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Nervous Energy

Nervous Energy - The Flow with Chris Gragtmans

Big wave, tiny boat. Photo: Bryan Kirk

As a kayaker, this time of year is always a hopeful one.  Winter is about to release its grip on the frozen water, and the rivers will soon begin their rise for the spring.  I am planning out my year, and there is one recently added event to my schedule that spikes my heart rate whenever I think of it.

Ever since the inaugural Whitewater Grand Prix last year, of which I was fortunate to be a competitor in, the sport has shifted in a pretty incredible direction.  Now more than ever, the events are truly showcasing the very pinnacle of what is possible in a kayak.

That trend will continue this year, with another Grand Prix to be held in the first two weeks of December in Chile.  But along the same vein as this competition, a new race has just been announced on the legendary North Fork of the Payette River in Idaho.  It is this event that I cannot get my mind off of, and that is creating all of this nervous energy inside.

The North Fork of the Payette is an animal.  15 miles of extremely continuous, high volume, class V whitewater through sharp blast rock.  The run climaxes in a massive rapid known as Jacob’s Ladder, and that is where the race is going to be held.  30 invited paddlers will be announced in March, and the un-invited will have to battle it out for three wildcard spots on another section a few miles downstream.  Those three qualifiers will go up against the world’s best in a giant slalom race through Jake’s and the equally foreboding Golfcourse rapid directly downstream.

The entire event will be filmed by Quadrocopters, remote control helicopters that are capable of carrying the most vivid and high definition cameras on the market.  Oh, and did I mention the $10,000+ cash purse?  This event will bring the hungriest, fastest paddlers from all over the planet, and everyone will be fired up from the Teva Mountain Games the week before.

But the Mountain Games race cannot be compared to the North Fork race.  The North Fork will be running at 20 times the volume, and will be a ferocious animal that is extremely difficult to survive, much less race through.  Check out this video for some perspective into what I’m talking about…

The North Fork Championship – 2012 from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.

If you can’t tell, I’M EXCITED.  I’ve submitted my application and will just have to see what happens.  I hope that everyone has made the most of the winter and is getting fired up for springtime!

Good Lines.


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