Nantahala River: Bryson City, NC
FREESTYLE FEATURE ADDED FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Nantahala River’s first permanent, high quality freestyle feature replaces a site that has been altered temporarily for years to host a Whitewater Freestyle World Cup event in 2012 and the 2013 Freestyle World Championships, a tremendous success and model for future world championship sites. To accomplish the improvement MWDG was asked to:
Increase Depth – Hitting the shallow floor of a river with one’s kayak diminishes a competitor’s ability to execute moves well, and may create an opportunity for injury. Status: the improved Nantahala feature is noticeably deeper, reflected in part by high scores that have been achieved in competition.
Dane Jackson, Open Canoe, C1, Squirt and Jr. Men’s Kayak World Champion scored a whopping 1443 points at the NOC Shootout, the highest score achieved during any sanctioned freestyle event that year.
- NOC Shootout Results
Improve Eddy Service – Shallow eddies that are difficult to access require paddlers to spend excessive amounts of time returning to the eddy and in some cases, end a turn prematurely. Status: Paddling into eddies is now nearly effortless, and many boats can stage comfortably.
Serve kids as well as adults – Whitewater features can be intimidating for beginner playboaters and students as they learn freestyle moves. Status: while retentive, the hydraulic will accommodate a cautious beginner with virtually no consequence, and is an excellent teaching tool for young paddlers.
Critical Tuning Learning – Before the tuning session, an unrelated structure shifted the direction of flow dramatically, rendering input from top US paddlers and local experts – Pat Keller, Clay Wright, Daniel Dutton, Andrew Holcomb, and Tommy Yon – in actionable. Immediately, a construction hiatus for fish spawning began. Four months later the contractor, Lee Liebfarth (Nantahala Outdoor Center), and Rick McLaughlin were back in the river, redirecting and focusing flow over the WaveShaper and adjusting the approach water and eddies with minutes to spare before the start of the 2012 NOC Shootout.
Services Included: Concept study, preliminary and final design, stakeholder engagement for evaluative purposes.
As Lee viewed it, “Peter Csonka’s 1,538 point ride (at the third and final leg of the World Cup event) definitely gives the feature credibility as an event site: it was rumored that this was the highest score in a recent ICF event.”
Terry Best, member of the International Canoe Federation Freestyle Committee who attended the World Cup and World Championship notes, “The Nantahala hole is indeed a very good feature: it has been very interesting to watch its evolution throughout 2012. It was refreshing for me to see the collaborative process that developed between the designers, NOC & the paddlers. I believe that this partnership approach contributed greatly to the feature we were lucky enough to use at the World Cup & could provide a template for future developments.”
The feature is technically challenging; however the top athletes were still able to post very high scores, this is a rare combination in competition Freestyle.”