Fisher, Carroll choose best line to finish line

Gorge Games head-to-head kayaking

BZ CORNERS, Wash. — If you’ve ever braved rush-hour traffic in the big city, you may have a grasp on what the sport of head-to-head kayaking entails.

The biggest difference is the terrain, but the attitude remains the same.

“Head-to-head competition is pretty intense,” said Brad Ludden of Vail, Colo., who finished third in Wednesday’s event. “A lot of the guys feed off the intimidation factor and things can get pretty heated. But at the end of the day we’re all one big family.”

Ludden was joined in the final four-man heat by Kurt Braunlich (fourth), 2001 winner Eric Jackson (second), and Steve Fisher, the 2002 Ford Gorge Games champ.

Two of the event favorites, Tao Berman and three-time world champion Scott Shipley, were ousted in the first round, while 2001 Extreme Kayaking champ Sam Drevo sat out the competition.

“A lot of head-to-head racing is luck,” said Ludden, “but the Extreme race is pure skill.”

Ludden advanced to Friday’s 16-man Extreme finals after a strong qualifying round on Thursday. Sixteen women also competed in the event, which took paddlers over Big Brother Falls, which measures close to 30 feet. (Extreme results not available at press time. See the July 24 edition.)

In the women’s head-to-head bracket on Wednesday, Shannon Carroll of Raleigh, N.C., snaked past Nicola Kelly of New Zealand and event favorite Brooke Winger of Eugene for top honors.

“This was an incredible field this year. A great fight to the finish,” said Kelly, who out-lunged Winger at the finish line to eek out a silver medal.

“I was fortunate to squeeze through at the end,” she said.

Finishing fourth in head-to-head was Maria Nokes of Bryson, N.C. Another event favorite, Kelly Liles, was ousted in the first round.

Liles placed 12th in Thursday’s Extreme qualifier with an average time of 56.43 seconds. Kelly led the field with an average of 46:52, while Sara Mullett was second (48:33) and Winger third (49.42).

Heading up the men’s pack was Fisher with an average time of 44 seconds. He finished ahead of Andrew Holcombe (44.4), Scott Mann (44.78) and Shipley (44.98), who competed Friday against 12 other top paddlers for the Extreme title.


One of those top paddlers is Brad Ludden of Vail, Colo., who founded First Descents, a motivational kayak camp for youth cancer patients, which will hold its second-ever camp Sunday in Vail.

“Those kids inspire me every day,” said the third-place finisher in the 2002 Gorge Games head-to-head kayak competition. “I thought of them at the start and I was able to draw a lot of energy from it. The camp adds so much to everyone’s life.”

In addition to teaching kids how to run a river, Ludden and organizers also try to make the camp memorable by bringing in world-class athletes such as skier Picabo Street, swimmer Amy Van Dyken, snowboarder Barrett Christy, and 11-time Para-Olympic gold medalist Sara Will.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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