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2004 USA Wildwater National Championships

On the Salmom River in Pulaski, NY.

by Chris Hipgrave
USAWildwater K-1
Treasurer, US Wildwater Committee

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 Championships Standings.

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