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Vail Daily column: The business behind the GoPro Mountain Games

Dave Dressman

Editor’s note: Each month, the Vail Valley Foundation submits a column from a community leader, partner or member of its organization on the topic of “Making It Possible.”

There’s a reason the GoPro Mountain Games happen right here in Vail from Thursday through June 12; it’s because of you. You are active and out there doing it – and not for the first time, either. Ever since the first kayakers plunged down Dowd Chute in home-made, fiberglass boats, or the first jogger looked up at those mountain peaks and thought, ‘I can run that,’ this Vail Valley has been a place where mountain sports and culture live year-round — whether you’re the best in the world or simply doing your worldly best.

To us at the Vail Valley Foundation, the Mountain Games seem like a natural outgrowth of what most of us consider to be normal life. When the rivers and trails of the Rockies begin at the boundary of your lawn, getting out onto them is merely the reasonable thing to do. And so is celebrating our outdoor spirit with a bit of competition and, in the meantime, why not invite a few friends out there to cheer us on? And maybe bring a cooler and your dog along?



It started with small, homegrown kayaking, mountain-biking and running competitions, which grew into the Mountain Games in 2002, and now, 15 years later, we can safely say we are the long-time hosts of the premier mountain sports event in the world — all of it right here in the Vail Valley.

When the rivers and trails of the Rockies begin at the boundary of your lawn, getting out onto them is merely the reasonable thing to do.

And it’s true that the GoPro Mountain Games are now a multi-million dollar event. Combine 30 different events through four days, load in more than a hundred sponsor tents, add in free headliner concerts Thursday, Friday and Saturday and sprinkle in a few thousand gallons of Dock Dog pool water and the price tag understandably goes up.



And yet the event remains free to the public.

Making that all possible and keeping the spirit and authenticity of the event alive are big parts of what we do at the Vail Valley Foundation

GoPro has certainly spearheaded the event’s growth. It makes a substantial sponsorship investment. From public relations, product sales and social media to branding and product training, GoPro loops in departments that all play roles in the success of the Mountain Games. GoPro views the Mountain Games as a marquee global sports marketing property within its portfolio of sponsored events.



For all that GoPro does, it provides about a quarter of the overall event budget, leaving a substantial amount of money to be raised via other sponsors. Longtime partners such as Volvo, Native Eyewear and Outside Magazine, alongside more recent sponsors, such as EverBank, SuperFeet, TEN and Tudor Watches, all help the Mountain Games thrive.

There are more than 100 sponsors activating at the Mountain Games, making our Gear Town sponsor village a major attraction. Whether you need a new pair of shoes, a solar kit for summer camping trips or some hiking gear for you or your dog, you’ll find it in Gear Town, which spans from Lionshead Village to Golden Peak and surrounds most of the major sporting venues, including the climbing wall, Dock Dogs tank, slackline arena and, of course, Vail’s kayak hole and whitewater park. When it’s all said and done, the Mountain Games delivers an economic impact to the town of Vail in the range of $4 to $5 million, during what was once a slow time of year.

When the Mountain Games come to a close, the local whitewater, trail running, mountain-biking and other competitions will hit their full strides. Whether you’re heading into a competition or heading out the back door, the same enthusiasm that makes our event such a blast will still be alive and well throughout the Vail Valley. It all starts with all of you who get out and live it every day, all year.

Dave Dressman

Vice President Sales and Sponsorship

Vail Valley Foundation


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