Living in the Moment with Kayaker Alec Voorhees

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14-year-old whitewater kayaker Alec Voorhees has been living in the moment this summer, knocking off a series of  firsts including a first descent of Spirit Falls and a 1st place finish at Nationals.

This summer has been one to remember with amazing events in Idaho, great flows, and a personal first descent.

Not being sure if I would be in town for the North Fork Championships, I got to the event early and managed to snag a spot in the Expert Division due to cancellations. Looking back, I will never miss this event. James Byrd and Regan Lawson did an amazing job organizing this event that brought some of the best paddlers in the world and some of the best whitewater in the world together. The North Fork Championships will be held annually in the second week of June which will always guarantee a juicy flow and sick whitewater.

The event kicked off with the Expert Division, which consisted of 52 paddlers in an all out massive sprint down the Lower 3 miles of the North Fork of the Payette River. Paddlers launched 1 minute apart with the best 5 times moving on to race in the Elite Division the following day. I finished with a time of 16:39 paddling the Jackson Kayaks Zen 75, which placed me tied for 15th with Ian McClaren, fellow JK team member Micah Kneidl (also in the Zen 75), and event organizer James Byrd. The top 5 paddlers that advanced on were Ben Luck, Darren Albright, fellow JK team member Zach Fraysier (also in the Zen 75), Fergus Coffey, and Wilz Martin.

The Elite Division followed the next day with paddlers launching off a Red Bull ramp into a giant slalom course down the notorious rapids known as Jacobs Ladder and Golf Course on the North Fork of the Payette. The racer turning in the fastest time was crowned the King of the North Fork and the top two would be guaranteed a spot in the 2012 Whitewater Grand Prix in Chile. Congrats to my friend and Idaho paddler Ryan Casey for taking the top spot, followed by fellow NRS team member Tyler Bradt, Mikkel St. Jean-Duncan, Wilz Martin (advancing from the Expert Division), and Geoff Calhoun.

In the following weeks came a few personal firsts for me. I traveled to Hood River, Oregon with James Byrd and Regan Lawson to run the Little White Salmon at a flow of 3 ft. in my Jackson Villain S. This was a personal first descent. We ran the Little White three times, and on the 2nd and 3rd times I ran Spirit Falls (thanks Regan for hiking in and taking photos and video). This run is an absolutely beautiful Pacific Northwest classic with incredible turquoise water and constant Class IV and V whitewater with numerous tight technical drops. We also traveled over to Cannon Beach, Oregon to do a little ocean surfing in my Rock Star L. It was not a great time of year for big wave, but was still a lot of fun and we got some great photos. I got home at 2 a.m. and left that morning at 9 a.m. to go to Kelly’s Whitewater Park for the 2012 USA Freestyle Kayaking Nationals.

We arrived at Kelly’s Whitewater Park in Cascade, Idaho on the 4th of July (Wednesday) with the competition taking place on Saturday and Sunday. The flow was 2,000 cfs, and the top feature consisted of a hole with a nice green shoulder. After several practice sessions, we enjoyed the fireworks on Cascade Lake. As the week went, on everyone was dialing in the feature with massive loops, Space Godzillas, McNastys, PanAms, and anything else you can imagine. On the day of the competition, the water went down to 800 cfs due to a generator issue at the dam. However, within approx an hour, the water was back up and the competition was under way. My youngest brother Connor, who is 8 yrs old, competed for his first time in the Cadet class. My younger brother Hayden Voorhees, 12 yrs old, also competed with me in the Junior Men’s Division, making it to the finals. I was stoked to be in 1st going into the finals, hoping that I would continue with my rides into Sunday. I was so excited to be the Jr. Men’s National Freestyle Champ at the end of the event. This event location created the highest scoring ride with Stephen Wright’s 1830 point ride, showing that Kelly’s Whitewater Park is a world class venue.

Big shout-outs to TEAM NRS: Stephen Wright (1st Pro Men’s), Devon Barker (3rd Pro Women’s, Erin Clancey 4th Pro Women’s, Alec Voorhees 1st Jr. Men’s and Hayden Voorhees 5th Jr. Men’s. Also huge props to Devon Barker for organizing an incredible event and to Mark and Kristina Pickard for their amazing support for kayaking in Idaho. Here are the final results.

Cadet Finals (Mid Feat)
Ride 1 Ride 2 Ride 3 Final Score
1 Kenny Kellogg 80 265 190 265
2 Jeffery Steehler 170 90 190 190
3 Dally Kellogg 95 25 90 95
4 Kady Kellogg 25 0 15 15
5 Thomas Gebhards 20 20 20 20

Open Men’s Finals
Ride 1 Ride 2 Ride 3 Final Score
1 Troy Wilson 260 230 270 270
2 Daniel Dixon 200 190 250 250
3 Kem Pinpimai 220 150 220 220
4 Titus Cornforth 0 10 0 10

Jr. Women’s Finals ( Top Feature)
Ride 1 RIDE 2 Ride 3 Final Score
1 Lauren Burress 20 0 300 300
2 Sage Donnelly 90 0 10 90
3 Anna Schehrer 10 60 20 60
4 Brooke Terkovich 10 20 35 35

Jr. Men’s Finals ( Top Feature)
Ride 1 RIDE 2 Ride 3 Final Score
1 Alec Voorhees 280 540 520 540
2 Tanner Griffith 120 260 360 360
3 Evan Schehrer 340 50 80 340
4 Grady Kellogg 310 0 50 310
4 Hayden Voorhees 0 135 110 135

Pro Women Finals
Ride 1 RIDE 2 Ride 3 Final Score
1 Emily Jackson 0 630 450 630
2 Ruth Ebens 500 280 0 500
3 Devon Barker-Hicks 120 10 350 350
4 Erin Clancy 260 140 65 260
5 Haley Mills 20 190 145 190

Pro Men’s Finals
Ride 1 RIDE 2 Ride 3 Final Score
1 Stephen Wright 1830 720 1330 1830
2 Jason Craig 1570 1630 220 1630
3 Eric Jackson 1050 1480 300 1480
4 Nick Troutman 1460 1035 685 1460
5 Clay Wright 870 1070 620 1070

Thanks to all of my sponsors, Jackson Kayak, NRS, WRSI, & Asana for your continued support. Looking forward to 2012 World Cup!

See you on the water,

Alec Voorhees