Kayakers, canoeists compete at CRMS | AspenTimes.com

Kayakers, canoeists compete at CRMS

Joelle Milholm
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Snowmass' Kevin Michaelson digs hard to make it around a gate while competing in Saturday's slalom at the Crystal River Kayak Races in Carbondale. (Kara K. Pearson/Post Independent)

CARBONDALE – From slalom to boatercross, under sunny skies and through rain drops, Saturday’s Crystal River Races hosted by Colorado Rocky Mountain School carried the same motto: “We’ll all float on OK. Yeah, we’ll all float on OK.”

The kayakers, canoeists, spectators, judges and even little kids playing in the sand on the riverbank didn’t need the words from the Modest Mouse bluegrass rendition of “Float On” blasting from the sound system to help remind them of the spirit of kayaking.

“It is such a great sport because there are not very many sports where parents and kids can be in the same competition together,” said Mike Farney, a Steamboat resident who brought his sons Luke and Andrew to race with him. “And people are so nice, and that’s the great thing about kayaking, is one, just being on the river and two, all the fun people.”

Farney, who was born in Aspen, enjoyed returning to the waters he once frequented.

“I kayaked as a kid growing up in this area and I hadn’t kayaked for 20 years, but now my kids are doing it and they talked me back into it,” he said.

Throughout the day, participants and fans alike cheered everyone on. Bobbing in and out of gates and enjoying the thrill of being on the water, 65 boaters came from Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Steamboat Springs, Boulder and other cities and towns across the state to participate in the second-oldest kayaking race in Colorado. The race started in 1964, when CRMS students constructed their own boats made of fiberglass. It is second in age only to Salida’s annual race.

During the slalom competition, which opened the then-sunny day, around 50 spectators were on hand. Rushing from one side of the bridge to the other, fans and fellow kayakers tried not to miss a glimpse of boaters making their way through the 18-gate course.

Cruising in a kayak painted like the Colorado flag, 17-year-old John Borst from Alexander Dawson School in Boulder stood out in the water that, as it draws closer to runoff season, looks more and more like the chocolate river in Willy Wonka’s factory. Borst took seventh with a time of 106.20 seconds in the competition, in which boaters were docked two seconds for hitting a gate and 50 seconds for missing one.

“It is pretty simple. There is some challenge to it, but it’s pretty straightforward,” Borst said. “We have beginners up here who have never paddled before. It is good for the beginners and good for the advanced.”

Around 15 CRMS kayaking team members took part in the races, as well as faculty members Peter Benedict, the kayaking coach at CRMS, and Kayo Ogilby, another coach at CRMS and the announcer for the event.

“That’s my biology teacher and my algebra teacher,” said a smiling Andy Halloran-Taylor, a CRMS kayaker shortly after helping push Ogilby and Benedict’s boat.

After slalom, the gates hanging over the river where removed and junior boatercross took to the water. CRMS’ Jake Sakson took second in the men’s junior competition and teammate Shannon Collins finished in the same spot in the women’s race.

Then the rains came. Participants gathered under a small tent to receive their awards while seeking shelter from the showers. The boaters then regrouped and set off for the downriver race, ready to float on and have fun now matter what the conditions.

– C1 Cadet: Tyler Hinton, 101.60 seconds

– C1 Junior Division: Jeremy Thiesen, 115.20

– C1 Senior Division: Homer Holmes, 192.70

– C2 Senior Division: Homer Holmes, Kevin Michaelson, 105.50

– K1: Masatoshi Yamakawa, 89.20

– K1 Cadet: Luke Farney, 134.00

– K1 Junior: Luke Palko-Schraa, 83.80

– Junior Boatercross (times unavailable): Alex Dodge

– K1: Sierra Jacober, 121.40

– K1 Junior Division: Sarah Kunz, 99.30

– Junior Boatercross (times unavailable): Sarah Dodge

– C2 Junior Division: Anna Kunz, Sarah Poerotti, 138.00

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