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USA Wildwater 2004 Highlights and Challenges

A View from the Chair

by John Pinyerd
USA Canoe/Kayak
Wildwater Chairman

November 15, 2004 -- Atlanta, GA

2004 has truly been an exciting year for Wildwater. The year began with having to go through our WWC election process a second time, only to reproduce the same near-unanimous results. Although the delay put the WWC committee behind in several items such as securing uniforms, finalizing race schedules, publicity, etc., we have made significant progress since that time.

USA Wildwater is enthusiastically on the right track. We will see significant growth to the sport in 2005 and we are adding value for our sponsors. Chuck Brabec has made a world class website. 2005 will be a very exciting year for Wildwater.


January 18, 2004 -- Atlanta, GA/ Training Camp/ Chattahoochee River -- It was truly exciting to see 20 Wildwater boats pour into the parking lot at the "metro hooch" in the middle of January.

February 29, 2004 -- Glacier Breaker/Nantahala River NC -- The Nantahala Racing Club season opener (The annual Glacier Breaker), Wildwater event went off flawlessly with 20 competitors, 10 of whom were cadets or juniors.

March 20, 2004 -- US Open/Nantahala River NC -- We utilized the slalom course (as it was the final regional qualifier for the US Olympic Slalom trials) for our Wildwater Sprints. Our Sprint times ranged from a mere 42 seconds for a K-1 into the mid 50 second range for C-1's. Get used to the idea as this could be the future of Wildwater Sprint in a multiple discipline whitewater venue.

April 17-18, 2004 -- Team Trials/ Richwood, WV/ Gauley River -- The U.S.A. Wildwater Team Trials took place on a beautiful weekend although earlier in the week we had SNOW and extremely high water. Overall turnout was excellent. Geoff Calhoun won both the Jr. and Sr. Trials in K-1. Tom Wier extended his dominance in K-1. Press coverage of the event was excellent by the local newspapers, The Charleston Daily Mail, and WV public television. In addition, the event was filmed by Bruce Conover of CCN.

May 20-23, 2004 -- World Championships/Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER) -- I am very proud of the results that Team USA generated at the World Championships in Garmisch. The river has often been described as "creeking" and just being able to make it down the race course in a Wildwater boat earns my respect. Team USA nailed some very nice race runs and took 5th in the C-1 Team Run and 10th in the K-1 Team Run. Individual results for USA Wildwater are:

  • K-1W Wildwater Sprint / Classic Results: 17th/18th Chara Whittemore
  • C-1 Wildwater Sprint / Classic Results: 19th/19th Tom Wier; 23rd/25th Mike Beck; 25th/26th Bob Bofinger.
  • K-1 Wildwater Sprint / Classic Results: 30th/ 36th Middy Tilghman; 33rd/41st Shaun Smith; 36th/ 44th Geoff Calhoun; 42nd/ 50th Jess Whittemore

June 12-13, 2004 -- World Cup Results -- USA Wildwater sent 8 athletes to the World Cups this year. Our men's kayak class was very solid and we have several rapidly rising stars. In his first year of racing at the senior level, Geoff Calhoun (a junior) finished the World Cups as the fastest USA K-1 and in 35th place overall. Middy Tilghman's training in France this year paid huge dividends, as he typically split honors with Geoff as America's fastest K-1 in the World Cups and finished 37th overall. Veteran athlete Chris Hipgrave finished well at 41st place overall and Lincoln Williams 42nd.

In the C-1 Class, Tom Wier continued to show why he is America's top C-1 and finished 19th overall. Mike Beck finished 36th place overall in C-1. In Woman's K-1, Kristen Beck finished 25th overall and Anne Connelly finished 26th

June 15-20, 2004 -- Western Jr. Team Trials/Fibark/Salida, CO -- Wildwater is alive and well in CO -- The Junior Wildwater program is thriving in Colorado! This is largely in part to the efforts of Nate Lord of the Dawson School and Chris Wiegand of the Front Range Paddling Association. I am truly excited about these programs as they are developing some fabulous racers. In addition, 50 Wildwater racers participated in the Fibark classic downriver race! The Fibark organization will host 2005 Wildwater Nationals.

July 29- August 1, 2004 -- Jr. Pre-Worlds/Vipiteno (ITA) -- We are extremely proud of the success of our 6 athletes on the USA Wildwater Junior Team that competed at the Junior Pre-Worlds (Geoff Calhoun, Nic Borst, Lisa Adams, Emily Stein, Perrin Pring, and Tom Gray). We had 2 racers with top 10 finishes. Tom Gray took 10th in both of his C-1 races. Geoff Calhoun finished 9th in the sprint and 11th in the classic races in K-1 and emerged as America's top K-1 (junior or senior).

August 7-8, 2004 -- US Nationals/Pan Am Championships/Salmon River NY -- Over 50 racers from the US, Canada, and Chile participated in this beautiful venue. The K-1 class was deep with talent, with 21 great competitors including the Canadian talent of Patrick Gagne and Paul Gerrard, Chilean slalom super star Pablo McCandless and American US Team members Geoff Calhoun and Chris Hipgrave. In the end Geoff Calhoun reinforced his rise to dominance this year with a great performance, besting Hipgrave (2nd) and Gagne (3rd) by a solid margin.

C-1 was an all American race with John Pinyerd easily wrapping up first ahead of a very intense battle for the rest of the medals between Ed Gordon (2nd) and Bob Bofinger (3rd). The K1W class was also a great race as Canadians Stefanie Vallee and Marie Pier Cote took first and second ahead of USA's Chara Whittemore. Canadians Van Winssen/Winacott dominated C-2 ahead of Bofinger/Leroux (2nd) and Pinyerd/Norbury (3rd). We plan to have more US/Canadian races in the future.

September 27, 2004 -- Animal Upper Gauley Race/Summersville, WV -- Andrew McEwan, a Wildwater National Champion and Sprint competitor, flew in from California to win top honors in K-1 on the raging whitewater of the Upper Gauley. Geoff Calhoun was second and Chris Hipgrave was third. The race drew about 100 competitors and is designated as an international Wildwater race. A total cash purse of $2,200 was distributed to 1st place finishers in each qualifying categories.

November 6, 2004 -- WWC Bylaws are Updated -- A) National Championships will be awarded to the National Champions in Sprint, Classic, and as well as the Combined Champions. We are excited about these changes as it paves the way for more participation from Slalom, Sprint and Marathon racers. B) The Team selection criteria was also updated to include more emphasis on sprint, to establish minimum percentages to earn a berth on the team, and to establish procedure for anyone that can not attend team trials.


March 5-6, 2005 -- US Team Trials/ Nantahala River NC -- The Nantahala Racing Club has been awarded the 2005 USA Wildwater Senior Team Trials (and Eastern Team Trials for Juniors). The classic race will be on a 5-mile section of the Nantahala River, in the gorgeous Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and the sprints will be through Nantahala Falls. The two-day event will select the elite athletes that will represent the USA in the 2005 World Cups and in England, Wales, and Ireland and the Junior World Championships Italy.

May 15-30, 2005 -- World Cup Races -- We are excited by the news that The ICF has designated that 2005 will be an "International Development Year" for the sport of Wildwater. All 2005 World Cups, including the Pre-World Championships, will be held on rivers that are somewhat easier than in years past. The races will be on the Trent River in Nottingham UK, the Washburn River in Yorkshire UK, the Shannon River near Limerick Ireland and will conclude with the Pre-Worlds on the Tryweryn River in Bala, Wales. The Pre-Worlds will include Sprint, Classic, and Team Races.

The International Canoe Federation has just announced that in 2005 and 2006 Masters and Seniors Championship competitions will be held in conjunction with the Pre-World and World Championships on the Tryweryn River in Bala, Wales.

May 30, 2005 - Masters Pre Worlds -- In 2005, masters and seniors competition categories will be 35-45, and 45-55. There is potential for a 55+ category, although the ICF has yet to make a final ruling on this last age bracket. There will be a Master World Championships in Bala in 2006. Recently John Pinyerd, the USACK's Wildwater Committee Chairman and a masters himself was quoted as saying, "I am genuinely excited about racing in Bala again. The Tryweryn was always one of my favorite rivers when I was racing at the international level. I'm pumped to head back there and catch up with some of my old racer friends. Perhaps some of them are fat and out of shape now. Heck, I might even whoop a few of them at the race!"

June 17-19 -- US Nationals, Western Jr. Team Trials/Salida CO -- The Fibark Organization will be hosting US Nationals and Western Jr. Team Trials in Salida CO in conjunction with the Fibark Classic race. This is a great racing venue that will draw a very large number of Wildwater racers and help return Fibark to its former greatness.


Sponsors: USA Wildwater is growing and is enthusiastically adding value for our sponsors. We continue to need sponsors for gear, uniforms and apparel as well as sponsors to help fund our development and international teams.

Boats: Geoff Calhoun has stepped up to the plate and is in the process of putting together a group order from Zastera Composites (a world-class Wildwater boat manufacturer). An additional challenge is that the Euro is up by more than 40% over the Dollar (vs. 2-3 years ago) and it now more expensive to buy boats from the Europeans. The WWC is also working to encourage domestic production and should have an announcement soon on

Participation in C-1, C-2, and K-W: The canoe categories are becoming more challenging to fill with at the international levels. Unlike years past were many of us learned to paddle canoe at summer camp and gradually migrated into racing, today's kids are all learning to paddle in kayaks. We must continue to develop racers in the C-1, C-2, and woman's kayak categories.

John Pinyerd
Chairman - USA Wildwater