While the rest of the whitewater paddling world was hurling themselves off Sweet’s Falls then hurling back at camp at this year’s Gauley Fest, it was hardly the only whitewater event going on in late September. Across the country, paddlers were showing that there are other local events that fuel the stoke of paddling every bit as much as their West Virginia counterpart. Sure, they might not have pole dancing, sumo wrestling suits and drive AW membership, but they’re proof that the paddling spirit is alive and well beyond Gauley season.
Following is a PL rundown:
Throw Down Show Down, Glenwood Springs, Colo.
While some went to Gauley, others went to Glenwood Springs for the first annual Throw Down Show Down and its new whitewater park on the Colorado River.
Boaters from as far away as Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming showed up for the event, held on a smaller version on the monster wave that had paddlers blogging all spring and that prompted the U.S. Freestyle Kayak committee use it as the site of the 2009 U.S. Kayak Freestyle Team Trials here in Glenwood Springs.
“All you have to say is Glenwood Whitewater Park and ears perk up,” says Chris Vogt, owner of Glenwood Canyon Kayak. “We have a whitewater park that’s mentioned as one of the best in the nation. All the top pros in the world say it’s the best.”
The Throw Down Show Down was held as test for the 2009 event, and the venue passed with boat-flying colors. The goal: pinpoint any issues or potential problems organizers might face logistically.
“I’m calling it a wet run instead of a dry run because of [Sunday morning’s] weather,” organizer Chris Tonozzi told the Glenwood Independent. “We’ve found out where the sticking points are and certainly, we still have some work to do on the parking scene.”
In all, 34 kayakers competed in five different divisions, including pros Connor Flynn, Jed Selby, Leif Anderson and Brooke Bevan. Aspen’s Flynn took first in the adult expert category, with Jon Meyers second and Selby third. Boulder’s Joel Shute won the men’s adult novice group, while Glenwood’s Adrienne Prosser took the women’s title.
In the cadet division, Glenwood’s Niko Tonozzi bested Luke Farney and J.P. Griffith, who placed second and third, respectively. In the junior divisions Sage Franz beat out Luke Lubchenco, and Jessie Heitzman won the girls juniors division.
Proceeds benefited the production of the 2009 Team Trials and scholarships for the Youth Kayak League.
Wind River Falls Race
While paddlers back east were dropping Pillow Rock and Sweet’s Falls, those on the other side of the country were slinging their creekboats off the waterfalls on Oregon’s Wind River in the 3rd Annual Wind River Falls Race. “Every time I’ve done this race it reminds me of what a great section of river this is for a race,” says participant and organizer Luke Spencer. “The river has clean forgiving falls, gorgeous clear water, and amazing geology.”
The race takes place on Shepherds Falls, a series of four consecutive falls consisting of a 10-footer, a 15-footer, a manky slide and a six-foot weir. While a few swims ensued, for the most part the lines were as clean as the fun.
Contrary to past years, this year’s event featured a head-to-head format, which proved great for racers and spectators alike. “This race doesn’t attract all the big names but paddlers from Hood River and Portland always come out to join in on the fun,” says Spencer. “The river as always is low but even if you have to bump down to the falls they’re never too low.”
The Flume and Beyond Limits are the main rapids to contend with at lower flows, other than the section’s crown jewel waterfalls. In the end, it was local Todd Anderson soaring ahead to claim top bragging rights.
1. Todd Anderson
2. Robb Bart
3. Dave Hoffman
1. Christie Glissmeyer
2. Lindsey Gay
* Photo courtesy Luke Spencer, PDX Paddlers
Grassroots Action at the Charlotte Whitewater Course
The Gauley might have a natural river bed, but an event just south in North Carolina was more grassroots.
On Saturday, September 13, Fergus Coffey and Dave Hepp put together a wacko event at the Charlotte Whitewater Course featuring a diverse field of paddlers, reggae music, and good spirits. It cost $5 a pop to enter, with the winner taking the spoils.
“It was cool because we had all kinds of paddlers representing,” says Robin Betz. “We had everyone from Charlotte Park locals, to creek boaters, to Olympic slalom paddlers.”
The race began with six mass start heats at the top of the Class IV channel. The top two paddlers in each heat advanced to the winner’s bracket, and everyone else went to the loser’s bracket. After the field was split, the top two in each heat kept advancing, with the top five in the loser’s bracket offered the chance to win their way back in.
The format lent itself to classic battles right off the starting line as everyone jockeyed for position, dodging each other as well as the occasional raft.
In the end, local organizers held the upper hand, with course-designer Coffey taking first, ”Butter” in second, and Chris Gragtmans in third.