The nation's top boaters will test the whitewater of the Animas River this weekend.Fifty of the nation's top canoe and kayak athletes will compete for positions on the U.S. National Whitewater Slalom Team today, Saturday and Sunday at Smelter Rapid on the Animas River in Durango.
Olympians from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games will compete in Durango this weekend alongside members of the local Durango Whitewater race team.
The flow on the Animas River has tripled over the last two weeks.
Racing begins each day at 10 a.m. at Durango Whitewater Park, adjacent to Santa Rita Park.
Paddlers will make two runs each day. The second run will start at noon.
Volunteers are needed to assist with the events.
Interested volunteers should contact Angela Lokken at 749-2256 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Durango Whitewater hosted a similar national team trials event four years ago on the Animas River.
In whitewater slalom, athletes must navigate their canoe or kayak through gates as they work their way through a specific section of rapids as quickly as possible.
Hitting one of the hanging gates or missing one completely results in time penalties that are added to the paddler's time at the end of the run.
A 2-second penalty is given for a touched gate. There is a 50-second penalty if the gate is missed completely.
There are 18 to 24 gates set for each course.
The gates are color coded to indicate which direction the paddler must take through the gates.
Green gates are negotiated heading downstream while red gates require the paddler to reverse direction and pass through them heading upstream.
Athletes compete in three classes: kayak (K1), single canoe (C1) and double canoe (C2).
Whitewater slalom made its debut during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. Whitewater slalom did not return to the Olympics until 1992 in Barcelona, Spain.
The public is invited to Santa Rita Park to watch the top kayakers through the weekend.
For more information, visit dgowhitewater.com.