Ideas flow at whitewater conference
September 26, 2005
For Art Christofferson, there’s always a great set of rapids near Glenwood Springs. Standing beneath Interstate 70 while getting his kayaking gear ready to run the rapids below the Shoshone Dam on Friday afternoon, Christofferson said he came all the way from Minneapolis to attend this weekend’s Whitewater Symposium at the Glenwood Canyon Resort in No Name. “I came because this is the place people get together and talk about whitewater,” he said while tightening his life vest.The symposium is one of two conferences held this week in Glenwood discussing the future of the whitewater kayaking business. The first, the Whitewater Courses and Parks Conference held last Wednesday through Friday at the Glenwood Ramada Inn, focused on the virtues of artificial whitewater parks throughout the country. The Whitewater Symposium, held today through Monday, will attract some of the most accomplished paddlers in the region to the meeting of the industry’s best minds.Indeed, for attendees at the conferences this weekend, cash flows where water flows. Organizers of both conferences chose Glenwood Springs because many consider it the whitewater kayaking center of Colorado. And, as a movement gets going to build a whitewater park in Glenwood, they only want to make kayaking here even better. Renowned paddler and Whitewater Courses and Parks Conference organizer Risa Shimoda, who owns Maryland-based marketing firm The Shimoda Group, said whitewater parks help drive the economy in some communities. The conference was all about how to make the parks work and what makes them successful in an effort to bring tourism dollars to communities.The parks, Shimoda said, provide a focus in the community for kayaking competitions and other water activities. The kayaking symposium in No Name is attracting the area’s top paddlers and kayaking companies to discuss the future of the sport.Resort manager Christine Bourne said a whitewater park similar to those discussed at the conference would be friendly to boaters of all skill levels and would bring a great deal of tourism dollars to the Glenwood area. A whitewater park would give “you a place to hone your skills without having to be scared about running Shoshone,” she said. Kent Ford of Durango, organizer of the kayaking symposium, said members of the kayaking industry at the symposium are discussing ways to make sure people understand that kayaking is accessible to almost anyone – one of the biggest challenges he said the sport is facing today. He said Glenwood is the ideal place to have that discussion because “ya’ll have a couple fabulous rivers appropriate for people to learn on.”A whitewater park would be good for Glenwood because it would attract young people to the sport, he said. Cities build whitewater parks for the same reason resorts build snowparks – because younger people like individual sports, such as kayaking and snowboarding, and towns want to attract those kinds of people, he said.”Like a climbing wall provides an easy-access way of getting into climbing,” he said, a whitewater park has the same effect for novice kayakers. Glenwood Tourism Board director of tourism Stephanie Keister called paddlers a vital part of Glenwood’s economic base and said the conferences this weekend attracted “excellent attention” to Glenwood.