April 23, 2002 -- Ohiopyle, PA
The 2002 USA Wildwater Team Trials set a new standard for future
event organizers. Tight organization, entertaining whitewater,
quality venue, great prizes and t-shirts, relaxed pre- and post-event
atmosphere and a post-race hoedown! Thanks to Jess Whittemore
and his staff for time and effort in directing this event.
The 2002 USA Wildwater Team Trails were held a week ago on the
Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. Saturday's Classic
was through the famous "Loop" section and the "Doldrums",
and included six great rapids that varied from big pushy waves
to technical rocky drops and slots. Sunday's Sprint event was
through the first two rapids on the Loop, known as "Entrance"
and "Cucumber". These two drops included big water moves and rocky
exits: a varied and entertaining sprint course
For all senior athletes, times from the Classic and Sprint events
were converted to percentages off of the winner in each class
and the athlete with the lowest combined percentages won. The
first four athletes in each class represent the U.S.A. in June's
World Championships in Italy, and an additional two more athletes
join them for the World Cups run throughout central and eastern
Europe this year. The Juniors simply compete in Saturday's classic,
with the first two heading to Junior World Championships in Wales.
A further two junior athletes are selected in May at the Western
Junior Team Trials on the Crystal River in Colorado.
Temperatures all week had been in the upper 80s, but race days
bought an overcast and somewhat chilly conditions. The river had
settled down to approximately 3'2" from the week's high point
of over fifteen inches on the guage.
In the Junior classes, Beth Karp of the Little Falls Wildwater
Club stole the K1WJr class, while in the K1Jr, the Nantahala Racing
Club took one, two and three with a predictable win from Joe
Barkley, followed by Clay Wilder and Tyler Dyer,
separated by only 1.5 seconds. Joe's time would have been good
enough for an 8th place finish in K1; a great accomplishment for
a junior athlete.
Our sole C2 paddled by Michael Harris and Jim Smoot
also cruised home.
With Michael Beavers out with a dislocated shoulder, Tom
Wier won C1 by a comfortable and predictable margin. The rest
of the top three was rounded out with Bob Bofinger and
Chris Osment. Good news here was the inclusion of two new
faces to C1 Wildwater. Jim Smoot and Ed Gordon competed
in their first Team Trials and did very well. We look forward
to seeing both of these guys at future events.
K1W was anything but a forgone conclusion prior to the race with
some very strong paddlers participating for the first time against
each other. In the end, slalom powerhouse Amy Dingle from
the Atlanta Center of Excellence took first with Jennie Goldberg
nipping at her heels close behind. Local legend and multiple winner
of a host of mid-Atlantic races, Chara O'Brien, finished
off the top three.
In the most competitive class of K1, Andrew McEwan took
a predictable victory. Andrew had spent all winter long training
with the USA Sprint Team in California and had returned east only
one week before trials. Chris Hipgrave took second with
Simon Beardmore in third. Simon looked very strong in this
his first year as a senior athlete. He has been receiving coaching
from the Little Falls Wildwater Club and it has clearly paid off.
LFWC athlete Middy Tilghman took fourth with local dark
horse David Hammond finishing as an impressive fifth, even
after getting hung up in some rocks at the end of the Loop.
All athletes had seen the classic results so all knew what
they needed to do to make the team. This is the make or break
day. Athletes would do two sprints on the same course for a combined
time. With two rapids containing a multitude of possible routes,
anything could happen.
C1 Tom Wier again cruised to a comfortable victory with
Chris Osment putting in two solid runs to switch places
with Bob Bofinger.
Mid-Atlantic powerhouse Chara O'Brien proved that she knew
this rapid inside out with a super performance, beating Jennie
Goldberg and pushing Amy Dingle to third after a traumatic
The biggest hoopla of the day occurred in K1. In the first heat
Chris Hipgrave blazed his run to put nearly four seconds
up on McEwan. McEwan came back with the fastest sprint
of the day on the second heat, but it was not good enough to close
the margin giving Hipgrave his first Team Trials win. Tilghman
had two solid runs putting him firmly in third while video review
was needed to determine whether Simon Beardmore had his
head above water as he flipped crossing the finish line. Video
analysis showed he did, so he just missed a DQ to snag fourth
over local David Hammond.
All races completed, the 2002 USA World Championships and World
Cup Teams were announced. For complete race results click here.
Some team trials participants did not have the time to go to Europe
so some positions where handed down the line.
1: Andrew McEwan - World Championships & World Cups
2: Chris Hipgrave - World Championships & World Cups
3: Middy Tilghman - World Championships & World Cups
4: Simon Beardmore - World Championships & World Cups
7: Steve Kauffman - World Championships, & World Cups
8: Scott LeRoux - World Cups
1: (JR) Joe Barkley - Junior World Championships & Senior World
3: Amy Dingle - World Cups
4: Bunni LaBadie - World Cups
Jennie Goldberg - TBD
1: Tom Wier - World Championships & World Cups
2: Chris Osment - World Championships
3: Bob Bofinger - World Championships
4: Ed Gordon - World Championships
1: Harris/Smoot - World Championships & World Cups
1: Joe Barkley - World Championships & Senior World Cups
2: Clay Wilder - World Championships
1: Beth Karp - World Championships
Thanks again to event organizer Jess Whittemore and his
team for putting on a quality event. Thanks also go to the
following sponsors: Falls City Pub & Restaurant, Prijon, Wilderness
Voyaguers, Ohiopyle Trading Post, Whitewater Adventures, Immersion
Research, USA Canoe & Kayak, Riversport School of Paddling, Precision
Rafting, Ohiopyle Prints, Little Falls Wildwater Club, Team Friendsville,
Mountain Surf, High Mountain Sports, Laurel Highlands River Tours
and Ohiopyle State Park.
Chris Hipgrave is Tresurer of the U.S. Wildwater Committee and a K-1 Wildwater
racer living near Bryson City, NC. Reach him at email@example.com.