I had been looking forward to the 2013 GoPro Mountain Games in beautiful Vail, Colorado for months and it turned out to be one of the most entertaining outdoor-sports events I have ever been to. From the variety of sports, to the beautiful setting in Vail, Colorado, to the people, to the dogs, from the vendor prize contests to the free concerts; everything was spot on and everyone had a great time! Freeride Mountain Bike Slopestyle, IFSC Bouldering World Cup, Dock Dogs Big Air, Mud Run, 2 Fly X-Stream fly fishing, Kayak Freestyle, and the 2013 Slackline World Championship were only a few of the sports at the 2013, GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado.
The Mountain Games was a great mix of family and party friendly people. Everyone came to Vail, CO for a common goal. To watch athletes compete in their favorite sport or a new one they hadn't experienced while, while having fun with friends and family. I spent Friday and Saturday hopping from one event to the next talking with spectators and taking photos of whatever I could. Besides the outdoor retailers providing awesome discounts on gear purchases at the Games, most were hosting prize give-aways throughout the weekend. I signed up for all of the outdoor retailer prize give-aways I could, but was not lucky enough to win anything. The give-aways were still a lot of fun though! GoPro did a great job rallying the crowd to sign-up and wait for their prize give-aways of a GoPro Hero3 and accessories per day. They actually gave away two Hero3 kits on Saturday along with some Goal Zero solar kits. I really would have like to have won a Hero3 and a solar kit, but better luck next time! I enjoyed hanging around the Gerber Gear tent and sweet 4x4 van discussing their upcoming products with the reps. I also spent a lot of time at the Goal Zero tent where I talked with several reps about specs on upcoming products, while also charging my iPhone5 and Guide10 Plus off a Yeti 150.
I arrived to Vail on Friday morning and I had the intention of sleeping at a Forest Service campground near town after the games that nigh. I wanted to camp out one to control my budget, and two because I was ready to get away and camp in the Rockies. I knew the nearby campgrounds would be crowded because of the Games and when I left the games later that evening I discovered that all the nearby campgrounds were occupied. So, I drove 24 over the pass to Leadville and I after a little searching I found a forest campground with an available spot. I'm going to make a suggestion to Vail for the games next year to provide camping in or near Vail. I think the soccer fields would make a very good place to do this. Not everyone has a budget to stay in a condo or lodge, especially poor travel journalists like myself. Also, lot of people would rather camp outside on their weekend off work, especially during family fun events like the GoPro Mountain Games. Also, kids love camping. We were all there to witness outdoor sports in the outdoors, so being able to sleep nearby in the outdoors doesn't seem too far off course for the event. Overall my camping experience was convenient and free, I just hope that others were able to find the same.
After camping Friday night I crashed out and made it back to the Games early enough Saturday morning for the Semi-Finals for the IFSC Bouldering World Cup. Even though I'm a devout climber, bouldering competitions are usually not my favorite thing. I prefer rock climbing in nature for one's self-fulfillment. Though, I do love a good competition and I knew how important this specific competition was, and that there was a list of elite athlete’s competing. I cheered for Nina Williams, who I had followed for a bit on social media and knew she had "squeezed" into the competition, as she had earlier posted herself. Nina is an awesome athlete no matter what she thinks, and I always cheer for a humble athlete. We need more athletes like her these days. I took some cool photos of her during her first round and decided to move on to the Kayak Freestyle, after which was awesome by the way. Unfortunately she did not make it past the first round. Later, that day I had the pleasure of meeting Nina and briefly chatting. She is very nice and I look forward to watching her future progress in her climbing career.
I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the Eukanuba Dock Dogs Big Air competition. Though, I grew up on the Texas Gulf Coast around a lot of working duck-hunting Black and Chocolate labs, so I knew the purpose behind this sport well. I was surprised there weren't as many labs in the competition, but I figured there just aren't as many labs in Colorado. It was apparent to me that the competition dogs and their owners spend a lot of time training for these competitions. I am currently not a dog owner, but watching the loyal relationships between these dogs and their owners sure made me contemplate getting that blue heeler or mutt I've always wanted.
The Kayak Freestyle competition made me want to hop into a boat asap. Kayakers always seem to have the most fun. The Freeride Mountain Bike Slopestyle looked painful me every time one of the riders biffed! I'm not good at falling off a bike and usually get up with some serious injuries, if I get up. The 2013 Slackline World Championship was a definite crowd pleaser, and it was cool how many kids enjoyed the event. 14 year-old Alex Mason, became the youngest Slack Line World Champion yet. The Mud Run looked like messy fun, maybe I'll sign up next year. Last, I have never been fly fishing and the 2 Fly X-Stream fly fishing competition made me want to grab a rod and reel and book it to a secluded mountain stream somewhere to catch a big one.
I left Saturday night after the Games skipping Sunday, so I could have some action and fun of my own in the mountains. I was itching to hike a 14'er, so I knew it was time to go. I met a lot of really nice people, spectators and professionals at the Games, all with the common goal to enjoy their favorite sports in beautiful Vail, Colorado! Overall, I really enjoyed the GoPro Mountain Games and I'm already looking forward to returning next year! Thanks GoPro for a great weekend!