Breaks Interstate Park will serve as a venue for the USA Wildwater National Team Trials on October 15-16. The results of the two races held during the event will determine the US Wildwater Team which will represent the United States in the World Cup and World Championship races in Europe in the summer of 2012.
“Anyone who knows whitewater knows that the Russell Fork River at Breaks Park has some world-class rapids,” said Park Superintendent Matthew O’Quinn, “The fact that the U.S. Wildwater Committee has chosen the Russell Fork as the location for the event that will determine this country’s Wildwater National Team is a testament to that,” he said.
While many people raft and kayak on the Russell Fork throughout the year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers increases the amount of water which flows through Flannagan Dam and Reservoir each year during the first four weekends in October. This creates a much stronger water flow on the Russell Fork, which results in up to Class V plus rapids in some areas of the river that run through Breaks Park. The National Team Trials will be held on sections with Class II and III rapids.
According to race organizer Jack Ditty, the three-day event will be headquartered at the Ratliff Hole River Access Area of Breaks Park; Ratliff Hole will also be the venue for the 90-second sprint race portion of the event. A longer, 10-minute Classic Course race will be held on a different section of the river near Elkhorn City. Ditty said more than 50 racers from across the country are expected to compete in the Trials.
According to Ditty, training and practice opportunities on the river will be available a day in advance of the trials–Friday, October 14–if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is able to provide an additional day of water release. Whether that will be possible has not yet been determined. Typically, water releases are only done on Saturdays and Sundays.
The preliminary schedule has Saturday sprint course practice runs penned for early afternoon, and the Classic Race in mid-afternoon. On Sunday, the Sprint Race is planned for mid-afternoon. Precise times for the events have not yet been set.
The U.S. Wildwater National Team Trials is overseen by the Wildwater Committee of USA Canoe / Kayak. USA Canoe/Kayak is a non-profit membership organization based in Charlotte, N.C., promoting canoe and kayak racing in the United States. A member of the United States Olympic Committee, USACK is the national governing body for the Olympic sports of Flatwater Sprint and Whitewater Slalom and an official U.S. federation of the International Canoe Federation.
Other paddling sports sanctioned by USACK include Marathon, Freestyle (Rodeo), Wildwater, Polo, Canoe Sailing, Outrigger, and Dragon Boat.
“It isn’t often that folks in this region have the opportunity to watch–in person–this level of national competition,” said O’Quinn, “This year we get to do it at Breaks Park. It’s going to be very exciting,” he said.
Breaks Interstate Park is located on the Kentucky – Virginia border and is accessed by State Route 80. Commissioned by the U.S. Congress in 1954, it encompasses more than 4,600 acres is one of only two interstate parks in the United States. For more information about the park, please visit www.BreaksPark.com.