The Gorge Games in the Pacific Northwest – the Columbia River – are back. After suspending the games for 4 years (the last ones were in 2004), the Games are back under new management, with events planned for summer 2008 and winter 2009.
You can see carnage and courage in a wide array of outdoors sports throughout the Columbia River Gorge.
Though plenty of elite athletes from around the country will be participating, weekend warriors are encouraged to take the competitive plunge. There will be 34 competitive and 87 divisions competing in 10 sports.
The Gorge Games began in 1994 and has a history of being one of the most dynamic, exciting action and outdoor sports events in the Pacific Northwest . The Gorge Games attracts world class athletes to spectacular, world class sites in the scenic Columbia Gorge. No other place on earth offers wild rivers, pristine forest, craggy mountain peaks and the challenges of the Columbia Gorge itself – along with unparalleled conditions for incredible action sports all in one location.
Events are scheduled from Cascade Locks to The Dalles - on both the Washington and Oregon sides of the Columbia River.
Teaching children about action sports and encouraging young people to engage in healthy lifestyles is one fo the core missions of the Gorge Games. They will offer free and paid clinics throughout the Games.
Organizers expect at least 1,200 athletes and 20,000 spectators — but are prepared to handle the 40,000 who showed up at the height of the old games.
2008 Gorge Games Highlights
Six-person team races, 11 a.m. Saturday, July 19
Outrigger racing has a 12-year record in the gorge and survived the games’ four-year absence. About 300 paddlers are expected, about one-third of them of Hawaiian descent.
The 10K trail run
9 a.m. Saturday, July 19
The course is still being determined because of low-elevation snow, but organizers say it’s going to be picturesque — and gnarly, with rocks underfoot and lots of elevation gain and loss. More than 100 runners are expected, many of them local.
8 a.m. Sunday, July 20
300 runners will start at the Mosier Tunnel and run along the part of the Historic Columbia River Highway that is closed to traffic. The course takes runners down the long stairs from the Hood River Heights, and the race ends downtown.
Riverboarding: extreme downriver race
1-3 p.m. Friday, July 18
Riverboarding, a new sport for the Gorge Games, should be a crowd-pleaser.
Contestants will be going down class 4 and V rapids.
Husum is the place to watch this race.
Kayaking: extreme downriver race
10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, July 19
An eight-mile race on the White Salmon River includes three waterfalls. The only spectating, though, is at the end of the course at BZ Corner. The number of spectators is limited to protect the trails and the environment, so arrive early.
Mountain biking: Super D downhill race
9 a.m. Saturday, July 19
Amateurs are advised to just watch this one. Post Canyon, where the event takes place, “has such demanding terrain that it’s actually in video games,” games co-owner Josh Ryan says. There’s a 3,000-foot elevation drop over about four and a half miles in the Super D, with 30-foot jumps and narrow bridges 20 feet off the ground, with safety nets.
ADDITIONAL GORGE GAMES LOGISTICS
- When: July 17-20
- Where: Centered in Hood River, with shuttles to venues throughout the gorge
- Cost: $20 per day or $35 for four days; $8 per day for children.
- More info: Complete schedule, registration for classes and to enter events: gorgegames.net
- Going Green: The sustainability plan includes wind power, carbon offsets, recycling, composting, bike valet service and dozens of other elements.
- A free shuttle system from Hood River should reduce traffic and make it easier for athletes and spectators to find venues throughout the gorge.
- An on-site campground, sort of an outdoorsy Olympic Village for competitors and their families, will ease the overnight lodging shortage.
- A winter version of the Gorge Games, the first ever, is planned for February, 2009 in Hood River and on Mount Hood.
- Kids classes in most of the sports will be offered July 19-20. Register early — junior classes in rock climbing and windsurfing are already full. Sign up at www.gorgegames.net