As the warm weather draws nearer and you begin to make your paddling plans for the upcoming season you may want to consider a few events that’ll be happening up in Canada this year. Excitement is already building over the first inaugural Whitewater Grand Prix taking place on some of Quebec’s most renowned rivers early this May. But, as there is seemingly no limit to the amount of big water in Canada there is another event that you can’t afford to overlook this summer. The first annual “Edge King Throwdown” will be taking place this summer on the Slave River in conjunction with their 4th annual Slave River Paddlefest.
I had the opportunity to attend the festivities last year and I’m hard pressed to think of a more enjoyable, grass-roots event. The events this year will run from the 26th of July Through the 1st of August, kicking things off with the newest event, the “Edge King Throwdown” Big Air Competition, on the 26th and 27th. In years past the majority of the freestyle events have taken place on smaller features but as the popularity of Paddlefest has grown Fort Smith is ready to host some big water freestyle for which the Slave is most highly regarded. While this is a new direction for the Fort Smith Paddle Club, offering up a large cash prize of $1000 (to be split among the top 3 competitors), the event promises to offer a fun, easy going atmosphere. John Blyth of Fort Smith, who’s really pushed for the event this year, says “it’ll be an event by boaters, for boaters”.
The feature won’t be decided on until a day or two before the event, so that only the most prime playspot will be used dependent on flows. The snowpack is already looking solid this year as if it really makes a difference. For those who are unfamiliar with the Slave its volume is similar to that of the Missouri River, but with some rather large whitewater. Last year was actually one of the lowest water years in living memory in which it flowed a mere 90,000 cfs during our time there. Needless to say there is never a shortage of water, or big water fun for that matter. If you’re looking to make a new playboating mecca this year, or are already familiar with the Slave this is the summer to make your way north. Aside from the excellent events there’s another reason to go celebrate on the Slave. As of October, potential hydro development plans were withdrawn from the Slave River, thanks in large to the Smith’s Landing First Nations tribe. Apparently even a hydro-development firm realizes the true value of this incredible river. >