GoPro Mountain Games inspires athletes to change rafting for the better

Ryan Huck founded Recycled Rafting Material to divert waste from landfills and give it a new life in rafting equipment.
courtesy photo

Ryan Huck found a love for being on the water in his teens, but after competing for fun in the GoPro Mountain Games Pacific Down River R2 Raft Sprint at Vail last year, the 20-year-old is now driving the sport forward in more ways than one.

“It was really crazy, I just remember before the race I was a huge water addict and I thought it would be fun to go racing,” Huck said, recalling the event that turned his passion from a laid-back activity to a race. . “We were excited to go do it and have fun, we hadn’t done it before.”

This year the Pacific Down River R2 Raft Sprint It’s Saturday June 10.

“I got up there and I saw Dane Jackson hanging out,” Huck recalls of competing in last year’s GoPro Mountain Games. “So I just went up to him and told him what’s up and started talking to him.”

It was then that Huck realized that Jackson, a legend in the kayaking world known for jumping waterfalls, would be his competition.

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“The first round, Caleb and I crushed it. Then we go to the next round and we crush him,” Huck recalls. “Then we get to the semifinal round and we see that we’re competing against Dane Jackson and we’re like, ‘No way, this is for the best.'”

Ryan Huck competing in last year’s GoPro Mountain Games.
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Despite losing to Jackson and his partner R2, Huck’s experience in the Mountain Games helped the 20-year-old find a calling in watersports.

“That’s why the Mountain Games are so great, because you get to compete against these professional athletes,” he said. “It was a great race, and I’m very excited to do it again this year, hopefully racing Dane again.”

Huck first discovered his love of the water through float trips.

“I just fell in love with the river and floating on it,” he said.

Then two years ago, he began managing Eagle River and Dowd Chute.

“I really got caught on the whitewater bug and stopped doing fun, chill family floats and stuff like that and really started to focus on whitewater. And I just got hooked,” she said.

That season, he ran Dowd Chute 50 times and continued to improve his rowing skills. All of that led up to last year’s competition at the Mountain Games.

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“It was last year’s race at the GoPro Mountain Games that made me want to stop whitewater racing in my 9-foot boat and start doing R1 and start paddling,” he said. “That race was definitely a significant moment that changed me in my whitewater career.”

Huck, who lives near Crested Butte but has family and friends in Eagle County, is currently pursuing his master’s degree at Western Colorado University with a focus on the outdoor industry. In the winters he tunes skis and fits boots, and this summer he’ll be working at a Crested Butte taco shop.

While getting his degree, he is also starting his own business: recycled rafting materials.. Their goal is to divert waste from the landfill and give it a new life by creating a waterproof product with multiple uses, in the hope of making entire rafts out of recycled material.

“What we are doing is taking the PVC billboards out of the landfill. So we are still using PVC, however we are diverting it from the landfill and reusing it to make a new product. So instead of buying new materials to make our product, we’re diverting it from the landfill.”

Huck is using literal billboards that you would see on the side of the road, making each product unique, depending on the billboard used.

Recycled Rafting Materials is starting with sleeping pads and aims to eventually make entire rafts out of recycled materials.
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Recycled Rafting Materials is starting with pads for sleeping, floating, throwing in the back of a truck, anything that might come in handy for a waterproof mat. In the future, he hopes to make dry bags and rafts out of recycled material.

“So people can really feel good about this product because it has the same comfort and durability as a paco pad, yet the material that is used is already used and recycled,” he said.

In addition to studying and starting a business, while trying to spend as much time on the water as possible, Huck is also making a movie this summer. Along with a few friends, he will take advantage of the high water levels due to the heavy snow season and go rafting across the state, some of which will be first drops.

“We really want to emphasize that I am rafting these things and there may never be rafting or kayaking ever again because we had a crazy water year in Colorado, and if we don’t take action now, will we ever see another? year like this? she asked her.

Watch for Huck at this year’s Pacifico Raft Cross at the GoPro Mountain Games. And if he crosses paths with Jackson again, may the best team win.

To follow Huck’s new business and his movie, follow Recycled Rafting Materials on Instagram or visit