Kayaking with a twist: polo season begins

The unique sport of kayak polo returns to the Hood River pool this winter, once a week for 10 weeks

October 8, 2005

After dry and dismal spring and summer kayaking, Gorge paddlers finally have the chance to gear-up, get back in their boats and have a blast without the worry of scuffing up their boats or colliding with rocks.

Sure, the Hood River Aquatics Center doesn’t have waterfalls, eddies, play-holes or spectacular scenery. But the White Salmon River isn’t heated, lit or equipped with showers, restrooms and referees. It’s a give and take.

Kayak polo came to Hood River last winter, with about 10 people in the pool on the first night. A year later about 25 paddlers showed up for the first night of the 10-week season.

“It took off,” said organizer Amy Besch. “Pros down to beginners came out to play. It’s one big arena where everyone can have fun and play together.”

Last winter the program was successful enough for organizers to start a league, separate from the once-a-week fun sessions. A similar league is in the works for this winter.

For the time being, games will be played from 7-9 p.m. every Tuesday at the Hood River Pool. Games are free, thanks to sponsorship from the Columbia Gorge Kayak School, AT Paddles and Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation. Participants need a kayak, a PFD, a helmet and a paddle with duct-taped blades. According to Besch, a limited number of boats will be available to players who do not have their own.

“We want as many people as possible to come join the fun,” commented Besch. “This is a great game for beginner, intermediate and advanced kayakers. It’s fast, and all the paddling makes anyone a better kayaker. It’s a great way to cross-train.”

Kayak polo basics:

Two separate games are played at once, with elevated goals on both sides of each court. Goals are thrown into the net, not struck by a paddle.

Games are two 10 minute halves, with teams of eight on each side. Five players from each team are on the court (in the pool) at once, with the remaining three players from each team on the sideline as subs.

Paddles, hands and boats can be used to move the ball around the court, but players can not strike at the ball with their paddles.

At least one female will be on each team, if enough are present.

Defending the goal: The one player most directly under their goal is considered the goal-keeper at that time.

Ball possession: A player must dispose of the ball within five seconds of being in possession of it, either by passing it to another player or by throwing it one meter horizontally. A player can not paddle with the ball resting on the boat’s deck or spray skirt.

Illegal play: Striking an opponent’s body, kayak or the ball with a paddle, using a paddle against an opponent or their kayak for propulsion or support, or to impede the opponent, playing, or attempting to play the ball with a paddle when the ball is within arm’s reach of an opponent while that opponent is attempting to play the ball with their hands.

Tackling: A kayak tackle is when a player, with his/her kayak, pushes an opponent’s kayak. An illegal tackle is any tackle that results in the tackler’s kayak contacting the body of the tackled player and/or endangering the tackled player, tackling an opponent who is not within three meters of the ball, tackling an opponent who is not competing for the ball, and any body contact other than an open-hand to side or upper arm.

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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