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2012 Wyoming Whitewater Championships

May 25th - 27th



Words and Photography by: Stephen Williams

This weekend, the 16th Annual Wyoming Whitewater Championships is joining forces with the USA Wildwater National Championships to create a competition like the rivers around Jackson Hole have never seen. Some of the best paddlers in the country will hit the Hoback, Snake and Greys river for three days packed with races, parties, freestyle kayaking, film festivals and boatercross action. This year the competition will be higher than ever and will provide competitors and spectators alike with the opportunity to enjoy a great weekend at the river. The events are presented by the Jackson Hole Kayak Club and all proceeds from the weekend will go to benefit their programs.

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The Jackson Hole Kayak Club has been providing paddling opportunities and river experiences for young people since 1996. From flat-water to moving water to whitewater, our affordable programs take local youth onto our unique and beautiful waterways.

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Friday May 25th

USA Wildwater Downriver Sprint

  • Where: Double Draw Rapid, Snake River Gilcrease Cabin, Hoback River (venue changed as of 5/23)
  • 1st Run: 12:00pm
  • 2nd Run: 2:00pm
  • Athlete Flyer

For the first time, the WWC is hosting the USa Wildwater National Championships. This US Canoe and Kayak sanctioned event will bring a wider range of competitors to the area for the weekend and begins with two 400m sprints through the Wall Rapid on the Hoback River.

WWC Open Downriver Classic

  • Where: Hoback River
  • When: 6:00pm

The lighthearted competition of the Downriver Classic caps off the first day of the WWC as teams and individuals race to the finish line at the Hoback Bridge. With kayak, SUP and raft classes, the Downriver Classic provides the widest range of competitors to take part in the WWC.

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Rafts from Dave Hansen Whitewater and Sands Whitewater race down the Hoback River for the 2011 Downriver Classic


Reel Paddling Film Festival

  • When: 7:30pm
  • Where: Pink Garter Theatre, Jackson
  • Cost: $10
  • Buy tickets online
  • All proceeds benefit the JH Kayak Club

In addition to the action on the river, the 2012 WWC is bringing the action to Pink Garter Theatre as well. The Reel Paddling Film Festival stops in Jackson in conjunction with the competition to highlight some of the best paddling films of the year. Presented by Teva and Rapid Media.

From Rapid Media: Rapid Media’s 7th annual Reel Paddling Film Festival showcases the world’s best paddling films to audiences around the world. The festival inspires more people to explore rivers, lakes and oceans, push physical and emotional extremes, embrace the lifestyle and appreciate the heritage of the wild places we paddle.

The Reel Paddling Film Festival is a film contest awarding winning films in 10 categories. The winners and other shortlisted films are then toured to more than 100 cities around the world, screening for an audience of more than 30,000 outdoor adventure enthusiasts and their friends and families.

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2012 Reel Paddling Film Festival Trailer


Saturday May 26th

USA Wildwater National Classic Race

This 10k race down the Hoback River is the second part of the USA Wildwater National Championships and winds down the Hoback river through several rapids and S-turns. The classic race has mens and womens classes as well at youth and adult divisions.

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Freestyle Kayak Rodeo

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The 2011 Kayak Rodeo winner Jon Souter flashes some freestyle skills at King’s Wave on the Snake River. Photographer: Stephen Williams

  • When: 12:00pm
  • Where: Kings Wave, Sanke River

Last spring’s historically high runoff made it difficult to find a wave to host the Kayak Rodeo with a lot of the popular locations being washed out. The water flows are down significantly this year, which makes finding a venue for the competitors to showcase their surfing and freestyle abilities much more abundant. My guess is that they will choose either Kings Wave or Taco Hole on the Snake River which both offer large waves and room for a crowd to gather to watch the action. This is the most spectator friendly event of the WWC, so come on down and cheer on and support the competitors of all ages and skill levels as they showcase their skills. With limited parking available in the Snake River Canyon, JH Kayak Club will arrange a shuttle from a larger parking area like Alpine Junction to the event venue.

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Eric Parker gets inverted during the Kayak Rodeo. Photographer: Stephen Williams


Awards Party

  • When: 6:00pm
  • Where: Cutty’s Bar and Grill, Jackson
  • FREE Beer and $10 Pizzas
  • Raffle Prizes from: Smith Optics, NRS, Keen Footwear, Werner, Sweet Protections, Liquid Logic and more.

After the kayak rodeo come join the competitors and sponsors at Cutty’s for the WWC Awards party featuring drinks/food specials and a raffle. Great food, great prizes and a great time.

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Sunday May 27th

Grey’s River Boatercross

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Competitors navigate the Snaggletooth Rapid during the 2011 Grey’s River Boatercross. Photographer: Stephen Williams

  • Mandatory Racer’s Safety Meeting: 11:30am
  • Heats Begin: 12:00pm
  • Where: Grey’s River RD, Alpine WY
  • Directions from Jackson.

The 2012 Wyoming Whitewater Championships conclude with a kayak boatercross down the Grey’s River just outside Alpine, Wyoming. This year, multiple heats will run the course that starts at the Slalom Rapid and runs through the Class V Snaggletooth rapid. The number of heats will be determined by the number of competitors and the top few kayakers from each heat will adavcne to compete in the final heat. This technical section of the Grey’s River will test the skills and athleticism of each competitor as they not only try to safely navigate the rapids and obstacles, but race the other kayakers to the finish.

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Last years competition was intense as the water levels hit historical numbers. Photographer: Stephen Williams


Having watched the action for the first time last year, I strongly recommend coming down and checking out the competition, whether you are a paddler or not. It is a great opportunity to witness the skills involved in paddle sports and support the athletes and Jackson Hole Kayak Club. Good luck in advance to all the competitors in this years Wyoming Whitewater Championships/USA Wildwater National Championships and we hope to see you at the venues.


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