(Ryan M. Duffy, Adrian Oritz; Flickr Pictures here..)
This past weekend my husband and I traveled to South Bend, Indiana for a little business and… whitewater. I took my first whitewater class in January with the Chicago Whitewater Association. Recently, a note on the club’s message board, “Paddle, Party, and Play,” announced that there was a World Kayak Throwdown in South Bend, Indiana. The Chicago Whitewater Association consists of volunteer positions of which my Intro to Whitewater instructor, Bob Menard, is currently VP.
Bob has recently become the World Kayak ambassador of the Chicago region. This past weekend he arranged the first World Kayak Hometown Throwdown at the East Race Whitewater Park. Throwdown results here.
“Events like the ‘Throwdown’ are very effective in showcasing the most enjoyable sides of paddling to new crowds and as a company, we are fully supportive of the efforts.” Lisa Kincaid, Kokatat
“Free and open to all skill levels, Hometown Throwdowns give local paddlers a chance to strut their stuff in a series of low-key competitions. The basic scoring system rewards everything from basic to advanced moves front surfs and paddle waves to more advanced moves giving all a chance at scoring points.” Lee Hart
Whitewater Courses and Parks inform and pull together municipal leaders, parks and recreation managers about whitewater facilities. As they proliferate they will introduce paddlers to a lifelong sport and encourage more experienced boaters to hone their skills.
World Kayak was founded in the early 90’s by world-champion freestyle kayaker and kayak designer Eric Jackson. After joining up with James McBeath, Colin Kemp was hired and in 2010, Lee Hart joined the team.
World Kayak ambassadors have been brought aboard from key paddling regions in the US and Canada. The ambassadors post news, events and blogs, for each of their regions in an effort to consolidate regional paddling information. There are now ambassadors in 80 regions and a growing number of them international… Serbia, Indonesia and soon China are just some of the more recent hook ups.
Freestyle kayaking is re-surging …. 63 new events in Freestyle …, called the Hometown Throwdowns, marked the biggest surge in new events in the history of whitewater. World Kayak was the creator of those events. Why? Because we love them, and people love them….
Expedition boating is the future. Jackson Kayak supports expedition boaters who are off to the most difficult rivers of the world, that have never been run, and successfully ticking them off like a “to do list”. Are they out for glory? No, they are doing it for the love the challenge and the reward of accomplishing something so difficult, that most people couldn’t get past square one. We support them because their passion for paddling makes the world a better place. Do any of our boaters have a serious salary? No. Would ANYbody do what Team JK does for the money? No chance! Eric Jackson
“Every person no matter what his or her level, can experience…. rich challenge… A beginning paddler doing his or her first roll in a river finds a cutting edge, where challenge is mixed with pure fun, and success leads to a sense of freedom. A class I paddler in the first class II rapid feels this, and so on up the line….. as their skills improve some paddlers require harder and harder runs to find this same feeling….this doesn’t need to be the case. It doesn’t require big league class V, it’s all about personal balance within oneself.” Doug Ammons
“Competition breeds skills progression and can lead to elite athlete potential. Competition needs to be available at all moments in an athlete’s life… from beginner to advanced… and every successful sport has a means to monitor the progression of each competitor… something that encourages skills progression and helps with ranking when at the elite levels.” James McBeath
(Photograph by Heidi Haas, Intro to Whitewater with Bob Mendard; 2/2011)
Rather than being about self-promotion, kayaking, or any other adventure sport for that matter, needs to be more of a learning experience.
“Instead of top paddlers saying, look at me, I am the future, I am cool, pay me. They’ll be saying, Look at me, what I do is fun, and I will share my experiences with you and help you learn to do what I do too.” Eric Jackson
Two Brothers Brewing in Warrenville, Illinois, has been a favorite stop for my husband and I and I wasn’t surprised Bob Menard had chosen to take one of the Chicago Whitewater social outings there recently. On our way back to Chicago after visiting East Race, we spent some time in Munster, Indiana, first checking out Three Floyds Brewing, as Bob also recommended. Originally from Hammond, Three Floyds relocated to Munster in 2000. The next day, as we pulled out of town, we stopped by Five Guys Burgers and Fries…
Two Brothers, Three Floyds, Five Guys.
- The Cutting Edge of Kayaking, Doug Ammons, American Whitewater article, 6/08.
- World Kayak Debuts Point System For Freestyle Kayaking, by Lee Hart, Outdoor Industry.org, 5/3/11.
- Eric Jackson’s Kayak Blog
- Interntational Whitewater Hall of Fame
- World Kayak
- Playak.com, “Kokatat Throws Down For World Kayak’s 2010 ‘Hometown Throwdown’ Series.” 5/5/2010
- Doug Ammons Looks to Lift Kayak Literature Above ‘Dudism’, Michael Moore, The Missoulian, 3/18/10.