Big Oscar, Tao Gets Huck Doll, Bobbing for Spam and more


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Paddling Immortality
Plus Big Oscar, Toy Tao, Bobbing for Spam, A Fire in the Boundary Waters, and More!

Achieving paddling immortality takes more than mad skills and big brass balls. You’ve also got to preserve the silver-and-cellulose record, says Kent Ford, whose “Digitize Paddlesports Project” ( converts filmed exploits to digital video. “Film of the early paddling days is decaying in closets across the country,” he says. “We’re documenting the evolution of paddlesports and can use all the footage we can get.”

Nov. 7 was Big Tuesday in the Pacific Northwest. Fueled by the biggest single-day rainfall in Oregon history, the Hood River crested at an awe-inspiring 16,000 cfs, reports Sam Drevo, who sampled the run with Tao Berman, Josh Bechtal, and eNRG Kayak instructor Dave Hoffman. The latter suffered a ferocious beat-down, prompting the pros to walk out of the gorge. Says Drevo: “It’s easier to hike two miles than swim five.”

“Look, you don’t understand. There was shrinkage!” A sudden blizzard couldn’t keep 11-time Molokai Champion Oscar Chalupsky from his workout on Brooklyn’s Jamaica Bay, nor did it prevent our paparazzo from snapping this shot of the so-called Big Oscar afterwards.

Scott Shipley has officially done it all. The exalted jock can now lord it over his engineering buddies with a spread in Popular Science. The magazine featured Shipley’s masterpiece, the Charlotte National Whitewater Course, in its December issue. Meanwhile, Shipley’s 1992 Olympic teammate, the never-upstaged Eric Jackson, scored a spread of his own in Men’s Journal’s “Athletes of the Year” compilation.

The wait is over, Tao fans. Paddling’s real-live action hero has been immortalized with his own Tao Berman Huck Doll, complete with its own kayak. Our take: Kids will do things to Toy Tao that no GI Joe figure could hope to survive.

Another year, another round of Mud-bobbing for Spam at Gauley Fest. “It’s by far the most disgusting event at the fest every year,” says Dagger’s Ken “Hobie” Hoeve. Absent from this year’s fest was the late-night boxing extravaganza, replaced by an impromptu mud-wrestling tournament in the Spam pit.

Last summer’s massive Cavity Lake blaze in the Boundary Waters may have put a damper on the canoe rental trade, but business at Mike Prom’s Voyageur Canoe Outfitters was sizzling. The veteran guide manned a grill for three straight days, charring burgers for 250 firefighters. “They were definitely hungry,” he says.

Quote of Note:

“I wish I was unemployed and single again.”
–Jack’s Plastic Welding owner Jack Kloepfer on when floods brought Utah’s Dirty Devil River up to 5,500 cfs Oct. 7.

Staff Post
Paddlers writing about all things paddling.


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