Reno Whitewater Festival 2005


DAY ONE: I’m impressed. That’s easy to do–after all, I think it’s special when you get a napkin at dinner. But Reno’s Truckee River Whitewater Park is truly remarkable. Forget the fact that I staggereed down to see the park for the first time at about 6:30 this morning–after wandering past all the casinos, of course–in just two years, this park has become a model for other cities to follow.

It’s already such a success, that Jim Litchfield, the hydrological engineer who lead the local park-design crew, wants to add four more to the area. It would cost $2.4 million–roughly the amount that some of the boaters lost playing blackjack last night (As an aside, there’s no truth to the rumor that a Dagger Nomad was anted up). For more on the whitewater park news, log on to www.rgj.com.

JACKSONS SHINE: For me, I’m impressed, and maybe a little thankful, that John even knows how to use a napkin. But even if it took a lot more to wow me, I couldn’t help but admire what the Jackson Family is pulling off here in Reno. Father and three-time defending world freestyle champ, Eric, also coaches his offspring, Emily, 15, and Dane, 11, both of whom competed in Friday’s open freestyle event. Emily was the top finisher among the women. She and two other amateurs, Lizzy English and Jesse Rice, advanced to Saturday’s professional competition, where they’ll go paddle-to-paddle with some of North America’s hottest boaters.
“I’m super happy with how it went today,” Emily said. “It’s just great to be out here with all these women I’ve known for years.”

Both Emily and Dane are referred to as “the future of whitewater kayaking” with good reason But despite all the coaching and the genetic good fortune (Their dad spanks boaters half his age), the bottom line is these kids have the talent and drive virtually unheard of in the sport. At this age, they seem like the Serena Williams and Tiger Woods of kayaking. Such labels are a lot for their shoulders, but Emily takes it all in stride.
“The only reason people call me ‘the future of whitewater’ is because I already compete as a women’s pro boater and I’m in the community.”
Don’t forget, Emily, you’re also strong, fluid, and technically sound.

After the men’s open preliminary round, Dane was in second place and looking like a sure bet to qualify for Saturday’s pro comp. Alas, he fell short of the final three (only the top three boaters advanced). Earlier in the day, Eric told me that Dane had already run a Class IV rapid by the time he was just three years old! I only wonder if he had his pacifier in his mouth.

IN OTHER NEWS: I guess I should mention that Stephen Wright was the top men’s boater. Nick Troutman and Charlie Center also qualified. Wright’s loops popped out of the water, and he deserves more words in this post, but the Jacksons truly reigned today.

–Mike Kord



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