Despite Hiccups, Montana Whitewater Championships Fly High; Point Series Now Heads to Cascade, Idaho

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Despite high water giving organizers conniptions about holding a point series event for the National Freestyle Point Series circuit, the Montana Whitewater Championships went off with flying colors and freestylers to kick off July. PL checks in with organizer KB on the status of the event and Brennan’s Wave, as the point series now heads to Cascade, Idaho…

“The Montana Whitewater Championships was originally canceled due to high water,” says organizer Kevin Brown of a move that quickly prompted a flurry of emails between competitors, judges and organizers about how to adjust the point series as a result. “A few factors played into this cancellation, including the quality of Brennan’s wave and Missoula being a little off the map with our event so close the World Championships. We didn’t want athletes rushing to Missoula from Worlds and from the Colorado events for a washed-out wave.”

After canceling the event, however, organizers from the USFKA called saying the athletes at the Worlds still wanted to compete in Missoula no matter what the wave quality. “They needed points to stay in the running for the USFKA Tour Championship,” says Brown. “But two days before our event, I received a call from USFKA judges who were unable to make the trip to Missoula. Therefore we simply stuck to our guns and held our event using local judges.”

Because the judges weren’t USFKA certified the event wasn’t included in the 2011 Point Series. But KB maintains it was still an amazing event. “The spectators didn’t know the difference between USFKA judges or not,” he says. “We had over 20 food vendors, live music and nine local business set up in the park. We also unveiled the concept drawings for the Max Wave, the new wave we’re building in downtown Missoula. The river banks were packed with over 3,000 spectators, and we had over 30 paddlers come out to compete.

“The ultimate goal of the Montana Whitewater Championships,” he adds, “was to be a great community event and promote the sport of freestyle kayaking and we achieved that. For being an ‘off again/on again’ event, it couldn’t have been any more successful.”

Next up: Kelly’s Whitewater Park in Cascade, Idaho, for the biggest test for a newly opened park designed by Gary Lacy of Recreation Engineering and Planning, for the point series National Championships. Info: www.kellyswhitewaterpark.com