Posted by: Ashley | October 17, 2008

What Made 2008 So Special?

Dan Conrad, Safety Swimmer rescuing a paddler

Dan Conrad, Safety Swimmer rescuing a paddler

Since I am the Operations Coordinator for Wausau Whitewater, it could be thought that I’m biased about what makes a good year for Wausau Whitewater. I am… but that’s not the point. It’s not just my opinion.

What happened this year to make it different? We kicked off the year with a two-day Swiftwater Rescue Training Clinic, offering firefighters and other rescue professionals a chance to feel whitewater’s power and be trained in-water on how to rescue. In light of flash flooding, boating accidents, and other potential water-related incidents, training these professionals seemed to be a need that Wausau Whitewater could fill.

The Open Canoe Training Clinic. Ray McLain Training Camp, Wausau Whitewater Weekend and United States Junior Olympic Whitewater Festival filled the last half of June and a good part of July. The comments from the Junior Olympic participants speak for themselves. Here’s what Connor Curston, the coach of Alberta Slalom Canoe / Kayak, had to say:

Now we are at mighty Wausau– quite a step up from the slow moving Plover. Wausau is a world famous whitewater course that has hosted World Cups, Junior World Championships, and many big international events like Champion Series races and Pan-American Championships. It will host the 2012 Junior World Championships. So basically it is the big time! And a big time eye-opener for Levi and Courtney. But they are real troopers and despite a couple of swims they are paddling very well after just 2 days here. Today Levi nailed two river rolls. Courtney said, “My heart stops every time I approach the big drop in the middle!” and then proceed it to do it better then almost everyone out there in the sprint race yesterday! Jesse is like a fish in water and is really showing some top moves. I often catch the American paddler’s parents watching on shore asking, “Who is THAT guy!?”

There are too many highlights to capture in one post but everyone would agreed that the changes to the course highlighted the year. John Brennan, Course Designer from Durango, CO and Michael Schroeder, Project Manager from our board of directors teamed up for the third time in three years to work on course enhancements. With a grant from the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, John and Mike set in place the plan that Kevin from Precision Grading & Utilities would execute. The result is that the course once again grew in popularity. Attendance at the recreational releases now regularly reaches 80 to 120 paddlers from a minimum of a five state area for 6 hours of paddling and playing on the Wausau Whitewater course. Reactions from the paddling community include:

Nora from Red Wing, MN commented in her blog about the changes on August 2:

Nora in action

Nora in action

Wow! Wausau! The new course improvements were fantastic! Great job John and Mike! I think just about everyone came today…just about. The Canoe U grads were there in force and it was great to see them playing the holes and combat rolling. The women were well represented today. Laura and Sara both had great days! The men were really showing their stuff also…competition is going to be tough! 

The course improvements were confirmed by Bryan from St. Paul, MN in his blog titled “Wausau, Baby, Wausau”

The folks at WKCC revamped the course again, changing nearly every feature on the river. For the most part, they made the holes less pushy and easier to control while maintaining or increasing retentiveness. There are also two holes at the very bottom of the river that are smaller and friendlier, yet deep enough to throw loops in. It’s great. There are now about 8 really good places to throw cartwheels on the river.

In addition to the paddling, Laura and I hit up the Marathon county fair Friday night and had a great time looking at cows and going on a couple of really great rides. We even ran into Dave and his new bride there on one of the rides.

I went into this weekend with high expectations and higher hopes and both were absolutely blown away by how much fun I wound up having. Now if only I could remember how to loop….

There was much more to the season that made it special but we can sum it with another post from Nora:

Ever have a season you just didn’t want to end? The music stops but the feelings remain like like a soft breeze randomly tickling you? You can’t see it but you know it’s there. The memories of the year flitting thru your mind like fall leaves? This year at Wausau was beautiful. So much growth! There were so many new people discovering the play park this year for the first time. It was great to see! The regulars getting sooo good! The new design is just wonderful!

If I just told you it was a special year at Wausau, you might think I was biased. But the customers of Wausau Whitewater just told you their story. What do you think?


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