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Pagosans compete at world rafting event

Staff Writer

Pagosa brothers Seth and Jordan Kurt-Mason, with teammates Chris Reeder, Matt Norfleet, John Mark Seelig and Andrew Bishop, placed seventh at the world rafting championships that took place in Rotorua and Kawerau, New Zealand, the week of Nov. 18.

Starting Monday, Nov. 18, the U.S. men’s rafting team, along with 20 other teams from around the globe, began scheduled practices in New Zealand before the competition started on Thursday, Nov. 21.

The first two events, the sprint and head-to-head, were held Nov. 21 and 22, respectively. Both short paddles were held on a challenging stretch of the Kaituna river at Okere falls near Rotorua. The U.S. team took fourth place in the sprint, coming in behind New Zealand, Canada and Japan with a time of 2:19,47 and a score of 69 points out of 100 possible for the fastest time. New Zealand had the fastest sprint time at 2:13,81. The U.S. team was followed closely by Brazil, Great Britain, Russia and Slovenia in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth places, respectively. The sprint portion of the world rafting championships accounts for 10 percent of the overall score that determines the world champion team.

The head-to-head part of the competition took place Friday, Nov. 22. This part of the championship competition involves a one-on-one knockout format where sets of two teams compete to paddle down a section of rapids in a dash to the finish line. The U.S. team scored 138 out of 200 possible points during the head-to-head, ranking fifth, but dropping in overall rank to sixth place, one point behind Japan, with a total combined score of 210 points. The head-to-head score account for 20 percent of the overall ending score.

On Saturday, Nov. 23, teams competed in the slalom event on the Tarawera river at Kawerau, paddling through large rapids working to get through 12 gates set up on the river. After a first run filled with penalties, Brazil had a clean second run and the fastest time of the day at 2:05,13, placing them in first place both in the slalom and overall competition with a total of 545 points. The Brazilian team was awarded 300 points for winning the slalom. The U.S. men’s team completed their second run with a time of 2:43, 52 ranking them 13th in the slalom and 10th overall with a score of 345 points. The slalom score is worth 30 percent of the overall score that determines the world champion raft team.

The long downriver portion of the competition took place Sunday, Nov. 24, on the Rangitaiki river at Murapara. The U.S. team came in seventh in the downriver with a time of 48:10,22 and score of 252, finishing behind Brazil, Japan, New Zealand, Italy, Chile and Slovenia in first through sixth places, scoring 400 points. The downriver portion of the competition is worth 40 percent of the overall points that determine the champion rafting team.

After completing all four events, the U.S. men’s team had a total combined score of 579 points, putting them in seventh place overall. The Brazilian team came in first with a total of 945 points out of 1,000, followed by Japan in second with 827 , New Zealand in third (743), Chile fourth (701) Slovenia in fifth (671) and Russia in sixth (633).

The R6 (six men in the raft) world rafting championships take place every two years. Teams that compete are selected by national rafting federations and the location of the competition changes for every event. The R6 world rafting championships are put on by the International Rafting Federation.

Dana.Hayward@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on December 5, 2013.