The water might still be a little low in Colorado, but that didn’t stop 28 kayakers from breaking out their boats for a little racing.
In early April, Monarch Ski Resort hosted its 4th annual Snow Boatercross event, pitting paddlers head-to-head against one another down a specially constructed course on the Freeway run. While the snow provided a medium much different than the water of the Arkansas River used for boatercross events during the FIBArk festival, the course was every bit as fast and fun, with the format having heats of four with the top two advancing.
“The event this year was a huge success,” says Monarch’s Eric Ramsey. “We had a great turn out, everyone had fun, and no one got hurt.”
That’s not to say it was all smooth sailing. When eventual winner josh Bechtel served as the first guinea pig down the course, he flew across the pond at the bottom and over the padding that was supposed to stop competitors. “They built the course the day before, but it hadn’t been tested by a boat,” he says. “So I decided to probe it for them. Needless to say, after my probe run we determined it was way too fast and dangerous. So they shortened and slowed it down a bit.
Even still, organizers, racers and spectators saw two raft teams fly out of the course at full speed into a wooden shack, sending one racer to the hospital. Fortunately, the injuries weren’t serious.
“It was basically a giant bob sled course with the finish line on the back side of a slushy pond,” he adds. “As far as anyone knew it was the only one of its kind and it was more fun than I could have imagined.”
After four hair-raising rounds, Bechtel ended up taking home the gold. “My Karnali turned out to be the ideal race boat for snow,” he says. “I’ll definitely be back to defend my title next year.”
1st place- Josh Bechtel (Prize: Jackson Kayak)
2nd place- Peter May (Prize: Cruiser bike)
3rd place- David Spiegel (Prize: 09-10 Monarch season pass)
4th place- Eliza Wicks-Arshack (Prize: PFD & paddle)