Breaking down the events of the GoPro Mountain Games in its return to Vail
VAIL — In the old days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and when one had to walk uphill in the snow in both directions to a kayaking event, back in the late 1990s, the Jeep Whitewater Festival was a rather simple affair.
On Memorial Day Weekend, kayakers gathered in the Vail Village for a few flips, aka the Kayak Freestyle Rodeo, and a keg and then went down to Dowd Junction the next day for some more paddling and probably another keg. That’s it.
For better or worse, the GoPro Mountain Games have grown into a Goliath of whitewater, running, biking, dogs, yoga, disc golf, fishing and everything else. To help with all the names and sponsors — the Yeti 2-Fly X Stream doesn’t involve catching a yeti and is probably not extreme; it’s a fishing contest — we’re going to break down what you can see and do sports-wise this weekend.
We prefer to watch other people suffering as opposed to doing the suffering ourselves, but to each their own.
- Rocky Dog Trail Run: Thursday, 5:30 p.m., start/finish at Mountain Plaza. This is 5K with the dog of your choosing.
- Apres 5K: Friday, 5:30 p.m., start/finish at Mountain Plaza. Another 5K sans canine.
- Adidas Terrex 10K Spring Runoff, Sunday, 8 a.m.,start/finish at Mountain Plaza. If 5K ain’t enough for you, you can double your pleasure.
- Junk Brands Pepi’s Face-off, Sunday, 12:30 p.m. This is running up and down Pepi’s Face as many times as you can during 30 minutes.
- Bosch E-bike Challenge: Friday, 3 p.m., Golden Peak. Yep, electric comes to the Mountain Games. For people who worry about burning calories, there are plenty more races. Remain calm.
- TIAA Bank Kids Race: Saturday, 8 a.m., Golden Peak: Short courses for the tykes.
- TIAA Bank XC Mountain Bike: Saturday, 10 a.m., Golden Peak: We never understood why cross country is in the name of the adult mountain biking race. Competitors will complete the 6.8-mile lap on Vail Mountain an assorted number of times based on skill level.
- TIAA Bank Road Bike Time Trial, Sunday, 9:30 a.m., Vail Village start: This is the old Coors Classic route up Vail Pass. We find Vail Pass easier to tackle in a car.
- GMC Kayak Freestyle: Finals, Saturday, 4 p.m., International Bridge: Also called the kayak rodeo or the freestyle rodeo, no cows are involved. Competitors get a minute to throw out their best tricks, including space Godzillas and phonyx monkeys. Just say, “He/she got some serious amplitude on that,” and you’ll fit in fine.
- Pacifico Gore IV Kayak Challenge: Friday, 10 a.m., International Bridge to Stephens Park. New for 2021, this essentially replaces the Homestake Steep Creek Championships. Though not Class V waters, these Class IV waters will challenge the best.
- GMC Downriver Kayak Sprint: Saturday, 9 a.m., Gore Creek. Exactly what it sounds like on the Gore.
- Pacifico 8-Ball Kayak Sprint: Sunday, 10 a.m., Gore Creek: Kayaking meets roller derby as, in theory, four kayakers try to get down Gore Creek with a “limited” number of 8-balls, or kayakers, trying to impede their progress. By limited, we mean tons of 8-balls. By impeding, we mean, “All’s fair in love and war and whitewater.” This is always fun. Highly recommended.
- Yeti Down River SUP Sprint: Saturday, 10:30 a.m., Gore Creek. SUP is stand-up paddle, and, yes, they’re going down the Gore standing up. Some of us consider this Darwinism in action. Others call it fun.
- Pacifico Down River R2 Raft Sprint: Saturday, 8 a.m., Vail Village: Two-person rafts, hence the R2, take on the Gore.
- Yeti Catch Wars: Thursday, 8 a.m., Edwards to Wolcott. We always like fishing comps with fancy names.
- Yeti 2-Fly X-Stream: Friday, 7 a.m. and 1 p.m., International Bridge. Not very extreme, but still fun to watch. The fly casting is oddly hypnotic.
- Yeti Fishing Final, Saturday, 7 a.m., Undisclosed location: Like former Vice President Dick Cheney, who does love his fishing — his old Secret Service code name was “Angler” — the best from the two earlier fishing events duke it out in an undisclosed location.
- Orijen Dockdogs Outdoor Big Air: Thursday-Sunday, Lionshead. Finals, Sunday, 3 p.m.: The dogs are always the stars of the show at the GoPro Mountain Games. Fido and company leap all week.
- K9 Superwall: Thursday-Sunday, Lionshead. It’s a wall. It’s doubtless super. Spot will enjoy it.
- Dueling Dogs: Friday-Saturday, 5:30 p.m., Lionshead. No pistols are involved. Fido and Spot race each other for glory.
- Orijen Dockdogs Extreme Vertical, Saturday, 3 p.m., Lionshead. Yes, the name is a leftover from the days that everything, including writing articles about dogs, was extreme. If Rover has hops, this is the event for him.
- Orijen Dockdogs Speed Retrieve, Sunday, 1 p.m., Lionshead: Fetch, doggie.
The Mountain House Disc Golf Tournament at Maloit Park is Saturday and Sunday, a tradition unlike any other, with apologies to the Lords of the Masters. There is no truth to the rumor that Jim Nantz will be broadcasting.
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Mikaela Shiffrin’s tentative plans on Father’s Day: Dinner with family. Perhaps a board game or a movie. Definitely some Jimmy Buffet or Paul Simon music. Because that’s the sort of celebration her dad Jeff Shiffrin would’ve wanted.