By the time we got finished unboxing all the e-schwag GoPro threw our way, it was 1am and our hotel room looked like someone ransacked a Best Buy. Compromised plastic clamshells, torn boxes, and crumpled blister cards lay awash in tech-tees, energy bars and USB chargers. This, apparently, is what happens when the world’s hottest POV camera maker decides they want to make an impression—and make one they did.
Pro kayakers joust in a gauntlet-style event that pits blocker “8-Ball” boats in the way of racers trying to get down river. Some of the paddlers wore full-face helmets in the full-contact event.
Amidst pinballing kayakers, long-jumping dock dogs and sinewy-muscled climbers at last weekend’s GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, Colo., the company gave a group of journalists the opportunity to put their latest gear—along with that of their technology partners—through the paces in a media event called the GoPro Mountain Games Tech Challenge.
The GoPro Mountain Games Tech Challenge was no joke. The kayak paddle, obstacle run and XC mountain bike race-and-edit event took its toll on journalists bodies and tested their aptitude at integrating technology into the experience.
The event started with a spirited paddle down the high-flowing class II and III rapids of Gore Creek—a waterway swollen with cold runoff from a strong snow season. And while the high water made paddling less technical, the water’s swiftness and numerous creekside “strainer” trees added a level of danger. Larger rapids—or holes, as they’re called—were also more challenging, and bigger than ever.
With Gore Creek at peak levels, the current was swift and capsizing was common.
A five-mile obstacle course run called the Bad Ass Dash followed, sending participants scrambling up snow fields, through claustrophobia-inducing drain pipes, and up, down, over and under a seemingly endless progression of cargo nets, monkey bars and misappropriated landscaping elements.
Running through the fountains of Vail Village was among the easier obstacles on the Bad Ass Dash’s five mile course.
Finally, we grabbed rental mountain bikes to take on the cross country course. For the mostly sea level-ish band of journalists, the mountain bike’s lung-busting, high-altitude, steep climbing and relentless grind proved to be too much, with only a handful completing a full lap of the Vail track. Even those of us accustomed to suffering on a bike had no illusions about going out for the optional second lap with a full morning’s worth of intense effort already under our belts.
Though the delicious new Santa Cruz Nomad featured nicely in the GoPro expo booth at the Mountain Games, we ended up riding rental bikes for the XC race that were just as heavy, though nowhere near as capable.
Intermixed with all the physical activity were training sessions for both GoPro products as well as Microsoft. And while we don’t yet have much time on the Surface 2 Pro tablet or Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone Microsoft supplied for the event, so far we’re impressed with the devices’ ease-of-use and integration with GoPro’s Studio editing software and remote app. We’re even seeing upside to the latest version of the company’s much maligned Windows 8 operating system.
Throngs of outdoor enthusiasts flocked to Vail Village for the GoPro Mountain Games.
We’ll continue to use the gear and report back on our experience as well as give you the lowdown on all the other product in our schwag bag. Stay tuned!