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Saturday, September 30, 2000 - Sunday, October 1, 2000 -- Ohiopyle, PA
AWA Ohiopyle Falls Race & Freestyle
Story by Mike McCagh, photos by Marty Lamp

[Details] [Coverage]
Results: [Overall Results] [Results by Class] [Freestyle]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9]
[1999 Coverage]

Ohiopyle Falls Race
Jeff Snyder takes it all in stride
Ohiopyle came to life with the bustle of a mid-summer's day this weekend for the 2nd Annual Falls Race. Although it looked like high-water might threaten the event with a 4 foot water level the day before the race, the dam was pinched and the race was on.

American Whitewater was back to run the operations with the Ohiopyle-Stewart Fire and Rescue Department. Over 100 volunteers signed up to support the running of the falls this year and everyone met with blue skies and warm temperatures.

Saturday morning kicked off the event and opened the waterfall up for its first day of legal navigation. Boaters donned their Immersion Research bib shirts (whether they were theirs or not), put in the water, flew over the falls, and ran back up to do it again. Everyone seemed intent to get as many runs in as possible on this once-a-year event. Jeff Snyder was said to pass over the falls more than 40 times throughout Saturday.

Ohiopyle Falls Race
Everybody was watching
One highlight off the water was the filming of an IMAX movie project. The film will include footage of boaters daring the Ohiopyle Falls and is scheduled to be shown in the Pittsburgh area before all major IMAX films in the upcoming months.

When Saturday's practice boating was over, the schedule of events changed to partying as a host of gatherings spread out over the laurel highlands and old friends spent the night howling away.

But many eager boaters were right back at it Sunday morning collecting more runs before the 12-noon race time. Spectators continued to watch the daring individuals plummet over the falls, while others cruised through vendor tents. Piranha, Eskimo, Prijon, and Perception were in attendance with boats set up for auction or display.

Ohiopyle Falls Race
Brian Homberg is 2 for 2
When race time finally came, it was Brian Homberg(1:02.12) cutting through the froth and winning first place for the second year in a row and managing to shave more than 10 seconds off his time from last year (1:13.93). It was a good thing Homberg was hustling, because hot on his heels was Louis Geltman, 20 years old and crossing the finish line at 1:03.76. Third place overall went to Steve Kauffman at 1:04.70. The first five finishers all raced in K1-Wildwater long boats or Wavehoppers.

Eric Martin was the first kayak to cross with a time of 1:10.63 and 6th overall.

The fastest woman on the water this weekend was Erica Ruppel with a time of 1:30.43. Ruppel finished 24th overall. Second place went to Terry Peterson(1:33.34) who finished 35th overall. Christie Dobson was the third fastest with a time of 1:35.99.

Ohiopyle Falls Race
Huckin' a wheel
Two hours later it was time for the freestyle event and many racers traded in their long boats for more edgy boats. Each contestant was given two freestyle runs. The first limited to freewheels only and the second for true freestyle.

The brave freestyle boaters entered the tongue to run the falls but caught the eddy on river right just above the falls. Then a quick ferry brought them to recirculating hole 15 feet before the lip of the falls. In here, boaters spun around, surfed from right to left, held their paddle up with one hand and did anything possible to stand out for the judges. One boater even threw his paddle over the falls and braved the drop without a stick to impress.

The Ohiopyle 2000 Freestyle Event Results put Clay Wright in first with an overall score of 115.4. Second place was Sam Drevo at 104.8 and third was Garth Boyd at 101.0.

When the day was done everyone walked home satisfied, if only for a time. "It was a good clean splashing time," said Floyd Turbo at the days end.

Part of American Whitewater's aim is to achieve permanent legal access to the Ohiopyle Falls. Two years have passed with over two thousand safe passages over the falls and there have been no serious injuries.

The local rafting community, many who work as summer staff in Ohiopyle, felt the registration fee of $60 ($20 deposit) was too high and were not pleased. Several protested the event by not participating. But hopefully American Whitewater will be able to achieve its mission of increased river access and all parties will be able to enjoy the splendor of the Lower Yough and the Ohiopyle Falls.