Friday, February 15, 2008

Howdy Austin Friends - Welcome to the Chattanooga Olympic Zone!

We are kicking of the 2008 Whitewater Canoe/Kayak "Olympic Selection" system in earnest this weekend here in San Marcos, Texas, just about 30 minutes south of Austin. You might be thinking "Kayaking in Texas?" Seriously? The answer is "absolutely."

San Marcos has constructed a family-friendly, whitewater river-side park which will host the first Regional Qualifer for the U.S. Olympic Trials to be held later this spring in Charlotte, North Carolina. Top performers here in San Marcos this weekend qualify to participate at the Olympic Trials where athletes take a critical step towards representing the United States in Beijing in August.

The field of canoe and kayak racers here in San Marcos is a mix of former Olympians, World Medalists, and new competitors as young as 10 years old who are excited about their opportunity to be a part of the Olympic selection process. Racers to watch will be local canoeing and kayaking star, Ben Kvanli, a 1996 Whitewater Olympian hoping to return to the Olympics this summer in the two-man Canoe with partner and Austin native, Mark Poindexter. Ben also heads up the local Red River Racing Team, a group of aspiring young boaters who can definitely hold their own on the rapids at the San Marcos Whitewater Park.

While I will be excited to be on hand in Beijing this summer to call the television broadcast of the whitewater events and see the Olympic medals awarded, that experience will be far more meaningful having been here in San Marcos where it all begins. The Olympic competition is such a connective event that extends far beyond just the Olympians participating in Beijing. It connects back to the competitors who will have participated in at the Olympic Trials in Charlotte which connects directly here to San Marcos.

Which, if you live in the Austin area, is where you come in. Come down to the San Marcos Whitewater Park on Sunday and plug into the Olympics this weekend. The competition is fast, exciting, and dynamic. It's easy to watch and even easier to access. For more spectator information, please check out the race web site:

Finally, if you happen to be a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, you might want to keep reading. Brand new Washington Redskins Head Coach, Jim Zorn, is a pretty impressive whitewater canoe racer himself. How many NFL head coaches participate in such a cool endeavor? My guess is not many. So, if you want to learn more about your adversary's new head coach, check out this posting from today's Washington Post and come on out to San Marcos this weekend check out what Wade Phillips is missing:

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