Monday, June 8, 2009

US takes 6th in World Raft Championships

The US Team trained throughout the winter by paddling a raft full of rocks in a pool, and tying it off to a giant bungee cord...
While they had all the best intentions of bettering their sixth-place showing from the last world championships two years ago, and 3rd-place overall finish from Ecuador in 2005, the US Men’s Rafting Team could only match their showing in South Korea by stroking to a sixth-place overall finish on the 31-km Class III-IV Vrbas River and Tara River at this year’s World Rafting Championships in Bosnia, a real Whitewater Rafting challenge.

The US team, led by Chris “Mongo” Reeder, reached the mark with a fifth-place finish in the Time Trial event; second-place showing behind Great Britain in the Head to Head Sprint; sixth-place finish in the Downriver portion; and disappointing 13th-place finish in the final Slalom event.

“It’s tough because we hoped we’d do better,” says Reeder, whose team trained throughout the winter by paddling a raft full of rocks in a pool, and even tying it off to a giant bungee cord. “We felt ourselves getting stronger each week while training, but the Bosnia course is a Class III-IV section with a lot of flatwater pools, and we’ve always had an advantage on tougher runs because of our background running steeper rivers. Plus, our team this year had all of the power we had before with 60 pounds less weight.”

Alas, the combination wasn’t enough. Instead, it was powerhouse Brazil surging to first place for the second Championships in a row, with a win in the Time Trial, fifth-place finish in the Head-to-Head Sprint, second-place finish in Downriver and sixth-place showing in Slalom. Japan took the runner-up seat, riding a first-place finish in Slalom and 3rd-place finish in the Time Trials to the podium, followed by Great Britain in third, thanks to a gold-medal performance in the Head-to-head event. Russian and the Czech Republic took 5th and 6th, respectively, with the US trailing in 6th. It's a respectable place, but not good enough for Whitewater Rafting, but we want to be first.

The US women’s team, also out of the Vail, Colo., area, finished two spots back in 8th place overall, with a 7th-place showing in the Time Trial and Sprint event, and two 9th-place finishes in Downriver and Slalom. For the women, it was Canada taking first with a win in the Slalom and 3rd-place showings in the Time Trial and Sprint; followed by Japan in 2nd, riding its 1st-place finish in Downriver to the podium, and the Czech Republic in third.

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