Originally built in 1996 on an island in the Danube, the Cunovo Water Sports Centre in Bratislava, Slovakia hosted its first World Cup kayak event in 1997 and its most recent in 2013. It was recently selected to host the 2021 World Championships and made the decision to redesign and rebuild the historic channel for the event. The Slovakian Federation tapped S2O Design and Engineering to lead a major renovation of the iconic dual-channel venue. S2O Design created a new channel configuration and incorporation the RapidBlocs™ Obstacle system to give Cunovo a better racing experience for top-level boaters and recreation-level users alike.
S2O Design’s work on the iconic venue included reconfiguring the channel layout and updating the obstacle structures. The unique parallel courses, which allow paddlers to change from one course to the other midway, had become outdated, and unfavorable conditions on the left channel made it largely unusable for recreational paddlers and not conducive for competitions.
S2O Design redesigned the channel to integrate their patented RapidBlocs™ system, highly customizable three-dimensional obstacles that form the course’s waves, holes, drops, and eddies. The flexibility of the new system allows the operators to customize the configuration with the desired amount, type, and shape of features for any level paddler. The new competition channel configuration included repositioning the starting gate, adding a spectator-friendly features in front of the grandstand, and reconfiguring the bottom features on the racecourse.
Cañon City, Colorado
The Cañon City River Whitewater Park was a transformational project. As has happened to so many river towns throughout the American west, the river had been channelized, armored, and dams had been created through the downtown area. The project was a revitalization of the river that recognized the river’s need to function in its natural manner, but also its value to the town as a recreational amenity and as the focal point of their City Park. S2O Design transformed the river from a concrete-lined channel to a stunning natural waterway with rounded granite boulders, natural rapids, kids access and play areas, and fully functional surfing and kayaking features throughout the park. The park also provides a kids fun play area.
The project had three overarching goals:
- Recreation Enhancement – Recreational improvements enhance the river experience for both city visitors and members of the local community. Instream enhancements will provide a dynamic experience for rafters, kayakers and tubers; creating a valuable city attraction. While riverbank enhancements such as a connected trail system and open plan areas provide a relaxing out of water river experience
- Beautification of the River Corridor – Following earlier construction work, large quantities of concrete rubble and debris were present throughout the proposed project area. Debris removal and restoring the area’s ecosystem will aid in creating a thriving natural river and visually appealing parkland for all public users.
- Habitat Restoration – As part of the proposed project work, instream developments provided valuable habitat for fisheries. Boulders tactfully installed as velocity barriers will aid in creation of fish habitat and holding areas, while riffles and pools along current seams provide ample habitat opportunities for fish stock. By creating a multistage channel with stepped banks, riparian vegetation can be restored, providing critical habitat for macro-invertebrates, further enhancing fish ecological benefits and angling opportunities through Cañon City. A fish passage design approach, in collaboration with a fish biologist, will set a new standard for fish passage in whitewater park structures.
Eagle, Colorado is situated on the Western slope of the Rocky Mountains, in the center of Colorado’s ski country. The Eagle River Park project was designed as a venue to attract summer visitors to the Town and to highlight the growing trend of creating a town centered around outdoor recreation.
The Eagle River Park is located at an existing 3+ rapid in a relatively calm section of the Eagle River. The design focused on habitat improvements, as well as creating a world-class whitewater venue. The design was vetted through an extensive public process and was a cooperative eﬀort with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife. S2O Design completed all planning, design, permitting, and construction oversight of this project.
The whitewater park contains four drop structures and a crossvain diversion structure. The ﬁrst two drop structures contain a ﬁsh and boater by-pass channel and the last two drop structures contain a low-ﬂow ﬁsh notch. Habitat boulders and a ﬁ sh-friendly boulder cross-vain round out the design.
The drop structures are designed for a variety of ﬂows and conditions and features RapidBlocs compatible concrete pads that allow the features to be adjusted over time. Spectator viewing areas, judging platforms, a removable slalom mast system, and accessible ramps create a park that can be enjoyed by various users on a daily basis and a venue capable of hosting local and regional events.
Fort Collins, Colorado
The Poudre River Park was created with the idea of transforming an aging and abandoned diversion structure into a City Park that will attract local and regional visitors to play in and around the Poudre River. The park was created after extended studies by the City of Fort Collins to establish the feasibility of the park, and to locate the park in the most effective location possible. S2O Design worked with experts and regulatory authorities to define a first-of-its-kind fish passage component to the whitewater park.
The park features two drop structures located within a new City Park and a number of flood control structures designed to protect the City from future flood events. S2O Design worked with the City to define a facility that invites the whole community to the banks of the Poudre. S2O Design’s involvement including aiding in the creation of a master plan that includes property purchases and flood mitigation efforts that would provide for parking, access, restrooms and trail connectivity through the park.
The park includes two drop structures that function at a variety of flows from 75 cfs up to flows greater than 2000 cfs to create a tubing and float park at lower levels that transforms into a surf park at higher levels. The park provides for recreation in everything from paddleboarding, tubing, kayaking and rafting.
Boise is a city that was built around its river. Traditionally, development in the river has included dams and diversions being built to impound water and send it off to irrigation. Many of these dams are dangerous to navigate and barriers to fish passage. Where many looked at these irrigation structures as impediments to in-stream recreation, S2O Design has seen them as an opportunity.
In a unique partnership, S2O Design worked with McMillen Associates, the City of Boise, and Farmer’s Union Diversion to transform a failing rubble dam irrigation structure into a state-of-the-art adjustable diversion and head gate structure that doubles as a whitewater park. The whitewater park that was created is unique in that it collapses during flood events to actually lower the flood elevations of the Boise River through the whitewater park. At more reasonable water levels the park includes an adjustable surfing wave, an intermediate freestyle structure, and a beginner freestyle structure.
The adjustable surf wave is a one-of-its-kind in the world wave. This wave is taller and more powerful deep-water surfing wave that allows for national and international competition not just in river (board) surfing, but also as a freestyle venue for national and international freestyle competitions. This wave is being touted as the best-of-class worldwide for this type of recreation.
The intermediate and beginner features are also highly acclaimed. Nearby Idaho River Sports utilizes the waves for instruction, boogie boarding, and stand up surfing. Additionally, the general public utilizes the park for freestyle, skills development, slalom, and all around fun.
Nearly all of the park’s amenities, which were a focal point and revenue generator for the Town of Lyons, were damaged or destroyed during the September, 2013 flood. S2o was the lead designer and engineer for all river components and the lead engineer for the park site plan.
S2o was tasked with re-establishing the parking and camping areas and to ensure the park could continue to host several annual festivals during the 2014 summer season. The improvements included: 96 parking spaces, 22 RV camping spots, 9 tent camping spots, landscaping and hardscaping, and the construction of a large multipurpose field. The project was completed on an expedited design and construction schedule.
S2o completed all stream restoration planning, design, and construction oversight. S2o’s stream restoration design included a grouted rock ramp diversion structure for the Lyons Ditch and eight grouted rock ramp whitewater park structures. All grouted rock ramp structure designs implemented a variety of techniques to facilitate fish passage. These techniques included a low slope notch to decrease velocities at critical low flows, grout set six to eight inches below rock surfaces to provide interstitial spaces, and ramp stages set at alternating elevations to reduce velocities on the structure shoulders as stages increase with higher flows.
S2o’s design also included the restoration of fish habitat. In the reaches between the whitewater park structures, riffles were maintained to increase fish and macro-invertebrate habitat. An adjustable split flow channel included a riffle pool sequence that incorporated large woody debris, random boulders, and stream barbs.
S2o Design assisted DHM Design in the completion of the Uncompahgre River Corridor Master Plan in Montrose, Colorado. The Master Plan highlighted the river corridor as a key asset to the City of Montrose as well as the entire Uncompahgre River Valley. The goal of the project was to enhance the River’s ecology and safety, as well as uncover the corridor’s diverse array of riverside recreation. The goals were accomplished through a variety of recreational planning practices that were comprised of multi-objective and multi-user perspective tasks including, inventory, analysis of existing conditions, as well as the identification of priorities and their associated objectives for recreation, trail connectivity and open space.
The City of Ketchum and the Wood River Land Trust took joint ownership and management responsibility for a 210.5 acre parcel of property along the Big Wood River. The Big Wood River offers trophy trout fishing and is highly utilized by fishermen, as well as kayakers through the summer months. The river presents a variety of natural assets as well as challenges in designing a long-term, sustainable master plan. Its banks are continually migrating through the river valley, carrying a significant amount of sediment and woody debris, particularly during the annual flood.
S2o Design assembled a team of experts to complete a River Park Master Plan study. The purpose of the study was to define recreational uses and users that were appropriate for the property and suggest improvements that could maximize the recreational value of the site while minimizing impact.
The River Park Master Plan includes both beginner and intermediate river channels containing whitewater features of varying difficulty; river bank stabilization, restoration and enhancement; aquatic and riparian habitat improvements; beach creation; parking improvements; public restrooms; picnic areas; a pedestrian bridge; river viewing areas; designated access areas; park-wide river trail access; and circulation enhancements.
The master plan was completed in the summer of 2012. Construction documents and project completion are currently on hold pending the outcome of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) completed by the S2o’s team.
The Durango Whitewater Park is one of the country’s most utilized whitewater parks. S2O Designs’s re-design and Recreational In-Channel Diversion (RICD) permit for this project modernized the park to perform at a level capable of hosting recreational paddling, as well as international standard freestyle, slalom and paddle board competitions.
Due to the numerous challenges associated with this park, the design requirements were stringent and publicly reviewed by all parties. The design was further challenged when Durango submitted its park for a RICD water right. As a part of this process, S2O Design testified at the CWCB hearing, submitted expert reports on the park’s design, and successfully defended the design on behalf of its stakeholders and against the flow-restricting opposition. Based largely on the testimony of S2O Design’s principal, the objectors eventually settled and the original flow claims proposed by S2O Design were awarded.
The design of this park involved an extensive public process including work with the Animas River Task Force, the City of Durango, numerous stakeholders and various permitting agencies.
Wanaka, New Zealand
For the Camphill Surf Park, S2o was hired to find a site, complete a design, and oversee construction of a whitewater park near Wanaka, NZ. The resulting park has been referred to as the world’s best freestyle whitewater park. Users of all abilities come from around the world to watch, surf, and compete on the S2O Design-crafted features at Camphill Surf Park.
Camphill Surf Park was made possible through unprecedented levels of cooperation between Contact Energy, one of New Zealand’s largest utility companies, the Central Otago Whitewater Association (COWA), regional and local town councils, government agencies, and landowners.
The park features two separate waves that attract paddlers of all abilities. The top hole was designed to provide stable side surfing with a wide foam pile that allows for surfing, spins, and basic freestyle practice at all flows. The lower feature is characterized by a fast jet of water used for slalom training and basic maneuvers at lower flows, and a fast, single foam pile wave capable of large airborne maneuvers, at higher flows.