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Photos: Reno River Festival 2009

Amateur and professional kayakers filed into Reno-Tahoe this week for the 2009 Reno River Festival. We caught up with them at the Truckee River Whitewater Park practicing and socializing in advance of the weekend activities. Check out these photos from Thursday:

40,000 expected for this weekend’s Reno River Festival

riverfestlogoIt’s a right of spring in the Sierra Nevada: The snow starts melting and the kayakers come out to play at the Truckee River Whitewater Park. The park, a manmade playground featuring rapids and pools, sits right at the entrance to downtown Reno, Nev., and it’s the host site of the annual Reno River Festival, taking place this weekend (May 8-10). One of the premier kayaking competitions in the country, the festival  offers a great time for visitors to Reno-Tahoe with live music, vendors and events all weekend long.

From humble beginnings

What began as a way to showcase and attract attention to the park for whitewater enthusiasts has grown with a multitude of events – some connected, some not so connected to kayaking. Last year 40,000 athletes and spectators made their way to the river’s edge for great weather and a great time under the spring sunshine.

The festival has followed the trajectory of the popularity of whitewater kayaking. In the U.S., there are few parks designed specifically for whitewater kayakers and only Reno’s is central to a metropolitan core.

Something old, something new

In addition to professional and amateur freestyle and boatercross kayaking events, the Reno River Festival features the Run Amuck fun run, where the goal may be the best costume, not necessarily the best finishing time. For a more spiritual experience, try yoga in the park or take in a fly-fishing casting demonstration. Each day’s party atmosphere is highlighted by live music in the park, craft beers and retail vendors. Dress code? Shorts and sandals.

More on the way

The wave of popularity in whitewater kayaking continues to grow and the Truckee River may become its epicenter in the West. Downriver, at Rock Park in Reno’s sister city of Sparks, a second iteration is under construction and ready to open this summer. The park’s kayaking features complement those of the Reno park, with improved riverbank landscaping, shade structures, and play structures, parking and better access for people with disabilities.

Reno River Festival

  • What: Kayaking, live music, food and drink
  • When: May 8-10
  • Where: Downtown Reno at the Truckee River
  • More:

Sparks whitewater kayak park preview

Most people still don’t understand why I choose to spend SO much time in Reno, NV. Until they come to visit all I can do is tell them about the awesome outdoor community and the easy access to outdoor amenities.

This week just downstream of the current whitewater park (the Truckee River Whitewater Park in downtown Reno) another was completed (the Truckee River Whitewater Park at Rock Park in Sparks). Though it is still not officially open I had the chance to test out the new features – and yes I got to be the first (there has to be some perks to being the world champ). This is the kind of park you want to bring your kids to: a picnic on the grass, swimming in the deep eddies.

I know I’ll be spending heaps of time here in the near future as they’ve managed to build a nice little wave for me to train on – thank you Jim and Mike!

- Re-post courtesy of world champion kayaker Ruth Gordon

Check out this video of Ruth on the wave of  “Double D,” one of the park features:

Whitewater kayak, tubing and rafting options improving in Reno-Sparks

Following on the success of the Truckee River Whitewater Park in downtown Reno, the City of Sparks has broken ground – or river – on its own kayak park, adding another attraction for whitewater athletes and recreation seekers in the Reno-Sparks area.

The site – located at Rock Park at 1515 Rock Boulevard – will be closed to the public until early 2009, with the whitewater attraction planned for a summer 2009 opening.

“The whitewater feature at Rock Park will raise the bar for recreation in the Truckee Meadows and bring visitors to Sparks from near and far,” said Sparks Mayor Geno Martini.  It will include five drops similar in appearance to the Truckee River Whitewater Park. “The project will be a wonderful use of the Truckee River, and something our citizens can enjoy for years to come.”

Along with pools for kayaking, tubing and rafting for all skill levels, the improvements include improved riverbank landscaping, shade structures, and play structures, parking and better access for people with disabilities. The river trail system will also be rerouted and improved. The nearly $900,000 contract is being fulfilled by Reno Tahoe Construction, Inc.

In addition to serving as the focal point for redevelopment in downtown Reno, the Truckee River Whitewater Park is also home to the annual Reno River Festival, one of the country’s premier kayaking competitions.

Pro Wakeboard Tour stops at Sparks Marina

The MasterCraft  Pro Wakeboard Tour is coming to Sparks for the final stop of the 2008 season July 11-13. The sport’s top pros have one more chance at the podium before the final awards ceremony at John Ascuaga’s Nugget on the 13th.

The action will be held at the Sparks Marina, with athletes from more than 20 states and seven nations.

Event schedule:
Friday, July 11

  • 10 am: Jr. Men Quarterfinals
  • Noon-4 pm: Pro Men Qualifying

Saturday, July 12

  • 8:30 am: Pro Women QualifyingS
  • 10:30 am: Jr. Men Semifinals
  • 12:30 pm: Pro Women Semifinals
  • 1:30pm-4:30 pm: Pro Men Round of 30

Sunday, July 13

  • 10 am: Pro Men Quarterfinals
  • Noon: Jr. Men Finals
  • 1 pm: Pro Men Semifinals
  • 2 pm: Pro Women Finals
  • 3-3:30 pm: Pro Men Finals
  • TBA: Awards Ceremony

* Schedule is subject to change

Among the awards being presented at the Nugget is the Indmar Performance Award, a $10,000 cash bonus to the top points earner in the Pro Men’s Division and a $5,000 prize for the Pro Women’s Division winner.

Rookie of the Year honors for the Pro Men’s Division will also be presented during the ceremony.

Rafting down the Truckee River in Reno

It was a clear blue Sunday morning and the temperature was supposed to reach the low 90s. My boyfriend and I were off to spend Father’s Day rafting down the Truckee River with our two friends and their daughter.

We packed up our cheap rafts, oars, water and sunscreen and headed to Dorostkar River Park, off of Mayberry Drive in Reno. We piled out of the truck, got creative and used an air mattress pump to pump up our rafts.

After we got the rafts pumped up and into the Truckee River, we slid (none-too-gracefully) into them and started our almost five-mile trek from Dorostkar Park to Wingfield Park in downtown Reno.

Within 10 minutes, the bottom of our raft was already flat. As we hit rapids, trees and rocks, we had to lift our entire body off of the raft and lie straight in order for our bodies to survive the abuse.

Within the first 15 minutes, our raft was filled with water. Not because it was leaking (we had a hole but it wasn’t affecting us) but because the rapids and the jarring against rocks would splash water into our boat.

As my boyfriend tried to paddle us to safety, I was cupping my hands and trying to bail water out. As you might be able to guess, it didn’t work too well.

I gave up using my hands and dumped out the water in our only water bottle and tried to use the bottle to get some of the water out. The rapids were getting too crazy and there was more water splashing into our boat than there was getting out.

Somewhere between us swimming in our raft, getting our bodies bashed against rocks and running into a cove of trees, we decided that we really did buy a cheap boat.

Rafters, beware. Somewhere near Idlewild Park, there is a drop-off. By drop-off, I mean we would have fallen out of our boats and be swimming had we attempted the drop-off with our flat rafts. However, there were some brave folks who attempted the drop-off and made it through alive and OK. Stay to the far left when you approach it. If not, you will be going over rocks and those hurt a little bit more.

About four hours later, we finally floated into Wingfield Park. As soon as we hit the last rapid, I was swept out of the raft and gasping for air as I grappled for my boyfriend’s arm. I survived but I can’t say the same for our air mattress pump, water bottle, oar, bag of Wheat Thins and my shirt.

Despite the bruises I had, the killer sunburns the men got and the $30 worth of things floating down the Truckee River, we all had a blast. I’m sure we will do it again soon, hopefully this time with a more sturdy raft.

By Heather Lara, Nevada Commission on Tourism

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Reno River Festival continues to grow

The fifth-annual Reno River Festival was the best one yet, with record attendance estimated at nearly 40,000. Spectators spent the weekend at Reno’s Truckee River Whitewater Park, watching amateur and professional kayakers compete for prize money and bragging rights. Music, food, vendors and some new land-based events, combined with great weather to make this year’s festival a great kickoff to summer in Reno-Tahoe.

Reno River Festival rolls in for 2008!

The Reno River Festival starts today with registration and preparation for the main events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The festival keeps getting better every year with a visitor-expo, great concessions and a rockin’ good time in the Northern Nevada Sun. This year the festival is introducing some new events like the Run Amuck race, whitewater clinics and more. Check out the festival Web site here, and watch a video interview with organizer Jim Litchfield (produced by the Tahoe World newspaper).

Storm of the century still kicking!

JLM RSCVA 1-17-08 008
Reports of amazing winter weather are coming in from all over Reno-Tahoe. Our first hand investigators confirm EPIC powder everywhere you turn! And the powder on the ground is being rapidly covered by even more POWDER!!!!!

  • I can’t believe how hard it’s snowing right now,” said Alpine Meadows spokeswoman Rachael Woods. “This kind of snowfall definitely sets up the Sierra for great spring skiing conditions and really helps with our water situation.”
  • Everybody’s ready to ski,” Kauffman said. “They missed out last year, and this last Saturday and Sunday were excellent. The snow is very deep, powdery dry, like Colorado and Utah,” Kauffman added. “We don’t get that too often.”
  • We did get hammered up here,” said Greg Murtha, spokesman for the resort [Sugarbowl], which has 71 inches of snow at its base, 104 on top. “It was hard to tell when one storm stopped and the next one started.”

Surprise competition

I woke up Thursday morning at 6am because of a phone call from EJ. I am usually up by that time anyway but was sleeping in a bit because I was at the gym wrestling until late the night before. So, of course I answered the phone as I knew that it was my good friend and boss. I am not sure of exactly how our conversation went but basically he gave my his credit card number and told me to go to the airport and catch a flight to Washington DC for the Potomac Festival. That night I was in DC and the next day we’re running the great falls which was very exciting for me as I had never been there before.

The next day was the big Great Falls race. I paddled hard and felt really fast but made a small mistake and ended up in 5th place. The level of competition at the race though was truly world class, so as much as I wanted to win, 5th place still beat a lot of really fast racers. EJ looked awesome all day long and I thought for sure that he would win but due to to high caliber of racing anything less then a perfect race wasn’t good enough. He was however very fast and consistent. Anybody who might have forgotten that EJ still has ridiculous boat speed was surely reminded that he is a force to be dealt with in every event.

Today was the freestyle finals. The competition was at a hole called Bloody Good, but really it is bloody trashy and shallow. Despite its trashy nature it was pretty fun, and the idea of competing made it all the better. In the end I had just about as good of a ride as I could have and was able to win.

EJ was second with a great ride of his own, and Brian Kirk was third paddling nicely as well. I was stoked to win because this is the first time that I have competed since winning the event in Reno. I always feel a little uneasy after any kind of time out of my boat as I know that during that time the paddling world is getting better and I am not. Also, the last few days have been the first time that I have really gone 100 percent since my injury, which by the way has left a weird depression in my side, and I have got to say that I feel like my conditioning is as good as it has ever been.

I have had an awesome time paddling at the Great Falls and can’t believe that I have not been here before now. I am totally stoked that EJ called me up and brought me to this cool place. Tomorrow we are paddling at the Adventure Sports Center, and then I am flying home to the land of heat and fire on Tuesday.