19 locals compete in Vail’s GoPro Mountain Games | SteamboatToday.com

19 locals compete in Vail’s GoPro Mountain Games

Steamboat locals Matty Paoli, left, Mia Baker, Ava Drennen, Annabelle Paoli, Tya Drennen and Berit Baker are covered in mud after finishing the Mud Run last weekend at the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail.

Notice that your local bike and running trails, slacklines, sup and kayaking waterways, dog parks and even yoga studios were a little less crowded this past weekend?

You weren't imagining things. In all, 19 locals descended last weekend upon Vail to compete in the 15th-annual GoPro Mountain Games. And countless made the trip to watch the games and enjoy the festival's many activities.

The Mountain Games are billed as the country's largest celebration of mountains sports, music and culture, bringing pro and amateur athletes together to compete in a variety of events, from mountain and road biking to running, kayaking, rafting, stand-up paddleboarding, climbing and more. There are even dog-jump-water-retrieval contests and slacklining competitions.

"We get a lot of athletes from other mountain towns," GoPro Mountain Games communications director Tom Boyd said. "Getting 19 from a town like Steamboat is pretty common." 

In all, more than 3,300 athletes took part in this year's Games, with nearly 70,000 spectators on hand to enjoy the competitions and free concerts, including Friday's main act at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater by former Steamboat resident Keller Williams. For the athletes traveling from Steamboat, however, they did so for far more than trying out One-board demos or getting free group yoga instruction.

"The Mountain Games bring a high level of competition in all the different sports they host," said local mountain bike racer Hannah Bingham, who took fifth in this year's women’s pro cross country race. "It’s cool to see all different mountain sports come together at one event. It's also nice that Vail is in driving distance for a day trip — we usually have time to check out some of the other events going on."

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As for her race, she added that it's a slight step up from local competition.

"I got the chance to race against some amazingly fast women, including an Olympian and the current national champion," she said. "So I'm proud of myself for my effort; it was a great race, and I’m looking forward to next year."

Locals made the journey for watersports as well. This year marked the fifth year locally based Hala Gear owner Peter Hall competed in the SUP event, which drew world-caliber racers from as far away as Hawaii and Japan.

"I love the games because the event is full of fun hogs that take their awesome lifestyle sports to the next level," said Hall, who finished 24th out of the event's more than 60 racers.

Although Hall's finish wasn't quite on par with his 14th-place finish out of 70 racers two years ago, or an earlier semi-final appearance in the SUP Cross event, he chalked it up to a higher and higher level of competition.

"This year it had some of the best racers in the world show up," he said.

Also racing was former Steamboat Springs High School hockey stand-out Lance Ostrom, who finished two spots back in 26th place, and Steve Paoli, who admitted, "I didn't have my best day on the board."

The SUP events, in fact, drew the second-highest number of Steamboat athletes, with five racers taking their Yampa River-honed skills to Vail's Gore Creek.

The event that drew the biggest Steamboat crowd was none other than the Kyocera Mountain Mud Run, a fun- and dirt-filled contest drawing seven Steamboat entrants, more than half of whom were kids.

"My kids, Matty and Annbelle, loved it and were pretty muddy, but they hated the clean-up with the hose afterward," said Paoli, who forsook the Mud Run to race in the Downriver SUP event.  "It was pretty cold. But they had a lot of fun and would do it again."

Kyocera Mountain Mud Run

Berit Baker

Mia Dupre

Matty Paoli

Annabelle Paoli

Tya Drennen

Ava Drennen

GoPro MTN Enduro

Jon Freckleton, 8th, Master’s 40+

Dane Freckleton, 18th, Youth men

Rune Freckleton, 22nd, Youth men

Thomas Steinberg, 59th, Amateur men

Harrison Britt

YETI Down River SUP Sprint

Peter Hall, 24th

Lance Ostrom, 26th

Eric Baker, 45th

Stephen Paoli, 49th

Mike Kimmes, 50th

EverBank X-Country Mountain Bike

Peter Kalmes, 10th

Hannah Bingham, 5th

Erika Ghent, 8th

Mountain Masters Disc Golf

Silas Ebbert

Doug Mccoid

TUDOR Down River R2 Raft Sprint

Brian Erhart and Daniel Franz, 14th

YETI SUP Surf Cross

Peter Hall

Lance Ostrom

Yoga Experience

Renee Dupre

Tara Nultemeier

Superfeet 10K Spring Runoff

Lucas Crespin, 5th, Men 30-39