Crystal River Races attract the best … and the rest
Folks that took too many unfriendly gym balls in the guts during schoolyard dodgeball games and then suffered the jeers of classmates have the chance at a gentler competitive experience this weekend. The Crystal River Races this Friday and Saturday offer a chance for novice kayakers to get their feet wet in the competitive world. “The Crystal race is always about encouraging young people,” said local kayaker Phil Nyland, who competed in the races last year. The races draw all sorts of competitors, from “local hot shots” to paddlers who take to the course saucer-eyed and without a reliable kayak roll, said Nyland. “You get people that are (capsizing), then swimming,” he said. “They’ve got more energy than they do skill, but there’s no stopping them.”Of course, the race isn’t only a beginner event, and beginners have the chance to stand “side by side with people that are five seconds off from making the national team,” he said. Actually, Nyland was modest about the level of talent that shows up at the Crystal Races. Two years ago, Scott Shipley, a 12-year veteran of the national slalom team and three-time Olympian, raced, said organizer Peter Benedict, who directs the kayak program at Colorado Rocky Mountain School. The Crystal River Races is actually three separate events – a downriver, slalom and freestyle. The races are part of two different series of races, the Colorado Cup and Colorado High School Championship series, which means the race attracts competitors from all over, and some of the top junior paddlers in the nation, said Benedict.CRMS’s own Hannah Farrar, who has competed in the World Freestyle Championships, will compete, said Benedict. “There are some really good CRMS students that beat a bunch of us old guys,” said Nyland. And if you aren’t a competitor or even a kayaker, “it’s a really good way to spend a Saturday,” he said. And if you aren’t a competitor or even a kayaker, “it’s a really good way to spend a Saturday,” he said.
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