FIBArk recap

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Here’s a recap of last week’s FIBArk festival up in Chaffee County, from Scott Willoughby writing for the Denver Post. From the article:

Without question, FIBArk is Salida’s time to shine. The 61-year-old festival celebrating all things Arkansas River-related could be considered the town’s calling card, a five-day affair that began on a bet and blossomed into full-blown whitewater carnival complete with contests, clinics, parades, parties and the ever-popular Hooligan Race that attracts thousands of river enthusiasts each year. At this point, the original “bet I can beat you in a boat race down to Cañon City” almost seems secondary to the remainder of the multiring circus surrounding it. But the prestige of being “First in Boating on the Ark” (FIBArk, get it?) remains even after the race was shortened to the 26-mile marathon ending in Cotopaxi (won this year by Andy Corra of Durango). “It’s like nothing else in the world,” said Scott Shipley of Lyons, a former Olympic slalom kayak racer who is designing the whitewater course for the 2012 Olympics in London. “I’ve literally been to whitewater parks everywhere from the Czech Republic all the way to Australia, and this place is just such a part of the community. It’s a real community-type feel anyway, but they get behind this whitewater race like nothing else.”

More coverage from The Durango Telegraph:

A Durangoan earned “king of the river” status during last weekend’s 61st FIBArk Whitewater Festival in Salida. Andy Corra, the 48-year-old owner of 4 Corners Riversports, won the Wildwater Natioanl Championships on Saturday and the marathon 26-mile Downriver Race on Sunday, beating out racers a fraction of his age. The downriver race is the event that first got the FIBArk festival started in 1949. The 26-mile race through class III water runs from Salida to Cotopaxi and has always drawn some of the best boaters in the country and world to the starting line. Corra first won the race in 1985. This year’s race put him at six FIBArk victories, a record he shares with veteran boater Gary Lacy. “Obviously, the older you get, the harder it gets, but it’s such a technical sport and there’s so much boat-control and learning how to race an event like this, it kind of evens out,” Corra told the Pueblo Chieftan. “I was certainly stronger when I was 25, but I don’t think I’m much slower.” Fellow Durango boater and 1991 FIBArk champ Mike Freeburn finished second in the Nationals and offered a blow-by-blow account. “The start was chaotic,” he said. “(Andy) got out and I got stuck behind a whole group of people right away, so I lost contact with him. One guy turned sideways and I crashed right into him. My plan was to stay right with him and there was instantly a 20-meter gap, so once he had that little jump, it was really hard to make that up.” At the finish line, Corra offered props to Freeburn, who is 43, for keeping him motivated and competitive. “We’re doing it for the old guys,” he said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

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