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2005 Wildwater Highlights

A view from the Chair

by John Pinyerd
Chairman - USA Wildwater

November 20, 2005 -- Atlanta, GA

2005 was a year of significant progress for USA Wildwater. Through the efforts of many folks, including the Wildwater Board, our volunteer coaches, and our race and training camp organizers, Wildwater participation is up in the USA to a decade-high level. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of our progress is that half of our racers are Juniors or Cadets.

We are truly grateful to supporters like Carolina West Sport Medicine, who sponsored Team Trials and uniforms, and Tom Calhoun, who helped us fund coaching, training camps, and housing for both the junior and senior teams in Europe. With additional support, we will be able to provide funding for our top athletes!

We also remain grateful to Dave Mason, who purchased the team dinners for both the junior and senior teams in Europe, attends ICF meetings, and won the 2007 Junior Wildwater World Championships venue for Columbia SC!

2005 Highlights:

Wildwater is Generating Positive Press

  • Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine selected Geoff Calhoun (K-1) as the 2004 Paddler of the Year
  • Atlanta Sports and Fitness Magazine selected John Pinyerd (C-1) as the 2004 Amateur Athlete of the Year.
  • Emily Stein (K-1W Jr.) was dubbed “Stein-o-mite” by the Chattanooga paper
  • Tom Wier (C-1) received extensive coverage in the Seattle paper
  • Team Trials, Nationals, and the Upper Gauley Race also received lots of attention from the local papers.

Training Camp Participation Continues to Grow
Training camps not only help to improve the skills of our racers, but they also facilitate grass-roots growth and development. Significant training camps included the:

  • “Chute the Hooch Training Camp” in “Hotlanta” in January
  • “Don’t be a Turkey” Thanksgiving Training Camp in Bryson City, NC
  • Front Range Paddling Association training camps in Colorado.
In addition, we held organized training camps in Washington state and Washington DC, and nearly every weekend on the Nantahala leading up to Team Trials.

Race Participation Continues to Grow
T It only takes a glance to see that we have nearly 80 events on our race calendar. We are very grateful to our local race organizers, as they are a key to our continued success. A few highlights from 2005 are:

February 27, 2005 -- Glacier Breaker/Nantahala River, NC – A couple of years ago, only a few of us would have ever imagined that a well-run Nantahala Racing Club winter race dubbed "The Glacier Breaker” could draw 30 competitors, but this seems to be the new norm for races in the Southeast.

March 5-6, 2005 – Team Trials/Nantahala River, NC – This year's USA Team Trials were one of the best-run Wildwater events I have ever attended. In addition to putting on an incredible event backed by the Nantahala Racing Club, Chris and Trish Hipgrave also did great job on publicity. As a result, we had 55 participants, representing a total of four countries (USA, Canada, Chile, and New Zealand).

April 23, 2005 – 37th Annual SE US Wildwater Championships/Nantahala River, NC – While a late season freak snowstorm with 30 mph wind gusts hurt participation, two dozen hearty souls raced and kept one of the longest-running races in North America intact.

May 2005 – World Cups/England, Ireland, and Wales – USA Wildwater sent 8 athletes to the 2005 Word Cups. We really functioned as a team as we provided team housing (thanks to a sponsor) and utilized a team van/trailer (thanks to Team Managers, Mike and Kristen Beck). Led by kayakers Geoff Calhoun and Andrew McEwan, and Tom Wier in C-1, the USA Team had solid finishes. The 2005 USA Team roster was:

  • Andrew McEwan – Auburn, CA – K-1
  • Geoff Calhoun – Bethesda, MD – K-1
  • Chris Hipgrave – Bryson City, NC – K-1
  • Rob Murphy – Atlanta, GA – K-1
  • Bern Collins – Columbus, NC - K-1
  • Tom Weir – Snohomish, WA – C-1
  • John Pinyerd – Marietta, GA - C-1
  • Mike Beck – Sebastian, FL – C-1

USA brought home a Slew of Medals this year from the Team Race in Ireland and “Masters Age Group Word Cup” in Bala:

  • John Pinyerd – C-1 (Silver – Masters)
  • Chris Hipgrave – K-1 (Bronze – 35+)
  • Bern Collins – K-1 (Bronze – 55+)
  • Tom Weir & Mike Beck – C-1 (Bronze, Team Race)

June 17-19, 2005 – USA Nationals/FIBArk/Arkansas River, Salida, CO
The 2005 USA Wildwater Nationals (and the Western Junior Team Trials) were part of one of the premier whitewater festivals in the world (the 57th annual FIBArk Festival). We had over 40 USA participants and half of the racers were Juniors. Chris Wiegand continues to really help support Wildwater Junior Development in Colorado. The 2005 National Champions were:

  • Jeremy Thiesen – C-1 Jr.
  • Tom Wier – C-1
  • Nic Borst/Chris Wiegand – C-2
  • Lisa Adams – K-1 W – Jr.
  • Boo Turner – K-1 W
  • Alex Dodge – K-1 Jr.
  • Geoff Calhoun – K-1

July 27-31 – Junior World Championships/Meszzana ITA
For the first time ever, USA Wildwater provided a significant portion of funding for the Junior Team. We need to continue this trend so that ALL of our qualified juniors can participate. The U.S. Junior Team members were:

  • Blake Sparks, 18, Boaz, AL ( K-1 )
  • Eric Orenstein, 17, Bethesda, MD ( K-1 )
  • Chan Jones, 16, Franklin, NC ( K-1 )
  • Emily Stein, 16, Lookout Mountain, TN ( K-1W )
  • Erin Wilder, 16, Rockford, AL ( K-1W )
  • Bailey O'Sullivan, 17, Roswell, GA ( K-1W )
  • Tierney O'Sullivan, 15, Roswell, GA ( K-1W )

October 27, 2005 - The USA Wildwater Coaching/Mentoring program is off to a great start.
The idea behind the program is to develop a list of seasoned veteran Wildwater racers/coaches in the key racing markets in the USA and to maintain this list in the contacts section of USAWildwater. So far more than a dozen coaches/mentors have signed up, including the "great ones" of our sport.