore Creek in rafts, on surfboards or in kayaks. The object is simple — get down Gore Creek first. Rules? Well, it’s like Fight Club, there are no rules, and don’t talk about Fight Club. Bumping/obstructing/clobbering your opponent is encouraged. Embrace the carnage, people.
DockDogs Speed Retrieve and Big Air
It’s dog jumping at Golden Peak with the finals at 3:30 and 4 p.m. See Spot jump. See Spot retrieve.
Slackline World Cup
This is tightrope walking with a twist. Competitors jump up and down on the line, doing flips and other things your mother told you not to do. The finals are at 4 p.m. at Solaris.