Happy New Year! I hope this newsletter finds you all in good spirits and training hard for the upcoming season. For those of you training for a spot on the 2000 U.S. Wildwater Team, team trials is just over 3 months away. By now you all should be aerobic animals from the endurance foundation you have built during the past several months. Based on the training information presented in the Fall Newsletter, your workouts should now be taking you towards the danger zone. Old Man Winter is here for the next couple of months and it is the time of year that challenges the resolve and dedication of even the most seasoned athletes. Keep your focus and up your ante. The competitive season is just around the corner and will provide the rewards for all your hard work.

For those of you new to this sport, wildwater racing is the whitewater version of downhill ski racing with competitors racing kayaks and decked canoes at top speed over a 3-4 mile section of the river. The action is fast and exciting as racers call on their endurance and knowledge of the river to get to the finish line in the fastest time. The event draws competitors in the men’s and women’s kayak classes, and men’s single and double decked canoes, known as C-1s and C-2s. In addition to the elite classes, race organizers at the Eastern Team Trials have introduced a plastic boat class. Paddlers new to Wildwater will test their skills in plastic kayaks such as the Perception Wavehopper or Prijon Beluga. These plastic boats are similar in design but more forgiving than the composite boats elite racers use.
(this paragraph submitted by Carolyn Porter)

This newsletter includes information to help you map out the 2000 race season. There is information on Team Trials and the National Championships. The 1999 US Wildwater rankings are also in this newsletter along with the 2000 International Wildwater racing schedule and a listing of wildwater races in the U.S. Downriver races that are part of established river festivals are a great way to get started in the sport and meet racers who are wildwater veterans. Other news includes an article on wildwater racing in the ‘80’s and information on future World Championship venues along with information on the newly formed Mid-Atlantic Race Series

I want to thank Carolyn Porter, Matt Lutz and Chris Norbury for submitting articles that are included in this newsletter. I encourage everybody to send any kind of news that you would like to share with the wildwater community through this newsletter or on the usawildwater website. You can do so by contacting me at 303-682-2674 or by email me at: Also, Michael Beavers is working on a revamped wildwater website that will be up and running in the near future and he needs photos of wildwater racers in action. Carolyn Porter and Chris Hipgrave need our support and thanks for organizing the Eastern Team Trials on the Nantahala while Matt Lutz deserves the same support and thanks for his efforts in organizing the Western Team Trials on the White Salmon.

People Making A Difference: Chris Norbury deserves a HUGE thank you for all of his effort in compiling the 1999 rankings of over 600 racers who competed in wildwater races around the country this past year. He and Ted Newton have been a driving force in the resurgence of harnessing wildwater activity in the Mid-Atlantic region. A big thanks also goes to Mike Vorwerk who donated a Feeling C2 to the Dawson School Canoe & Kayak Team. This gesture is making it possible for two juniors to train for the Team Trials and a chance to compete in the 2000 Junior World Championships. I also want to thank Jim Ingram and Bill Krissoff for their behind the scenes work supporting the 2000 U.S. Team (at the senior and junior level, respectively). I want to recognize Dave Mason for his dedication to the sport of wildwater. In addition to being former ACA Commodore, he is Vice Chairman of the ACA Wildwater Committee and is currently a member of the International Canoe Federation Wildwater Committee. He travels to Europe to attend semiannual ICF meetings in addition to being an ICF race official at senior and junior World Championship events where he is a familiar face and friend to U.S. racers competing at those races. Both Dave Mason and Jim Ingram work hard at keeping me out of trouble and on top of things. And as always, I want to thank Jim Seymour, Director of Programs and Events at ACA, for his support of the Wildwater Committee.

Ignore the frost on your boat and train with others when you can. Remember that though this is the time of year that will just be a faint memory come race day, it is also the time of year that your training can separate you from the rest of the crowd. And the next time you go out paddling, take a junior or someone new to the sport with you.
Scott Overdorf, Chairman – ACA Wildwater Committee

2000 Wildwater Team Trials Information

SELECTION PROCESS (reprinted from the Fall 1999 Newsletter): All athletes competing at the Team Trials (juniors and seniors) must be a current member of the American Canoe Association (ACA). No exceptions will be made. You will not be eligible to compete in the selection of the U.S. Wildwater Team if you are not an ACA member. You can join on-line by going to: and clicking on the American Canoe Association link or you can call ACA directly at 703-451-0141.

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 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 2000 World Cup can field a team of six boats per class.

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.

Junior Team Information and Travel Itinerary: Juniors qualifying for the World Championships must be current members of the American Canoe Association, possess a valid passport and have proof of health insurance that will cover medical emergencies while traveling in Europe. Scott Overdorf will be the Team Leader/Coach and Bill Krissoff will be the Team Physician. Patty McCool and Tim Sampsel will also be traveling and coaching the Team. Unless families make their own plans, the U.S. Junior Wildwater Team will fly to Munich, Germany on June 30, arriving in Vipitino, Italy on Saturday, July 1. The Team will return home on Monday, July 10. The actual race schedule is listed below. Any questions about junior eligibility or travel should be directed to Scott Overdorf (303-682-2674) or


Eastern Trials Nantahala River – Bryson City, NC
(Juniors & Seniors) March 31/April 1, 2000

by Carolyn Porter

The nation’s best wildwater racers will compete on the Nantahala River on March 31 and April 1, 2000, to earn a spot on the US Wildwater Team. The team will represent the US in the 2000 World Championships in Treignac, France in June and in other international competitions. A junior team of paddlers ages 15-18, will also be selected at this event to compete in the Junior World Championships in Vipitino, Italy in July. The Eastern Team Trials on the Nantahala will consist of two days of racing. The top finisher in a class each day will earn a spot on the US Wildwater Team based on the selection criteria described in the preceding information. Race organizers are particularly pleased that the experienced senior competitors can train and race with their junior counterparts.

Organizers will host a series of informal training weekends for competitors on the Nantahala Team Trials course on the 3rd weekend of every month between now and the race. The dates will include: January 15/16, February 19/20, March 18/19 (contact Chris Hipgrave for more information – see how below). Meet outside the NOC store at 10am either day to figure out shuttles, workout, etc. There will be access to the weight room, paddle ergometer and lake if people desire. Plenty of floor space is also available for out of towners so they won't need to camp out in the cold.

Eastern Team Trials will be held in conjunction with the Nantahala Outdoor Center’s (NOC) annual Spring Splash! festival, which is expected to draw over 10,000 people. The event features sample programs of NOC activities such as biking and paddling and a popular outdoor gear flea market. "So many things have come together here to guarantee an excellent event," says race co-organizer Carolyn Porter. "The variety of racers of different ages and skill levels, and the excitement of Spring Splash! will make this Team Trials unique." For further information or to volunteer, go to or contact race organizers:

Chris Hipgrave at 828-488-1377,
Carolyn Porter at 828-488-2176, ext 166,

Western Trials – White Salmon River – BZ Corner, WA
(Seniors) April 14-15, 2000
by Matt Lutz

If you raced on the White Salmon in ‘98 then you know what to expect. If you neglected your duties and did not participate that year then you are in for a treat. The White Salmon River, directly across the Columbia River from Hood River, Oregon is the most demanding wildwater course in America. High water like in ‘98, results in a very pushy run with powerful hydraulics, boat crunching holes and eddy lines that will turn you so fast even Scott Shipley would be proud. Low water gives a totally different feel. If you like submerged rocks combined with steep drops that are unscoutable, then this is your course. Either way, bring your repair kit.

The river level fluctuates greatly. If it’s cold, expect low water; rainy and warm, then you are in for a ride. Portland should be your destination if you are flying. From there, rent a car and drive to Hood River Oregon. In ‘98 people found that it was much cheaper to stay on the Oregon side. When you get to town pick up a map of the area. The put in for the course is in the town of BZ Corner, Washington about 30 minutes from Hood River. The finish is just upstream of Husum Falls. Depending on the level expect a race of anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes.

This trials is the final two selection races and times will be taken and recorded for only those individuals who are competing for a spot on the U.S. Wildwater Team. The put-in is privately owned land and requires a $2.00 put-in fee for each practice and race run. There will be no entry fee to help competitors offset the put-in fee.

A few more notes about the river. This is very cold water; thus float bags are strongly encouraged for safety reasons. If you swim, get out of the water immediately. If you have float bags in your boat, others will be able to get your boat. The river is very cold, it’s very dark and there is no way to hike out of the gorge. It is almost impossible to scout the rapids on this river, so make certain you are always paddling with someone familiar with the run. Hypothermia is a very real possibility on the White Salmon. Lastly, this race course is very unforgiving, so be prepared for this challenge. This race course will magnify your weaknesses and needs to be treated with great respect. As always questions comments concerns complaints etc. Matt Lutz 206-540-7196 or 206-527-6083 or email:

Western Trials – Roaring Fork River - Carbondale, Colorado
(Juniors) May 19
, 2000
by Scott Overdorf

The third and final selection race for the 2000 U.S. Junior Wildwater Team will take place Friday afternoon, May 21 on the Cemetery Run of the Roaring Fork River. This is a class II/III run is characterized with continuous chop and big waves, similar to the Junior World Championship course in Vipitino, Italy. This race is also the third and final wildwater race of the Colorado High School Whitewater Cup, so there will be a large junior contingent competing at this race. The Colorado Rocky Mountain School is the host organization for this annual event. For more information, contact Scott Overdorf at 303-682-2674 or email:

WORLD CUP 2000: The 2000 Wildwater World Cup and Junior Wildwater World Championship schedule was finalized at an ICF Wildwater Committee meeting held last October in Vipitino, Italy and is as follows:

World Cup 1 & 2 June 24-25-26 KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic
World Cup 3 & 4 July 1-2 LOFER, Austria
World Cup 5 & 6 July 7-8-9 VIPITENO-STERZING, Italy

2000 Junior Wildwater World Championships: This schedule is in conjunction with World Cup races 5 & 6 in Vipitino, Italy:

July 6 Non Stop Junior World Championships
July 7 World Cup Classic
July 8 Individual race Junior World Championships
July 9 Team race Junior World Championships & World Cup Sprint
July 10 Raft race.

2000 International Race Schedule: Two races are scheduled in the United States as International C Wildwater races. Results from these races will be used in compiling World Wildwater Rankings. The two races are:

The Ocoee Double Header April 7 & 8. There will be two classic races from Slice and Dice to Powerhouse Ledge. The USACK Olympic Slalom Team Trials will be contested the same weekend on the Ocoee Olympic course. Therefore, there will be no wildwater sprint race.

FIBArk 2000 June 18. This 26 mile, class II/IV race from Salida to Cotopaxi is the oldest downriver race in America. It will be celebrating its 52nd anniversary and will have $2,000.00 in prize money ($500 for the fastest K1, $500 for the fastest K1W and the remaining money divided among other placing boats in each class).

The complete race schedule that will be used in 2000 for World Wildwater ranking is as follows:

1- World Championships Vezere France
2- World Cup 1 Karlovy Vary Czech Rep.
3- World Cup 2 Karlovy Vary Czech Rep.
4- World Cup 3 Lofer Austria
5- World Cup 4 Lofer Austria
6- World Cup 5 Vipiteno Italy
7- World Cup 6 Vipiteno Italy
8- Ocoee Int. Race Tennessee USA
9- FIBArk Festival Colorado USA
10- Fulda Int. Race Fulda Germany
11- Socca Int. Race Bovec Slovenia
12- Enza Int. Race Italy

2000 U.S. Wildwater National Championships: The ACA Wildwater Committee unanimously voted to have the 2000 Wildwater National Championships on the Kern River in California in conjunction with the USACK Slalom National Championships. The Kern River Alliance will be the host race organization. At this time, the exact dates have not been set. However, the event will take place during the beginning of August at the Miracle Hot Springs section of the Kern (class II/III+). There will be one day of sprint racing (combined total time of two sprints) and a classic race. Points are earned World Cup style for each day of racing and the competitor in each class with the highest point total is declared National Champion. When dates have been set, this information will be posted on and a mailing will be sent out.

1999 U.S. Wildwater Rankings
by Chris Norbury

For the first time in two years the ACA Wildwater Committee has compiled rankings for downriver in the US.  The rankings include any races that were held on Class II or over, whatever length, and the times must have been recorded to allow calculation of percentages from the winner.  In addition the race must have included a composite or plastic downriver boat in the results.  For instance, the Russell Fork race won by Chris Hipgrave in a Wavehopper, counts towards the rankings, but the Great Falls race, won by Eric Jackson, did not include any Wavehopper and so did not count.

The race results used were also rated by race importance and field strength.  The highest race importance factors were given to those races that counted as internationals (e.g. the Ocoee Double Header) or the National Championships or Team Trials.  Other established races that are held to a format resembling international downriver races were next in importance, followed by more "extreme" races, mass start races, and then local races. Race importance went from 1 (e.g. Ocoee) to 0.8 ( e.g. Dickerson Whitewater Sprint). Field strength was calculated on the number of US team members racing, or, in the case where there were no current US team members racing, on the number of ex-US or foreign team members racing.  All rankings were calculated from the best percentage of a total of 5 races, or part thereof. Results from 46 races, ranging from races in New York to races in Alabama, from races in Colorado to races in the Pacific Northwest, were used in the rankings.  Races ranged in difficulty from races on the Nantahala to races on the Russell Fork and over Ohiopyle Falls.  Over 650 boats were ranked in the various classes, although the majority of paddlers participated in only one race through the year. Hopefully next year many more paddlers will participate in more than one race.

As expected, Andrew McEwan, from Germantown, MD, and paddling out of the Bethesda Center of Excellence (BCE),  won the K1M ranking by a stretch. Andrew was undefeated over Classic length races this year, losing out only in a Wavehopper sprint on the Arkansas River to Cody Harris.  Andrew won races on Tohickon Creek, the Ocoee, the Cheat (by over 5 minutes), the Gauley, the Roaring Fork and the Potomac, but missed out on the Upper Yough. Second was former US team member Ted Newton (Lehigh Valley Canoe Club), who narrowly held off the challenge of former Swiss team member Heinz Roethenmund (BCE) by beating him convincingly in a race on his home river, the Lehigh.

The results of the Junior Men's rankings bode well for the future.  Nathan and Austin Krissoff (Reno Wildwater Center) both paddled consistently well throughout the year to place first and second.  Trips to the Junior World Championships in the past few years have increased the chances of these two increasing the strength of the ranks of the senior racers in years to come  Its worth noting that Nathan Krissoff would have placed fourth in the senior rankings. Also making a strong showing, despite never having paddled a downriver boat until July of this year, was Simon Beardmore (BCE) who improved dramatically and should challenge for a top spot nationally next year. 

In Women's K1 Cathy Hearn (BCE) took first place, courtesy of good performances in sprint races on the Nantahala and Ocoee rivers.  Second was Jennie Goldberg, paddling for the League of Northwest racers in the popular Northwest series of races and third was Trish Chambers. In the Junior category Zuzana Vanha (Team Colorado)  paddled strongly in the National Championships in Colorado, but was beaten out by Beth Karp (BCE) who improved steadily through the year and managed to post more results.

In C1, the national ranking champion was Joe Winters (Team Colorado/FIBArk Paddling Club), who narrowly edged out Tom Wier (Team Colorado/FIBArk Paddling Club).  Having graduated from the junior ranks last year Tom made a big impression on the senior ranks this year, beating Joe in 3 of 4 races.  However, Joe finished third at the National Championships, beating Tom who had a disappointing performance on day 2 during the National Championship Classic race relegating him to a second place-ranking overall.  Two time National Champion Tim Sampsel (Team Colorado/FIBArk Paddling Club), now racing mostly in C2 with Scott Overdorf finished the season ranked third.  In C2 the Bailey brothers, Russell and Reid (Georgia Canoeing Association), demonstrated their whitewater skills by racing a downriver C2 in the Gauley race this year, and took first place in the rankings to boot.  US team boats Scott Overdorf and Tim Sampsel (Team Colorado/FIBArk Paddling Club) took second with Charlie Albright and Norwood Scott (Reno Wildwater Center) in third.

After much experimentation with the format of the rankings this year the way the rankings are calculated will be slightly different next year. Races will still be ranked for importance and field strength. Next year the races with the highest importance are likely to be the Eastern (Nantahala) and Western (White Salmon) Team Trials, the National Championships and any international events in the US, such as the Ocoee and FIBArk. The Field Strength will be calculated from the score of the top ranked competitor from this years ranking who is participating in the race. Overall the rankings will be expressed differently, as the mean of the totals (after taking the race importance and field strength into account) from the best 5 races. If individuals do not participate in 5 races their score will be reduced by 5% for every race missed. So, for next year, race in a lot of races (11 was the highest number of races last year), go to the important races, race the good paddlers, and you will get a good ranking, and hopefully have a lot of fun along the way.

List of races ranked in 1999; Tohickon Creek, Ocoee Double Header and Sprint, Potomac Circuit races (2/6, 2/28, 5/5, 6/20), Nantahala Spring Splash Classic and Sprint, NOC Glacier Breaker, Roaring Fork, Kernville, Lehigh (5/13, 5/27, 6/10, 7/8 and Sprint and Classic on 11/7), Potomac Downriver race, Cedar, Cheat Canyon, Feeder Junior Olympic Qualifier, Salmon La Sac, Skykomish, Tim Gavin Memorial race, National Championships (Sprint and Classic – Friday and Sunday), Yampa, FIBArk, Gore Canyon, Upper Yough, Snoqualamie (7/10 and 11/6), Salmon, Upper Gauley, Russell Fork, Bottom Moose, Mulberry Fork, Dickerson WhiteWater Challenge, Red Moshannon, Ohiopyle Falls, Little Falls of the Potomac, MWC and Big Piney races.

Listed below are the top ten ranked paddlers in the U.S. for each class at the senior level. The K1 Junior Men’s and K1 Junior Women’s classes have all ranked paddlers listed. For the complete listing of ranked wildwater racers in all classes, check out

K-1 (422 boats ranked)

Position Name(s) Best total No. of races
1 Andrew McEwan 461.25 5 of 7
2 Ted Newton 435.62 5 of 10
3 Heinz Roethemund 435.36 5 of 8
4 Chris Norbury 414.69 5 of 11
5 Paul Hoda 407.06 5 of 8
6 Chris Iezzoni 391.38 5 of 6
7 Dave Bonomo 384.15 5
8 Nelson Oldham 373.17 4
9 Matt Lutz 346.75 4
10 Jeff Parker 342.04 4

K-1W (87 boats ranked)

Position Name(s) Best total No. of races
1 Cathy Hearn 382.39 5
2 Jennie Goldberg 365.15 5
3 Trish Chambers 261.64 4
4 Tracy Hines 228.28 3
5 Carol Pelmas 220.85 3
6 Hope Concannon 208.35 3
7 Marian Davidson 203.5 3
8 Michele Hinatsu 196.72 3
9 Lisa Farin 181.64 3
10 Lane Errickson 175.02 2

C-1 (32 boats ranked)

Position Name(s) Best total No. of races
1 Joe Winters 309.32 4
2 Tom Wier 295.51 4
3 Tim Sampsel 172.94 2
4 Kevin Michelson 168.84 2
5 Michael Beavers 160.15 2
6 Andy Bridge 157.81 2
7 Mike Harris 100.79 2
8 Lecky Haller 77.04 1
9 Lee Sanders 69.82 1
10 Scott Overdorf 68.13 1

C-2 (27 boats ranked)

Position Name(s) Best total No. of races
1 Bailey/Bailey 230.05 3
2 Overdorf/Sampsel 78.9 1
3 Albright/Scott 68.83 1
4 Zimmermann/Mein 67.33 1
5 Ross/Havens 66.69 1
6 Lubbers/Davis 65.92 1
7 Hagg/? 59 1
8 Van Winssen/Van Winssen 57.4 1
9 Wenchel/Mein 54.38 1
10 Price/Brown 48.51 1

K-1 Junior

Position Name(s) Best total No. of races
1 Nathan Krissoff 417.94 5
2 Austin Krissoff 411.34 5
3 Simon Beardmore 361.05 5
4 Sven Hoosen 294.99 5
5 James Burris 228.46 4
6 Matt Weldon 201.01 3
7 Jeff Johnson 147.69 2
8 Russ Johnston 147.57 2
9 Nick Boatwright 143.14 2
10 Clay Wilder 117.63 2
11 Rob Fulton 115.71 2
12 Tyler Dyer 110.29 2
13 Pat Mason 107.87 2
14 Aaron Mann 83.82 2
15 Max Marcini 82.32 1
16 Jake Edmonson 76.81 1
17 Bryant Lanting 75.58 1
18 Ben Stewart 75.28 1
19 Nick Schwinger 72.25 1
20 Ian Hamilton 70.61 1
21 Matt Farrar 69.67 1
22 Charles Foutch 69.13 1
23 Brooks Baldwin 68.63 1
24 Chris Marriott 68.26 1
25 Albert Donovan 68.26 1
26 Carelton Goold 66.53 1
27 Adam Barnes 64.96 1
28 Matteo Steiner 64.61 1
29 Leif Anderson 61.54 1
30 Carl Cloyed 61.19 1
31 John Tuminaro 58.71 1
32 Aaron Dunn 57.47 1
33 J. Kelly 47.83 1
34 Eli Ravin 47.4 1
35 Pablo McCandless 43.52 1
36 David Rugh 40.92 1
37 Jeremiah Baltzer 36.51 1
38 TJ Preparato 33.19 1
39 John Groth 27.66 1
40 Zach Davis 26.55 1
41 Jeremy Lancks 25.44 1
42 Ian Smith 22.79 1

K-1W Junior

Position Name(s) Best total No. of races
1 Beth Karp 265.4 5
2 Zuzana Vanha 259.72 4
3 Kathryn Dyer 132.38 2
4 Becca Red 118.52 2
5 Laura Jorgensen 118.07 2
6 Mandy Weldon 118.02 2
7 Shannon Reeves 117.14 2
8 Katie Dennis 114.93 2
9 Meloday Scheefer 77.01 1
10 Lindsay Jenkins 71.26 1
11 Lindsay Burr 67.08 1
12 Eleanor Perry 60.25 1
13 Whitney Hopkins 59.7 1
14 Maria Kallman 51.45 1
15 Candice Coldwell 49.88 1
16 Sarah Karp 45.16 1
17 L. Housler 11.42 1
18 Lindsay Lessman 4.47 1
19 K. Boyle 1 1

Wildwater Racing in the ‘80’s
By Scott Overdorf

In the Summer 1999 Newsletter I wrote a retrospect of racing in the 1970’s. This article continues the story of wildwater racing in the United States. The 1980’s began with the 1981 World Championships being contested in Bala, Wales on an unusually long course on the River Tywryn. Mike Hipsher and Bunny Johns made racing history by becoming the first, and to date only Americans to win an individual World Championship. This was also the last year that C2 Mixed was ever contested at an international level. 1981 was also the year that John Butler emerged as one of the top C1 wildwater racers in the World by capturing an individual bronze medal, following in the footsteps of Al Button who won a bronze medal in the ’75 Worlds in C1. However, what was equally impressive about the strength of the U.S. Team was the performances in the Team race. The K1 Men’s team of Dan Schnurrenberger, Terry White and Bob Alexander finished 4th out of 12 team, missing the bronze medal by 24 seconds. The C2 Team of Andy Bridge/Howard Foer, Tom Popp/David Jones and Mike Hipsher/Bunny Johns also finished 4th in their race out of 8 teams, 20 seconds away from bronze. The U.S. was back in the medals with the C1 and K1W classes. Bronze medallist, John Butler, led Chuck Lyda and Jim Underwood down the course to capture the silver medal out of 7 teams. Reigning World Champions (K1W Team) Cathy Hearn, Carol Fisher and Leslie Klein won the bronze medal in their team race.

In 1983, the World Championships were held in the Tyrolian mountains of Merano, Italy. This Worlds marked the changing of the guards as some new faces, such as Jon Fishburn raced in the Worlds for the first time. The major story of 1983, however, was the American C1’s. John Butler, silver (Team race) and bronze (individual) medallist in ’81, suffered a near fatal case of encephalitis during the winter of ’83 and recovered from a comatose state just two months before the U.S. Team Trials. Miraculously, John was fit enough to prove his World class status, despite the adversity he faced from his illness, and finished 8th at Merano. Jim Underwood, silver medallist (Team) in ‘81 wasn’t as fortunate and came down with appendicitis two weeks before Team Trials and was unable to compete. This was the first World Championships since 1967 that the U.S. didn’t win any medals.

The medal drought didn’t last long and in 1985 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, U.S. racing history was once again made. After four consecutive U.S. National Championships (including ’85), Jon Fishburn paddled his way to a bronze medal and became the first American K1 to win an individual World Championship medal (in slalom or wildwater). For the next several years Fishburn would be one of the World’s elite wildwater racers. John Butler, racing in his last Worlds, returned with a vengeance and finished 4th, missing the bronze medal by just 5 seconds and gold by only 23 seconds. Srecko Masle of Yugoslavia, bronze medallist in ’83 and silver medallist in ’85 in C1 and World Champion in C2 in 1989, called John Butler the best skilled wildwater C1 racer in the World, if not the fastest.

In 1987, the Worlds moved to Bourg St. Maurice, France and for the second time during the 1980’s, the Americans didn’t win a medal. However, Jon Fishburn proved his bronze medal in 1985 was well deserved. On a course characterized by big, pushy water, the top 10 finishers in the men’s K1 class were separated by only 9 seconds. Jon finished 4th just .6 seconds out of 3rd and missed gold by a mere 3.94 seconds! John Butler’s elite status as one of the World’s top C1 wildwater racers from 1980 to 1985 provided the inspiration and motivation to another young C1 racer, Andy Bridge, who would follow in Butler’s path and become the next American C1 racer to challenge the World. Andy, competing in his first Worlds in C1 finished 13th, 34 seconds from a bronze medal. In the Team race, the women’s team of Cathy Hearn, Carol Fisher and Boo Hayman finished 4th narrowly missing the bronze medal by just 1.2 seconds. This women’s team was the hallmark of women’s wildwater racing in the U.S. during the ‘80’s and model of consistency in international competition. They also finished 4th in the Team races at Merano in ’83 and in Garmisch in ’85.

In 1989, the World traveled to Deep Creek, Maryland to compete at the World Championships on the Savage River. This marked only the second time in 30 years that the World Championships were contested outside of Europe. The ’89 U.S. Wildwater Team was considered the strongest contingent of racers during the past 10 years to compete at World Championships and there was hope for medals in each class. Adding to that excitement was the fact that Jon Fishburn and Andy Bridge each won a silver medal (K1 and C1, respectively) at the 1988 Pre-World Championships on the Savage and Andy finished 4th overall in the ’88 Wildwater Europa Cup. However, the Americans did not necessarily have home river advantage, because the Savage is a dam controlled river and there were few extra releases scheduled to allow the Americans much more practice time than the rest of the World had to really learn the race course.

While Jon Lugbill paddled to his fifth individual slalom World Championship on a run that has been called one of the ultimate slalom runs of all time, the wild ones were gearing up for their own ultimate runs. It was a race filled with high expectations and incredible pressure because of the home crowd. However, the success of the American team would not be measured in medals, but in how close percentage wise they were out of first. Jon Fishburn paddled his way to 4th place missing the bronze medal by half a second. Brent Reitz finished in 16th, within 2% of the winner while Andy Corra and Dan Johnson finished within 4% of the winner. This was the strongest showing of American kayaks at a World Championship since 1983. Andy Bridge led the American C1’s with a strong 6th place finish, then paddled to a 4th place finish in the Team race with Kent Ford and Wayne Dickert – the best group of American C1’s to race a Team race since the silver medal Team in 1981. The C2 team of Mike Hipsher/David Jones, Paul Grabow/Jeff Huey and John Evans/Dan Schnurrenberger turned in the best American C2 Team race since the 1977 bronze medal by finishing 4th.

The American medal count in wildwater during the 1980’s was one gold, one silver and three bronze. Mike Hipsher and Bunny Johns were World Champions while John Butler and Jon Fishburn proved year in and year out that they were among the elite racers in the World raising the standards of success for the rest of us.

A look at racing in the ‘90’s will be in the Fall newsletter.


Wildwater Training Camp December 1999
by Chris Norbury

An inaugural Bethesda Center of Excellence (BCE) wildwater training camp was held the first weekend of December in Bethesda, Maryland. The weather was excellent, and the river level at Little Falls challenging enough for everyone. The turnout was good, including paddlers who had made the drive down from Pennsylvania and a great time was had by all.

The weekend started on Saturday with some video analysis and coaching of the flatwater stroke on the C&O canal, followed by rough water analysis of pacing down the Little Falls course on the Saturday afternoon. Sunday started off with some in depth analysis of line and stroke selection on rough water, again on the Little Falls section, followed by a race down Little Falls on Sunday afternoon. Overall the location was great, and the water at a good enough level to see even some of the better paddlers (including some locals who should have known better) getting off line at Little Falls.

A HUGE Thank You to Heinz Roethemund for coaching all weekend, Emmy Truckenmiller for the use of her apartment as a "base camp", Dave Bonomo, Scott LeRoux and Mark McNeil for supplying refreshments and Cathy Hearn, Mark Moore and Tom McEwan for supplying boats for paddlers to use. All monies raised at the weekend will go towards local wildwater development and athlete support.

More details and pictures can be found on the BCE website at

Mid Atlantic Series 2000 (by Chris Norbury): With an upturn of interest in downriver racing in the Mid-Atlantic region comes a new racing series; aimed at increasing participation in the sport, whilst encouraging paddlers to partake in wildwater boats on race course that are less daunting than the majority of course available in the region at present, but still challenging. The race series is being organized by Chris Norbury ( and Ted Newton ( Points will be accrued through out the series in both sprint and classic races with a winner to be announced at the end of the year. Races to be included in the series are as follows;

March 4th-5th Lower Yough (Mid Atlantic Series Race 1).
Contact Chris Norbury ( Tel 301 496 8059
March 11th-12th Lehigh Race, PA (Mid Atlantic Series Race 2)
Contact Ted Newton (rentals Tel 570 443 4441
March 18th-19th Possible Savage Release (permit already entered)
March 26th, Tohickon Race, PA (Mid Atlantic Series Race 3)
Contact Ted Newton (rentals Tel 570 443 4441.
April 28th, Little Falls Sprint and Classic, MD (Mid Atlantic Series Race 4)
Contact Chris Norbury 301 496 8059 (
May 5th – Cheat Canyon Race.
Contact: Friends of the Cheat, 304-379-3141
May 6th – Cheat Narrows Race ?? (Mid Atlantic Series Race 5)
Contact Chris Norbury ( 301 496 8059
May 7th North Branch of the Potomac (Bloomington) (Mid Atlantic Series Race 6)
Contact Chris Norbury ( 301 496 8059
November 5th Tohickon race 2, PA (Mid Atlantic Series Race 7)
Contact Ted Newton (rentals Tel 570 443 4441
December 3rd, Little Falls Sprint and Classic, MD (Mid Atlantic Series Race 8)
Contact Chris Norbury ( 301 496 8059

World Championships 2002, Val Sesia, Italy
Get ready for Italy in 2002! Val Sesia was the sight of World Cup races in 1996 and 1997 (low water). According to the ICF minutes from the October meeting in Vipitino, Italy, "the promotion of the 2002 event has been really very well done. The organizing committee promoted their event in Milan (during World the Championships flatwater) in Seo de Urgell (during the Slalom World Championships), at the ICF Congress in November 98 in Budapest, and in Bovec during the European Wildwater Championships".

Junior World Championships 2002 And Beyond.
At the October ICF Wildwater Committee meeting in Vipitino, Italy, Dave Mason bid the U.S. to host the 2005 Junior World Championships which was tentatively accepted. Other minutes regarding this subject were, "for the organization of the Junior World selection is still open for these years (2002, 2003, 2005, 2007). There are currently some discussions about having the Junior Worlds in 2002 in GBR , and in Slovenia in 2003".

1999 World Wildwater Rankings: For the first time ever a World ranking has been compiled for wildwater, thanks to Birgit Verhoef who is in charge of this project. For the complete World rankings, which includes many U.S. competitors, check out the ICF Wildwater Committee link at

Wildwater Races for 2000: The following is a quick listing of races for the upcoming season and is not intended to be a complete listing of all races and river festivals.

February 26th-27th Glacier Breaker, NOC
March 4th-5th Lower Yough.
March 5th Mulberry Fork
March 11th-12th Lehigh Race, PA
March 18th-19th Possible Savage Release (permit already entered)
March 18th Cedar Race, WA
March 18th Missouri Whitewater Championships, St Francis River, MO
March 26th Tohickon Race, PA
March 26th Red Moshannon Race, PA
March 31st, April 1st Eastern Team Trials, Nantahala, NC
April 14-15th Western Team Trials, White Salmon, WA
April 22nd Little Falls Sprint and Classic, MD
April 23rd Tim Gavin Memorial Race, Shenandoah River, WVa
May 5th Cheat Canyon Race
May 6th Cheat Narrows Race ??
May 7th North Branch of the Potomac (Bloomington)
May 19st Western Junior Team Trials - Roaring Fork, Carbondale, CO
May 21st Potomac Downriver Race
June 3rd Salmon La Sac, WA
June 10th Yampa River Festival, Steamboat, CO
June 18th FIBArk, Arkansas River, Salida, CO
June 24th Skyfest, WA
June 24th Animas River Day, Durango, CO
July 1st NF Clearwater, WA
July 9th Salmon Race, NY
July 15th MF Snoqualamie, WA
August (TBD) National Championships, Kern River, CA (w/USACK SL Nats)
August 27th Gore Canyon Race, CO
September 30th Russell Fork Race, WVa
October 2nd Animal Upper Gauley Race
October 15th Bottom Moose Race, NY
November 5th Tohickon race 2, PA
December 3rd Little Falls Sprint and Classic, MD