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Gorge Games able to af-Ford upgrades

No one can be sure how much wind to expect at this year’s Gorge Games, but the competitors can still expect big air — or rather, airtime.

Thanks to the efforts of Connecticut-based Octagon Marketing, the 2002 Ford Gorge Games — held in and around Hood River July 13-21 — will be broadcast on cable television’s Outdoor Life Network in addition to two hour-long programs on NBC in September.

“OLN is a great fit for the Gorge Games,” said Octagon senior account representative Peter Lagiovane. “We’re still working out the details, but this partnership will give the games and the athletes even more exposure than in years past.”

NBC has promoted the Gorge Games since 2000, while Ford Motor Co. just signed in early March to replace Subaru as the games’ primary corporate sponsor.

Another major upgrade to this year’s competition is the issue of the cash purse, which totaled approximately $100,000 in 2001, but will be bumped to $200,000 this year.

“That’s a big draw for me right there,” said 2001 Blowout champ and Gorge Games record holder Cory Roeseler. “I might have to start winning freestyle events again.”

Lagiovane said the doubling of the cash purse and the presence of sponsorship partners like NBC, Ford, Yahoo!, Nautica, Outward Bound and Balance Bar instantly adds to the event’s credibility.

“Doubling the prize money really puts us up to another level,” he said. “With the names we have signed on this year, we’re playing in the big leagues now.”

Aside from all the promotional efforts of the past few months, Lagiovane said that spectators and competitors can still expect the same hospitality and event management as last year.

He said all the 2001 venues would be used again, with the possible exception of the head-to-head and extreme kayaking competitions.

Instead of congregating in BZ Corners, Wash., — a less “extreme” section of the White Salmon — officials hope to return the competition to Big Brother Falls, the event’s home in 2000.

“With the amount of snow and rainfall this year, we’re hopeful,” Lagiovane said.

No new events have been announced this year, although rumors abound that last year’s inaugural 86-mile adventure race will be increased to 100-plus miles.

“The Punchbowl was the best rappel section I’ve ever done,” said 2001 competitor and former Hood River resident Nelson Snyder, who has also competed in world-class adventure races such as the Eco Challenge.

“The mountain bike-leg was also one of my favorites, but the winds during the paddle section made the course pretty challenging overall,” he said.

Competitors can now register for the 2002 Gorge Games at www.gorgegames.com.

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