This year the Truckee River was a terrific high flow with an enormous snow pack in the Sierras and warm weather arriving just in time for the 2019 Reno River Festival. With high water in the whitewater park, there were a number of great play features to choose from (including a great hole for Worlds training!). Number 3 was home to the Freestyle Competition and had the possibility for wave and hole tricks which made it really fun. At the water levels for the festival, the feature rewarded patient risk taking – that is waiting for the right moment to throw whatever move you wanted to convincingly! Any hesitation resulted is flushing so commitment to moves was essential to successful completion of the moves. These conditions made for a fun and interesting challenge for the athletes. I personally enjoyed that part of it a lot!
Another fantastic reason to come to Reno is to see, visit, and paddle with the awesome community of boaters there. Jason Craig and Ruth Gordon Ebens, both World Champions in Freestyle, were out paddling as well as Jessica Yurtinas, Colin Kemp, and Skye, whose last name I can’t remember! Courtney, Nick, and Phil Sheppard from Canada were all in great form, and both Nick and Courtney won the Freestyle events. 14 -year -old Abby Holcombe did some beautiful paddling and kept the rest of us on our toes. She has improved so much in the last couple years and is doing a fantastic job of getting ready to represent Team USA at the Freestyle Kayaking World Championships in Sort, Spain this summer. Her dad Peter competed in the men’s freestyle competition too!
I did have a chuckle to myself thinking about how fun and cool it was that a 14 –year-old and a 51-year-old could be competing against each directly. Freestyle may be one of the only sports in the world where that’s possible – one more aspect of the sport I love! The last last Reno River Festival I had attended in 2016 had low water and so this was a welcome change and along with the warm sunny weather brought out huge crowds to watch all events! After a long winter and cold Spring, everyone seemed to be very excited to be out enjoying the Festival and the weekend. The sponsors and planners of the event did a wonderful job taking care of the athletes and always make us feel very welcome! Thanks to everyone who helped make the event possible – it was great!
Men’s: 1st – Nick Troutman, 2nd – Jason Craig, 3rd – Phil Sheppard
Women’s: 1st – Courtney Kerin, 2nd – Jessie Stone, 3rd – Ruth Gordon