The GoPro Mountain Games have made Vail the epicenter of the mountain world since 2002, but they’ve never had a year quite like this.
Much like the mountain people who make the event special, the GoPro Mountain Games are strong, adaptable, and able to take on major challenges. That’s why today the Vail Valley Foundation, which owns and operates the annual GoPro Mountain Games, announced the postponement of the annual mountain sports, music and lifestyle event.
The event is now scheduled to take place in Vail Aug. 20-23 (it was previously scheduled for June 4-7, 2020)
The event will stay as true as possible to the original free-to-spectators, four-day, multi-sport festival format that has made it a seminal event in the outdoor sports world each year.
“The mountain community is strong and resilient, and although these are difficult times, we are confident that we can get through this together,” said Vail Valley Foundation Vice President of Sales and Event Director, Dave Dressman. “Although we are disappointed this beloved project cannot take place during its normal June time frame, we hope the exciting news of the postponement to August triggers optimism for our mountain community that there will come a time when we can come together to once again celebrate the incredible spirit of mountain lifestyle in Vail.”
Dressman and the Vail Valley Foundation stressed that the health and wellbeing of all Mountain Games participants, athletes, spectators, staff, sponsors, and partners would be paramount in the decision-making process as organizers looked ahead to the new August dates.
The Vail Valley Foundation, the Town of Vail, Vail Resorts, GoPro, and other key Mountain Games partners will consult with public health officials to make a final go/no-go determination on the August dates by June 1 at the latest.
“If we get to a point where the new August dates are not viable, and/or hosting of the event presents health risks to anyone we serve, then at that time we will announce a cancellation of the August event,” Dressman said. “We hope that doesn’t happen, and we will remain optimistic, but the health of our mountain community, staff and all of our attendees is priority number one for us.”
GoPro Mountain Games partners, athletes and sponsors were extremely supportive of the decision.
“This event speaks so much to the heart and soul of our community, and we’re proud to partner with the Vail Valley Foundation, Vail Resorts, and all our community businesses and partners to do all that we can to keep this event on the 2020 calendar if conditions allow,” said Vail Mayor Dave Chapin. “For now, we’re optimistic that we will be all together, outdoors, enjoying the GoPro Mountain Games in 2020 during these new August dates. These games will be an important component of our recovery, not only economically, but more importantly, will lift us all up emotionally to show our resiliency in working together as a community.”
Water levels are much lower in August than in June, and that means whitewater events will be impacted by this change.
“Whitewater athletes are a creative bunch,” said the Vail Valley Foundation’s Mac Garnsey, co-Director of the event. “We are going to work with them, and all our sport specialists, to see how we can keep this edition of the GoPro Mountain Games as close to the original as possible, but there simply is not enough water in Homestake Creek and Gore Creek to hold the exact same whitewater events that we have in the past.”
Vail Valley Foundation staff are currently working on plans with sport specialists across all 12 disciplines to determine what changes need to be made to events like fishing, climbing, DockDogs, trail running, mountain and road biking, disc golf, yoga, and the GMC Ultimate Mountain Challenge. They are also having open and honest conversations with sponsors, local partners, the Town of Vail, Vail Resorts, and other officials to shape the event to be as similar to the original as possible.
Music, too, is a big part of the GoPro Mountain Games, with three nights of free music at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, a venue that is also managed by the Vail Valley Foundation.
The music lineup is likely to remain largely intact, and organizers are optimistic about bringing the originally-scheduled lineup to the Amphitheater for the August dates, including Bluegrass Superjam, Deer Tick, Andy Frasco & the UN, and Twiddle & Mihali.
“Additionally, we will continue to program live music in various daytime locations with the help of numerous local musicians who have built what is a thriving Vail Valley music scene,” Dressman said.
Athlete registrations for the June event will continue to be honored, said Vail Valley Foundation Vice President of Marketing & Operations, Sarah Franke.
Regisiration will be temporarily paused on mountaingames.com, however, until such time as organizers can confirm the exact new dates and times for each event.
“For years, the GoPro Mountain Games, always held in early June, has been a celebration of the arrival of summer and the mountain lifestyle that comes along with the new season. We believe this will still ring true, even in August, as all of us reflect on how much we cherish any moment we are fortunate enough to enjoy these beautiful mountains,” Franke said.
Athletes who have already registered for the 2020 event will be contacted to inform them of any changes to their selected event(s). Existing registrants can come and compete in the August event, push their registration to 2021, or receive a full refund on registration fees. Those who wish to continue supporting the event, even though they may not be able to attend, will also have the option to donate their registration fees to the nonprofit Vail Valley Foundation that hosts the event each year.
Organizers said they would soon have a more complete picture of what the new competitions, formats, courses, rules, and prizes, and that they would be in touch with current and former athletes and spectators with up-to-date information as decisions are made.
“We thank everyone for their patience during these difficult times,” Franke said. “As we adjust from an event in early June to one in late August, some of our events will be exactly the same, some will alter slightly, and others will change more significantly. We look forward to sharing some of our fun and creative ideas with the GoPro Mountain Games community in the coming weeks.”
Stay up-to-date on our social media channels or at mountaingames.com/newsroom.