GoPro Mountain Games in Vail finish with full-contact kayaking
VAIL — The GoPro Mountain Games wrapped up in style Sunday with the 8-Ball Kayak Sprint combining American Gladiators and kayaking on a raging Gore Creek.
The competition brings kayakers bumping and jostling down a 200-yard gauntlet along the narrow confines of Gore Creek. Along the way, kayakers must avoid the 8-Ballers — aggressive kayakers patiently waiting to attack the sprinters and slow them down throughout the course.
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“I raced it once and decided that was a bad choice, so I started 8-Balling,” said Chris Baer, the MVP of the 8-Ballers for his hard hits and constant disruption of the sprinters.
For Janet Valesares, of Tampa, Florida, it was a pleasant surprise stumbling upon the 8-Ball Kayak Spring going on in the middle of Vail Village.
“That was amazing,” she said after the first couple runs. “It’s my new favorite sport.”
The 8-Ball Kayak Sprint was invented in Vail eight years ago, and now it’s being implemented at events across the world.
Competitors traveled from across the country, and the world, for the competition.
Jennifer Chrimes, of Nottingham, England, won the women’s division after finishing second in 2014.
“I actually had a pretty smooth last run,” she said. “I didn’t make contact with many people, which is why I crossed the finish line first, but I could definitely feel some people hunting me down.”
Dane Jackson has been competing in the event for years, but he’s never taken home the gold medal, until this year.
“It’s super fun,” he said. “Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t. I managed to make it through and it’s just awesome.”
The top three men and women took home cash prizes, as well as all of their teeth after the full-contact kayaking race.
“It seems like this is American Gladiators meets kayaking, and who doesn’t want to be Blaze?” Baer said, adding a good 8-Baller is “stupid, not afraid.”
Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and email@example.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.
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