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#07-192 July 16, 2007

Junior Wildwater World Championship to be held on Saluda River July 16-19

The 2007 Junior Wildwater World Championship, an international canoe and kayak-racing event, is coming to Columbia July 16-19 to be hosted on the Lower Saluda Scenic River.

Ninety athletes from 15 countries are expected to compete in the Junior Wildwater WorldWhitewater kayaking Championship and will run the rapids of the Saluda River from above Riverbanks Zoo down to the Gervais Street Bridge in a series of races that span four days in Columbia. The races continue on July 20-21 in Charlotte, N.C., where events will be held on a newly created course at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

Staff with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is supporting the Columbia Regional Sports Council, local race organizers, and city safety-rescue personnel with race preparations. The DNR-River Conservation staff is coordinating volunteers to serve as safety boaters on the river to assist racers if they get into hazardous situations. DNR-Law Enforcement staff will be on alert during the races to assist with rescue operations as needed.

Races on the Saluda will be held the mornings of Tuesday, July 17 and Wednesday, July 18, starting at 9:30 a.m. and on Thursday, July 19, starting at 9 a.m. The best viewing areas for the public will be at Riverbanks Zoo and the West Columbia River Walk.

The Junior Wildwater World Championship will include 90 athletes, ages 15 to 18, who will compete in one-man kayaks, one-woman kayaks, one-man canoe, and two-man canoes; and they will participate in individual and team performances. Federations that are participating include: Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. 

“We’re excited to have the Saluda River as the site of this international race,” said Bill Marshall, manager of the DNR River Conservation Program. “This event highlights one of the remarkable features of this beautiful river, its rapids and shoal areas that provide great whitewater boating opportunities and outstanding fishing and wildlife watching. This event is one more way to increase awareness and appreciation for our rivers, which we think will lead to better stewardship and protection of our natural resources.”

The lower Saluda River, below Lake Murray Dam, was designated a State Scenic River in 1991 and is classified as a “recreational river” in the Scenic Rivers Program, which recognizes and seeks to protect the ecological, cultural, and recreational resource values of South Carolina rivers.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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