By Mark Haas
IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – This is not your everyday raft ride down the river.
“I mean usually you are going down the river with your friends, maybe drinking an adult beverage,” said Eva Lambert, a local raft guide and a member of Team Colorado. “But now you have to be a little more serious, because this is all about speed.”
What she is talking about is the competitive sport of whitewater raft racing.
“It is exhilarating, fun and fast,” said Jennifer Hodgkiss, another member of Team Colorado. “And it is a team sport, so that is important too.”
Team Colorado is the two-time defending national champions and the six women who are all raft guides are preparing for the World Championships in Japan in October. This week they took CBS4’s Mark Haas for a ride on the Clear Creek near Idaho Springs.
“It is weird having six guides in a boat, all trying to guide,” joked Kelli Gunderson. “It is a fun experiment, really.”
“I like how it is 100 percent a team sport and you cannot do it by yourself,” says Anna Schroeder. “Even if you are the strongest rower, you have five other people that you need to work with.”
The sport of raft racing is made up of four different events, starting with a sprint race against the clock.
“It is about 2-3 minutes, as fast as you can go and it’s based on a time trial,” explained Tana Deklevar.
The boats are then seeded for head-to-head races, in a single elimination bracket. The third event is a slalom race similar to a kayak slalom race with upriver and downriver gates.
“Fourth and last is down river, about 10 miles long, all the boats at once, whoever makes it down the quickest,” explains Anna Schroeder.
“That is essentially a 45-minute sprint,” said Tana Deklevar. It takes a lot of endurance for that one.”
There are points for each of the different events, and at the end an overall champion is crowned. Team Colorado likes their chances in Japan.
“We have a really good balance of personalities,” said Avery Potter. “Some strong and fiery and others are more calm and that keep things functioning. All really strong rafters and amazing people.”
“I am expecting to bring home some medals,” added Deklevar.
For more information on the team, visit raftracecolorado.com.