By AUSTIN SMITH
Wednesday will mark the culmination of a month-long battle for points and respect as the Montana Whitewater Championships is hosted at Brennan’s Wave in Missoula’s Caras Park.
Strongwater, Missoula’s premiere ‘surf’ shop, has been involved with two previous U.S. Freestyle Kayak Association events at Brennan’s Wave. Last year Missoula was a mid-tour pit stop, and the year before a qualifier for the U.S.
Wednesday’s competition is the first time the points tour has made Montana its final stop.
This will also be the third year of Association competition to feature sanctioned judging. A crucial step on the road to including freestyle kayak competition as an Olympic sport, Missoula’s surf community is delighted to be pushing their passion towards an international stage.
Missoula’s business sector has also rallied around the event. Notable community sponsors include Strongwater, First Interstate Bank, Community Medical Center, and Zoo Town Surfers.
The top five competitors will be honored Thursday afternoon, competing within eight brackets for prizes ranging from $1,000 to ‘$25+gear’ bundles. Brackets accommodate men and women of all ages and experience, and feature some notable events such as OC1 (stubby freestyle canoes) and C1 (knee kayaking). Strongwater representatives estimate approximately 50-75 entrants for the championship.
Be sure to visit Make it Missoula after the Montana Whitewater Championship’s conclusion Thursday afternoon for contest winners and promoter commentary.
Austin Smith is a 21-year resident of the Missoula area, and an ardent fisherman, hunter, and snowboarder. When not working on the University of Montana campus, taking classes in the Journalism program, or contributing to the social media efforts of several local organizations, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his Akita and his family.