Professional and amateur outdoor athletes from around the world will converge upon the mountain and rivers of Vail, Colorado. this weekend for the 2017 GoPro Mountain Games. Moab’s own Natali Zollinger, 33, will compete in the standup paddle sprint and surf cross events for Team TriggerPoint in her fourth appearance at the games as a professional whitewater standup athlete. She previously won the Women’s Downriver Sup Sprint at the GoPro Mountain Games in 2015.
“This year is completely different,” Zollinger said. “As a professional athlete, I’ve really had to learn to juggle the responsibilities that come with competing and maintaining a “work-life” balance. I’ve created a lifestyle and a business where I’m constantly on the water, working and teaching people about the ways of the river and hoping to prolong the sport and introduce more people, especially women. All of that takes a toll on my body. I’ve also endured some emotional highs and lows this year that have made me re-think my approach to training.”
With a bevy of podium appearances behind her, Zollinger has sought out to simplify her training, which she calls “working smarter, not harder.” She’s prioritized mobility techniques and uses TriggerPoint foam rollers and mobility products to prime her body before movement – a practice she also teaches her clients. She’s also started using neuroscience headphones which stimulate the motor cortex of the brain to mimic movement without stressing her body, physically, and added Wim Hof breath work, meditation and visualization into her training regimen.
“It may sound new-age, but my body rarely gets a break between my own training and then teaching. I’ve shown I can win and that I can podium. But each year I always end up getting hurt. So this year, I’ve done less training and more mobility and mental training so I’m excited to get to Vail because I’ve never felt better.”
The GoPro Mountain Games spans nine sports and 25 disciplines including cross-country and road cycling; freestyle, 8-Ball, sprint and extreme kayaking; raft cross; World Cup Climbing; stand up paddle sprint and surf cross; as well as trail, mud and road running, dog comps and the Ultimate Mountain Challenge.
In addition to the athletic events, the GoPro Mountain Games will include a mountain photography competition, film festival, an interactive exhibition and demo area, live music, and mountain lifestyle parties. The Mountain Games are a project of the Vail Valley Foundation.
Natali Zollinger to make fourth appearance at GoPro Mountain Games