Reno Day 3 – boatercross
Guess what. The sun was shinin’ again in Reno. Biiiiig surprise! After a well behaved evening of Reno frivolity (dinner at a cool Spanish place and blackjack with EJ) I was suprisingly well rested for the day. Day 3, the final day was boatercross. With the Truckee river set at a class II-III designation with lower water I was hard pressed to find a challenge for these athletes… er… it was obviously my first boatercross… aka … I had know idea that most of the carnage came via other paddlers, not the river! To add to the excitement a few new faces arrived on the scene, tossing in their gauntlet… Tao Berman among them. The town of Reno was once again mobilized and the crowds were thick by 10am… lining both sides of the river.
The first piece of excitement came in an unusual way when a couple of 11 year old girls dropped a hat by accident in the an eddy. The thing flowed round and round for the hour before the event… all of us watching, well over a thousand spectators simply watching this freakin hat float around as these three little girls tried reaching it. Finally, just before the event started an enterprising dude with a stick rescued the unfortunate hat… after watching these girls try for an hour, most of the audience was getting that little impatient eeeerrrrgggg in their stomach… when dude pulled that hat out… standing ovation!
The run constituted 4 drops, all were quite easy but all were very narrow and with only one really quick line through. If you were second or worse, you simply dropped more time. Key was the start. If you were not in front you needed to be creative. It was almost best to line up behind the forrunner and pass in the flats. The end result of this layout was push and shove… push your fellow boater off his line, and you just might make it through first. This was an agro event my friends.
The prelims started with the Juniors, the same kids who cliniced us yesterday, Dane, Connor, Jason, Shales and others… but the highlight was a first heat that saw these kids go head to head with 7 year old Sage. Sage was quickly adopted as the darling of the Reno event. This tiny bundle of energy paddled her Sidekick just a bit behind Dane and Connor. I gotta tell ya, this event is nasty when it comes to paddles in faces etc. Dane openned my eyes to the potential carnage wearing a full face guard when competing… it was well used later on… stay tuned on that. The JR boys prelims saw three really solid front runners, Dane, Jason Craig and Johnathan Shales. These three pretty much pulled away from their respective heats. The top two from each of the three JR heats moved on to the semis.
The women were next and again hear there were a few stand outs in Emily Jackson, Tanya Faux and Diane Gaydos. Ruth Gordon spent much of her time in this heat trying to push Tanya Faux off of her course, but the power of Ms Faux outweighed the efforts of her Canadian counterpart. Ruth got scrubbed from the finals… but this battle royal and the aggressive knudging in close proximaty started a trend. Pretty much every heat from here on in had some fightin’. Yeah baby…
The mens heats were characterized by, typically, a front runner and a battle. The front runners were the ones who simply took off leaving the field behind in their dust. First heat it was Dave Fusilli in his Pyranah who simply outstarted and out muscled his field. The next heat featured an EJ burst as he easily won. Nick Troutman took that section by storm as he lead by a country mile with Andrew Holcomb in his heat and Tao kicked butt from start to finish…. a grand finale of epic proportions was in the making.
Back came the Juniors for their semi finals. This time gloves were dropped. Those who were the front runners in the first heats were litterally targets in these semis. Case in point was the battle between Connor and Dane with immediate pushing of Dane off line on the first drop and Dane coming back with a paddle to the chest over the second drop. Both made it to the finals with Jason C. and Johnathan Shales. The top four were as expected.
The women’s final was already set so on we went to the mens semi’s. In the first heat, Dave Fusili proved unmatched in his boat as he powered his way via a great start and shere will to the finish line unscathed. In that very same heat, Tao Berman and Andrew Holcomb exchanged unpleasantries in the form of paddles to the chest, hand pushes, clips and other nasties… the real victom was Judd Kaiser (last year’s champ) who ended up flipped in the second drop eddy… it was FUN to watch. The second heat had EJ matched with son-in-law Nick Troutman and Lane Jacobs as co-favorites. The carnage and start caused EJ to decend off his mark resulting in a win for Nick and Lane… both going on to the finals vs Tao and Dave.
The finals for juniors was mayhem. Dane and Connor took each other out of the running with an epic battle… Dane ended up on rocks and benefiting from his full face helmet while a battle for the win ensued between Jason Craig and Johnathan Shales. Jonathan passed Jason for the win with Connor McLeod in third.
The womens saw Tanya Faux get off to a great start that would prove insurmountable. But, the real action was between the trio of Emily Jackson, Diane Gaydon and Devon Baker. Diane took off a good bit of skin from Emily’s nose then Devon Baker entered the fray with a push and shove match all the way down the river. Tanya came home with the win, Diane Gaydon took silver with Devon taking third.
The men’s final saw a surprise great start by Dave Fusili, again one that was insurmountable but again the real battle was for the last three positions. Nick Troutman, who was simply killing all competitors in each of his heats, ended up with a poor start and on the rocks as Tao and Lane battled down the river. Tao ended in third, Lane Jacobs ended up second and Dave took the 2008 title.
Boatercross is an exciting event… period. The battles were mano a mano and entertaining as all get out. Dave, Johnathan and Tanya were definitely the class of the field and many thanks go out to those who took one for the gipper. Lots of bent noses, bruised egos and “wait till the next year’s”.
Reno ended on a high note for me. Many thanks to Jim and the other organizers for this event! Many thanks to vendors like Kokatat, Rockstar and others who made this event come to fruition and many thanks to Reno for hosting our sport’s biggest spectator event! Bravo all… and thanks again to Colin and Hope for putting me up all weekend! Now… I wanna go home and sleep.