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In the middle of an Idaho meadow lies possibly the biggest loop spot on Earth. The Kelly’s Whitewater Center features several man-made rapids but the top one is the biggest and baddest and is where we are having the US Freestyle National Championships today. While we’ve all been practicing Mcnasty’s Helix’s pan-ams and Phonics’s the very best part of Kelly’s is dropping the bow, reaching for the stars, and throwing the biggest loop of your life.

The hole as a big frothy Rock Island / Upper Railroad sort of thing with steep surfers right green wave shoulder you can throw wave tricks but only if you are careful. An occasional bubble tosses the unsuspecting off the back even when front-surfing, so many competitors are choosing rides that use the wave to get to the top of the foam pile so they can accelerate down the foam and up the green where it’s hard to get a bounce but at least you won’t flush. The only drawback to this strategy is sometimes you get a bit of a beat-down before you can establish control again and carve back to the wave. This makes for entertaining rides for spectators and competitors alike! Yet the only think that gets the crowd going more than a beat down is when they drop the bow into the green, tap the cemented in boulders that created this man-made feature, and launch the boat into the stratosphere. Loops are powerful here and always mean a blast of water to the face of the rider before the launch begins. Space Godzillas, or a slightly corked loop, are powerful too and sometimes get botched because the rider goes so high they miss the water on their landing stroke and crash into the foam still on edge. The higher scoring moves are all available but I know many of us want to launch those loops in our ride just for the fun of it and to hear the roar of the crowd. Sure there’s 3000$ on the line for first place but hitting those heights in front of a crowd is worth something all in itself.
The morning is here, the crowd is gathered filling the bleachers and the parking lot, and the competitors are all hiding out from the brutal heat of the sun while rehearsing their rides and chatting about other rivers in other places to pass the time. Our launch time approaches….