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US Olympic Trials / West Virginia

Friday Apr 2, 2004
Kayak: Preston Hartman
C1: Alden Bird
Organizer: USOC
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium
Author: Alden Bird

I took some time off to compete in the US Olympic Trials for whitewater slalom this past weekend. I broke up the long drive to South Bend Indiana by stopping in West Virginia to do some creeking on a gem I had long heard about, the Lower Big Sandy.

It was fantastic -- warm and sunny. So sunny, in fact, that I redeveloped my "hand tan" again. Warm-weather boating has begun! We camped at the put-in and played our way down the river. We carried back up and ran Wonder falls about five times, and laughed the whole way down.

I drove from there to the man-made whitewater river in South Bend, and spent several days training in the slalom gates before the race, exploring the city, and of course hanging out in the hot-tub!

Race day brought big crowds and lots of cameras (and a big hole surf for some unlucky boaters at gate 11!) Racing down through what seemed like a tunnel of people lining the banks and cheering from the bridges is something I will remember for a long time.

Everyone paddled incredibly well, but the guys and girls at the top are unbelievably skilled. It's really something just to watch. I think everyone had a good time hanging out and racing in South Bend, and I hope to race as much as possible next year!

See yall at the Fiddlehead . . .

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