Vail Daily editorial: Ready for summer?
You’d better be, because summer begins in a big way this week with the return of the GoPro Mountain Games, set for Thursday through Sunday.
This year’s action spans the valley, from Homestake Creek to Vail Village, Lionshead Village, Eagle and Minturn. As of late last week, 2,300 athletes had registered for the myriad events, and those athletes will bring thousands more friends, family and spectators to the valley.
The Mountain Games’ size is a big shift from humble beginnings, a small whitewater event between Minturn and Dowd Junction in the 1990s. That event evolved into the Jeep Whitewater Festival, and more events moved into Vail.
The pace quickened in the early 2000s, when the town of Vail built a whitewater park on Gore Creek and Teva became a title sponsor.
From those early events, the Mountain Games were born in 2002, run by Untraditional Marketing.
After the 2008 games, the Vail Valley Foundation stepped in and bought the games, hosting its first events in 2009.
Since then, the games have continued to expand. With every year, there are more events, more music and, in the past couple of years, more locations. This year, Maloit Park in Minturn will host a disc golf tournament.
The games now are a boost for businesses in Lionshead Village and Eagle — and, presumably, Minturn. The games have also turned into a major draw on the mountain resort summer calendar. There are still plenty of participants and spectators who camp out, but the Mountain Games have become a big draw for lodging, too.
In short, the games have become exactly the kind of event for which the Vail Valley is renowned.
Best of all, most of the events are free to attend, including three nights of music from artists including Bonfire Dub and Keller Williams. The venue, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, will be a great place for people to relax after a hard day of play.
And play is what these games are all about.
It takes a tremendous amount of work to make all this play possible, so when you’re out at the games, thank a volunteer for helping make it all possible.
Then get ready. For the past few summers, most weekends through mid-August have local hotels mostly full. The pace isn’t quite as intense as winter, which is good, but there’s a lot of work to come during the next couple of months.
Still, make some time to enjoy some fun of your own.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Krista Driscoll and Business Editor Scott Miller.