Salida: Wildwater and Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver National Championships

Salida water park

From The Mountain Mail (Cody Olivas):

The Wildwater and Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver National Championships returned to Salida last weekend, welcoming some of the best boaters in the country with high water.

“I was very happy with the way everything went,” said Nate Lord, president of Team Colorado Whitewater Racing and race director for the national championships.

“When I originally put in the special activity use permit, I had very different race courses in mind. When the water came up so high, we had to rethink everything, but we found race courses that were fun and exciting.”

The high water also ended up being good preparation for some of the younger boaters who will be racing internationally later this summer.

“Many of the young athletes are also on the U.S. junior wildwater team and will be racing in Bosnia in July,” he said. “We needed to give them a good experience in big water.”

Developing that junior program has been a focus in recent years, he said. “Even though the water was high, we were able to work on some important skills for the junior athletes. I felt we did a good job building that base.”

Boaters came from Tennessee, Virginia, Maine, Georgia, Massachusetts, Arizona, California, the Penobscot Nation in Maine and Colorado for the championships.

Team Colorado, Lord said, “did really well.”

“Down in Durango there’s a really strong wildwater program,” Lord said. “Cully Brown and Nate Foster dominated the wildwater competition. They are outstanding.”

Foster won the men’s combined title, which included the classic (downriver) and sprint, while Californian Amanda Creek, who got started paddling at the Dawson School in Lafayette, won the women’s combined wildwater championship.

Athletes from Maine and the Penobscot Nation dominated the open canoe competitions, Lord said.

Lord also won the solo open canoe 55-plus championship to represent Colorado…

The competition was the fifth time Salida had hosted the open canoe nationals, while Lord said the town has also hosted the wildwater nationals “many times.”

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