GoPro Mountain Games Ultimate Mountain Challenge winners announced
Special to the Daily
At the GoPro Mountain Games Ultimate Mountain Challenge, women’s champion Adriene Levknecht persevered through 10 separate events to take the 2018 title and $2,500 first-place prize.
Competitors in the Ultimate Mountain Challenge choose their own adventure through the weekend’s four days of athletic events, racking up points based on finishes, placement, difficulty level and a cross-discipline bonus. The final results were announced on Monday, June 11, and showed Levknect collecting 42 points in total through kayaking, biking, SUPing, running and yoga events, stopping only to sleep or fuel up.
Competition was extremely tight in the event; Levknecht was closely followed by Emily Jackson and Courtney Kerin, who tied for second place with 35 points each. Jackson competed in 11 events and Kerin in an incredible 13 events over four days to take home their prize packages. Nouria Newman took a slighly different approach, competing in fewer events but scoring very highly in each to take fourth place with 21 points. The event pays to fourth place, therefore Newman scored an extra $250. Caitlyn Ngam placed fifth with 20 points.
On the men’s side, there was a moment where all the hard work of a weekend packed with eight different mountain sports events all came crashing down on Branden Rakita’s 37-year-old body. Seven of those events were behind him, and only one more lay ahead: the grueling Pepi’s Face-Off.
“The first time going up Pepi’s I was really hurting,” Rakita said. “It really starts to set in how steep that hill is and I was like, I’m going to fall over backwards and just roll down the hill.”
He didn’t, of course. He powered on, running as much of the race as he can (most others only walk), and notched a fourth place win in his wave, enough to put him at 41 points for a close-fought victory and the $2,500 in prize money.
Rakita was pitted against a field mostly made up of kayakers. Indeed, the remainder of the top 5 were all kayakers: Nick Troutman was second with 39 points, Mathias Lopes was third with 33 points, Eric Jackson was fourth with 26 points, and Dane Jackson was fifth with 22 points.
“Congrats to everybody: Nick and Mathias and all the guys were really pushed by each other all weekend, and even though we weren’t competing against each other, we were all battling and all pushing each other to the limit,” Rakita said.
The ski racer turned hotelier who was close to President Ford embodied the soul of Vail for nearly 60 years.