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Fun in the H2O: Solid or liquid, take your pick 

click to enlarge Team "Learning to Fly" flew through the Hoodoo Snowathalon: Team "Learning to Fly" flew through the Hoodoo Snowathalon
  • Team "Learning to Fly" flew through the Hoodoo Snowathalon: Team "Learning to Fly" flew through the Hoodoo Snowathalon
Team "Learning to Fly" flew through the Hoodoo Snowathalon
Given its nickname, the High Desert is not exactly known for its water-based recreational opportunities, but it's one of our little secrets. What's cool about springtime here is that you can usually take your pick between solid or liquid, even in the same weekend. Last Friday, the mercury rose to 63 degrees in town. As I strolled along the River Trail in the warm sunshine, I spotted Jayson Bowerman trolling the river on his standup board, grinning, barefoot and shirtless. I spent the next day in a blizzard at Hoodoo.

SOLID: Hoodoo Snowathalon

Last Saturday, Hoodoo hosted the first annual Snowathalon, an aptly named event that involved snowshoeing 1,500 vertical feet up to the summit of the mountain, descending back again on downhill skis and then completing a 5K cross-country ski. Though it may be debated whether wacky multi-sport events make any sense at all, Hoodoo's Snowathalon makes a lot more sense than the Winter Triathlon held at Bachelor in January, which included running and mountain biking, activities better suited to nice dirt trails rather than mushy snow.

The Snowathalon is the brainchild of Kendall Cook, who cooked up the event as a fundraiser for Oregon Adaptive Sports, a non-profit organization committed to providing safe and affordable recreation experiences for people with disabilities. Cook was involved in the formation of OAS in 1996, which later became a chapter of Disabled Sports USA. In 2003, Hoodoo Ski Area invited OAS to locate their programs at its newly expanded base lodge. Cook, who was inspired by programs in Breckenridge and other ski towns, loves to take disabled skiers down the mountain any chance he gets.

The winners of the Snowathalon were able to complete the three-sport event in less than an hour, in spite of a white-out at the summit and six inches of fresh snow on the cross-country ski course. The biggest challenge, really, was trying to find your gear in the transition areas, but I'm sure the race organizers will have it dialed by next year. I am also sure they will enjoy a bigger turnout when word spreads about the sweet prizes for the top individuals and team-Hoodoo Season passes!

The best part of all was meeting Team "Learning to Fly," who placed second. The team was captained by adaptive skier Geoff Babb, who has been in a wheelchair since his stroke on November 10, 2005. Geoff's teammates were David Zimmerman, his Pilates instructor (and snowshoer), and Ruth Ann Clark, his personal trainer (and skate skier). Geoff clearly is not letting anything stop him from getting out and going for it in a blizzard. "He has enlightened my life and is an inspiration to me," said Clark. "Hardly a day goes by where I don't think about 'What next?' for Geoff for his physical improvement to reach his goals."

After being passed by Geoff in the snowshoe-to-downhill ski transition, I'm sure his determination and teamwork will get him there.

For more information about Oregon Adaptive Sports, visit

LIQUID: Riverhouse Rendezvous Revival

As the Deschutes River runs through Bend there are a number of pretty good drops, but most have dams that divert water or alter the river features. There is a nice Class II-III rapid, though, that runs past the Riverhouse Resort and, for a number of years, whitewater slalom paddlers have gathered there to test their skills and conditioning at an event known as the Riverhouse Rendezvous. The race has not been held in the last few years, but now a group of paddlers is reviving it. On Sunday March 29, 2009, slalom paddlers will once again gather at the Riverhouse Rapid to take on the whitewater.

The Riverhouse Rendezvous will be the second race in the Northwest Cup Slalom series that begins in British Columbia and includes races in Washington and Oregon. It is also a qualifier for the Junior Olympic Whitewater events that will be held in Ontario, Canada July 4-12, 2009. Visit for more information about the series.

The competition will include classes for ICF legal slalom boats, recreational river running boats, Masters (over 40) Juniors (18 and under), Open (all ages), Women, Men, C-1s (one paddler canoe), C-2s (two paddler canoe), OC-1 and OC-2 (open whitewater canoes). The course will be constructed on Friday, March 27th and course designer Bert Hinkley, a former Masters National Champion and US Junior Team Leader, will conduct a slalom clinic on Saturday, March 28th.

Hinkley is looking for volunteers to assist with the event and says, "We hope to see a great turnout from the whitewater paddling community in Bend. Slalom racing is another great way to have fun on the river." To volunteer, or for more information, check with Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe at (541) 317-9407 or


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