Upper Ocoee River: Near Chattanooga, TN
A NATURAL RIVER ELEVATED TO OLYMPIC CALIBRE
The Site of the 1996 Olympic Whitewater Competition - At the 1996 Summer Olympics, history was made as canoe and kayak competitors battled for medals in the first Olympic whitewater course built in an active river channel.
If water could tell the story about its journey from the mountains to the sea, its travel through the Ocoee Whitewater Center would be the most exciting part.
- Joe Jacobi, 1992 Olympic gold Medal Winner (Men’s Double Canoe)
Innovative Stabilization Techniques – From nature’s original design, Rick McLaughlin and John Anderson re-engineered the Ocoee’s bed into the biggest and most challenging whitewater course in the nation. In the process, they developed innovative grouted boulder techniques now used by engineers across the country.
Demanding Requirements for an Olympic Course – The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games and the USDA Forest Service wanted an Olympic course that would look good, work well and stay put. The new whitewater course had to be…
- Natural- looking, to create interest for this otherwise unappealing section of river
- Challenging for elite whitewater athletes
- Permanently low-maintenance
- Capable of withstanding floods which easily move four foot boulders. The adjacent highway had washed out numerous times, and project managers worried that building the course might further destabilize the road embankment.
The Ocoee Olympic venue was a resounding success, and a complement to the river’s environment and surrounding communities:
“This is without a doubt the most fantastic whitewater slalom course in the world.”
— Albert Woods, former Chairman of the International Canoe Federation
The course was not only strong enough to resist flooding, but blended seamlessly into the adjacent geological features,” said Paul Wright, U.S. Forest Service Project Director. “The competitive channel has the appearance of a natural riverbed, but with strength and stability that even nature does not provide.” As such, the course represents the ultimate in a man made “roughened channel” design. Never before or since has a man made channel replicated a river more naturally.
“The course has sustained almost no damage since its construction, surviving numerous floods.”
— Jerry Barrow, USDAFS Project Engineer
Services Provided (under sub-contract with the Pickering Firm, Atlanta, Georgia) – Alternative Development / Public Input / Conceptual and Preliminary Design / Physical Model / Construction Services
Visit the 1996 Olympic Whitewater Center site for more information.