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Report on the 2013 Western US Junior WildwaterTeam Trials
Just add Water
by Denny Adams, Events and Program Chair
Sometimes you just get lucky. After many weeks of near record low river flows with races being held on rivers with 150 to 230 CFS, the Jet Stream finally dipped far enough south to bring in two weeks of unsettled weather and few more feet of mixed precipitation. Our Glenwood Wildwater Jubilee Races suddenly had five hundred CFS added to the river raising the Colorado up to 1250 CFS. With the extra water we were able to add the two class III+ to IV rapids we need this year for the Team Trials races.
Just as essential and fortunate for our Glenwood races this year was our volunteer help - primarily the contribution made by the coaches, manager, parents, and former racers from Team Dawson/Team Colorado with key safety boat help from the Colorado Rocky Mountain School Team. They showed up in force, trained and experienced from years of doing races, ready to work and to meet an increased level of management challenge that was a reality in this year's trials.
"Where do you want us?" and "What can I do?" were coming at me from all directions. We quickly had our 8 start and finish judges, 8 very solid safety boats, several more shore-based safety hands working the bike path along the river and a cyclist patrolling the course with throw ropes, hot chocolate, and blankets in case of a mishap in the cold water. A true test of the great support was when one of our parent officials took my box of unfinished awards from me, learned to braid from her daughter, and spent a few hours doing this so that the medals could have red, white, and blue braided cords on them. Those not working the race served as photographers and helped with boat carrying. Most of our parents brought food to share and a great Saturday evening racers diner was put on up at a guest home that was being used by the front range race teams. Through our races all our support staff, parents, and non racing paddlers were ringing bells, blowing horns, and yelling their support for our racers.
One part of the race weekend that was really neat was after the classic race when the race volunteers and other parents went paddling in a large group with coaches, racers and even included the siblings of the racers.
Amazing too were the dozen racers, coming from five USACK affiliated racing clubs, who took on the very challenging Junior Team Trials race course. All proved solid on the harder course and worthy of the venue, the race support, and the honor of team Junior Team membership that was being contended for. This year the kids are expected to be solid on class III+ to IV water such as could be found on the Lofer course where this year's Junior Worlds are being held. Not having solid skills there could result in a very nasty swim.
Setting and achieving the higher standard of paddling came easier than anticipated as this year's racers were pretty solid all around racers and creek paddlers who were more than up for the harder water after just a few runs in the wildwater boats. Saturday's Team Trials Classic started with Man-eater Rapid, a rapid known for having large holes in higher flows and a deceptive series of smaller wave holes filled with sleeper rocks at very low water. Most of the wave holes had kicker currents that if not managed correctly could easily throw long wildwater boats off angle and into the rocks. The magic three foot wide line of fast, clean water in Man-eater was a magical 12" wide line for much of the 150' long drop.
The practice days were full of long boats getting kicked onto rocks to one side or the other, generally staying up but putting on a slow rock banging and sliding over pillows line. In the real race, Saturday's classic, we had just one mishap on Man-eater with that racer being able to get the boat down the rocky left side, dumped out and re-entered, and continuing the three miles downstream at a pace that still beat two competitors and was just a minute behind the second place finisher.
Sunday morning's sprint races started further upstream and featured Tombstone rapid, a sharp dropping class III+ with rocks laying in wait in the strong river right to left cross-current below that had to be read and dealt with. Tail waves, a long flat pool and Man-eater waited just below. Unlike the day before where the idea was to survive Man-eater and win the race on the flats our sprint races were truly that, sprinted all out and were very impressive. The sole exception was that of a C-1 that got thrown to the right bank, clipped a rock, getting spun and necessitating some creek paddling to get turned downstream again back on track. Other that that the runs were straight and clean.
Having either coached at or race directed ten Junior Team Trials events, my strong view is that this year's trials had a lot to be proud of. The setting as always was spectacular, the courses were the challenging but not the type with exploding holes that made getting down a matter of luck. Overall the racers performed at a consistently high standard. In terms of the officials, the safety management, and the parental support and hospitality that we had I have not been to a better domestic event.
Junior Western Team Trials Results, 2013
Glenwood Wildwater Jubilee Open Racew Results, 2013
Brooke Terkovich, Reed Hutton, David McConnell, Cully Brown, Will Coggan, Ethan Putnam, and Bryant Lord
Link to more photos by Peter Coggan: http://dawsoncanoeandkayakteam.shutterfly.com/2013glenwoodsprings#