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    Video Spotlight
    The Story of Two Worlds Dai Koyamada V16 Sit Start
    The Story of Two Worlds Dai Koyamada V16 Sit Start

    Crag Clown


    It's fall, but the Red River Gorge is so humid we're all looking for a break from the heat. The lights are finally set for a portrait I'm taking of a big name, 5.14-sending sponsored athlete, when over walks Nelson Carayannis, a climber of considerably less talent and strength. Carayannis, casually gripping a Gatorade bottle, asks if I'm ready.

    "You only get one try on this shot," he says.

    As quick as that, Carayannis unscrews the lid and dumps the electrolyte-infused beverage all over his face. nelson-carayannis_ch

    I met Nelson 10 years ago at a skate park and made the bad decision of giving him my number. He called me every morning at 7 a.m., hounding me to take photos of him skating to give to his sponsors. My girlfriend hated him. I finally agreed and quickly discovered that he was a machine: He killed it. I decided to take him climbing for the first time. He has since done 5.13, but that's not the point. He's a Greek SOB who's guaranteed to keep you laughing. Here's why:

    1. Wardrobe: Carayannis wears clothes that your mother donated to Goodwill a decade ago. This includes grape-smuggling boy shorts and the worst vacation resort party shirts you've ever seen.

    2. Work Ethic: A couple of summers ago, Carayannis lived in Rifle, projecting the country's best hard routes and working at City Market to cover his $5/night camping fees. A register clerk at the store, Nelson would generally piss away an evening annoying customers on the self-checkout line by repeatedly asking them to re-scan their items.

    3. Midnight Gambler: Carayannis once ate 12 Twinkies in 10 minutes on a verbal bet. His winnings were a two-day stomachache and severe constipation.  

    4. American Pride: Last year, Carayannis and I went to Spain to climb. On the way home, we connected in London's Heathrow airport, but were forced to stand on the hot runway tarmac during a delay. As casually as a student would ask a teacher a question, I asked Carayannis which was wider: the Atlantic Ocean or the United States. Carayannis, wearing a bright blue NASCAR jersey, answered in a booming mock-Southern drawl, "Nothing is wide-er than the You-Nited-States, home of the free, land of the brave!" The bystanders weren't stoked on this patriotic display.

    5. He'll Do Anything For a Laugh: Carayannis takes climbing none too seriously. And that may be the most refreshing thing about Nelson Carayannis of all.

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