This morning while the steam from my coffee was filling my nostrils, bidding me to wake up, I began thinking about this weekends Hometown Throwdown. Normally, I would just post the results, throw up a few pictures, and be done. This morning, however, I’d like to take a little bit of time and talk about how important World Kayak, the sponsors, and Hometown Throwdowns specifically are very important to a sport we all love so much. The idea of promoting your kayaking community doesn’t sound so hard until you actually try to bring together a group of people, who by nature are very flaky. The people at worldkayak.com and the sponsors have made this a bit easier by giving away Free Stuff, which everyone loves. So a big round of applause to the sponsors for helping all of the regional ambassadors out. Without your donations and time, my next few statements would not be possible.
Here in Arkansas we’ve been putting on Throwdowns for three years now and every year, you can find a story like the one I’m about to tell. At every event there are a great mix of people. Here in Arkansas we’ve been know to have playboaters, canoeists, C1ers, boogie boarders, and rafters all participate. We’ve done relay races, boatercross, races for the prizes, standard rodeos, jam sessions, and tried all other types of formats to make each Throwdown unique. We always set up a PA system, pump some music, and usually there are a lot of people there videoing and taking pictures; all making the participants feel like pros. And of course some of folks who participate can really throw down. But THIS is what makes Hometown Throwdowns and Worldkayak.com special; getting people involved who may have just begun paddling.
Its here where our story begins. Last year, the hero of all the events hosted was by far Little Lizzy Lafferty. I believe she was 11 or 12 at that time. She didn’t have a roll, but didn’t let that stop her. She jumped in her mom’s purple 2Fun, left the skirt on the bank, and took off. She made the big ferry from the eddy on river left, to the eddy on river right, navigating the 100 yds with ease at a flow of 3600 cfs. At that point, it didn’t matter what loops were thrown, how many cartwheels were wheeled, or how many donkey flips were “donkied”…At that moment, Little Lizzy Lafferty was the star of the show. It was then, that I realized this was bigger than rodeo. The crowd ERUPTED! You could hear cheers up and down the river. “Go Lizzy!” “Alright Girl!” “Keep Paddling!” Now, Little Lizzy Lafferty didn’t win the top prize, she didn’t win the bragging rights of having the highest score, but people don’t remember who did. All they will remember is Lizzy and her awesome ferry from one eddy to another.
This year is no exception. Although Maggie Powell is not new to rivers, having done a lot of rafting, this is one of her first years in a whitewater kayak. Maggie has participated in both Throwdowns this year so far. In the first event, she was nervous and didn’t make it into the hole, but did roll up on every attempt; however, after the Throwdown, she was side surfing in a large hydraulic and looking comfortable, smiling, and having a good time. Maggie is one of those people who always has a smile on her face and during this Throwdown, you could see a lot of improvment, not only in her confidence, but in her abilities as well. If you’re keeping track of scores, keep an eye on Maggie Powell. I have a feeling that by our last event of the season in September, she’ll make the top 5! Way to go Maggie!
Another story of interest at this event is the Mathews family. Father Rodney, and his two sons Grant and Garrett always attend the Hometown events. Garrett even won the Smith sunglasses, which were the big prize at the first event. Grant, the older brother, is one helluva hand paddler. Always in control of his boat and his no handed loops are incredible. There has always been a bit of sibling rivalry between the two brothers and I’ve watched as Garrett is stepping up his game! Throwing down multiple ends and even some loops of his own. The Mathews family were all competing in the first heat of HTTD #2 when Rodney, getting a bit hung up in the hole, was forced to swim. Whatever competition between Grant and Garrett exists, was put on hold as they both peeled out of the eddy to help their father recover and re-enter his boat. All before his turn in line passed him by. THIS is Hometown Throwdown.
I know stories like this exist in other parts of the country, but I thought I’d share some of those that stood out to me. Worldkayak.com and the Hometown Throwdown events are so very important to local kayaking communities. Not only in bringing people together, but in the way that they inspire all of us in some way to share a sport that we love. Thanks World Kayak!
Now onto the pictures and the scores!
Grant Mathews 255 pts. 1st PLACE
Bryan Pinnell 250 pts. 2nd PLACE
Lance Jones 205 pts. 3rd PLACE
Garret Mathews 200 pts. 4th PLACE
Cole Mullican (open boat) 190 pts.
Jerry Hale (boogie board) 180 pts.
Joe Tarver 175 pts.
Rodney Mathews 150 pts.
Lisa Iadarola/Adam Willard (tandem open boat) 150 pts.
Michelle Ashford 150 pts.
Paul Cox 145 pts.
Taylor Muse (boogie board) 145 pts.
Billy Lafferty 135 pts.
David Morring 135 pts.
Maggie Powell 115 pts.
Harlan Hughes 115 pts.
Kristi Cox 110 pts.
Sean Speckles 105 pts.
Cowper Chadbourn 100 pts.
A Big thanks to all of those that took pictures at the event and helped out with ‘judging’ etc…