Thrill-seek­ing pad­dlers com­pete to tackle rapids at Ocoee River Cham­pi­onships.

FRI­DAY-SUN­DAY

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - FRONT PAGE - BY SU­SAN PIERCE Con­tact Su­san Pierce at spierce@times­freep­ress. com or 423-757-6284.

About 100 com­peti­tors are ex­pected to con­verge on Polk County, Ten­nessee, this week­end to chal­lenge the Ocoee River’s rapids.

The Oco e e River Cham­pi­onships will be­gin Fri­day, Aug. 24, con­tin­u­ing through Sun­day, Aug. 26, based at the Ocoee White­wa­ter Cen­ter, 4400 High­way 64 in Cop­per­hill, Ten­nessee. The ac­tual com­pe­ti­tions will be staged in the Chero­kee Na­tional For­est at lo­ca­tions along the Ocoee River.

Thrill-seek­ing pad­dlers will com­pete in seven di­vi­sions: freestyle, slalom, SUP ( standup pad­dle­board slalom and cross), boater­cross, raft, Ducky Cross and down­river rac­ing (ca­noe or kayak).

In ad­di­tion to watch­ing th­ese con­tests of skill, spec­ta­tors can lis­ten to live mu­sic or browse booths of re­gional ven­dors. All pro­ceeds will ben­e­fit the Ocoee River Basin Foun­da­tion, whose mis­sion is river re­vi­tal­iza­tion, ecosys­tem preser­va­tion and pro­mot­ing t he Ocoee River Basin as a premier out­door recreation desti- na­tion.

There is no charge for spec­ta­tors, but there is a $3 parking fee per day, ac­cord­ing to Terinda Whisenant, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of the Ocoee White­wa­ter Cen­ter. Guests will be di­rected to park at the cen- ter, with spillover parking at Boyd Gap on High­way 40. Shut­tles will run from the parking ar­eas.

Whisenant s ays as many as 1,000 spec­ta­tors are pro­jected to at­tend this week­end. Venue ameni­ties in­clude re­stroom fa­cil­i­ties, pavil­ions, shaded ar­eas, gift shops, parking, level side­walks and easy ac­cess to moun­tain bik­ing trails.

KNOW BE­FORE YOU GO

› Dogs must be on a leash with some­one present at all times. › No al­co­holic bev­er­ages al­lowed. › No glass bot­tles or con­tain­ers al­lowed. › Cool­ers are al­lowed. › Food ven­dors will be on-site. › Wa­ter avail­able with a do­na­tion to the Ocoee River Basin Foun­da­tion.

COM­PE­TI­TIONS AND LO­CA­TIONS

› Ca­noe slalom: On the Up­per Ocoee from Slam Dunk to the bot­tom

bridge of the course. › Freestyle: Cal­la­han’s Ledge. › Down­river Spring

Race: Up­per Ocoee from t he top bridge of t he Olympic Cen­ter to bot­tom bridge of the Olympic course.

› Boater­cross: Heated races through the Olympic sec­tion of Up­per Ocoee with four to 10 rac­ers at one time.

› S UP Sl a l om: A timed race in which com­peti­tors nav­i­gate through down­stream ( green) and up­stream (red) gates.

› SUP Cross: Com­peti­tors start in mass from the top of the Olympic Cen­ter bridge to bot­tom of Slam Dunk.

› Raft Slalom: From be­low Smiley’s on the Olympic course to the bot­tom bridge.

› Ducky Cross: A race from Slam Dunk to the bot­tom bridge of Olympic sec­tion.

PHOTO CON­TRIB­UTED BY OCOEE RIVER CHAM­PI­ONSHIPS

Stand-up pad­dle­board­ers nav­i­gate the rapids on the Ocoee River.

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