Glenwood Canyon: Whitewater Standup Paddling Championships

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Here’s a recap of the inaugural Whitewater Standup Paddling Championships, from Andrew Travers writing for the Aspen Daily News. From the article:

Twenty athletes from across the continental United States and Hawaii took to the Colorado River on Sunday for the first ever Whitewater Stand Up Paddling Championships. The three-event competition pitted the paddle surfers against one another in a whitewater race, a slalom event and a freestyle surfing showdown — competitors balancing atop custom converted surfboards and paddling their way through rapids with single-bladed oars. “This is a historic event,” said Nikki Gregg, a personal trainer based in Oahu, Hawaii, who took third place in Sunday’s eight-mile race from Grizzly Creek to Two Rivers Park. “I think the sport is really going to grow in the next few years.”

There were no crashes or injuries in the race, though competitors said the Class II and III rapids were formidable. “This is the first time a lot of people have competed in whitewater,” said Charlie MacArthur, owner of the Aspen Kayak Academy and a stand-up paddling pioneer. “So it’s a whole new ballgame. But as far as scouting the rapids, it’s easier than kayaking because you’re standing up and you can see what’s coming.”[…]

But Liam Wilmott, a competitor who works for Hawaii-based stand up board and paddle company C4 Waterman, said surfing prowess doesn’t necessarily give you an upper hand in this upstart water sport. “In the whitewater, the waves stand still and the water moves you along,” Wilmott said, “but in the ocean the waves are moving and water stands still. You’ve got to throw everything you know about riding a wave in the ocean out the window when you’re on the river.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

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