It was only a matter of time before Risa Shimoda, a staunch river advocate and one of America’s most vocal supporters of whitewater paddling, became an inductee of the hall of fame she helped create. Shimoda is the only American in the International Whitewater Hall of Fame’s (IWHOF) class of 2010; she is being recognized in the hall’s “Advocate” category for her stewardship work with American Whitewater and her tireless promotion of whitewater parks, not to mention her nine-year stint on the U.S. national freestyle team that saw her compete in four world championships.
“The best part of the honor is being in the company of an amazing list of people,” says Shimoda. “For a few years [the IWHOF] was criticized for being just an American thing but that’s changing. But only two Americans have been inducted in this year and last…I think the selection process has really been legitimized.”
Other inductees include Theo Bock, who pioneered whitewater exploration in Germany and organized Germany’s first national slalom competitions decades ago; New Zealand’s Mikey Abbott, the first paddler to complete multi-day self-supported expeditions in all major mountain ranges in the world; Slovakian C1 slalom boater Michal Martikan, who won two gold and two silver Olympic medals at the 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 Summer Games; and Helen Brownlee, the co-founder of the Australian Canoe Federation.
This year’s inductees will be honored by the Paddlesports Industry Foundation, the parent organization of the IWHOF, at a celebration near Washington, D.C. on September 25. “We are extremely proud to have an opportunity to honor these paddlers,” said Ed Council, the Paddlesports Industry Foundation’s chief executive officer in a press release. “This group, as in the past, represents heroes we know, or should get to know due to the their tremendous drive and dedication to the treasures humans can find only on rivers.”
— Conor Mihell