Glenwood’s wave one to rave about
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Michael Palmer and Jason Craig have paddled the world over, from Europe to Africa to South America and all across North America.
But nowhere is there a wave quite as good the one created on the Colorado River at Glenwood Springs’ Whitewater Park, according to the two ranked junior-level freestyle kayakers.
Palmer, 18, a junior at Colorado Rocky Mountain School from Glenwood Springs, and Craig, 15, from Reno, Nevada, are currently ranked third and second in the world, respectively, among junior men.
They are among the competitors in this weekend’s U.S. Freestyle Kayak Team Trials in Glenwood, vying for a spot on the U.S. team that will travel to the 2009 World Championships in Thun, Switzerland later this summer.
“This is one of the best features in the world, and it’s right in my backyard, so I guess I have a little hometown advantage,” Palmer said during a training break at the whitewater park earlier this week.
He and Craig have become good friends while competing on the world kayaking circuit. Palmer introduced Craig to the new Glenwood Whitewater Park last summer.
“I was here for two weeks, just staying and playing in the park,” Craig said.
“There’s not an artificial wave feature built anywhere that’s better than the one here,” he said. “There are some amazing opportunities with this wave, because there’s so much water and its taller and more powerful … you can really separate yourself from the water, which opens up the possibilities for tricks.”
Glenwood’s wave is unique because of its location on a major river, just downstream from the confluence with a major tributary, the Roaring Fork River, Palmer explained.
Where most whitewater parks are on rivers that peak below 5,000 cubic feet per second, the Colorado River in that location can peak at 17,000 cfs or more stay above 10,000 cfs for several weeks during the spring and early summer.
“There are natural features in some places that rival this, but they only come in a couple of days out of the year,” Palmer said. “This one lasts for months, and you can truly paddle it year-round.”
For Glenwood to host a competition the caliber of the Team Trials in just the whitewater park’s second year is huge, he said.
“This is an asset for the whole community,” said Palmer, who was in on the planning discussions before the park was built. “Being a tourist town already, it will be good for Glenwood to have a big event like this every year.”
Craig’s hometown of Reno also established a whitewater park on the Truckee River a number of years ago, which led to a major downtown revitalization. The Truckee runs right through downtown Reno which, except for the casino district, was pretty run down before some of the redevelopment occurred.
“There’s a lot of focus on the downtown now … you would never have wanted to spend time in downtown Reno before the whitewater park was built,” he said.
Contact John Stroud: 384-9160
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