On to the North Fork: Wegman, Levinson take Homestake, Downriver Crowns at GoPro Games


Call it the Wegman/Levinson Games, and a heckuva showing by a 13-year old girl. That’s the paddlesports summary of this year’s GoPro Games in Vail, Colo., as, after wrapping up a weekend of high-level competition, the world’s best kayakers are now en route to Idaho’s North Fork Payette for the North Fork Race followed by the Payette Games.

In what organizers called the busiest single day in the event’s 13-year history, on Saturday over a thousand athletes, (both human and canine) jumped, paddled, ran, rode, climbed and even crawled their way on and around Vail, with tens of thousands of spectators filling the streets to enjoy the competitions and check out the latest and greatest gear featured at over 80 booths in Gerber Gear Town.

As a paddling wrap, the Bud Light Homestake Creek Race, held at the highest level ever, saw plenty of swims and other DNFs, with Issac Levinson of White Salmon, Wash., besting Dane Jackson by nearly three and a half seconds for the win. Joe Morley took third. For the women, Martina Wegman from The Netherlands continued her winnings ways, beating 13-year-old — yes, you read that right, 13 — Sage Donnelly in second and Lousie Jull in third.

“It was a great course this year,” says Levinson. “The high water made it faster than ever if you had good lines.”

From there it was on to the Bud Light Lime-a-Rita Down River Sprint, with the high water levels on Gore Creek making for fast finishes. Levinson once again showed his paddling strength and endurance to claim victory with a time of 17:05.26, ahead of Great Britain’s Morley and Dane Jackson in third. Wegman also kept up her streak, winning in 17:38.83, ahead of New Zealand’s Jull and local Natalia Gray from Eagle, Colo.

In freestyle, Jackson roared back, as expected, pulling off a rarely seen quad combo to beat out Dustin Urban of Buena Vista, Colo., and Hunter Kaditch of Columbus, Ga. In the women’s competition, two-time World Champion freestyle kayaker Claire O’Hara of Great Britain overtook France’s Marlene Deville for the win, while 13-year-old sensation Sage Donnelly from Carson City, Nev., finished in an impressive third place.

Finally, in the SUP Surf Sprint men’s race it was a battle of ocean surfer versus whitewater pro, with Kai Lenny of Paia, Hawaii, duking it out with Michael Tavares of Apex, N.C. In the end, Lenny won in a time of 18:24.23, only twenty seconds ahead of Tavares. Takahata Masayuki of Japan finished third. In the women’s race, Gillian Gibree of San Diego, Calif., won with a time of 19:49.92 ahead of Natali Zollinger from Moab, Utah, and Jenny MacArthur from Snowass Village, Colo.

For full results CLICK HERE