Circling under an infinite cerulean sky, osprey peer down at the strange not-quite-prey below. A feast of color darts unpredictably in the water and along the banks of their river. A strange subspecies—surfer dude knock-offs—has invaded, bringing fans, camera’s and a phalanx of support in its wake.
Kelly’s Whitewater Park in mountain town of Cascade, Idaho has been in existence for only four years but has already drawn accolades from the national kayaking community. On this weekend of June 20 – 22, over 500 top-ranked athletes came prepared to duke it out for some pretty heady prizes in a host of river events at the Payette River Games.
Along with river surfing, Stand Up Paddling (SUP) has taken the rowdy whitewater crowd by storm. Initially trivialized as a flat water, urban, snoozer activity, whitewater aficionados have discovered that wet suits and tank tops are a lot sexier than tutu’s gone madly wrong in the form of kayak spray skirts. In between events, competitors and soon-to-be competitors take turns practicing in waves of varying difficulty. There’s an element of dance to this balancing act.
Things can go well for only so long . . .
The agony of de feet.
The announcer clears the main wave for the coming herd of mens SUP sprinters who are just coming into view after a grueling half mile or more of flat water paddling. Strong leaders are well ahead of the pack, but things go wrong in a hurry as the athletes fight mad currents and riderless boards in the white water. Approaching in perfect form.
This is not looking good . . .
Survivors duke it out in the final hard sprint to the finish.
Beaming it all back to command and control for live streaming.
Here come the women.
She’s down but not out!
Umm, what gives here?
The winner gets the interview with mom looking on.