Animas River Days’ 2015 festival makes a big splash

ReBlogged from the Durango Herald

Helter Smelter

Mike Tavares of Richmond, Virginia, paddled into a crashing wave between competitions during Animas River Days at the Santa Rita whitewater park Saturday in Durango.

Tavares, however, wasn’t in a boat; he was on a stand-up paddleboard.

“The water level is great this year,” he said. “It’s my first time surfing and paddling on the Animas, so I’m super-stoked.”

SUPs, as they’re called, are becoming a more common sight, and this year’s long-standing river festival – started by local paddler Nancy Wiley in 1982 – is no different. There are three new events dedicated to the SUPs – more than ever before.

Festival spokesperson Hope Tyler said there are several new aspects this year all based around the new vibe that Santa Rita is taking on, in and out of the water.

“Well, there’s the new park,” she said of the whitewater park that opened last year. “We’re one of the few parks that has eight features.”

On dry land, the hardscaping is complete. Now, the landscaping begins.

“This is what you’re going to see for upcoming events,” Tyler said.

Local rivers have spiked as snow continues to melt in the high country, coupled with good amounts of precipitation the region has received late in the year. One of the warmer days of the spring, the brown water carried logs and debris downstream picked up by the swell. Tyler said bets were going around the festival on what Saturday’s high water would be.

“We just hit 2,000 this morning,” she said. “People are excited.”

The competitions were so many, one would end, and another would begin – kayaking slaloms, SUP slaloms, SUP and boatercross. Every so often, rafts fully loaded would charge through the waves. There were dog tricks and film screenings. On Saturday night, an evening freestyle kayak competition was to be held.

On Sunday, the third day of the festival, there will be clinics all day offered by 4 Corners Riversports.

Animas River Days events coordinator Stacy Falk said competitors came from all corners of the globe.

“Last year, we had 40; this year, we have 100,” she said. “And they’re from England, France, New Zealand.”

Several professional athletes came specifically to represent SUP, spearheaded by whitewater instructors Anna and Drew Fisher of Surf the San Juans.

“The pros that are here are here because of them,” Falk said.

Ross Montandon of Noddingham, England, is on a four-month U.S. tour kayaking with his team. After the kayak slalom races, he stepped away to steal a look at the river.

“It’s like a traveling circus,” he said about his tour. In Durango for the first time, Montandon said the beauty of the West is the access.

Tyler said the 3,000 to 4,000 people that line the river for the annual river parade bear testimony.

Falk, who called Saturday “the most insane day of her life,” said event officials worked hard to make the festival stand out.

“If we want to get a sponsor like those big events that we want to compete with have, we need to prove that we can get people here, and we proved that (Saturday),” she said.

Animas River Days Recap

ReBlogged from:

Team Rider Brittany Parker checked in with this recap of the Animas River Days event last weekend in Durango, Colorado. Photos by Heather Jackson.

Durango was a pleasant surprise for the Badfish crew. We had no idea how much the South-West Colorado college town was stoked on stand up paddling and river surfing. Durango is arguably the best paddling community in the State of Colorado, with a long history of whitewater paddling, so it was easy for us to feel at home at the Animas River Days at the Santa Rita Park.

To kick off the event team athletes Natali Zollinger and Brittany Parker organized a two day downriver and river surfing clinic hosted by the local paddling shop 4Corners Riversports. They worked on pivot turns, reading water, paddling technique, footwork, and had students paddling into the wave standing up by day two!

river surfing, whitewater, durango, colorado, animas, SUP, paddleboard

Saturday was jam packed with events and there wasn’t one podium without a team paddler on it. The beer was flowing from the Ska brewing tent and the crowd lined the bank waiting for the show to begin. Everyone loves carnage and the ‘Last Paddler Standing’ competition, promises it. Beginning at the top of the whitewater park the paddler has to make it through a series of substantial holes without falling off their board, otherwise it’s immediate disqualification. The crowd was roaring, rooting for most of us to fall, but Mike T. and Brittany Parker (on their 9’0” MVP) held their own placing in the top three.

Although, surf comps aren’t the norm for whitewater events, Durango is setting the stage for river surfing to become a competitive addition to event schedules. The guys were in their element and out to win. Between Zack Hughes spinning 540’s, Spencer Lacy’s pop shuv-its, and Mike Tavares’ hard carves they swept the podium.

river surfer, surfing, whitewater, animas, durango, colorado, badfish, SUP, paddleboard

river surfing, river surfer, badfish SUP, paddleboarding, animas, durango, colorado

We loved the Animas River Days but what really made an impression on us was the surf sessions outside of the competition. The local surfers are out there every day charging and encouraging others to try. They are true examples of what we all love about this community and the sport. We will be back next year! -Brittany Parker

S2o featured on NPR for the Design of the London Olympic Channel

National Public Radio visits S2o’s offices to learn more about S2o’s role as the designer of the London Olympic Whitewater slalom venue for 2012.  This profile explores the challenges and design process that led to this industry leading whitewater park.

S2o Featured for their Design Work on London 2012

LYONS, Colo- You don’t have to be a Colorado resident for very long to figure out the “river folk.” They are the people who live for water.

The people who like to spend their free time paddling any type of boat in the water. They are also the same people who find a way to work less and play more.

The people always smiling, happy and … tan. As Scott Shipley explains it, “There really is a DNA to river people.”

Shipley is a perfect specimen. He was a three time Olympic kayaker. He was ranked number one for eight consecutive years, a ten time national champion. He met his wife on the water who raced on the German team. And water is still a big part of Shipley’s life.

“We design fun. More often than you realize in Colorado, when you’re in an inner tube floating down a rapid, it’s probably something built by our company or a company like ours.”

The Lyons resident is the founder and owner of S2O design.

“I studied engineering at Georgia Tech, got into ship design. Kind of very last minute, I saw an article about a guy that did river design and thought gosh I want to get into doing whitewater parks.”

When Scott is out of the water, he is wading through computer models and blueprints, including the biggest project of all, the 2012 Olympic course.

“To be a part of the design team on that London park was literally a dream come true. I so much wanted stay part of that Olympic movement.”

Part of the Olympic design includes giant Lego like blocks, called RapidBlocs that create obstacles and whitewater just like a natural boulder would. Brand new technology, invented by Scott and his British partner.

In London the Lee Valley Whitewater Center outside of London is already in use.

“The feedback we’re getting is, ‘Oh my gosh! This is what we dreamed of,’ and we’re hearing that from the Slovakians, the French, the British, it’s not just the U.S. Team saying it’s the crème de la crème of white water parks.”

All those hours playing in the water are definitely paying off.

“The most rewarding thing by far for me, because I did live that Olympic life for 20 years, to go back to an Olympics and watch it on a channel we designed. Watch it on a channel we built.”


S2o’s Lead Designer Profiled by ICF after designing the London Olympic Course

Scott Shipley brings a varied background to the table. A three time Olympian (’92, ’96, ’00) and holder of four world titles, Shipley is among the best-known American kayakers in the world today. Having retired from elite competition Shipley went back to school to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Shipley’s combined expertise in both Whitewater and Engineering Design has made him the go-to designer for some of the world’s most demanding whitewater design projects. He has been credited with driving innovation in the whitewater park industry by pushing the design envelope; his achievements in whitewater course design may just supersede his world titles and his accolade of America’s best ever slalom kayaker.

Shipley has also been involved in the design of the Whitewater Package Course—the world’s first purpose-built club training and instructional center as well as the Africa Club-House Project—an unprecedented design project tasked with bringing secure clubhouses for sports of all kinds, including kayaking, to Africa. His company S2o Designs designed the features in the Lee Valley White Water Center, the Canoe Slalom venue for this summer’s Olympic Games in London.

(Link to Read More)

Denver Post: Colorado kayaker Scott Shipley shapes London Olympic whitewater venue.

S2o Engineer Scott Shipley working on the Physical Model of the Lee Valley Whitewater Centre
Scott Shipley adjust the hydraulic model of the London 2012 Whitewater Venue
The teens gather in Scott Shipley’s garage in Lyons, grabbing kayaks and paddles before joining the three-time Olympian for a weekly kayak session on the St. Vrain River.
The water-born mentoring is yet another example of Shipley giving back to the sport that has defined his 40 years.
With four world titles and three Olympic showings, Shipley has been long considered America’s greatest slalom kayaker. But his latest contribution to paddling — almost a decade after stepping away from competition — might just eclipse his accomplishments in the boat.
From his home office in Lyons, Shipley’s S2o Design company developed the hydraulic features in the 2012 London Olympics whitewater course.
Read more: Colorado kayaker Scott Shipley shapes London Olympic whitewater venue – The Denver Post
Read The Denver Post’s Terms of Use of its content: