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Kayakers take on Jacob's Ladder in NFC IX the return of the North Fork Championship

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jun 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-20 20:32:58-04

BANKS, Idaho — The top 30 men and 5 women competed on the most challenging rapids on the Payette River as the North Fork Championship returns after being canceled a year ago because of the pandemic.

At this time we do not know the results of the race, but if this event peaks your interest the entire race will be live streamed on the Hammer Factor and it went online at 5:30 p.m.

During the event, people lined the banks of the North Fork of the Payette River to see the best kayakers around take on this challenging rapid.

“It's epic whitewater, continuous and awesome," said David Slick who came to the festival from Canada. "It is just one of the best places to be this time of year."

This year the North Fork ran at 1650 CFS, normally the river has more water but because of the lower water level race organizers put the gates in challenging positions.

"Running Jacob's Ladder this is the most challenging rapid on all of the North Fork of the Payette but the gates make it so much more challenging," said Todd Wells of Dagger Kayaks. "It's probably the hardest race course in North America."

The Voorhees family has taken over organization control of this extreme kayaking race and both Alec and Hayden raced in the event.

We had to leave before returning champion Dane Jackson raced to make the deadline, but after the first heat of women, Sage Donnelly had the fastest run.

"It has been phenomenal to watch the progression of female athletes in whitewater kayaking," said Wells. "There were more female competitors than ever before, 29 raced in the qualifying event and now there are five female athletes competing in the Jacob's Ladder race."

The North Fork Championship celebrates equality as both the king and queen of the race earn $5,000, women paddlers were showcased at the NFC Film Festival, and in this sport, it all seems to happen organically.

“It's so awesome the ladies are out there absolutely crushing the lines showing everybody what is up," said Silk. "I think that is incredibly cool."

Most of the European paddlers were not able to make it this year because of the pandemic, hopefully, that means they tune into the live stream because five dollars from every purchase stays here locally and goes to Idaho Rivers United.

Tomorrow we will have more on this local organization that looks after the well-being of Idaho Rivers and showcase the South Fork of the Salmon River, it didn't make it on America's most endangered rivers list this year but it was on there the prior three years because of a proposed mine at the headwaters.