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Thanks to the Jackson Hole Kayak Club and to Rendezvous River Sports

by Denny Adams, Events and Programs Chair

May 29, 2012 -- Jackson, WY

Supreme kudos and heart-felt thanks are owed to the Jackson Hole Kayak Club and to Rendezvous River Sports in Jackson for their incredible job they did hosting our Wildwater National Championships. Those of us fortunate enough to have attended enjoyed a magnificent northern Rockies setting, cool and moist weather, and a very well managed race. For those curious about the river it was described by most as being a great wildwater river and one that was well suited for the race field. While our event represented an introduction of National Championship Wildwater Racing to this mini-region, the organizers and worker bees were more than experienced with the nuances of whitewater race management and with the challenges of hosting an athletic event.

Our hosts clearly had it together in terms of organization and management. It began with the pre-race and online information and maps. Upon arriving, we had a great social and free camping in our own area on the nearby Snake River. We also greatly enjoyed having small perks such as the homemade brownies presented after our classic race. A very nice touch was the free tickets to a paddling film night and raffle tickets for their very impressive raffle that featured big time prizes such as kayaks, drysuits, paddles etc.. The amazing thing was that these guys were also hosting their own broader three day paddling event at the same time, the Wyoming Whitewater Festival, which included an open downriver race, freestyle competitions, and a boater-cross. At a deeper level, their events had a side focus of helping to preserve the racing venue itself, the small and off of the radar Hoback River, a free flowing and very clean stream which is being endangered by the prospect of having its nearby and pristine headwaters become a large natural gas field. (For info Google "Hoback River")

Our races were very notable for being co-hosted by a partnership of a USACK affiliate club and the area's local paddling shop which is owned by a passionate top level wildwater racer. Jackson Hole Kayaking Club (JHKC) is a separate 501c3 non-profit tax exempt organization. That status allows Aaron Pruzan of Rendezvous River Sports to make generous contributions which allows the club to thrive. Aaron gives store discounts for members, donates prizes for races, donates the use of his store office space, shares his boats and equipment with the club instruction program, and subsidizes race expenses. That level of support is something that most clubs can only dream about.

Their team partnership is completely awesome and is very commendable for having both an active group of adult racers and a dynamic kids program that is education focused and multi-disciplined. The club's older paddlers joined the race field, showing well I will add, and likewise did the safety boat chores. Their teens from the kid's program likewise raced very credibly and showed a great potential for competing at a much higher level, internationally even, if they choose to pursue wildwater more seriously. The club's younger kids and parents helped, joined with our few POJs (parents of juniors) to do the unappreciated but essential jobs of timing, spotting, photographing, and cheering the much deserving racers.

Between the mountainous setting, the wet and cool weather, and the friendly and outgoing nature of the hosts, this year's Nationals were more Alpine-like in character than any US held race in my experience. What was amazing was the positive rapport that the organizers had with the private land owners along the river which allowed us access. As at any race these other than racing components, the ones so present and distinct in this region, help define the deeper character of the event and as such the character of our discipline.

The Jackson/Hoback Nationals was an event that our racers both appreciated greatly and will remember fondly. Here are the key players that deserve all of the kudos and appreciation.

Brent Tyc, Executive Director, Jackson Hole Kayak Club & Event Organizer
Jon Souter, JHKC President and event organizer
Aaron Pruzan, Rendezvous River Sports owner, event sponsor and organizer
Brady Johnston, JHKC Treasurer, volunteer and rubber duck helmet wearer
Sarah Johnston, JHKC alumni, Brady's wife and volunteer
Pam and Bronko Terkovich, Brooke's parents, Pam is JHKC Secretary, and organizer
Steve Manley, JHKC Vice-President, Volunteer (Race timing starter)
John Putnam helped with the finish timing
Brenden Cronin, Head of Safety
Nate Fuller, Safety Team
John Wiede, Safety Team
Kate Ceronsky, Safety Team