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2014 Western US Senior & Junior Wildwater Team Trials,
Mixed C-2 Wildwater Mania, Colorado Wildwater Jubilee Races

April 2, 2014 -- Durango, CO

by Denny Adams

April 24th, 25th (practice days), 26th, and 27th are the dates and the Animas River in Durango, Colorado will be the setting for this year's Western US Wildwater Team Trials.

With just over three weeks until race time, the indicators for us having a great race weekend are in place. The snowpack is healthy and the current weather pattern has snow storms continuing through the San Juan Mountains for at least a few weeks more. Paddler interest in our event seems to be high regionally and includes incoming racers from Idaho and Nevada (and hopefully some from Washington State too) in addition to a strong Colorado and SW Colorado base of wildwater paddlers.

At the organizational level we have positive interest in the races by the local businesses, hotels, campground and paddling clubs with hopes to be able to provide home stays for as many interested outsiders as possible. I will add that Durango has a large number of very affordable hotels. This time of year is their "off" season — between the ski season and the summer mountain train riding tourist season. At least one top level race meal is being planned for and the expressed intentions of many of the local restaurants are to play a role in hosting our wildwater racer community at a level that makes this event more than just a race weekend.

After almost a decade in Glenwood Canyon this year's races marks the first year that the host event, formerly the Glenwood Wildwater Jubilee, will be using a new and broader name — the Colorado Wildwater Jubilee. The broader focus of the new name will allow for quality events in other high quality wildwater settings. Durango is notable for both its river and for its newly improved and expanded whitewater park. Durango is also notable for being home to a strong racing community that includes several national champions and past wildwater team members. An indicator of the racing community's strength is that the event is being co-hosted by two USACK Clubs, the Great Blue Herons and Durango Whitewater.

In addition to hosting the Team Trials events, the weekend will include several open wildwater and downriver race classes. Most notable will be a first ever mixed (men's/women's) class for Wildwater C-2. The idea is hardly a new one as mixed teams have been in US races for several decades now and C-2 mixed has enjoyed success in France. While C-2 mixed is not an ICF class, it is a National Championship level event in one of its strongest programs. For all practical purposes our races will be a de-facto US National Championship for this class until others take up this cause. Our C-2 mixed class will hopefully be a lot of fun and will open a lot of eyes to what could be a way to expand our discipline. Very few sports anywhere are set up for couples and as such this is a quality that wildwater should consider embracing. Ice skating has mixed events and tennis has mixed doubles. Both of those sports enjoy strong support despite being relatively small sports. Our intention is to promote, showcase, and support both our C-2 class and women's canoeing in general.

Making C-2 mixed work will require having a positive thinking and willing group of women paddlers and especially having strong and willing stern paddlers—either male or female. We are also hoping to have as many C-2 wildwater boats at these races as can be gathered with some additional open canoe tandems available for those wishing for or needing a slightly easier boat but one that comes close to having the same challenges. To my knowledge we have eight C-2 wildwater boats ("ships") in Colorado with a possible additional boat being brought in from out of state potentially giving us a potential of nine boats total at the event. As the boats are expensive and are arguably susceptible to damage not everyone will be open to sharing boats but I have at least three wildwater C-2 and two open tandem canoes that I will be bringing that can be shared by capable paddlers. Plans are being made to have C-2 paddling clinics available for newcomers in the two practice days (Thursday and Friday) before the races. Our hope is to have such interest in this event that we have to two or more heats if necessary to get runs in. The plans currently are to schedule this class for after the team trials events to get maximum numbers of interested and able racers a chance to participate.

Whether your ambitions are a very focused desire to compete for the National Wildwater Teams or to enjoy a high level wildwater race weekend with great paddling, people and events on and off the water, this year's event promises to be a weekend that will help define our western regions and for that matter the nation's domestic wildwater program. If you are a wildwater person, be it from west or east or from Canada or even from abroad you will be very welcome at our races this month. Please feel free to contact me at Dennyadams@AOL.com if you are interested and need more information. Hope to see you in there!

   
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