Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sam Sutton wins Gorge Games

Tao Berman and Sam Sutton giving the low down on how the race went - Photo Kurt Jane (contact)

After a huge success at Voss Extreme Sports Week in norway by the Kiwi crew our focus soon turned to a trip on the middle kings in california. With the news that the river had dropped out we were soon informed by Evan that there was another extreme race up in Oregon. With the cars loaded up we set out on the 13hr drive north to the border of Oregon and Washington for the Gorge Games. A similar set up to Voss week where a set of sports compete for best in each sport. With my shoulder and arm still out of order I took to the bank and camera to document yet another kiwi victory. Day 1 was a qualifying time trial for the extreme race on the Green Truss section of the White Salmon River. 3rd place was Todd Anderson, 2nd Tao Berman and 1st by over a second Sam Sutton.

Sam leading the pack in every heat - photo Kurt Jane

With the top 15 qualifying for the Extreme race and only split second seperating them it was anyones race. The course was over a series of big drops with the crux move over 'Big Brother', a 25foot drop with a cave on the exit which claimed 50% of the races. Tao's training programe paid off and took out 1st place followed by Sam in second and fellow Bliss-stick paddler Honza Lasko took out 3rd place on the podium.

One happy man - photo Kurt Jane

With a change in the programe the paddlers were now faced with the boatercross race the same day. With enough time for a feed and some water the paddlers were back on the water fighting for the boatercross title. Fierce competition took place on the river with one incident of debate of rules and disqualification when Honza was taken out half way down the course with a fend to the head with another competitors hand.

You be the judge, Honza getting a hug from Anderson - Evidence Photographer Kurt Jane

There was no disqualification but the heat was re-raced and Honza dominated. Slowly the competition was whittled down to the top 4 races. The banks were lined with film crews, photographers and spectators as the races took off.

Finals, only 1 winner - photo kurt jane

Once again Sam lead from the gate, Berman faught it out for second place with fellow kiwi Bradley Lauder with one wave slowing brad up to let Tao sneak into second. By a few boat lengths Sam Sutton took 1st, Tao Berman 2nd and Bradley Lauder 3rd place.

Left to right - 2nd Berman - 1st Sutton - 3rd Lauder - Photo Kurt Jane

Sam Sutton is making his mark on the Extreme Race scene winning his second magor boatercross this year. Watch out for him at the Sickline race in Austria later this year.
So the races are over and beers are all gone so we are sitting in a coffee shop watching the longboard downhill slalom on the main st in hood river and discussing a plan to head for the steep creeks in Washington then on to BC.
Well done Sam!

Berman and Lasko Fight for position in semis - Photo Kurt Jane

Kiwi's making bank! Photo Kurt Jane

Concert in town after the race - photo Kurt Jane

I have some more photos of the race and some video coming soon, Cheers to Kurt for getting these pics and well done to the boys for representing!