February 7, 2005 -- Somewhere in the Western USA
The 2004 wildwater rankings have been completed. After much controversy, the method for
calculating the results changed slightly from last year. In the past several years,
comparison between classes was possible because all rankings were based on the winning
boat in each race, but the rankings for 2004 have been calculated based on the winner of
each class in each race instead. Despite low participation overall, there are several
signs that our sport is growing and progressing. Thirty-six races are included in the
rankings, eight races more than in 2003. The total number of paddlers in wildwater boats
also increased in all classes, but the total number of boats ranked declined, mostly due
to the number of C-2s ranked this year. An increase in the number of juniors in K-1,
K-1W and C-1 is encouraging, and juniors are ranked separately in those three classes.
K-1 Men remained the most competitive class, but the top spots in C-1 and K-1 W are
becoming harder to earn. C-2 participation was low, and no C-2s raced in some of the
most important races this year.
The winner of the K-1 Men was actually a junior, Geoff Calhoun, who won almost every race
he entered in the United States this year. Calhoun competed as a senior and a junior this
year internationally, where he was the top ranked K-1 from the U.S. in the senior world
cup and was ninth in sprint and eleventh in the classic at the junior world championships.
Second place went to last year’s
rankings winner, Chris Hipgrave, who was second behind Calhoun at all four major races,
won an early season race, and was third behind Geoff Calhoun and Andrew McEwan in the
annual Upper Gauley Race.
Jess Whittemore jumped up the rankings from 80th in 2003 to 3rd in 2004.
Whittemore raced very well at Team Trials, and competed with the U.S. Team in Garmisch,
Germany, in the World Championships. Shaun Smith, the 4th ranked K-1 in 2004, was new
to wildwater racing this year, and represented the U.S. well in Garmisch. Rob Murphy was
ranked 5th, in his first year of serious wildwater racing, and a resurgent Bern Collins
ranked 6th. There were several other paddlers of note. Lincoln Williams, who is ranked
10th and competed in the world cup races in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, and Moutathal,
Switzeralnd. Middy Tillghman, who did not race in the U.S. at all, was the top U.S. K-1
at the World Championships. Twenty-three juniors and cadets were ranked in K-1 in 2004,
a great increase from 2003, and all but two raced in wildwater boats. The winner was Nic
Borst, who won by almost five points over second ranked Clay Wilder. Borst would have
placed sixth in the senior rankings.
The C-1 results were closer than they have been in years. Three-time rankings winner
Tom Wier attended Team Trials, winning both races, but did not attend the National
Championships, which were won by John Pinyerd. The split in the national level races
resulted in a tie for the first position, with Wier and Pinyerd even at the end of the season.
Bob Bofinger ranked third this year, and Ed Gordon again ranked forth. Gordon improved
greatly from 2003 and beat Bofinger at one race this year for the first time. Mike Beck,
who competed with Wier and Bofinger at the World Championships, was ranked 5th after placing
4th and 5th on the two days of Team Trials. There were six juniors ranked, all paddling
wildwater boats. Tom Grey was the top junior again, winning the junior rankings by more
than 23 points over Joel Abrahams. Grey would have placed 5th in senoir C-1 rankings.
Chara Whittemore managed to dethrone Jennie Goldberg, who has held the top spot of the
K-1 W rankings for several years. Whittemore won the women’s class at Team Trials and
Nationals. The second and third rankings went to Canadian paddlers who competed at the
U.S. National Championships, and Jennie Goldberg dropped to 4th place overall. Anne
Connelly and Kristin Beck were 10th and 11th, respectively, and both raced with the U.S.
team in the World Cup in Karlovy Vary, in the Czech Republic. A new face this year,
Emily Stein, won the junior women’s rankings, and would have been 5th in the senior
rankings. Two young women from Colorado, Lisa and Adams and Perrin Pring, were ranked
2nd and 4th respectively. Erin Wilder raced more than any other junior and rode her
participation and strong performance to 3rd place in the junior class.
The total number of C-2s ranked in 2004 was much lower than the last few years, because
open boats from a large number of races were not included in the final rankings.
The C-2 rankings were won by a Canadian tandem, Ed Winacott and Harold Van Winssen,
who won U.S. Nationals. Bob Bofinger and Scott Leroux earned their second place ranking
by placing just behind Winacott and Van Winssen. Chris Norbury and John Pinyerd placed
third at Nationals, earning their third place ranking overall. A team of juniors, Tom Grey
and Nic Borst, paddled together in Colorado and raced well enough to be ranked fourth.
This is my last year calculating rankings, and Martin Bay will be taking over in 2005.
Please send any race results to him at M_Bay@bellsouth.net. The system used to determine
the rankings will undergo significant change this year, and once a final system is
decided upon, we will publish a description here, at www.USAWildwater.com.