Glenwood lands U.S. kayak freestyle trials |

Glenwood lands U.S. kayak freestyle trials

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Keith Yell, of Alabama, plays in the whitewater park in West Glenwood last weekend. Yell, who makes a road trip to Colorado every year to kayak, said, "With this new park, Glenwood is the place to be in Colorado." (Chad Spangler/Post Independent)

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” On Friday morning, Jason Carey received the e-mail he’d been waiting for.

The message was from the governing body of the U.S. Freestyle Kayaking Association, informing him that the Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park, which Carey designed and his company constructed, has been awarded the 2009 U.S. Kayak Freestyle Team Trials that lead to the 2009 World Championships.

Carey’s calm voice hid his excitement Friday morning.

“It’s everything we hoped for, and it came true,” Carey said.

For Carey, the whitewater park’s success means more to him than just a professional accomplishment. It’s testimony for a philosophy that he’s gained through the sport of kayaking.

“We do a lot of this work because we just believe in it and appreciate being able to introduce people to the river,” he said.

But now having the U.S. team trials in Glenwood Springs is like a dream come true for all involved in making the park a reality.

“That is awesome,” said whitewater park committee chair Joe Mollica. “We knew that this thing would eventually come, but we didn’t know that it was going to happen this fast.”

Brian Wright, co-owner of Glenwood Canyon Kayak, looks forward to the nationals being held in his hometown. Often, past U.S. team trials have been held in Canada on the Ottawa River, which makes up part of the border between the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. Wright is excited to be bringing the trials back to U.S. water.

“Ottawa is the prerequisite stop for every boater that wants to be in the top of the sport,” Brian said. “A lot of the pros have been comparing this feature to that.”

He said that Glenwood has long been in need of an attraction like this, and it’s the perfect location for it.

“This wave has given Glenwood the edge from being an average paddle town to being right up there with Durango and Salida,” Wright said. “What we have and the exposure this wave will give the town, we are going to be known nationally, if not worldwide, within the next year.”

Mollica, Wright and his partner at Glenwood Canyon Kayak, Chris Vogt, are all members of the whitewater committee and all couldn’t thank Carey enough for the grand masterpiece that he created.

“I don’t have enough praise to give Jason,” Mollica said. “He really did his homework on this thing, and City Council picked the right guy. He’s a young kayaker, and he really knows what he is doing.”

No date had been set for the competition as of Friday; however, the competition must be held prior to May 1, 2009, according to That leaves a lot of planning and work to be done in the next 10 and a half months.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Vogt said. “We’ll be making a lot of noise about it soon, raising money, getting the park finished. But when people see the type of event Glenwood can put together, they’ll be surprised.”