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Saturday, June 17 was a busy day for FIBArk 2023. The downriver race started the day at RMOC that morning, the famous Hooligan race was scheduled for the late afternoon, and in between the finals for Slalom and Freestyle were held.

First up was the slalom, originally brought to FIBArk in the fifties. Despite a cold and rainy morning, plenty of spectators lined the river banks to watch the competitors.

The Olympic sport prizes technical skill, which is required to navigate gates hung across the river in a certain order. Green gates could be passed through heading downstream while red had to be hit rowing against the current. Competitors want to move as quickly as possible while not touching the gates to get the best scores.

Here the competitor must go past the red gate, row up through it, and then pass through the green gate before continuing on with the rest of the course. Photo by Carly Winchell

At one point, two of the gates (depicted in the above image) shifted into a nearly impossible position.

Competitors struggled to fight the stronger current to get up through the red gate, with shouts of “Up! Up! Up!” from the crowd attempting to spur them on as they struggled against the flow. After that group went,  the gates were adjusted before the next division proceeded to make it a little more reasonable for the remainder of the event.

Slalom Results

A competitor fights the current. Photo by Carly Winchell

Women’s Kayak               

1. Olivia Spencer

2. Hella Pannewig

3. Marianna Torres

Men’s Kayak      

1. Oran Huff

2. Max Karlsson

3. Scott Shipley

Men’s Canoe 1 person   

1. Peter Coggan

2. Luca Bohn

3. Matt Fritz

Women’s Canoe 1 person            

1. Marianna Torres

Head to Head Boater Cross         

1. Nick Troutman

2. Gav Barker

3. Tom Dole

4. Oran Huff

Colorado Cup and Freestyle Event

People line the banks to watch freestyle kayaking. Photo by Carly Winchell

The freestyle event occurred a bit later that afternoon after the slalom finals were completed. By then the sun had come out in full force, and the banks were packed with spectators.

As spectators got up to get food or take a walk, their seats were immediately filled by those who had been standing and waiting for something to open up closer to the water. This year FIBArk’s event served as the Colorado Cup final as well as the 2023 USA National Freestyle Championships.

The event was done “jam style” which involves a timer and rotating cast of competitors. Each participant would head out onto the wave for one minute or until they are “flushed” from the water feature to complete as many tricks as they can. Competitors earn points for unique, successfully completed tricks and can chain different moves together or forego the use of their paddle for additional bonuses.

Many of the moves have memorable names, called out by the commentator as they were completed during the finals. Examples include blunts (high speed vertical turns from edge to edge), airscrew (an aerial barrel roll), the McNasty (half a barrel roll, usually used to transition into a flip), and the space Godzilla (an aerial loop with an additional twist in the middle of the trick).

The event drew a very large crowd, likely due to the impressive show put on by competitors as they used skill to perform sets of tricks while trying to avoid being flushed downstream to ensure every last point counts.

Freestyle Results      

Junior Women’s Kayak  

Photo by Carly Winchell

1. Mackinley Kate Hargrove

2. Chloe Spears

Junior Men’s Kayak         

1. Daniel Smith

2. Cashion Porter-Shirley

3. Ian Cieslak

4. Magnus Monson

5. Mason Smith

Women’s Pro Kayak Finals

1. Abby Holcombe

2. Emily Jackson

3. Zofia Tula

4. Rachel Scheffe

5. Q. Wang

Men’s Pro Kayak Finals

Photo by Carly Winchell

1. Tom Dolle’

2. Mason Hargrove

3. Nick Troutman

4. Tomasz Czaplicki

5. Max Karlsson

Men’s and Women’s Open Class Kayak Finals


1. Aran Kilroy

2. Matt Hargrove

3. Ryan Duffy


1. Kay Duffy

Featured image: Extreme slalom. Carly Winchell photo