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2001 Wildwater Rankings Released

List will be Used for Seeding Starts in 2002 U.S. Team Trials and National Championships

Click here for the rankings

by Chris Norbury
USAWildwater K-1,
U.S. Wildwater Committee Vice Chair

February 25, 2002 -- Hershey, PA

The Wildwater rankings from 2001 have finally been completed and analyzed. Many thanks to all of those who contributed results from all over the country Ė I have done my utmost to represent your efforts in the racing community.

The rankings contain statistics from thirty-eight races nationwide, ranging from the Kern in California to the Snoqualamie in the Northwest to the National Championships on the Pigeon in the Southeast, to the Salmon in the Northeast.

The number of races included has dropped from fifty-two last year. Though this does not necessarily represent an outright decline in the number of races planed: more the prevailing drought conditions affecting large portions of the country. Races from the NorthWest to Mid-Atlantic region were cancelled due to lack of water, and I had some difficulty in obtaining results from some race organizers.

In Menís K1 there are 331 ranked competitors, sixty-five of whom were classified as having raced in Wildwater boats (in bold). This classification is inherently inaccurate, as the description of a wildwater boat differs widely from organizer to organizer, but serves as an adequate guide for ranking purposes. For the first time since the rankings were resurrected three years, I did not compete in the greatest number of races. This honor fell to Steve Kauffman of Friendsville, MD, who managed to race domestically twenty times throughout the year, not counting races in which he represented the U.S. in Slovenia and Italy this summer.

Men's Kayak
The winner of the Menís K1 class for the third time in a row was National Champion Andrew McEwan, although his mantle of invincibility slipped a little this year, with defeats in the sprint events at both Team Trials and the National Championships, not to mention a number of races on the Yough. Whilst he now appears beatable, Andrew does remain the gold standard, with Chris Hipgrave back by almost 2%.

Whilst Chris did not manage to defeat Andrew, his ranking comes off the back of strong performances at Team Trials and Nationals, especially in the Classic races. In third Steve Kauffman made the most of his large number of races, and his rapid improvement through the year culminated in a strong performance in the sprint event at the pre-World Championships in Italy. It is also worth noting the battle between White Haven, Pennsylvania neighbors Ted Newton and Dave Bonomo in 4th and 5th respectively, with only 0.01% separating them. Jess Whittemore topped those competitors at 7th, who did not attend Team Trials or National Championships. His strong ranking is courtesy of strong performances in races on the Yough, his home river. Indeed, those from the Mid-Atlantic region accounted for thirteen of the top fifteen men's kayaks, the strength of the region stemming form an active all year long racing program incorporating both the Mid-Atlantic Series as well as extreme races on rivers such as the Upper Yough and Upper Gauley.

Women's Kayak
In Womenís kayak, sixty-four paddlers raced, with twelve of those in Wildwater boats. Jennie Goldberg repeated as National Ranking Champion, edging out Wildwater newcomer Chara OíBrien, who won at team Trials, and National Champion Caroline Domenghino. Again the Mid-Atlantic was the strongest region, with almost half of those competitors racing in Wildwater boats hailing from that region.

Men's Canoe
In Menís C-1, Michael Beavers managed to win the National Rankings for the first time, jumping from 4th in 2000, on the back of seven consistently strong races. He beat out thirty-nine other racers, ten of whom competed in Wildwater boats. In this class the Wildwater racers came primarily from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. National Champion and Team Trials winner Tom Wier came in second, after failing to register five results, with Chris Osment coming in third after his trademark consistent season.

The results in the C-2 class were disappointing, with only thirteen boats racing, and only two of those being Wildwater boats. OC-2 racers Larry Lubbers and Bob Davis attained the highest-ranking score on the back of participation in Mid-Atlantic series races, with Californians Charles Albright and Gordon in second and Zimmerman and Miller, racing in an ancient, borrowed C-2 in third. Given the strong turnout of US C2ís in the World Championships in France less than two years ago, where a full compliment was fielded, the low numbers of C-2s is surprising, and will hopefully be remedied in this upcoming Worlds year. In the junior ranks participation was down, perhaps due to a lack of results from the junior stronghold of Colorado.

Junior Women's K-1, Junior Men's C-1
In the Womenís K1 juniors Shannon Reeves repeated as National Ranking Champion, but not without a fight from Kathryn Dyer and Beth Karp who fought injury to gain a gutsy third. In C1 Russell Johnson dominated the junior ranks with a score that would have placed him fourth in the senior ranks, and paddled well for the senior team at the Pre-Worlds in Italy. Behind him former junior team C2 paddler Dave Moore took second, with Chris Davis in third.

Junior K-1 Men
Joe Barkley won the Junior menís K-1, moving up from eighth last year, his first year of paddling wildwater. Joeís ranking of 84.43 would have placed him tenth in the Menís K1 ranking, ahead of last years junior winner Simon Beardmore. Despite defeating 2nd placed Clay Wilder every time they raced, Clay managed to keep the scores close, less than 1% behind, and as Joe turns eighteen, look for Clay to move in and dominate this class. In third was Tyler Dyer, again competing for the first year in a wildwater boat. All three of these guys hail from the Southeast, and will hopefully, as they mature, restore prominence to the Menís K1 class in this region.

Overall though, the standard of paddlers, as well as the number of races they participated in seems to be improving. This year 16 K1M raced a minimum of 5 times, as compared to 15 last year and only 6 in 1999. The gap between 1st and 5th in K1M was 6.33% in 2000, but had narrowed to 3.88% this year, indicating that the standard of racers at the highest national level is getting closer. This trend is mirrored in the C1 rankings, where the gap between first and 5th, whilst significantly greater than in k1, has narrowed from 15.35 in 2000 to 12.23 this year. This can only lead to greater competition, which in turn should rive up the standard, increasing the enjoyment of all those striving to win in wildwater races across the country.

Editor's note: Thank you, Chris, for doing the rankings this year. Though officially this task falls under my office on the National USACK Wildwater Committee, I am grateful that people with far greater math skills are willing to crunch the numbers and determine important placement statistics. "Whilst" your grasp of complex algorithms are unparalleled, I'm still freaked out by your Scot's use of the mother tongue.--MB

Chris Norbury is Vice Chair of the U.S. Wildwater Committee and an active race and training camp organizer living in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Reach him at