When the Jamie McEwan Triple Crown wrapped up the April paddling season on the Farmington River in Conn., it did so with perfect water levels and perfect attitudes befitting one of the world’s top paddlers. Here are a few things you might not know about the triple-pronged paddling event.
Its founder was a stud: This year the Triple Crown was officially renamed the Jamie McEwan Triple Crown in honor of its founder, Jamie McEwan, who started the event in 2009. Also a prolific children’s book author, McEwan put U.S. paddling on the map by winning won a bronze medal in the 1972 Olympics in C-1 slalom, becoming the father of modern slalom in the US and a role model for many other slalom paddlers to come. He died in 2014 after a long battle with cancer. McEwan’s son, Devin, has competed in the Triple Crown every year.
It tests all abilities: Just like founder McEwan was a great all-around paddler, so too are the event’s participants. The Triple Crown includes a wildwater race, slalom race, and a freestyle competition each day over the weekend. Saturday, each event is judged independently, and Sunday each event contributes toward your overall score and coveted Triple Crown title. To win it all, you have to participate in all events, on both days. It’s a marathon of sprint competitions that test a variety of skills.
The winners are great paddlers: Besting a women’s field that included Elaine Campbell, Haley Thompson, Caitlyn Green and Barrett Phillips, Jessie Stone came out on top with top finishes in each event two days running, with Campbell in second and Green winning third. For the men, McEwan’s presence was felt as fellow C-1er Jordan Poffenberger top top overall honors, followed by Devin McEwan finishing second and Casey Eichfeld taking third.
It’s a volunteer effort: The event owes itself to them, from lead organizer Andy Kuhlberg handling the multitude of logistics to David Su on the mike, Paula Saaf on event coordination and a host of other volunteers putting in their time to pull it off. “Until you’ve been to a Triple Crown event, it’s impossible to understand how much volunteer effort goes into making it happen,” says women’s winner Jessie Stone.
The weather can be nasty: This year was no exception, with drizzle dampening everything but competitors’ spirits. So bring a warm tent and bag or find someone to snuggle with.
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