August 17, 2004 -- Bryson City, NC
Located in beautiful Pulaski NY on the edge of Lake Ontario, the Salmon River
paid host to the 2004 Wildwater National Championships August 7 and 8. These races
were also the first half of the North American Championships, a competition involving
the Canadian and USA Wildwater Teams.
The Salmon is a shallow and rocky river that runs west thru the town of Pulaski and
into Lake Ontario. The river has many shoals, shallows and a few moderately technical
rapids. Easy to run but diverse in nature, the river gave away very few short cuts
and favored the powerful light paddlers.
After a morning of learning the river, the level of enthusiasm and excitement was high
as the first races began. The sprint race was about 2 minutes in length running thru an
easy shoal rapid into a left turn with several options which set you up for the final
rapid that built into a good sized wave train into the finish. The K1 class was deep with
talent, with 21 great competitors including the Canadian talent of Patrick Gagne and Paul
Gerrard, Chilean slalom super star Pablo McCandless and American US Team members Geoff
Calhoun and Chris Hipgrave. The K1W class looked to be a great race with the USA's Chara
Whittemore battling it out with the Canadians talent of Stefanie Vallee and Marie Pier
Cote. C1 was an all American race and in the absence of Tom Weir, John Pinyerd seemed to
have things wrapped up, but behind him looked to be any ones race. Probably the most
entertaining race looked to be the C2 race with several throw together teams including
Bofinger/Leroux and Pinyerd/Norbury.
In the end Geoff Calhoun reinforced his rise to dominance this year with a great
performance, besting Hipgrave and Gagne by a solid margin. The beautiful Steffanie Vallee
drove for a Canadian victory while Pinyerd comfortably grabbed the win in C1. Canadians Van
Winssen/Winacott also grabbed the sprint win in C2 ahead of Bofinger/Leroux who looked very
impressive crossing the finish line.
After a night of rest it was the classic, a 20 plus minute race that promised to suck the
energy out of you as you pushed downstream thru the shallows. It was going to hurt! In the
end very few people changed position over the sprint results. Special mention should go to
Geoff Calhoun for another crushing victory, Ed Gordon and Bob Bofinger for a great C1 race
and to the C2 team of Bofinger/Leroux who continued to improve all weekend long, crossing
the finish in style.
Thank you for the efforts of race organizers Harold Van Winssen and Dan Murn for running
a superb race that attracted over 40 competitors from Canada, the USA and Chile. The event
was extremely well run and supported. We all appreciate your efforts. I'd also like to thank
the Canadian wildwater paddlers for participating. The depth of talent inside the Canadian
squad really added to the event and we all departed NY vowing to get together again soon.
Click here for the detailed race results.
Click here for the 2004 North American
Chris Hipgrave is Tresurer of the U.S. Wildwater Committee and a K-1
Wildwater racer living near Bryson City, NC. You can reach him at