Avon’s Brent Redden wins Ultimate River Challenge
Special to the Daily
1. Spencer Huff, Lyons, 17:35.38
2. Isaac Levinson, White Salmon, Wash., 17:44.38
3. Gerd Serrasolses, Sort, Spain, 17:47.80
1. Adrien Levknecht , Greenville, S.C., 17:58.21
2. Noria Newman, 18:33.47
3. Natalia Gray, Eagle, 18:41.03
1. Michael Tavares, Apex, N.C., 19:00.56
2. Bradley Hilton, Grand Lake, 19:14.03
3. Dan Gavere, Hood River, Ore., 19:16.16
1. Natali Zollinger, Moab, Utah, 20:51.63
2. Gentian Nuzzo, Avon, 21:23.89
3. Jenny MacArthur, Snowmass Village, 21:39.51
1. Shake N Bake 20:54.39
2. Aqua Knots 20:55.95
3. Whiskey Priests 20:58.49
Ultimate River Challenge (overall)
1. Brent Redden, Avon, 58:47.08
2. Dane Jackson, Walling, Tenn., 59:33.68
3. Spencer Lacy, Boulder, 59:40.01
1. Jenny MacArthur, Snowmass Village, 1:05:16.28
2. Courtney Kerin, Oamaru, New Zealand, 1:06:57.13
VAIL — They are two of the world’s best whitewater freestyle kayakers, both fresh from finishing in the top five in Thursday’s Steep Creek Championship whitewater kayak race — one first, one third. Each has paddled off cliffs big enough to make most of the rest of us nervous just watching on a YouTube clip. Both can flip and spin their kayaks on a dime on any play-park wave. Together they’ve tackled some of the most challenging whitewater lines across the globe. Oh, and one also has his family name on the side of his boat.
Their accomplishments in kayaking are unquestioned, but even pro paddlers Dane Jackson, 21, and Nick Troutman, 26, found the challenge in the GoPro Mountain Games first annual three-event Ultimate River Challenge on Saturday. Avon local Brent Redden, 36, topped the two elite pros to claim the first Ultimate River Challenge title. Jackson finished second overall and Troutman fourth.
“I feel really good,” Redden said of the surprising win. “Those guys are amazing athletes. I’m amazed at the things they do.”
Athletes of all ages and abilities — including more than a few first-timers — took to the 4-mile class II/III whitewater stretch of Gore Creek, between East Vail and Vail Village. Competition got underway with sunny skies at 8 a.m. Saturday morning with the kayak sprint, immediately followed by stand-up paddleboarding and two-man rafting races, each along the same stretch. Some competitors chose to participate in a single event while others went back-to-back-to-back to test themselves in all three disciplines and attempt to claim the inaugural Ultimate River Challenge title. Each event ran with staggered individual starts.
For Jackson and Troutman — each accustomed to manning their own boats — the challenge came in the form of the two-man Down River R2 Raft Sprint, also new to this year’s games. For others it was a first crack at whitewater paddleboarding. One first-time paddleboard competitor was heard saying, “I can’t even count how many times I fell,” after finishing.
When asked how the two elite kayakers had fared outside of their ordinary discipline, Jackson — who held on to win back-to-back titles in Thursday’s Steep Creek race — smiled and said, “Pretty bad. We had no coordination.”
“We had some challenges for sure,” Troutman added of teaming up and navigating the shorter two-man rafts. “We had a hard time keeping it straight.”
And they weren’t alone. Participants and onlookers reported a fair amount of river carnage in all three events. Rescue paddlers were on hand to assist with anyone who unwittingly found themselves swimming the frigid waters of Gore Creek.
But for Jackson, like many, inexperience was just part of the fun. “I love nothing more than sucking at a sport,” he joked.
‘Big dudes off the couch’
Even with an eighth place finish in the tandem race, however, Jackson managed to finish second overall in the three event competition, Troutman finished fourth. Redden, a local fireman and former U.S. Whitewater Rafting Team member, claimed first with a three-event time of 58 minutes, 47.08 seconds.
Both Jackson (+46.60) and Troutman (+1:07.10) finished within 1:10 of Redden; most of the lost time came in the rafting competition, which Redden credited as a strength.
“We’re like the big dudes off the couch,” Redden said of himself and his rafting partner Kurt Kincel.
The two topped Jackson and Troutman by more than 55 seconds in the rafting competition. Redden and Kincel were second in that portion of the competition, however, 1.56 seconds behind current U.S. Rafting Team member John Anicito of Breckenridge and Joe Sialiano of Evergreen.
Spencer Lacy of Boulder finished third overall in the river challenge.
Jenny MacArthur, Snowmass Village, won the women’s competition with a time of 1:05:16.28.
“We’re exhausted already and we still have to do freestyle,” Jackson said after the rafting competition. He and Troutman later competed in Saturday afternoon’s freestyle kayak finals, with Jackson winning.
While the river challenge wrapped up Saturday. The two-day, four-event Kyocera Ultimate Mountain Challenge — the Mountain Games’ signature event — will finish today with a 10K run and road bike time trial. Participants in the mountain challenge took part in a choice of kayak or SUP sprint Saturday and a cross-country mountain bike race. Today’s 10K kicks off at 8 a.m. followed by the time trial at 9:30 p.m. The Ultimate Mountain Challenge champion will be crowned at a 3:30 p.m. during awards in Vail Village.