Cold and wet in the Crystal |

Cold and wet in the Crystal

Catherine FoulkrodSpecial to The Aspen Times
Colin Huff of the Alexander Dawson School surfs a wave during the freestyle competition of the 41st annual Crystal River Races near the Colorado Rocky Mountain School bridge in Carbondale Saturday afternoon. Photo courtesy Davis Farrar.

Despite rain and cold temperatures, 37 competitors showed up for the 41st annual Crystal River Races Saturday at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale. The field ranged from novice paddlers with months of experience to accomplished veterans with more than 10 years of competition (and combat rolls) under their belts. Participants traveled from across the state to the shores of the Crystal. In addition to CRMS paddlers, members of the Durango Whitewater Team, the Alexander Dawson School from Lafayette, the Grand Junction Blue Heron Racing Team and the Front Range Paddling Association all got wet.The slalom course had 16 gates, three of them being upriver, difficult-to-make gates. The penalties were two seconds for touching a gate, and 50 seconds for missing one.

Nick Borst of the Dawson School was the man with fastest runs of the day, making the slalom course look easy with a first run adjusted time of one minute, 27 seconds – and a combined time of 2:59.9 – in his single kayak.Michelle Clements, a 24-year-old river goddess and member of the U.S. Team in marathon kayaking, also killed the course with an adjusted time of 1:40.2. Her second run was 1:40.6, giving her a combined time of 3:20.8. It was enough for first place in the single kayak women’s senior division and the fourth-fastest combined time overall. The cleanest runs of the day belonged to Kevin Michelson and Lisa Adams, who finished first and third, respectively, in the overall single canoe category, and Michael Turvey and Luke Palko-Schraa, who finished second and third in the men’s junior field. Though not everyone was an expert racer, style was never lacking. The youngest boater on the river, Craig Adam, a 12-year-old with the Blue Herons, took a bold straight-line approach to the course and still managed to catch one gate on his first run. Maureen Wynn of the Dawson School showed extreme perseverance as she maneuvered her bulky open canoe – the only one in the competition – into an eddy in an attempt to catch the difficult upriver gate just below the CRMS bridge.

As temperatures dropped and the racers became tired, swimming was more frequent. Will Palmer of the Dawson School had perhaps the most dramatic spill of the day when he hit the pillar under the bridge on his second run. He almost recovered, but as he attempted to roll his spray skirt came loose and he swamped the boat.The freestyle competition followed the slalom, with only six boaters competing in the late afternoon event. Unlike most freestyle events, in which the course usually focuses on one feature, Saturday’s competition ran the length of the entire slalom course. The judges were scoring on variety of tricks.Hanna Farrar, an 18-year-old star kayaker from CRMS, blew the boys out of the water when it came to the rodeo. It was her right and left cartwheels at the bottom of the course that won it for her, said volunteer judge Michael Hayes. She also threw a few enders, a rock spin, and attempted a loop. “I think I was the only one who did a rock spin,” Hanna noted. Hanna Farrar has been kayaking for six years, and competing for four. In 2003, she won the bronze medal in freestyle at the world championships, and she is also a Colorado High School Cup champion and a two-time U.S. team member. On May 18, she plans to travel up to the Ottawa River in Canada where there are rumors of a 15-foot wave. Then, in June, she will be traveling on the Colorado circuit.

“CRMS has a real proud kayaking tradition,” said Dawson School coach Nate Lord.”In any given year, they could dominate,” he added.Catherine Foulkrod’s e-mail address is

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