Canoe/Kayak

Wildwater is at once one of the most physically demanding of paddlesports, because it requires its participants to be strong over the course of four to five miles of class three to four whitewater, yet it also requires strategic acuity to balance raw power and speed with execution and timing: zen-like cognition mixes with the burning in the furnace.

The success of each race depends on the athlete's ability to parse the waves, holes and rocks of a natural riverbed while red-lining the body's internal motor. Some racers are driven by picturing rival competitors on the course with them neck-and-neck, while many others concentrate on their inner race and block everything out except the boiling, frothy corridor laid out before them.

In the late 1990s wildwater introduced sprint or "rapid racing" formats to help boost spectator interest in the sport and help it be considered for future Olympic Games. The Wildwater division of the International Canoe Federation (ICF) now includes sprints for three of the six races making up the World Cup each year. While inclusion in the Summer Olympics' roster has thus far eluded wildwater, the sport attracts large international participation to its acknowledged European epicenter.

Visit USAWildwater.com -- The official Website of the United States Wildwater Team.