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2014 Western US Senior & Junior Wildwater Team Trials Recap

May 11, 2014 -- Durango, CO

by Denny Adams, USA Wildwater Committee Chair for Western Region Team Trials

There is a lot to be positive about with this year’s first joint Junior and Senior US Wildwater Team Trials. We had a great river running at an optimal flow with a newly reworked play park that had very large and powerful waves, tight lines, and some nasty eddies that were not easy to escape when boaters found themselves captured. We had great cooperation between two sponsoring racing clubs and the City of Durango that allowed us to put on the event even when the park adjacent to the whitewater park was still under construction. It was a race where some of the best insights on lines to run came from the folks who built the holes. Most importantly we had a passionate group of racers out showing their support for our sport and a great group of volunteers that made the event happen even with less than optimal weather and some real challenges with the safety management.

The classic race had the greatest level of finish area carnage combined with tightest finish I have seen in a classic event. It was a finish of high drama at many levels. The newly redesigned drops were of the type that needed a very specific entry point and boat angle to survive. We also had a late-rising upstream gale force wind which made holding that line and angle a challenge. The drops were fine during the nice practice days, less so on the race days when you were out-of breath and had howling and cold winds playing with your boat. We had one minute spacing starting with the slower classes and finishing with the strongest class, K-1 M. While the times, when adjusted for the different start times, were many minutes apart the finish sprint featured a bike-race-type finish with a cluster of six racers sprinting in all out most with in a short time frame. Great credit goes to finish judge Peter Foster for keeping the times flowing to the greatly stressed spotter/recording judge.

Included amongst those not coming in to the finish within a few minutes of each other were those who were swimming in one of the eddies of the whitewater park, just upstream, recovering their boats and gear. Compounding the carnage was the tight field. We had quite the duck pond going on between the top two holes. It was a bizarre race in that the top time was put in by our on the course safety boater, Mike Freeburn, who was invaluable to the race field but who was not entered as a contestant. The top (official) racer times were slightly slower and were put in by Brady Johnston from the Jackson Hole Kayak Club and Steve Ward of Durango.

The Sprint events the following day had a different feel. While most of us awoke that morning to find snow on the ground and on the boats, by the time the sprints started the weather had warmed into a decent morning. Without the winds the worst that the big wave holes did to the racers was to slam a few into the not so fun to be in eddies. Remarkably the only real carnage came from a mishap on a class II level pillow rock near the finish line that several boats either slid off of or narrowly missed. One local racer who knew the river well was surprised by that feature.

Again the top placers were Steve Ward and Brady Johnston with impressive showings made by Sarah Johnston in women’s kayak, Ethan Putnam in C-1 M and, most encouragingly, by the four youngest competitors of the event. In the tightest contested classes of the weekend Nate Foster barely edged out Henry Hyde in the K-1M cadet class and Karl Allen and Bailey Ludwig finished similarly tight in the K-1M junior class. All five of our junior and cadet class finishers are to be commended for mixing it up so well with the large and powerful features and the challenging weather conditions of this race. This was far from the typical junior level team trials event.

Great appreciation needs to be given to our volunteers both on the water doing safety and working as the start and finish judges and who contributed as photographers. Similarly deserving of our thanks was Kent Ford for putting on a personally narrated film presentation on the history of paddling with a stress on racing that showed some great footage. We also owe thanks to our home stay hosts who housed our out of the area racers and as well to the City of Durango Parks and Recreation for working so cooperatively with the race organizers. Finally this even would not have happened without the work of race director/organizer Lisa Adams who managed her race-related tasks, including designing the event shirts and hand etching the fine crystal awards glasses, at a time when she was finishing up her two jobs and saying good bye to her many Durango friends as she worked on relocating to a her new coaching assignment over on the Colorado Front Range.

A look at our results will show that this race had small field, that the list of the missing far exceeded the number who showed up. Speaking from a position of great bias I can only offer that this race deserved to be better supported as its boating and character more than spoke very well for our sport. As such our greatest appreciation and gratitude go out to the racers who did go to the trouble and expense to show up from all over the west to support our sport. Their positive and very supportive and gracious attitude more than made putting on this race worthwhile.

Denny Adams

Results:

Name
Class
Classic Race
Sprint #1
Sprint #2
Sprint 1+2
Nate Foster
K-1M Cadet
33:10
2:47
2:51
5:38
Henry Hyde
K-1M Cadet
33:03
2:48
2:55
5:42
 
Bailey Ludwig
K-1M Junior
33:35
3:32
3:15
6:19
Karl Allen
K-1M Junior
33:20
2:42
2:47
5:29
 
Ethan Putnam
C-1M Junior
33:19
2:44
2:55
5:39
Kent Ford
C-1M Senior
DNS
2:45
2:48
5:33
Lisa Adams
C-1W Senior
26:15
3:15
3:10
6:25
 
Doug Hoogaveen
K-1M Senior
27:30
DNS
DNS
DNS
David Kelly
K-1M Senior
26:36
DNS
DNS
DNS
Steve Ward
K-1M Senior
21:31
2:15
2:16
4:31
Art Zemach
K-1M Senior
21:31
DNF
2:42
DNF
Brady Johnston
K-1M Senior
20:45
2:22
2:23
4:45
Nic Borst
K-1M Senior
DNF
DNS
DNS
DNS
 
Sarah Johnston
K-1W Senior
DNF
2:30
2:26
4:56
Iris Gardner
K-1W Senior
40:26
DNS
DNS
DNS
 
Albright/Roehner
C-2M
DNF
2:49
DNS
DNF
   
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