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Champions Crowned at GoPro Mountain Games

Champions Crowned at GoPro Mountain Games

Well, that just happened.

The GoPro Mountain Games was an absolute whirlwind. A competitive circus for adventurers and outdoor thrill seekers alike. From Annabel Anderson taking on 11 different events to stand-out performances from the river’s best paddlers, the Super Bowl of whitewater SUP racing certainly lived up to the hype.

The action began on Saturday with the YETI Downriver SUP Sprint–a time-trial slalom along a three-mile course of bucking rapids and wave trains. Between peak flow and a talented field of paddlers, claiming victory in this event would take a flawless run down the course.

This is how you run a rapid. Photo: Zach Mahone

On the Men’s side, the final podium read like a who’s who of top river athletes. Masayuki Takahata–Japan’s fastest whitewater paddler–narrowly edged Spencer Lacy–Colorado’s SUP whitewater poster boy– by a razor-thin margin of 1.08 seconds to take the victory. Rounding out the podium was fellow whitewater master Mike Tavares, with a time of 18 minutes and 57 seconds.

The Women’s race provided a bit of a shocker with New Zealand’s Annabel Anderson defeating a talented field of dedicated river athletes. While we probably shouldn’t be surprised, the legendary Kiwi had not even competed on the river since 2015 and was in the midst of a grueling 11-event effort–she was competing for the Ultimate Mountain Challenge title at this year’s GoPro Mountain Games.

Seven seconds behind Anderson came the paddling pride of Kernville, Rebecca Giddens, with a strong runner-up effort. Meanwhile, Tokyo-based paddler Hiroko Sasaki placed third after an impressive run. One notable absence from the women’s field this weekend was Boulder river surfing queen Brittany Parker, who is currently recovering from a recent surgery.

Cami Swan’s strokes in and out of the eddy are nothing short of graceful. Not an easy task in raging whitewater. Photo: Mike Misselwitz

Sunday featured the crowd-pleasing YETI SUP Surf Cross, where heats of four paddlers raced rail-to-rail through the rapids and around checkpoints in a carnage-filled clash of top-tier talent.

The spills came early and often as even the best paddlers suffered untimely dismounts. This included a shocker in the Men’s semi-final heat when Lacy was eliminated after taking a tumble while rounding the final buoy. Paddling clear of the chaos was Salt Lake City’s Mike Tavares, whose clean run in the final round resulted in a well-earned victory.

“The last couple rounds were brutal and it felt like they were all like final rounds,” said Tavares. “I just paddled hard and fortunately came out on top.”

Tavares navigating the tricky waters in the SUP downriver race. Photo: Misselwitz

The Women’s SUP Surf Cross event was a hard-fought battle between the elite ladies of the river including Natali Zollinger, Camille Swan, Keiko Yoshida and Trinity Wall.

While Anderson also competed in this event, she borrowed the wrong-sized board which led to several unintended swims and an early exit for the Kiwi. In the end, it was an elated Zollinger who emerged victorious in the final round.

That’s a wrap from this year’s GoPro Mountain Games, but make sure to check out the exclusive photo gallery above to get a full sense of all the whitewater action from Vail. –Jack Haworth

Check out our gallery of 70 SUP shots from the 2017 GoPro Mountain Games.

Results

Men’s SUP Surf Cross

  1. Mike Tavares
  2. Nicolas Feyol
  3. Dane Jackson
  4. Bradley Hilton
  5. Bodhi Harrison
Full Men’s SUP Surf Cross results

Women’s SUP Surf Cross

  1. Natali Zollinger
  2. Courtney Kerin
  3. Camille Swan
  4. Keiko Yoshida
  5. Annabel Anderson
Full Women’s SUP Surf Cross results

Men’s Downriver SUP Sprint

  1. Masayuki Takahata
  2. Spencer Lacy
  3. Mike Tavares
  4. Dan Gavere
  5. Nicolas Feyol
Full Men’s Downriver SUP Sprint results

Women’s Downriver SUP Sprint

  1. Annabel Anderson
  2. Rebecca Giddens
  3. Hiroko Sasaki
  4. Camille Swan
  5. Natali Zollinger
Full Women’s Downriver SUP Sprint results
Until next year, GoPro Mountain Games! Photo: Misselwitz

Related

Learn more about Annabel’s whirlwind weekend in Vail, Colorado.

Exclusive gallery from the 2016 GoPro Mountain Games.