This post is mostly just an excuse for me to put up a bunch of cool photos I shot Saturday on the Nantahala River during the annual Glacier Breaker slalom.
It was a beautiful day. The water, frosty and frothy.
I made my way down to the water’s edge. The race was my first time watching a real paddling race, and I couldn’t believe how close to the action I could get. I could have reached out and touched a couple of boaters that went through.
The mix of racers was a mild surprise. Young kids – children, really – were competing, as were men and women. There was a tangible sense of comaraderie among all. Everyone cheered for everyone.
Despite my lack of experience with the sport, I could clearly tell the experienced from the inexperienced. One girl dumped – she flipped over and stayed under for several seconds, then came up gasping for air after extracting herself from the boat. Experienced paddlers were sprinkled around the course in their own boats, floating and waiting to help. Someone on the riverbank had a safety line, too.
The experienced racers made the course look like a walk in the park. You could clearly see their strength with the paddle, and in maneuvering through the gates, which sometimes required you to paddle upstream against the torrent of frigid water.
The racer who got the most attention was Chris Ennis, who competed in the Olympics last year. He lost his race Saturday, and he was a big bust in the Olympics. I remember watching and being excited for him – then he missed the very first gate and blew his entire run. He finished last in the Olympic run. What a letdown!
A guy named Lecky, another Olympian, I think, was there Saturday as competitor and racer. And Pablo from Chile nearly made his country’s Olympic team.
It was great fun. I may go back in March for another race.
If you liked these photos, check out my photo gallery.