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The River Made Wild

Outside magazine, January 1996

The River Made Wild
By Todd Balf and Paul Kvinta (with Brooke DeNisco, Martin Forstenzer, and Eileen Hansen)

A year ago, kayaker Scott Shipley was none too impressed when he surveyed the then-under-construction Olympic whitewater course on Tennessee's Ocoee River. "The guys in Europe asked me about it, and I told them not to expect much," he remembers. But at the course's official unveiling, a season-ending World Cup meet last October, Shipley was shocked to see a radical transformation. "The water was huge," he says. "I was like, Oh my God, how did they do this?" Among other things, construction crews used 100 million pounds of rock and 8,500 cubic yards of concrete to narrow the channel from 200 to 70 feet and rev up the Ocoee's rips. Shipley established himself as an Olympic favorite in the solo slalom event by recording two of his best runs of the year, winning both the contest and the overall season title. Meanwhile, Britain's Lynn Simpson continued her stranglehold on the women's solo circuit, winning on the Ocoee to take her second-straight World Cup crown.

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