International Whitewater Hall of Fame to Headquarter in Richmond

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Richmond, Va., will be the new home for the International Whitewater Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy IWHOF.

Richmond, Va., and its James River, will soon be home to the International Whitewater Hall of Fame.

After a nationwide search led by the IWHOF staff and board, the top two choices were whittled down to two Southeastern towns: Asheville and its French Broad River and Richmond, Virginia, and its James River. According to the Asheville Citizen Times, Asheville narrowly lost the bid to host the International Whitewater Hall of Fame. 

“While they don’t have the depth or history of whitewater that we do, Richmond has done a great job, to their credit, for viewing whitewater, and engaging people with the river,” local proponent Noah Wilson told the  paper. “It’s a mixture of disappointment and excitement…and speaks to the long-term opportunities for our region to what we can do around our rivers. Sometimes the silver medal is still a big deal.”

The IWHOF, founded in 2003 by Adventure Sports Center international in McHenry, Maryland, recognizes and honors individuals who have made significant contributions to whitewater related activities, such as Olympic medalists and world champion competitors, as well as pioneers in the field. There have been  43 inductees since the first class in 2005, representing 11 countries.

The IWOF was officially “adopted” in 2016 by the American Canoe Association in Fredericksburg, Maryland.

“We began a project to fulfill original mission in 2003 to have a physical place where we would have programs, celebrate the inductees and tell their stories,” says board member Risa Shimoda.

Last summer the committee identified 13 suitable cities that had strong paddling communities for hosting IWHOF. The final list included Asheville; Richmond; Boise, Idaho; and Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. Asheville lost out despite its proximity to the Green River and a new whitewater wave on the French Broad River designed by Scott Shipley of S20 Designs, an Olympic kayaker who competed and trained at nearby NOC and a 2006 IWHOF inductee,

Shimoda told the Asheville Citizen Times that IWHOF was impressed by the community spirit and enthusiasm, but were just missing some pieces, particularly the funding and solid plan for programming. She said even though Asheville had the paddling heart, legacy and history, Richmond, had more properties, solid visioning, and fundraising in place.

Nominate a world-class paddler

Want to nominate someone for the International Whitewater Hall of Fame? Nominations are being taken until April 30. The winners will be inducted Oct. 5 in Nuremburg, Germany, at the Paddle Expo International Trade Show.