February 25, 2002 -- Hershey, PA
The Wildwater rankings from 2001 have finally been completed and analyzed.
Many thanks to all of those who contributed results from all over
the country Ė I have done my utmost to represent your efforts in the
contain statistics from thirty-eight races nationwide, ranging
from the Kern in California to the Snoqualamie in the Northwest
to the National Championships on the Pigeon in the Southeast,
to the Salmon in the Northeast.
of races included has dropped from fifty-two last year. Though
this does not necessarily represent an outright decline in the
number of races planed: more the prevailing drought conditions
affecting large portions of the country. Races from the NorthWest
to Mid-Atlantic region were cancelled due to lack of water, and
I had some difficulty in obtaining results from some race organizers.
In Menís K1 there are 331 ranked competitors, sixty-five of whom
were classified as having raced in Wildwater boats (in bold).
This classification is inherently inaccurate, as the description
of a wildwater boat differs widely from organizer to organizer,
but serves as an adequate guide for ranking purposes. For the
first time since the rankings were resurrected three years, I
did not compete in the greatest number of races. This honor fell
to Steve Kauffman of Friendsville, MD, who managed to race
domestically twenty times throughout the year, not counting races
in which he represented the U.S. in Slovenia and Italy this summer.
The winner of the Menís K1 class for the third time in a row was
National Champion Andrew McEwan, although his mantle of
invincibility slipped a little this year, with defeats in the
sprint events at both Team Trials and the National Championships,
not to mention a number of races on the Yough. Whilst he now appears
beatable, Andrew does remain the gold standard, with Chris
Hipgrave back by almost 2%.
Whilst Chris did not manage to defeat Andrew, his ranking comes
off the back of strong performances at Team Trials and Nationals,
especially in the Classic races. In third Steve Kauffman made
the most of his large number of races, and his rapid improvement
through the year culminated in a strong performance in the sprint
event at the pre-World Championships in Italy. It is also worth
noting the battle between White Haven, Pennsylvania neighbors
Ted Newton and Dave Bonomo in 4th and 5th respectively,
with only 0.01% separating them. Jess Whittemore topped
those competitors at 7th, who did not attend Team Trials or National
Championships. His strong ranking is courtesy of strong performances
in races on the Yough, his home river. Indeed, those from the
Mid-Atlantic region accounted for thirteen of the top fifteen
men's kayaks, the strength of the region stemming form an active
all year long racing program incorporating both the Mid-Atlantic
Series as well as extreme races on rivers such as the Upper Yough
and Upper Gauley.
In Womenís kayak, sixty-four paddlers raced, with twelve of those
in Wildwater boats. Jennie Goldberg repeated as National
Ranking Champion, edging out Wildwater newcomer Chara OíBrien,
who won at team Trials, and National Champion Caroline Domenghino.
Again the Mid-Atlantic was the strongest region, with almost half
of those competitors racing in Wildwater boats hailing from that
In Menís C-1, Michael Beavers managed to win the National
Rankings for the first time, jumping from 4th in 2000, on the
back of seven consistently strong races. He beat out thirty-nine
other racers, ten of whom competed in Wildwater boats. In this
class the Wildwater racers came primarily from the Southeast and
Mid-Atlantic regions. National Champion and Team Trials winner
Tom Wier came in second, after failing to register five
results, with Chris Osment coming in third after his trademark
The results in the C-2 class were disappointing, with only thirteen
boats racing, and only two of those being Wildwater boats. OC-2
racers Larry Lubbers and Bob Davis attained the
highest-ranking score on the back of participation in Mid-Atlantic
series races, with Californians Charles Albright and Gordon
in second and Zimmerman and Miller, racing in an ancient,
borrowed C-2 in third. Given the strong turnout of US C2ís in
the World Championships in France less than two years ago, where
a full compliment was fielded, the low numbers of C-2s is surprising,
and will hopefully be remedied in this upcoming Worlds year. In
the junior ranks participation was down, perhaps due to a lack
of results from the junior stronghold of Colorado.
Junior Women's K-1, Junior Men's C-1
In the Womenís K1 juniors Shannon Reeves repeated as National
Ranking Champion, but not without a fight from Kathryn Dyer
and Beth Karp who fought injury to gain a gutsy third.
In C1 Russell Johnson dominated the junior ranks with a
score that would have placed him fourth in the senior ranks, and
paddled well for the senior team at the Pre-Worlds in Italy. Behind
him former junior team C2 paddler Dave Moore took second,
with Chris Davis in third.
Joe Barkley won the Junior menís K-1, moving up from eighth
last year, his first year of paddling wildwater. Joeís ranking
of 84.43 would have placed him tenth in the Menís K1 ranking,
ahead of last years junior winner Simon Beardmore. Despite
defeating 2nd placed Clay Wilder every time they raced,
Clay managed to keep the scores close, less than 1% behind, and
as Joe turns eighteen, look for Clay to move in and dominate this
class. In third was Tyler Dyer, again competing for the
first year in a wildwater boat. All three of these guys hail from
the Southeast, and will hopefully, as they mature, restore prominence
to the Menís K1 class in this region.
Overall though, the standard of paddlers, as well as the number
of races they participated in seems to be improving. This year
16 K1M raced a minimum of 5 times, as compared to 15 last year
and only 6 in 1999. The gap between 1st and 5th in K1M was 6.33%
in 2000, but had narrowed to 3.88% this year, indicating that
the standard of racers at the highest national level is getting
closer. This trend is mirrored in the C1 rankings, where the gap
between first and 5th, whilst significantly greater than in k1,
has narrowed from 15.35 in 2000 to 12.23 this year. This can only
lead to greater competition, which in turn should rive up the
standard, increasing the enjoyment of all those striving to win
in wildwater races across the country.
Editor's note: Thank you, Chris, for doing the
rankings this year. Though officially this task falls under my
office on the National USACK Wildwater Committee, I am grateful
that people with far greater math skills are willing to crunch
the numbers and determine important placement statistics. "Whilst"
your grasp of complex algorithms are unparalleled, I'm still freaked
out by your Scot's use of the mother tongue.--MB
is Vice Chair of the U.S. Wildwater Committee and an active race
and training camp organizer living in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Reach
him at email@example.com.