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For Sixth Time, It'll Be Athletes Vs. The Gorge

Revamped Gorge Games return in 2002 with new title sponsor

The Gorge Games, set for a July 13-21 run, will seek to expand the limits of their boundaries in 2002 with a new primary sponsor and a revamped competition lineup.

Ford replaces Subaru as the event's title sponsor, giving the games new horsepower in terms of marketing and exposure, according to Rufus Frost, director of adventure sports for Octagon, which operates the games.

"Ford's participation in the games takes us to a new level," Frost said. "We share a complementary vision to build the property and, as a result, Ford's participation will extend well beyond traditional sponsorship."

He added the alliance will not only deliver marketing results for Ford; it will provide athletes, spectators and TV viewers "an unrivaled experience in outdoor adventure sports."

The Gorge Games, now in their seventh year, attract some 1,500 athletes from 30 states and 13 countries -- and some 40,000 spectators from all over as well -- annually.

Television coverage this year will be provided by NBC Sports and the Outdoor Life Network, the games' new cable partner.

NBC plans to air the Gorge Games on consecutive Sundays, Sept. 1 and 8, while program dates on OLN have not yet been announced.

This year's competitors will test their skills in eight disciplines: adventure racing, climbing, kayaking, mountain bike racing, kiteboarding, outrigger canoeing, windsurfing and trail running.

The sport of 49er sailing has been eliminated from the competition lineup. Moreover, the trail running course has been moved from the Snowden area to across the river, in the hills above Hood River.

All told, athletes will be competing for shares of the largest prize purse in the games' six-year history: $200,000 (double last year's moneybag).

Competition is scheduled to get underway this Saturday, July 13, and wrap up next Sunday, July 21.

Besides the competitions, athletes and spectators alike will be able to enjoy the Adventure Village at the Hood River Marina, which opens next Wednesday, July 17, at 10 a.m.

The visitor-friendly village (hours: 10-7 July 17-20, 10-5 July 21) will offer film screenings, clinics, games and activities, outdoor gear demonstrations and product samplings over the course of five days.

GORGE GAMES

SCHEDULE

Saturday, July 13

Events:

Blowout, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 17-mile upriver windsurfing and kiteboard racing from Stevenson waterfront park to Hood River Event Site (on-call for wind; alternate date is Sunday, July 14).

Entertainment:

Full Sail Street Party, 7-11 p.m., Full Sail Brewery, Hood River.

Sunday, July 14

Events:

Nike ACG 10-kilometer and half-marathon trail runs, 9 a.m. to noon, Whoop-Dee Trail, hills above Hood River.

Monday, July 15

Events:

Freestyle Windsurfing, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., The Hatchery State Park (on-call for first wind-appropriate; alternate dates are July 16-21).

Tuesday, July 16

Events:

Kiteboarding, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Hood River Event Site (on-call for second wind-appropriate; alternate dates are July 17-21).

Wednesday, July 17

Events:

Head-to-Head Kayak Racing, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., White Salmon River, BZ Corner Launch Site.

Entertainment:

Opening Party, 7-11 p.m., Adventure Village, Hood River Marina.

Thursday, July 18

Events:

Qualifying for Extreme Kayak Competition, noon to 3 p.m., White Salmon River, BZ Corner Launch Site.

Clinics:

Women's program, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; kids' program, 11-7, Adventure Village.

Entertainment:

Banff Film Festival, 7-10 p.m., Adventure Village.

Friday, July 19

Events:

Extreme Kayak Competition, White Salmon River (closed to public due to safety).

Climbing, 3:30-7 p.m., Adventure Village.

Clinics:

Kids' and Enthusiasts' programs, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Adventure Village.

Saturday, July 20

Events:

Climbing, 1:30-7 p.m., Adventure Village.

Start of 24-Hour Mountain Bike Race, noon, Whoop-Dee Trail.

Start of Balance Bar 24-Hour Adventure Race.

Outrigger Canoeing, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Stevenson waterfront park.

Clinics:

Kids' and Enthusiasts' programs, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Adventure Village.

Entertainment:

Music in the Village, 7-11 p.m., Adventure Village.

Sunday, July 21

Events:

Climbing, noon to 4 p.m., Adventure Village.

Conclusion of 24-Hour Mountain Bike Race, noon, Whoop-Dee Trail.

Finish of Balance Bar 24-Hour Adventure Race, Adventure Village.

Outrigger Canoeing, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Stevenson waterfront park.

Clinics:

Kids' and Enthusiasts' programs, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Adventure Village.

For more information about the Ford Gorge Games, call (866) GORGE-01, or visit www.gorgegames.com on the Internet.

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