Monday, April 4, 2011

Kent Ford comes to Yorkville!

Kent Ford.
We just completed a three-day whitewater Instructor Development Workshop (IDW) with Kent Ford, one of the most respected instructor trainers in the country, who has competed and won titles in international whitewater slalom racing, coached the US Olympic kayak team, published books and produced videos about paddling technique and instruction, and continues to coach paddlers at every level.

Despite all his credentials, experiences and accolades, Kent is a remarkably laid-back, open-minded guy. (Once again, we're struck by the fact that most of the rock stars of the paddling world don't let their prominence go to their heads.)

The course was hosted by Geneva Kayak Center and taught at the new Yorkville whitewater park, where Geneva just opened its new paddle shop and instructional center. Kent, no stranger to whitewater teaching venues, was highly impressed by both the shop and the park. "It's pretty darn amazing," he told us. "It's the most teaching-friendly of the whitewater parks I've been to, but there's still plenty for a real strong intermediate or advanced paddler. It's like five miles of class two river features jammed into 200 yards of city park."

We had visited the park earlier with our kids, who did find plenty to do with their considerable whitewater skills.

This IDW was our opportunity to get some formal training on how to teach whitewater paddling, as well as some top-notch instruction and critique of our own skills.

We're still processing the experience, but some things are already clear to us:
  • Coming from our sea kayak background, some aspects of whitewater technique are familiar and comfortable while others are foreign and awkward. Both the similarities and differences are valuable, and build our paddling skills.
  • As we develop as coaches and paddlers, we realize that being knowledgeable and capable in various types of boats is essential to becoming graceful and skilled in any type of boat. Certainly, the coaches who impress us most with their technique tend to paddle more than one craft.
  • Geneva Kayak Center is poised to transform paddling in the Chicago area by being located at this great venue and offering all sorts of training opportunities in canoe, whitewater kayak and sea kayak for students and instructors. They brought Kent Ford to Yorkville! We're grateful for the opportunities they've provided and look forward to the ones to come.

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