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ICF Awards 2003 World Cup to Kernville, CA

U.S. Organizers Prepare to Host the World of Wildwater Racing

by Michael Beavers
USA Wildwater C-1
Member, USAWildwater Committee

February 21, 2002 -- Kernville, CA

What had been little more than a charming tourist destination with a challenging whitewater river nearby will soon be the focus of the international wildwater racing community.

Two-time national champion Tom Weir paddles the Kern River at the 2000 National Championships. (Photo credit Chris Osment)

Vittorio Cirini, Chairman of the Wildwater Committee for the International Canoe Federation wrote to organizers here with official word that their town would play host to the 2003 Wildwater World Cup.

"We are very excited that Kernville, California has been selected as the host site of the 2003 Wildwater World Cup," said Lisa Fish, executive director of USA Canoe/Kayak. "Being awarded an event of this magnitude is a credit to the leadership of the Wildwater racing community and the people in Kernville."

That community will be led by Terry Valle, who has already begun rallying her town and community behind the idea of hosting the series of six international competitions. She has already enlisted the support of the U.S. Forest Service as well as various residents and merchants.

"The forest service and the Chamber of Commerce have put their weight behind this effort," said Valle. "For now, the biggest challenge will be lining up title sponsors and funds through Kern County.

Valle has little doubt that this support will show. Her organization, the Kern Valley River Council, has hosted large paddlesports events before and is experienced in gathering commercial and political support. The council actively promotes the Kern River area in part to provide funds for various conservation programs.

The ICF ordered a departure from what typically had been a three-week World Cup series by compressing all six races into two weeks. The classic and sprint events will be held at three separate locations as before, yet to the racers, the read-and-run aspects of the Kern events will feel more like the Tour de Corse, the legendary series held on the island of Corsica where compressed format popularity saw its peak in the 1980s.

The compressed format does not deter Valle. "The last time an international Wildwater event went to the US, it was modest in terms of media coverage and organization," she said. "While the whitewater and races were successful, the event left a bad mark on the US. It is my intention to truly put on a world-class event and give great memories of the Kern region and American support for Wildwater racing."

Lisa Fish agrees. "This will be a great opportunity to showcase the sport to the USA and the world. The people in Kernville did an outstanding job hosting the 2000 Slalom National Championships and I have no doubt they will do an equally outstanding job hosting the Wildwater World Cup races."

Michael Beavers is editor of and a C-1 Wildwater racer training in Atlanta, Georgia. Reach him at