USA Wildwater News Fall 1999

From the Chairman… It’s a World’s year for both junior and senior wildwater racers! The senior Worlds in Treignac, France are just 10 months away while the junior Worlds in Vipitino, Italy are just 11 months from now. This newsletter contains first hand information on both World Championship venues written by American participants at each respective Pre-World Championships. Information on how and where the U.S. Wildwater Team will be selected, that will compete at the World Championships, is also in this newsletter.

Fall is a time for building the foundation that will support the final rigors of preparing for the World Championships. Also included in this newsletter are two training articles. The first article was written in 1990 by former World Cup champion Andy Bridge about the training regimen he used to prepare for the 1991 World Championships. It contains several time tested training principles that provides a solid plan for the seasoned wildwater racer. And after hearing both Michael Beavers and Matt Lutz say that weight lifting will be a big part of their respective Vezere campaigns, I thought it would be appropriate to include an article that appeared in Wild Water World Autumn 1997, the newsletter of the British Canoe Union. The topic is strength training in the weight room for wildwater racers and was written by Michael Mason.

And finally, I have written a recap of wildwater racing in this country during the past year. A year from now, at the close of the Sydney Olympics, the National Governing Body for wildwater racing will be the United States Canoe and Kayak Team (USCKT). As our sport moves closer to this transition, I think it is important for all of us to know what development has occurred in our sport during this past season and what we can do to contribute to the continued growth of our sport in the future.

2000 Wildwater World Championships at Treignac a Must-Race!

By, Michael Beavers, C-1, US Wildwater Team

". . . Tell you the Dolphin I am coming on
To venge me as I may, and to put forth
My rightful hand in a well-hallow’d cause."
Henry V, I.ii.291-93

Call it a millennial French invasion: from June 1st through the 4th, 2000, paddlers from around the world will arrive at the village of Treignac to prove mettle on a championship course certain to ferret out the fairly fit from the fully ripped of paddle sport’s elite.

In 1959, Treignac was the official venue of the first-ever Wildwater Worlds, and will play host to first World Championships of the new millennium—reason enough to train even harder this year!

The beautiful River Vezere flows through the "Plateau de Millevaches", or Plateau of a Thousand Sources, at the Heart of the Limousin region of Correze. Only a half day’s drive from Paris, the village is a convenient location for jet-lagged international travelers and European spectators alike. And if history is any indicator, the French federation will indeed put on a great show.

The number of participating nations should be impressive, too. During the May 1999 Pre-Worlds, the course attracted teams and participants from such arid nations as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The usual powerhouse European teams will be there, too, and will likely give the French a run for their money for podium real estate. This year the U.S. Wildwater Team will hold an eastern and western U.S. Team Trials, which will ease travel burdens for current racers and attract racers new to Wildwater to compete in the Worlds in France. (Keep your eye on for details later this year!)

The River Vezere

The River Vezere is fed a steady 15 cubic meters per second of dam-released water from Lac de Barisousses, filling a gorge comparable to the U.S.’s Savage and White Salmon Rivers and, except for a few places, there is constant chop to contend with. Within a minute or so from the departure the racer plunges into a lushly canopied, mossy-banked gorge with steady array of bow-slapping waves and holes.

From the staging area, racers enter a calm, two-minute stretch of flat water that moves through town, separated by two small chuted dams. But once one drops over the second dam, its all-out class III-IV whitewater fun. The most difficult sections are the Finot Bridge, Rocher des Folles (Madwoman’s Rock), Goujoniere (Perch Pool), and Les Serpents. All of the rapids are distributed evenly throughout the course and the river provides plenty of interim action to hustle through. Most of the rocks are quite visible, but the tannic, cola-colored water is more than capable to hiding a few surprises!

In particular, Le Goujoniere is a rapid that gave many racers fits during the 1999 Pre-Worlds. After about ten minutes of heart pounding, snot-inducing racing one comes to a horizon line rapid with two meaty holes to punch—only there’s a catch. The first hole conceals a piton rock that can punch back. And even if you are able to pull yourself through the first hole after a boat-stopping bow shot, there’s always the second hole to contend with! The chance for a 5-second delay or a spinout is nothing to sneeze at.

Fortunately, there are a couple of clean lines on either side of the piton, but you may have to take a few licks to learn them. A word to the wise: this is a year to bring a stern and a bow grunch pad so that a heavy, resinous front end does not hamper your race day time.

Training & Equipment

The Vezere tries in every way to make the bow bob, and will yield only if the boat is wielded as a sword rather than a Mack truck. This year it will be important to get plenty of training time on white water to build wave-parsing experience. There are many sections where one must be strong enough to pull body weight over constant 2-3 foot-high crests. As with all training years, it will be important to build a good aerobic base this fall, but make sure you supplement with weight training as well.

While the course provides constant white water action, there are very few big volume spots that would require a stable boat. The name of the game this year is narrow beam and all-out speed, and there are several boats that will likely fare well. Dagger Composites offers the proven Esox K-1 design and is planning this autumn to make a mold for the Hauk Bala C-1 as well. Also available is the Feeling—still a favorite amongst some of the top C-2 teams in the world.

So train up and enjoy your regimen of additional iron this year! This next spring will bring many opportunities to race Wildwater. To view the 1999 Pre-World Championship results and see what is happening in the world of Wildwater racing, check out: The U.S. Wildwater team is always in heavy recruitment mode, so if you are a slalom or a sprint athlete in an off-Worlds year plan to attend Team Trials as well as the invasion at the Treignac World Championships in 2000!

2000 U.S. Wildwater Team Trials

The 2000 American Canoe Association Wildwater Team Trials will be held at two venues. The eastern site will be the Nantahala River in Bryson City, North Carolina March 31/April 1 held in conjunction with the Nantahala Outdoor Center Spring Splash. The western site will be the White Salmon River in BZ Corner, Washington April 14/15, which was the site of the 1998 team trials.

The U.S. Wildwater Team that will race at the 2000 Wildwater World Championships in Treignac, France will be selected as follows:

  1. A total of four races will be contested; two races on the Nantahala River and two races on the White Salmon River. There will be a minimum of two weeks between each event (give or take a day) to allow athletes enough time to travel, learn the courses and compete at each venue if they choose to do so.
  2. Athletes must declare their intention to compete in the World Championships and/or World Cup prior to competing at the Team Trials in order to expedite the selection process following each of the four races.
  3. The winner in each class during each race will earn a spot on the U.S. Wildwater Team. In the event that the winner of a race has already earned a spot on the Team in one of the previous races, then the next finishing boat in that class will be selected to the Team.
  4. A total of four boats per class will be selected to the Team that will compete at the World Championships. In the event that fewer than two boats in a class qualify for the Team at either the eastern or western venue, then the respective number of boats in that class will be selected at the other venue to fill four available spots.
  5. A third boat per class will be selected at each venue that will qualify to participate in the 2000 Wildwater World Cup in addition to those boats selected to compete in the World Championships. Therefore, the U.S. Wildwater Team competing in the World Cup can field a team of six boats per class.

It is clear why the White Salmon River in Washington was chosen to be the western venue. It is a demanding run on good whitewater and one of the better wildwater race courses in the country. The Nantahala is not the most exciting choice for a team trial venue in the east; the whitewater is hardly demanding of higher-level navigation skills. But the benefits and disadvantages of each venue proposed in the east were weighed very carefully by the members of the Wildwater Committee and were based on much input received from racers. When it came time to make a final decision, the reasons for choosing the Nantahala were:

  1. Proximity to younger racers who can be recruited to participate in the race. There is great interest from several junior- and cadet-level racers in South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.
  2. Availability of a sizeable stash of wavehoppers and participants for an intro wavehopper/plastic class.
  3. Alignment with very prominent nearby slalom events within the same two-week period.
  4. Visibility for the sport among the recreational paddling community attending the Spring Splash.
  5. Replication of the Vezere's physically taxing water--even though it is shallow water as opposed to a lot of constant waves.
  6. Proximity to racers who have declared definite plans to travel to France in 2000.
  7. And finally, it is an annual ACA sanctioned event with a seasoned race organization.

Junior Pre-World Championships – Vipiteno, Italy


By Austin Krissoff, K1, U.S. Junior Wildwater Team

Upon returning home after last year’s Wild Water Junior World Championships in Lofer, Austria, my brother Nathan and I were determined to better represent the United States this year. Inspired by Andrew McEwan’s eleventh place finish in Lofer, we trained during the school year and for the entire month of June in preparation for this year’s Pre-World Championship in Vipiteno, Italy.

With a fully packed Volvo, loaded with five bubble wrapped downriver kayaks, my dad, Nathan, Brent Reitz (our coach), and his girlfriend, Claude Salter, steamed over Brenner Pass and discovered the Isarco River, home of the first international wildwater race in 1959. We jumped on the water after only a day to shake off the jet lag. Thankfully, the Isarco was characteristically similar to the Truckee, the river that we had trained on. The top half of the race course was full of small riffles with two prominent flat sections to pick up the pace. The last quarter of the course was continuous Class III choppy waves. It was not a course that would break our fragile boats if we strayed off line, nor was it a run that had any "must make" maneuvers. It was relatively problem-free, except for the fact that by the time we reached the finish line, the river consisted of practically one hundred percent RAW sewage. Welcome to rural Italy.

The first few days were spent learning the lines by following Brent down the course. We knew that one chest shot could cost us precious seconds. Perhaps one of the highlights of these early training days was one particular run when I passed the entire German team. As I later discovered, they were merely learning the lines and I was doing a time trial, but never the less, it was quite an ego-booster when the

German team, especially the ladies, saw the Americans pull up from behind. Training had paid off! My dad was also doing some considerable learning off of the water. He was learning how to drive in Italy. We decided that Italy reported no deaths from smoking because everybody died on the highway. We consistently had to pullover to let the hostile tailgaters pass. Including myself, there was also some considerable "backseat driving".

By day three, I was becoming increasingly concerned that I would have no carnage or interesting stories to report for my article. I was proven wrong when I realized that the sixty plus sewage outlets into the river had finally taken its toll. As John Weld once put it, "you’re not sure if your bottom is dropping out on the World, or if the World is dropping out of your bottom." Next year I’ll be sure to include Cipro. Other teams had many kids that got sick as well, even native Europeans. Luckily for me, it was done with by mid-week. Unfortunately, juniors from other teams became ill on race day and some even went to the hospital.

"I expected tents and banners and to say, ‘I’m here’…" exclaimed Dave Mason stressing his disappointment after arriving in Vipiteno to find cow pastures instead of valet parking for head ICF officials. Dave, a US representative International Canoe Federation judge, spiced up the trip with his humor and raconteur personality. "On the way over here I kept going down them streets that had signs with circles and the little line through them. I eventually figured out why I kept getting flipped off", he explained. After welcoming Dave into our group, we discussed everything from the ACA to USCKT to the happenings of Atlanta, all of which Dave is a faithful member.

Non-stop racing is basically a timed run that is held the day before the race to prepare timers and racers for the actual event. The non-stop order was picked out of a hat. Carl Barnes, the New Zealander to beat, was behind me, of course. He passed me about eleven minutes out into the race. He used half as many strokes as I did, but somehow he just whizzed right on by. I looked at the results. I scanned the top fifteen names but my name was not there! Carl passed me, but that was Carl. He placed twenty eighth in the Men’s World Cup. Then I found my name, thirty second out of thirty two racers. Dead last. Number thirty one was my brother. "Great!" I shouted, "What a difference a year can’t make!"

This year there were only eleven countries participating. Supposedly a slalom race had drawn a lot of racers while some countries had racers that had aged up. Last year there were sixty one paddlers. I placed fifty first. I was eighteen percent off of the winning time. I understood that there were fewer paddlers at this race and thus it would be more competitive, but I expected that I could at least step up from the bottom of the heap! Brent reassured us that it was only the non-stops. Things would change on race day. I hoped he was right.

Race day-I knew that I would have to go long and very, very strong in the top section, and then hold onto my race in the lower rapids. It was hard to concentrate at the start with all of the Italian lady racers warming up in only bikinis. I quickly reminded myself that I was representing America. With all my training under way, I owed it to myself to put it together. During the previous training week, my combined

quarter time was 19:54. In my non-stop race I went a 20:06. My personal goal was to at least match if not better my 19:54. After crossing the finish line, I glanced down at my personal stop watch and saw, 19:22. I had hammered down in the top section and stay on line in the lower. My training had paid off!! It made the entire trip worthwhile for that one race. Nathan bettered his quarter time with a 19:37. I ended up twenty third and Nathan twenty seventh. I am most proud of barely beating the women’s gold medalist. She had a 19:26. Carl won with a whopping 17:58. I was seven percent off of him, much improved from last year.

After completing a successful individual race, we met up with a kid from Switzerland for a mixed team race. We were horribly tired, but so was everybody else. Usually the team races are the following day, but for some odd reason, it was only two hours after the individual race. Surprisingly, we were awarded a Bronze medal for third place in the mixed country category. It was a category we weren’t even aware of.

Every country was given cheese, apples, and cookies as a gift to take home from Italy. Not only did I take that home, but also a re-energized desire to do even better next year at the Worlds at the same river. Next year I will be familiar with the course. For this upcoming year, I’ll train by three principles:

  1. Every workout push myself into the hurt zone for 15, 20, 30 seconds.
  2. Maybe do some AB crunches to impress the Italian babes. That’s mostly the fun in competing internationally, by the way.
  3. Think these words: "If you sit a lot you get better at sitting, if you run a lot you get better at running, and if you paddle a lot you get better at paddling." -Bruce von Borstel

    Happy Training!!

2000 U.S. Junior Wildwater Team Trials

The 2000 American Canoe Association Junior Wildwater Team Trials will be held at two venues. The eastern site will be the Nantahala River in Bryson City, North Carolina March 31/April 1 held in conjunction with the Nantahala Outdoor Center Spring Splash and senior Team Trials. The western site will be the Roaring Fork River in Carbondale, Colorado May 19 in conjunction with the final wildwater race of the Colorado High School Whitewater Cup. Both venues were used to select the 1998 U.S. Junior Wildwater Team that competed at the Junior Wildwater World Championships in Lofer, Austria.

The U.S. Junior Wildwater Team that will race at the 2000 Junior Wildwater World Championships in Vipitino, Italy will be selected as follows:

  1. A total of three races will be contested; two races on the Nantahala River and one race on the Roaring Fork River (this is due to the scheduling of events during the annual three day Crystal River Festival).
  2. Athletes must declare their intention to compete in the Junior World Championships prior to competing at the Team Trials in order to expedite the selection process following each of the three races.
  3. The winner in each class during each race at the Nantahala River will earn a spot on the U.S. Junior Wildwater Team. The first and second place boats, in each class, at the Roaring Fork race will also earn spots on the U.S. Junior Wildwater Team. In the event that the winner of a race has already earned a spot on the Team in one of the previous races, then the next finishing boat in that class will be selected to the Team.
  4. A total of four boats per class will be selected to the Team that will compete at the Junior World Championships. In the event that fewer than two boats in a class qualify for the Junior Team at either the eastern or western venue, then the respective number of boats in that class can be selected at the other venue to fill four available spots.

International Canoe Federation
Wildwater Committee Announcements

The following information is from the minutes of the ICF Wildwater Committee meeting that was held in Treignac, France May 22, 1999. Anyone can check out this information first hand by going to and selecting the ICF Wildwater Committee link.

WORLD CUP 2000: The 2000 Wildwater World Cup and Junior Wildwater World Championship scheduling will be finalized at an ICF Wildwater Committee meeting scheduled in October in Vipitino, Italy. Currently, the World Cup is scheduled as follows:

June 24-26 KARLOVY VARY (TCH Rep) World Cup 1 & 2
July 1-2 LANDECK (Austria - to be confirmed) World Cup 3 & 4
July 5-9 VIPITENO (Italy) World Cup 5 & 6 (finals)

The proposed schedule for the Junior Wildwater World Championships in conjunction with World Cup races 5 & 6 in Vipitino, Italy is:
- Wednesday, July 5th 2000: Non stop Juniors
- Thursday, July 6th 2000: Classic World Cup Race
- Friday, July 7th 2000:       Individual Junior World Championships
- Saturday, July 8th 2000:  Sprint World Cup Race
- Sunday, July 9th 2000:    Team Junior World Championships

Olympic future for ICF Wildwater racing?

The ICF Wildwater Committee will ask the board of the International Canoe Federation (all disciplines) to have sprint wildwater included in the Olympic program for 2004 (Athens) as a demonstration sport.

The arguments in favor of this proposal are:

Thoughts on My Success in the 1990 Wildwater World Cup
By Andy Bridge (Reprinted with permission)

At the suggestion of several people I am writing this to pass along my ideas and thoughts on my victories this summer (1990). I had hoped to place in all of the races, but never thought I would win four of four World Cup events. I was the only person in all of the classes to do this and I have some good reasons why.

After the 1989 season in which I had finishes of 5th, 4th, 3rd and 1st in the World Cup circuit I knew I was fast enough to win races against the top Europeans, but needed to race more consistently. Everyone in the top group of each class is fast enough to win but the key is pacing at race speeds. Over a course of five to six minutes the top paddlers are very similar in speed but in a 15 to 20 minute range, results can be very different.

The concept of pacing is difficult to describe and the only way to learn it is to drill it into your system by constant work over a time trial course with splits every few minutes. Most people tend to pace a race according to how tired their system is. This sounds safe and reliable, but you are tired during the second half and tend to go slower the closer you get to the finish line. My pacing strategy involves conscientiously holding back and staying relaxed the first half and then gradually increasing over the second half. This allows one to exert all of their energy right at the finish line, which is much more efficient over the course of the entire race.

Another observation I have after close study of videos is a powerful stroke in big white water is beneficial. My stroke on flatwater is similar to many others, but in big difficult water I tend to have a slower stroke rate with much more power. I think varying your stroke for different types of water is very important. In general, a relatively high stroke rate is good for flat and easy water. In big water, stroking with the waves and crosscurrents will use your power most efficiently.

Implementing the above two principles: pacing and variable stroke rate takes much time and practice. A training plan should emphasize these until they become second nature. There are many successful training plans and I will briefly list my basic workouts and principles.

Fall & Winter / September to February

In this six month period I do a large volume of training. Paddling 5 or 6 times per week, lifting weights 2 to 3 times per week and running 2 to 4 times each week. Paddling workouts consisted of:

Every two weeks I did a time trial on a canal with a coach timing and taking splits at designated intervals. We had seven split stations on a 25 minute course. After doing many of these it is possible to compare results with intended pacing. On my fastest times I have always been slightly slower in the first half. All the above workouts are done on the Hard-Harder-Hardest strategy from Bruce Fishburn. Each paddling "on" piece you exert maximum effort in the last third to exhaust yourself right at the end. All workouts are done point to point on a practice course.

Weight lifting. After much conflicting advice I began a weight program in October 1988. I have since become a strong proponent of weight training in the off season. A strong stroke is important. The paddling motion is so easy that it is difficult to get stronger by just paddling. I lift 2 to 3 times a week about an hour total time. The training is for upper body muscles, and using exercises that duplicate the paddling motion as much as possible.

Running. I started running as a way to train my cardiovascular system more when I was tired of paddling. An added benefit I have noted is controlled breathing. Running teaches you to breath efficiently and to relax. I think that 30 to 60 minutes is best and should be done at a fairly high intensity. Last winter I ran 2 to 4 times per week.

SPRING / March to May

In these three months you want to think about speed and racing. I phased out the weights in mid-March but kept running until the end of April. A large volume of paddling is not overly important in this time period, but high quality is. The goal is to keep endurance and pacing but add more speed. In March I did 6 to 7 paddling sessions a week. Similar to the previous schedule, but I added two new workouts:

In April I did 6 to 8 paddling workouts each week. Similar to March in many ways I but added another short interval session of four times 5 minutes on, with 2 minutes rest after each one. This month contained my first two-a-days. I also shortened many of my winter workouts to raise the intensity level. Sample workouts:

In May I did 7 to 9 paddling workouts per week. Similar to April but I added another sprint session of 2 minute pieces and a time trial each week. During this month I did virtually no running and usually did a two a day every other day. It is very important to pay attention to your resting pulse rate and eat properly during this period. If your standing pulse rate remains high for several days, then it is time for a rest day. I departed for Europe May 30 and was 20 seconds faster on my time trial course on the day I left than on the last day of April.

Mental training is important too. I have read several books on this subject the past couple of years and have become a strong believer in developing mental skills. I can recommend some books to anyone wishing to pursue this further.

Training thoughts in general. Practice hard-harder-hardest pacing on flat water until it becomes second nature. A powerful and variable stroke rate is very important. Practice paddling difficult tricky moves when tired. Train with other people half of the time to push yourself, the other half on your own. You have to be able to go hard when you’re on your own.

Good luck.

Strength Training for Wildwater?
by Michael Mason (reprinted w/permission)

After listening to Michael Beavers and Matt Lutz say that lifting weights will be a big part of their Vezere campaigns, I thought that it would be a good idea to print this article written by Michael Mason. It appeared in the Autumn ’97 Wild Water World, the British Canoe Union newsletter. Weight training is a personal endeavor to supplement wildwater training regimens. This information is only provided to give you some ideas to think about how you might supplement your own program.

Weight Training for Downriver. I have developed the majority of ideas promoted in this article over the last couple of years through conversations with Neil Stamps, Olympic flatwater paddlers and the gym guru himself, John Anderson. It is aimed at seniors that have undertaken weight training for a number of years and have good gym sense.

In my mind, weights should be an essential component of everyone's training but needs to be tailored specifically towards the demands and requirements of our sport. To me this means conditioning with the ultimate aim of developing brute raw strength and grunt, more correctly referred to as power. Success will require a combination of gross maximal strength and the ability to turn on power at regular intervals. The following schedule aims to show how this ultimate aim will come about.

Gym training consists of four different types of session:

A. Circuit Training - which can be used to supplement training on cold winter nights and gets your heart and mind used to working hard whilst being a good laugh and bringing variety.

B. Endurance Weights - 4 x 15 to 20 reps.

C. Strength Weights - 4 x 3 to 4 reps.

D. Power Weights - 4 x 6 to 8 reps.

Your weight training should be sectioned in to three periods and using dates from now to a peak for a May Worlds:

September to November. You are conditioning the body here for the power weights to come. 3 sessions a week of 2 x endurance and 1 x strength using:

These sessions are up to 2 hours in duration so make sure you keep topped up with carbo drinks.

December to February. 3 sessions each week, 1 x strength, 2 x power. Power weights are the key to success, it's all about speed of contraction and the `education' of the muscle fibres to contract

at speed. Power work should concentrate on 5 exercises of the pulling action whilst maintaining speed of contraction (if you can't it's either endurance or strength training):

March to May. 2 sessions a week, 1 x power, 1 x strength. There is no point training on weights all winter and stopping a few months before the big event, just taper. Quality power weights are not marathon sessions. They just take a short time to complete and focus on the pulling muscles to maintain maximal power output. For those unconverted, give weight training a good go as it will become a very enjoyable component of every week's routine. You'll also find the early improvements in strength are unlike any developments you can produce on the water and are a great motivator.

I would also advise undertaking training sessions on rowing machines as a regular part of the training regime as they offer an excellent time efficient, all body, all weather fitness session. I would welcome any feedback or questions on what I have offered here and information on other exercises or training methods that have proved to be particularly effective.

1999 Wildwater National Championships

The 1999 Wildwater Nationals were moved to the Arkansas River to an existing ACA sanctioned event 8 weeks before they were scheduled to take place in Washington on the White Salmon River, because sponsors pulled out of Gorge Games which canceled all events.

Sixteen cadets and juniors from 10 states competed in a Classic Race on Friday July 16 on last year’s National Championship course from Salida to County Line. The class II/III course featured Bear Creek Rapid setting up 6 minutes of continuous class III water at the end of the course.

On Saturday, July 17 all the cadets and juniors competed in a Sprint Race through Bear Creek Rapid along with 11 seniors. Each competitor paddled two sprints which were combined for a final sprint time. Following the sprints, cadet and junior winners were named combining the two days of racing. Then on Sunday, July 18, thirteen racers competed in a Classic Race on the class III+ Parkdale section of the Arkansas River from Spike Buck Rapid to Old Parkdale. Nathan & Austin Krissoff, just back from competing at the Junior Pre-World Championships in Vipitino, Italy, raced in both the junior and senior National Championship events. Nathan won his second consecutive National Championship in K1 Junior Men’s and finished 3rd in K1 Men’s while Colorado’s Nelson Oldham (the 1999 FIBArk winner) and Tim Sampsel each repeated as National Champions in K1 and C1, respectively. Lane Errickson, also of Colorado, racing in her second National Championship led the ladies. A complete listing of results for nationals is in the first appendix at the end of this newsletter.

I want to thank Jim Ingram, Bill Krissoff, Ben Sandiford, Pat and Stuart Wier, Chris Osment and countless others for their help with the Nationals.

Wildwater Sprints at Junior Olympics a Huge Success

On Friday, July 23 forty cadet and junior racers from 10 states competed in a head to head knockout sprint race during the 1999 USCKT Junior Slalom Olympics in Golden, Colorado. All competitors paddled Perception Wavehoppers to simulate a monoclass with two racers charging down the course side by side. The first to cross the finish line moved on to race again until there were only two competitors left to race. There were several close finishes that were decided just above the finish line, which featured a nice sized hole to slow down even the strongest paddlers. The most exciting race of the day was the very last to be run; the final sprint race in the K1 Junior Men’s class between Burch Fisher from Colorado and Jason Ng from California. The two were literally side by side during the entire 45 second sprint until they reached "decision rock". Burch was able to stay in faster water taking the left route around the rock while Jason was forced to go to the right side of the rock. Burch had a boat length lead as they approached the final drop, but was slowed by a chest shot as he ran the drop. This allowed Jason to sneak by Burch at the last possible moment on a smooth tongue of water, winning by a nanosecond (less than 12 inches of bow). It was an incredibly exciting finish to a great afternoon of head to head Sprint Racing.

The winners were: Gwen Greeley in K1W Cadet from Wisconsin, Meredith Hamilton in K1W Junior from Colorado, Trent Bowman in K1 Cadet from Utah and Jason Ng in K1 Junior Men’s from California.

Special thanks goes to Wayne Dickert, Director of Development for the United States Canoe & Kayak Team and Nate Lord, Race Chairman of the Junior Olympics for their support of a Wavehopper Sprint Race during the Junior Olympics. I would also like to thank the Dawson School, Nantahala Racing Club, FIBArk, Nelson Oldham and the Durango Center of Excellence (John Brennan, Susan & Jim Hamilton, Bill Clements and Andy Corra) for providing Perception Wavehoppers for the event. A thank you also goes to Tim Sampsel, Jon Boomershine and all the other volunteers that made this event possible.

Annual Wildwater Meeting, July 17
Salida, Colorado During Nationals

Present at the meeting were: Scott Overdorf, Jim Ingram, Ben Sandiford, Bill Krissoff, Tim Sampsel, Joe Winters, Gary Lacy, Nelson Oldham, Kevin Michelson, & Jeff Parker

The discussion began with a recap of the World Cup in New Zealand, PreWorlds in Treignac, France and the Junior PreWorlds in Vipitino, Italy. Gary Lacy talked about the venue for the 2000 World Championships as well as a good description of the Vezere. Bill Krissoff spoke about the venue for the 2000 Junior World Championships in Vipitino, Italy.

Tim Sampsel discussed plans for $4,000 being available at FIBArk 2000 to be earned not only by the fastest boat down the 26 mile course, but also being divided among top finishers in each class. With team trial events taking place on the west and east coasts, a National Championships in the middle of the country at one of the largest river festivals and oldest downriver races in the country was discussed. Classic and Sprint events would be held on more difficult sections of the Arkansas, such as Parkdale or Frog Rock and there would be at least one day of rest between Nationals and the actual FIBArk to allow competitors to rest and get ready for the "paddle for cash". In addition, at this writing the 2000 FIBArk has sent a bid to be listed on the international wildwater race calendar as an International C race used for World rankings. Therefore, with the potential for international competition and World ranking along with the $4,000 dollar cash purse for FIBArk, having Wildwater Nationals as part of America’s oldest downriver race and river festival seems like the best choice.

To date, the only other bid for Wildwater Nationals comes from Kernville, California. In the previous newsletter, a Triple Crown USCKT Nationals was discussed. However, Sprint has decided not to have its National Championships in California in 2000. At the moment, only slalom has committed to having their Nationals in California.

The major topic of the one hour meeting focused on the future of wildwater racing in the US. It was agreed that the direction of wildwater development needs to follow the path of the USCKT by identifying regional locations around the country that have a background in wildwater. Currently, there are pockets of wildwater activity in Colorado – as a state, Reno and Seattle in the west and Bethesda and Atlanta (including NOC) in the east. Next it is up to the wildwater constituents in these areas to take charge of creating programs by which resources are pooled in terms of boats and equipment, organized group training sessions and supporting local river festivals to increase the sport’s profile and create a strong sense of wildwater community in these areas. More importantly, follow-up with newcomers is crucial for continuing their interest in the sport.

With slalom being an Olympic discipline and the lure of rodeo for younger paddlers, wildwater paddlers must be recruited in order to increase the number in our ranks. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by having wildwater events at river festivals featuring other paddle disciplines. Hosting a Wavehopper sprint race, like the event held in conjunction with the Junior Olympics is a great way to get paddlers to try out wildwater.

The Year In Review

Since the transition of National Governing Body status from the ACA to the USCKT is only one year away, it is important to note what wildwater, as a sport, has done to promote itself in terms of development.

Thank A Volunteer: Wildwater depends on the strength of a dedicated group of volunteers who give freely of their time and resources to make this sport available to all of us. A lot of "behind the scenes" action takes place during the course of a year that goes unnoticed in the big picture. Many people take on organizational responsibilities that make it possible for wildwater to exist for you – the competitor.

And let’s remember the many volunteers around the country that organize and host annual downriver and wildwater events at river festivals, national championships and team trials. Please make an effort to thank volunteers at the next race you compete in. Organizers commit a lot of time and energy to make an event happen.

Development: 1999 was a huge year for wildwater. It marked the first time since 1992 that the World Cup took place somewhere other than Europe (it took place in New Zealand). Andrew McEwan and Middy Tilghmann, competing for the first time as seniors on the U.S. Team, each earned performance incentive funding; Matt Lutz also earned performance incentive funding at the Pre-World Championships at Treignac, France. Nathan and Austin Krissoff competed at the Junior Pre-World Championships in Vipitino, Italy and improved their times from 18% off the winner at the 1998 Junior World Championships to 7% off the winning time at this year’s Pre-Worlds. But what is truly exciting is the number of new participants in our sport this year. Here are some of the highlights:

So what does this information tell us? There are a couple of common themes that keep popping out.

  1. There must be boats and gear available for newcomers to use. There are very few "used" wildwater boats available in this country. However, there are many old wildwater boats that don’t get used much and are collecting dust in garages and under trees. If you have an old boat that you don’t use anymore, consider donating it to a program that can use it. Cadets and juniors will paddle wildwater boats – if they are available. But if they have to choose between buying a slalom boat, rodeo boat or a wildwater boat, the choice will never be to buy a wildwater boat if they have never had the opportunity to paddle one.
  2. Host a sprint race at slalom events like what was done at the Junior Olympics. They are relatively easy to organize, are over in two hours, can be paddled by most slalom racers not experienced in wildwater – AND they are great fun. Again, the key here is to have boats available for participants to use.
  3. Follow in the path of the USCKT and develop Wildwater Centers of Excellence, or dovetail off of existing USCKT Centers of Excellence where there is a wildwater population. This is already happening informally in a number of locations around the country. Training with others helps to raise everyone’s standards, creates camaraderie and sense of commitment, and helps to raise the level of awareness of the sport in that area.
  4. Follow-up is the most important factor in getting somebody hooked on wildwater. It is easy to get somebody to try wildwater, whether during a calm flatwater stretch or in a sprint race where boats are provided. But it takes effort on our part to get that person back in the boat and started on a program.

And Finally…GOT the wildwater blues in November? Then read on…

Race News:

There is a race in Malaysia on the Selangor River, that will be organized in November 1999, and the best European paddlers are invited and can be helped in their trip expenses, or get a free ticket. For details of the race see the site listed above. For information on selection / invitations, contact François Beauchard as soon as possible. Last year’s results (top 3 and Americans) were as follows (8 countries, 27 participants):

RANK NAME                  COUNTRY      TOTAL

1.     REMI CLERMONT FRANCE   1.00.06
2.     NELSON OLDHAM     USA             1.00.21
3.     COREY NIELSEN          USA                   1.00.59
4.     CHARLIE MAC ARTHUR USA           1.01.06
5.     BRAD LUDDEN            USA                   1.02.30
6.     JED WEINGARTEN     USA                   1.06.39
17.   JASON AXTELL         USA            1.20.25

Selangor International Whitewater Festival ’99

Our original objective behind the 1998 whitewater race, was to introduce the sport and concept of a real whitewater festival to Malaysia. A true whitewater festival includes more than one type of competition. Therefore, in order to make the Selangor International Whitewater Festival 1999 a more comprehensive festival, we will increase the event to include two extra competitions. Unfortunately, the Festival '99 might be the last one of this caliber in Malaysia (see below).

The event will be held at: November 13-14th. There will be organized trips to Slim River and Sungkai River about 30-45 minutes drive from Tracks Whitewater Center prior to the race. If time permits, there will be organized trips to Sempam and Kelau Rivers about an hour’s drive from Tracks Whitewater Centre.

There have been a few changes from last year’s event. First of all, we have expanded the Festival ’99 to include a couple of extra races. Apart from the classic 14 km down river race, the following will be added in this year’s event:

1. Head-to-head race that will be a sprint race over 600-800 metres of class 3-4 whitewater. This format has been included to increase competitiveness of technical paddlers such as slalom paddlers and because it is very spectator friendly. The starting point will be at Luit River and go through Rocky Drop (IV), Big Drop (IV) and Big Drop Corner (III). All participants must use the same type of boat.

2. A rodeo show case event will be held too. This will not be a real competition since there are not enough local paddlers to contribute in this. Instead, it is a showcase competition, hopefully with participation of some of the world’s best rodeo paddlers.

3. There will be a shorter race for beginners/novices. The race will stretch over 3 km and the 10 best will qualify for the "real" down river race.

4. There will be held two types of kayaking clinics one week prior to the festival. There will be one RODEO-course and one SLALOM-course for interested kayakers. Instructor for RODEO will be Brad Ludden (World Bronze Winner 1998, European Champ 1998). The SLALOM instructor will be Corey Nielsen (US national development team). The courses cost RM 300.00 per person (~75 US$).

5. The post-festival trip this year will go to Bali.


In spite of massive protest from local residents, native tribes and ecotourism operators, the Selangor State Government is adamant about the vast negative impacts of such a dam. The dam is said to be built due to drinking water shortage in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia is a tropical country with rainfall exceeding 2 meters a year !!!) but there are many conflicting information about the true need for water. Unfortunately, the Selangor State Government seems to ignore the warning signals. An Environmental Impact Assessment report was published by the Dam-consortium, however, this was alarmingly incomplete with gross mistakes pertaining to economic feasibility, siltation problems and mitigation plans.

Tracks Outdoor has tried to make the Government understand that a dam-solution is a gross and irreversible mistake. Further, we have come up with viable alternatives. However, it appears to have been completely ignored and at present there is little hope for the river to survive beyond spring 2000.

Therefore, the Selangor International Whitewater Festival 1999 will most likely be the last on this beautiful river. Tracks Outdoor has tried to locate other suitable rivers, however, it has been unsuccessful.

And as always, I welcome any comments about and contributions for this newsletter. Check out the current issue of USCKT’s Canoe and Kayak Racing News. There are several wildwater articles in it including a photograph of Austin Krissoff racing at the 1998 Junior Wildwater World Championships at Lofer, Austria. I want to thank Michael Beavers and Austin Krissoff for the contribution of their articles to this newsletter and Andy Bridge and Michael Mason for allowing me to reprint articles they wrote a number of years ago. I also want to thank Ian Stewart for his article on the New Zealand World Cup and Charles Albright for his piece on the Reno training camp that appeared in the last newsletter.

Until the next newsletter, paddle hard and remember to take a junior or someone new to the sport with you the next time you go out!

Scott Overdorf
Chairman, American Canoe Association Wildwater Committee
1026 5th Ave
Longmont, CO 80501