The Mountain Games showed its international flair on Day 2 in 2017
By Shauna Farnell, Scott Willoughby, Tom Boyd and Kate Peters
UPDATED 10:50 a.m. JUNE 11, 2017
Day No. 2 gathered intense steam across from one end of the valley to another, kicking up dust in Eagle, massive sprays of river water in Gore Creek, powder on the climbing wall and dirt on the trail.
Here’s the low down:
No one knew exactly what to expect with the all-new format of the TriggerPoint Ultimate Mountain Challenge – but no one expected how tight the race would be. After Day 2, leader Dane Jackson holds onto his lead (and the LLBean Yellow Jersey) … but only barely. The Coors Light Steep Creek champion earned 9 points with that victory, and has one more point for a total of ten.
Ten is the magic number for six other competitors in the men’s side of the UMC. That’s right – a seven-way tie is on the books as we head into a ultra-competitive day 3 of the event … where the true hard-core mountain athletes will begin to differentiate themselves.
On the women’s side it’s Nouria Newman, the women’s Steep Creek Champion, who holds on with 10 points. She is joined by four others who also have 10 … including last year’s UMC champion Gretchen Reeves.
Follow all the action of the UMC online here (click on the results tab) or at our leaderboards in Check Point Charlie and Golden Peak registration.
Team Japan is quickly proving that it’s ready to showcase its skills in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, when climbing makes its much-awaited debut. The Japanese dominated the Qualification round of the IFSC’Climbing World Cup’s only stop on American soil on Friday, occupying all but one of the men’s top 10 spots going into the semi-finals. U.S. climber Sean Bailey tied for fifth place as Rei Sugimoto and Tsukuru Hori took the No. 1 spots. Sugimoto is staging a comeback after a left shoulder injury, squirreling up the difficult problems on the five Qualifier lines like a true Spiderman.
“These problems fit me. I’m in good condition and [had] a good warm-up,” Sugimoto said, adding that he never imagined as a small boy that he might have the opportunity to display his climbing skills on an Olympic stage in his home country. “I never thought I could. Olympics were only in the television, not in the real world. The possibility of becoming an Olympian is something I never thought [would] happen.”
On the women’s side, Japan continued to strut its stuff as Miho Nonaka finished neck-and-neck with Slovenian Janja Garnbret in Qualifiers with Japanese teammate Akijo Noguchi and American veteran Alex Puccio hot on their heels and tied in third.
In the world of freestyle whitewater, it seems the more imaginative the name, the more complicated the trick. Consider, then, the complexity of a “Phonics Monkey,” “Tricky Wu,” “McNasty” or “Space Godzilla.” Then try calibrating their scores.
The judges had their work cut out for them at semi-final round of the Coors Light Kayak Freestyle in the Vail Whitewater Park on Friday, as most spectators’ heads were spinning as fast as the kayaks flipping tricks in Gore Creek. It took more than 1,000 points — tallied in one minute’s time — to crack into the top five and advance to the men’s finals scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday. And a day after winning the Coors Light Steep Creek Championships on nearby Homestake Creek, reigning freestyle World Champion Dane Jackson of Tennessee put up a top qualifying score of 1,460 points.
Talk about some McNasty.
Fellow Americans Hunter Katich (1,313) and Stephen Wright (1,210), Mathieu Dumoulin of France (1,196) and Max Karlsson of Sweden (1,170) rounded out the men’s finals field.
Reigning Women’s World Champion and mother of two, Emily Jackson (Dane’s big sister), showed her technical prowess on the wave by posting the top women’s score of 683.33, followed by 2016 Mountain Games runner-up Adriene Levknecht (486.67), 16-year-old Sage Donnelly (426.67), Courtney Kerin of New Zealand (366.67) and Martina Wegman from the Netherlands (200).
For the first time in three years, the TUDOR Raft Cross had new winners as Tad Dennis and Brad McMillan of North Carolina came into their first-even GoPro Mountain Games rafting competition and won.
“We just entered the race to have a little fun and see what happened,” McMillan said. “Overall this event is amazing. I’ve been coming here for a lot of years and have seen a ton of growth for the whole event. The raft cross gained a ton of competitors this year … so that event alone has gotten a lot bigger.”
“It’s a really fun event… just a good way to come in and paddle with a good buddy,” he said.
It was a three-plus-hour day of pedaling hard in the sun for the whopping field of more than 200 riders in the second annual GoPro Mountain Enduro. As the hot sun beat down on the high desert course in Eagle, the singletrack between the sagebrush became decidedly dusty as California rider Marco Osborne top honors. In spite of the hours on course, only three downhill sections were timed – World’s Greatest, Redneck Ridge and Pool & Ice. Osborne’s combined time of 22 minutes, 26.26 seconds was the fastest of the day as he edged out Colorado rider Chris Heath by just over five seconds as Brian Lopes rounded out the podium in third for the second year straight, finishing 8.58 seconds back. Grand Enduro champion Cooper Ott edged out cylclocross star Katie Compton in the GoPro Mountain Enduro on the women’s side, finishing the timed sections in 25:07.18.
Stop in your tracks, people, the bionic kid is at it again. Lanie Szuch, who handedly dominated the women’s field in running events at last summer’s Mountain Games as a pre-teen, was the fastest woman by more than one and a half minutes in the Superfeet Aprés 5K on Friday. At the tender age of 13, Szuch flew up the 1,500-plus feet of uphill on Vail Mountain to finish in just over 22 minutes. Branden Rakita of Colorado Springs put down the fastest time overall – just over 19 minutes – with Ryan Petry blazing in seven seconds later, comprising the only two racers to break the 20-minute mark.
The Tudor International Slackline Invitational kicked off today in Solaris, with the world’s greatest showcasing spirals, 540s, double butt flips, double butt back flips and more during the qualifying rounds. Abraham Hernandez came in fighting hard to defend his 2016 title, and it showed as he was in the lead heading into heat two, with Haruki Kinoshita and Itsuki Hosoe hot on his tail. The top 10 scorers advanced to the semi finals, taking place tomorrow at 11 am and 3:30 pm.
International yoga star Kathryn Budig made her Vail debut on Friday and met with a full field of asana enthusiasts – we’re talking about a stoic army of warriors, trees and downward facing dogs. Local favorite Bobby L’Heureux started the day with some smooth moves to Scotty Stoughton’s choice beats.
There were only two dogs that managed to jump more than 26 feet at the Blue Buffalo DockDogs Outdoor Big Air qualifying on Friday, and Shag and Mojo were one of them. The canine cannonball contest that rewards distance over style is a team competition, demanding perfect synchronicity between man — in this case David “Shag” Stepp — and his best friend, Mojo. With Shag’s well-placed and timed throw from the dock, the 2-and-a-half year old Mojo took flight for a leap that’s likely to land the team from South Carolina in the Sunday Finals.
“I think the winning jump will be between 26 and 27 feet,” Stepp, who’s lean yellow lab won the first DockDog contest he ever entered last year. “But it’s crazy. You get to the finals and anybody can win. It’s just a matter of everything falling together and having a great jump. Because once you get there, everybody can jump.”
Today marked day one of two for qualifying rounds. Both men and women are competing in skills and accuracy for the best (lowest) possible score. Today was less about crazy throws or big moves and more about a smooth course with no backups – which is exactly what disc golfers want. Each athlete followed his or her own schedule today, and will do the same tomorrow before combined scores are evaluated tomorrow. The top 25 percent will advance to the finals on Sunday.
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