THE 2017 NFC VI JACOB'S LADDER GIANT SLALOM VIDEO RECAP

 

NFC VI Jacob's Ladder Giant Slalom Short Video Recap from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.

 

 

 

CROWNING A KING: NFC VI JACOB'S LADDER GIANT SLALOM

 

The sun came out early for the NFC 2017.

 

After a few days of overcast skies, racing Jake's at the record breaking flow of 3900 CFS felt a bit more manageable in the bright blue of early morning after breakfast burritos at the Dirty Shame.

 

The Jacob's Ladder Race is the premier event of the NFC weekend, highlighting the hardest rapid on the North Fork of the Payette. The top 10 athletes from last year received automatic bids;  those 10 then voted in 10 more athletes, who through an application process, attempted to convince the panel that they deserved a shot at racing Jakes. The top 10 finalists from the Kokatat Expert Division Qualifier also earned the right to race, rounding out a highly competitive field.

 

The crowds lined the banks of the river alongside Jakes in anticipation. Wireless headsets from Kaleidisco were passed out for viewers to listen in on the announcer's commentary and music from DJ Revolve.

 

The athletes arrived by bus to begin their practice laps on a rapid that by anybody’s standards was big simply to run, yet alone race.

 

 

“That is a massive rapid,” confirmed crowd favorite Tyler Bradt, who has been running the North Fork since he was in middle school.

 

With the highest flows the race had ever seen, the mood among athletes was serious and focused.

 

 

The first major feature of the rapid, Rodeo Hole, provided the initial challenge for competitors. Many ended up shoved far left or right, risking missing the first gate. Below lay Rock Drop, the steepest single drop on the river, which leads directly into what at these flows, is a viscous unpredictable feature called Taffy Puller.

 

“All of the features are just pushing into one another at these flows,” said podium finisher Kyle “King Hesh” Hull after taking a practice lap.

 

 

The crowd swelled to well over 500 as the first racer hit the water. Each competitor had two runs through Jakes, with the top time counting.  Racers started by sliding down the Red Bull Ramp and into a sheet of fast moving water directly above the rapid.

 

As spectators watched the best whitewater kayakers in the world battle to stay on line, one could clearly see the raw power of the North Fork at these flows. Several of the athletes didn’t even make it to the bottom of the course, being pushed into the side of the river where they chose to simply exit the rapid versus continuing downstream into the chaos of white.

 

 

The course highlighted the athleticism of kayaking's best, and most athlete's second laps showed smoother, faster, and more confident lines. The paddlers had begun to settle into the rhythm of the river.

 

Athlete after athlete passed through, and then we were done. No swims, very little carnage; a testament to the quality of kayaker assembled.

 

 

In front of a lively crowd in Crouch, Idaho, results were announced. Ryan Bailey, event host and MC began reading out the winners. Jah Banana stood anxiously to the side. All eyes were trained on the stage.

 

The single fastest time would take the title.

 

Pangal Andrade Astorga from Chile…. Third place. No huge surprise, perhaps, as the Astorga's hail from the Maipo River, Chile’s equivalent to the North Fork.

 

Second place……. Upcoming, head turning, Evan Moore from the glorious granite state of California, lap after lap on high water Cataracts of the Kern paying off..

 

And when it came to first, well….. the crowd already knew. Those were there at Jakes saw it play out first-hand. They saw who was clearly the fastest.

 

The first ever NFC repeat champion… Mr. Dane Jackson taking home the crown for 2017.

 

 

 

This year, for the first time ever, there was the Toyota Dash for Cash, a $5000 total  purse to be awarded to the top three athletes with the fastest combined times, rewarding consistent lines.

Gerd Serrasolses was third, Evan Moore Second, and once again, the NFC VI overall champion, the man in pink, Dane Jackson.

TOP TEN FINISHERS

1st: Dane Jackson 1:07:58

2nd: Evan Moore 1:09:60

3rd: Pangal Andrade 1:10:98

4th: Kyle Hull 1:10:99

5th: Gerd Serrasolses 1:11:29

6th Evan Garcia 1:11.77

7th Alec Voorhees 1:12:40

8th Nick Troutman 1:13:12

9th Isaac Levinson 1:13:21

10th Aniol Serrasolses 1:13:50

 

For full results check here: 

 

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North Fork Terminology – An Insiders Guide

 

When the pullouts along highway 55 fill with license plates from states near and far, it's a clear sign that the North Fork Championship is underway.

As boaters and spectators assemble to watch the carnage, the chaos and the glory, it becomes easy to pick out the locals. Here on the Payette Rivers, they speak their own language, a river slang unique to the “Greater Banks Area.”

We broke down a few key terms so you can make the most of the scene, enjoy the NFC, and sound like a local.

 

“50-mile an hour scout” Even though the NF Payette is all roadside, locals rarely scout, except for the drive by on highway 55. “Its all good,” says Ryan Bailey. “That's about how fast the rapids come at you anyway.”

 

T to B” Short for “Top to Bottom,” or when you run all 15 miles of the class five section of the North Fork Payette.

 

“Lower 5” A five mile stretch from Houndstooth Rapid to the town of Banks. Includes Houndstooth, Otterslide, Juicer, and Crunch.

Hounds Tooth Rapid.

“The Warm-Up” A section in the lower five that most use as their foray into the North Fork.

 

“The Slide” The stretch of pavement that parallels Otterslide Rapid. This is where most of the Cascade Rafting Staff live for the summer. You are also likely to find most of the NFC athletes here at some point or another this weekend. It is also an alternate put-in for the Lower Three.

 

“Upper Five” A five-mile stretch of increased difficulty. Rapids include Steepness, Nutcracker, Disneyland, and S-turn.

 

“Vasectomy” When you run everything but Nutcracker Rapid, also known as “Ze Nut.”

Hayden Voorhees on Nutcracker

“Middle Five/Swinging Bridge” Includes some of the North Fork’s crux rapids, like Bouncer Down The Middle, Chaos, Pectoralis Major and Minor, Jacob’s Ladder, Golf Course, Jaws 1, 2, and 3, and Screamin’ Left.

Jacob's Ladder

“Jacob’s Ladder” AKA Jake’s: This is arguably one of the most difficult rapids in the lower 48. This rapid has been home to the Giant Slalom race of the NFC for the last six years. As in.. “ Have you run Jake’s?”

Rodeo Hole: The first main feature of Jacob’s Ladder. Watch for competitors to get spun out or smashed into the right bank here.

Kalob Grady getting air out of Rodeo Hole.

Rock Drop: This feature is responsible for serving legit mystery moves at higher flows. Athletes may get surfed here.

Gerd Serrasoles at high water Rock Drop

Taffy Puller: Located on river right. Paddlers may completely sub-out underwater here.

Ocean Wave: A large, clean (for the North Fork) wave at these flows.

Witches Tit: Can be an amazing boof, or a nasty peton rock. It is currently lurking underwater, waiting to surprise someone.

Golf Course: Named Golf Course in reference to the “18” holes in it. There is one massive hole right by the finish line, so if athletes are tired or feeling winded, they may struggle.

 

“Right Banked/Left Banked” When one of the features on the Payette typewriters you hard into either the river left or river right wall. (See Dave Fusilli’s hand for reference. More than a few racers have had their dreams of being king ended here.)

 

“Teleport” When you drop into a feature, disappear, and then re-surface somewhere completely different.”

 

“Pounder” Banks terminology for the more colloquially popular “Beater,” or when one messes up a move on or off water.

 

“Splashy” General North Fork terminology for the Payette’s big water feel. As in: “She’s splashy right now.”

 

“Ryan Casey” Local hero, the first ever King of the North Fork, all around bad-ass paddler, and possibly the tallest man out on the river.

“Banks Mag” A literary masterpiece produced by Ryan Bailey here in Banks. Be sure to grab a copy!

“Salt Flats” Local term for the Banks Café Parking lot. Be careful, once you eddy out here, you may end up in the “Vortex” and find it hard to leave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fear and Loathing at the NFC Boater X 2017

NFC VI North Face Boater X from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.

 

The Boater X Event is the kayak race that everyone feels they might be able to win. It is the race that makes the most sense and is perhaps the easiest to understand: A section of river is established as the race course (in this case, S-Turn Rapid on the Upper Five of the North Fork Payette), all kayakers start at the same time, and the fastest to get to the bottom and touch a "gate" wins.

 

Big water. Multiple kayakers trying to pass each other in a class V rapid. People understand this because in the end, the most savage paddler wins.

 

 

In this case, the most consistently savage was Dane Jackson. Jackson won every single heat he was in throughout the day, and took home the title in this event last year.

 

 

Rain drops fell on a healthy, and lively crowd lining the banks of the North Fork Payette. Well hydrated on a keg of Humm Kombucha, the spectators were undeterred by the refreshing Idaho rain. The rain seemed to only fuel more energy into athletes and spectators alike, whom, like diesel on fire, seemed to be spurred on by the precipitation as only river people can be.

 

There is little that demonstrates the rhythm of a river better than the NFC Boater X. Competitors come down the course  compromised of a series of huge breaking waves, causing the crowd to strain for visuals as they disappeared and reappeared at the crest of each wave. Green, red. Blue and yellow. Each flash of color a boat cresting and disappearing again. Boom, boom.

 

 

The first round cut to the top two racers who moved on until a winner was established. The final heat consisted of Alec Voorhees, Pedro Astorga, Matias Lopez, Dane Jackson, and Joe Morley.

 

 

The last round was the most competitive, the racers as close as any heat of the entire day.

The final savage six battled it out, fighting for the finish, Dane Jackson once again taking the win.

NFC North Fork Boater X Results

  1. Dane Jackson
  2. Joe Morley
  3. Pedro Astorga
  4. Matias Lopez
  5. Carl Whitehead
  6. Alec Voorhees

 

 

 

 

 

The Boater X leaves one main question up in the air: Three-peat for Dane Jackson?

 

More soon from the NFC Media Team

 

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2017 NRS WHITE WATER AWARDS PHOTO RECAP

 

Held at the Egyptian Theatre in Boise, the 2017 NRS White Water Awards was a ruckus celebration of all things whitewater.

Prizes were awarded for River Steward of the Year, Short Film of the Year, Photographer of the Year, Line of the Year, (Male/Female), Expedition of the Year, Beater of the Year, The Honey Badger Award and Rider of the Year (Male Female), among others.

 

New films were showcased, including a piece from Substantial Media House highlighting some of the West Coast's best and biggest drops, and a special edit from Banks Mag of  intimidatingly high water runs North Fork Payette.

The winner of the River Steward of the Year, The Balkan River Tour, accepted their award in abstenia, showing their new film "Undamaged," a powerful piece advocating for free-flowing rivers in the Balkans.

A raffle followed, with prizes such as a Yeti Cooler, an NRS lifejacket and drybag, and a Pyranha 9R.

The highlight of the evening was the unveiling of the Top Ten Wild Card Qualifiers of the Kokatat Down River Race. Find the full results here: 

Congratulations to all the winners of the evening's awards, and a massive thanks to NRS and the Egyptian Theatre for their continued support.

 

James McLeod as François Payette

Paddlers and river lovers of all ages came out for the White Water Awards.

Erik Parker accepting his award for Photographer of the Year for his third consecutive year.

MC extraordinaire Ryan Bailey.

Spaniard Aniol Serrasolses with the Rider of the Year trophy. "My brother and I came from nothing," he said. "You can do anything, be anything, just do what you love."

The Top Ten Wild Card Qualifiers receive their bibs.

Congratulations to Dove for her new, shiny 9R. Thanks Pyranha!

Nouria Newman took home the win in every female category, including Rider of the Year.

THE 2017 WHITEWATER AWARD WINNERS

RIDER OF THE YEAR:

Male: Aniol Serrasolses

Female: Nouria Newman

LINE OF THE YEAR: 

Male: Gerd Serrasolses

Female: Nouria Newman

SHORT FILM OF THE YEAR: 

Substantial Media House

LONG FILM OF THE YEAR: 

Chasing Niagra

BEATER OF THE YEAR: 

Galen Volckhausen

PHOTOGRAPHER: 

Erik Parker

EXPEDITION OF THE YEAR: 

Into Twin Galaxies, Erik Boomer, Ben Stookesberry, Sarah Macnair-Landry

HONEY BADGER AWARD:

Erik Boomer

DOWN RIVER FREESTYLE: 

Male: Galen Volckhausen

Female: Nouria Newman

BEST TRICK

Male: Benny Marr

Female: Nouria Newman

BEST GO PRO LINE OF THE YEAR

Gerd Serrasolses

RIVER STEWARD OF THE YEAR

The Balkan Rivers Tour

 

 

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JACOBS LADDER COURSE PREVIEW WITH ALEC VOORHEES

Only one more day to suss out lines before Saturday's race. Check out a quick course preview with North Fork Local Alec Voorhees.

Jakes Preview from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.

2017 Kokatat Expert Division Down River Qualifier Recap from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.

KOKATAT EXPERT DIVISON DOWN RIVER RACE

The 2017 NFC VI started off with the Expert Division, a high-water time trial highlighting the very best of the whitewater community. 83 racers competed on a section of the North Fork called the “Lower 3,” featuring the major rapids “Juicer” and “Crunch.”

 

 

The top 10 finishers from the Time Trials receive automatic bids into the Elite Division held Saturday, June 17 on Jacob’s Ladder.

 

 

With flows ranging today between 3800 and 4000 cfs, the river was high and powerful, leaving many athletes to question if they would actually want to compete on Jacobs Ladder if given the opportunity.

 

 

Additionally, the top 35 racers will move onto compete in the North Face Boater X, which will take place at 3:00 p.m. on Friday June 16th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See full schedule of events HERE:

TOP TEN WILD CARD FINISHERS: 

10. Brad McMillan 6:00:19

9: Matias Meneses 6:00:02

8: Tyler Bradt 5:59:99

7: Ryan Casey 5:59:96

6: Carson Lindsay 5:59:85

5: Johnny Chase 5:59:30

4: Pedro Astorga 5:55:24

3: Geoff Calhoun 5:55:19

2: Hayden Voorhees 5:55:07

1: Gerd Serrasolses 5:47:60

See Full Time Trial Results HERE: 

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"The ConTENders?"

For those not pre-selected to race Jacob’s Ladder on Saturday, Thursday is the day.

The opening race of the 2017 North Fork Championship down the Lower Three selects the competitors who will have the chance to race alongside their brethren on Saturday.

Higher levels meant a smaller field, leaving athletes wondering who will make the top 10 spots.

Here are our picks for a few solid bets:

Hailing from New Zealand, Carl Whitehead is a former slalom paddler known in the southern hemisphere for being strong and fast. Despite not being super familiar with the lines on the lower three, Carl won the 2017 NZ Extreme Whitewater Association Extreme Race Series, making him one to watch.

 

A former North Fork Champion, Gerd Serrasolses had to rejoin the masses to earn a spot to have a second chance at being crowned King. Gerd wasn’t feeling too confident today, saying he thought brother Aniol was faster.

 

Nouria Newman has been the only female on the Jake’s course for the past two years running. Will she be able to place amongst the men to take one of the top ten fastest spots? Most think yes.

 

South Easterner Bennett Smith is a strong freestyle paddler, but can he hang with the big boys? Clean teeth, clean lines?

 

 

Pedro and Pangal Astorga- cousins from Chile well-known for their aggressive paddling style. Pedro has an injured shoulder at the moment, and Pangal has said that he finds Jake’s intimidating. Even if comes through in the top 10, will he choose to race?

 

Antonio Reinoso and Matias Meneses, recent graduates of WCA and representing Mexico and Ecuador respectfully, have been turning heads on the international racing community and are expected to do well in the qualifier for the Elite Division. Earlier this year Matias took 1st place at the Jondachi Race in Ecuador, and Antonio won this year’s Alseseca race in Mexico. With both competitors under the age of 17, we expect to see more of these athletes in the years to come.

 

 

Let's not forget about Tyler Bradt, the man the myth the legend. Off the proverbial couch and right back into the North Fork.

 

 

Local Seth Stoner has set safety the past few years, but know the North Fork better than most. He looked good until getting left-banked in Crunch.. will it be enough?

 

Young’un Hayden Voorhees might be under 18, but he looked smooth, fast and consistent on his home river. Hayden beat big brother Alec at the GoPro Mountain Games Homestake Creek Race… will it happen again today?

 

Good luck to all those who competed today! Stoke is high, levels are higher- see you all at the Egyptian Theatre in Boise tonight. Whitewater Awards kick off at 5:30 pm, followed by race results.

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Athlete Profile: Meet Matias Lopez

Every year, the North Fork Championship is gaining repute on a global scale as athletes from all over the world apply to race against the best of the best in the Elite Division Giant Slalom on Jacob’s Ladder.

2017 is no different, with some of South America’s most talented whitewater paddlers making the journey north in hopes of being crowned King of the North Fork. Meet Matias Lopez.

Once a relative unknown, Argentinian Matias Lopez has been gaining notoriety and respect for clean lines and fast times, making him one to watch this NFC. He qualified to race amongst the elite as the second place wild card last year, and was voted in by his peers for a second chance to take the crown at the NFC VI.

 

Lopez has been paddling for 15 years across a wide range of disciplines, from freestyle and flatwater sprint to extreme creek racing. Matias has spent much of the past year exploring and opening up new rivers in his home country of Argentina; his dream is to see Argentina become a staple destination for paddlers from all over the world. In his spare time, Matias also teaches kayaking to kids with the goal of helping grow and develop the South American paddling community.

Last year, Lopez finished second in the NFC V’s boater cross, proving he is both fast and consistent. This year alone, Matias has put down impressive race results, with a 4th place finish at the 2017 Little White Race, 4th place at the 2017 Homestake Creek Race, 2nd place at the GoPro Mountain Games Down River Race, and winning the overall title at the 2017 Futalefu XL.

 

What does the North Fork Championship mean to Matias? “The NFC is a special event for me,” Lopez says. "It is a personal challenge, given the high technical level of the river, but what I like most about this event is that the connection between the athletes and the public. Last year, I felt very good thanks to the support and encouragement of the spectators. The NFC is on my list of favorite events!”

For more on Matias, check his Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/matiaslopezkayak/

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Guide to the 2017 NFC VI

In keeping in line with the traditions of the past, the NFC is looking to once again create one of the most progressive kayak races with a community element to it that is rarely seen at races.

This year the Whitewater Awards will kick off the NFC weekend, bringing to Idaho a video competition format that highlights the best in the industry. High water will also be a theme of this year’s NFC, with an anticipated flow of among the highest levels the race has seen. Changes in the qualifier, which now allow the top 10 to compete, will help give the whitewater community a wider wild-card chance of racing Jakes.

Whitewater, community, and party. This is your guide to this year’s NFC Championship

The Athletes

The top 10 finishers from last year + 10 new athletes voted into the race make up the current race roster for the Elite Race on Jacobs ladder. Check out the full list of racers in the Elite Division.

All riders who finished last year’s top 5 will be returning, with Dane Jackson defending his title.

The Expert Division on Thursday will allow racers to compete for the chance at racing in the Elite Division on Jacobs Ladder. The top 10 finishers in the Expert Division will move onto the Elite division.

Water Levels

The water levels are anticipated to be the highest the race has ever been held. Over the weekend prior to the race, the river was at around 5,000 CFS, with a normal year on the NFC being around 1800-2600 CFS.

Big water will mean a much meaner Jacob’s Ladder for the Elite division, as well as adding an intensity to the entire river.

The Whitewater Awards

New to the NFC, is this year's Whitewater Awards, which highlight the best athletes in the sport through video and photo. This night is to celebrate the talented people behind the lens, documenting all the amazing places our kayaks bring us, as well as the athletes pushing the sport to new highs. The Whitewater Awards will be held at the Egyptian Theatre in downtown Boise, Idaho on June 15th, 2017. Check out the website for more information. Don't miss what is going to be an unforgettable night.

NFC VI Schedule

There are lots of things going on this NFC VI, from a variety of kayak races, to the Whitewater Awards, to the Whitewater Festival with live music, booths, and entertainment. See the FULL SCHEDULE of events. You will not want to miss this one.

 

 

2016 JACOBS LADDER SHORT VIDEO RECAP

 

NFC V Jacobs Ladder Giant Slalom Short from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.

 

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SUNDAY, JUNE 19

 

The sun rose in a cloudless sky Saturday morning, with wisps of clouds and gusts of wind that rustled the tents and gear littering Weilmunster Park. Competitors met at the Dirty Shame where coffee, bacon, eggs, and tortillas waited before boarding a bus that would take them to the course. Cameras were rolling, asking for predictions on who would make it to the top of the podium.

 

Spectators vied for parking and lined the rocks alongside Jacob’s Ladder’s right bank, settling in for an afternoon of watching some of the world’s best whitewater paddlers battle it out for the crown, competing for the title “King of the North Fork.” The winner would take over from reigning Spaniard Gerd Serrasolses,  writing their name on the iron circlet and into the history of the North Fork.

 

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Spectators find the best viewing spots alongside the Idaho state Highway on the banks of the Payette. Massive thanks to the fire department and traffic control for keeping everyone on the roads safe.

 

Pruett Jah

Will Pruett Walks Jah for his pre-race warm up.

 

 

Safety set up while DJ Revolve played out of a Red Bull rig, hyping the crowd and setting the vibe to “epic.”

 

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Abe Herrara setting safety. We couldn't do it without these guys!

Ryan Bailey and James McLeod stood atop the Tower of Power, microphones in hand, ready to announce, entertain and inform as 30 contenders lined up, waiting their turn to weave their way through a seven gate course on some of the most challenging and notorious whitewater in the lower forty-eight.

 

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Starter Marty gets Will Pruett gets fired up atop the ramp

 

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Long time river advocate and North Fork Legend Rob Lesser with Brendan Wells.

 

Jacob’s Ladder and Golf course are considered by many “North Forkers” to be the crux rapids on the river they call home. Almost a mile long, “Jake’s”, as locals know it, contains five of the Payette river’s largest and most distinctive features.

 

Rodeo Hole was the location for the first gate, which competitors needed to pass on the left, before boosting and catching a left eddy for Gate 2. An upstream directly above a rock siphon, Gate 2 was considered by many to be the hardest move on the course, proving divisive in determining which paddlers would make the top 10.

 

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Frustration is evident on Todd Well's face as he is rejected from the eddy, incurring a 50 second penalty on his time.

 

Below Gate 2 another Upstream waited on river left below Rock Drop, a boof next to a jagged, triangular rock that drops into a swirling vortex of an eddy. Gate 3 was visible high in an eddy directly across the river, forcing athletes to fight surging waves and inconsistent boils.

 

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Kalob Grady Sending. Despite a clean run, Kalob missed out on this years top ten.

 

ALEC GATE 4

Young Gun and North Fork Local Alec Voorhees peeling out of Gate 3.

 

Galen_Rockdrop

Galen Volckahusen flying towards the gate.

 

Gate 5 was another upstream on the left below Taffy Puller, and Gate 6 dangled above Oceana wave, one of the largest and rowdiest of the course, capable of kicking paddlers left and right seemingly at random. The last gate marked the finish on the right at the Golf Course, named for the 18 holes in its midst.

 

All week competitors lap Jakes trying to get the top moves right, taking out below Taffy Puller and walking back up the hill- but few spend the time dialing in the fastest line through Golf Course to the finish line, and it is here that the tenths of seconds determining the placing can be made up or lost.

 

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Nick Troutman Working his way across the river. It is chaotic, turbulent, and violent on the Jake's course, leaving paddlers no time to relax.

 

The anticipation was palpable as the first kayaker sat atop the Red Bull Ramp marking the start line. Each competitor would take two runs down the course, with their fastest time counting. Bibs differentiated the riders-red for the wild card winners, black for those voted in, last years number one gold bib visibly absent. This year, the bottom 20 were seeded accorded to the Kokatat Time Trial on Thursday, and the previous years top ten reverse seeded according to place, making Dane Jackson the last rider of the day.

 

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Dane Jackson waiting his turn. He would be the last of the 28 riders to go, earning the advantage of watching how others fared on the course before him.

 

Ryan Bailey’s voice echoed in the air with a cry of “make some noise for Ben Kinsellaaaaaaaaaaa….” As the first rider launched of the ramp into the water with an audible smack, instantly paddling hard on his Werner blade.

 

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Anna Bruno joining Ryan Bailey ontop of the Toyota Tower of Power

 

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Joe Morely making his way into gate 3

 

With penalties of 5 seconds for a touch and 50 seconds for a missed gate, athletes took different strategies after the first five paddlers got rejected from Gate 2. Pyranha athlete Dave Fusilli was the first to make all the gates cleanly, eliciting roars from the crowd.

 

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Dave Fusilli with Louis Geltman and Ben Kinsella.

 

The largest cheers of the day resonated off the walls as C-1 paddler and last minute alternate Tad Dennis crushed the course, looking smooth and fast. “Incredible” Tren Long breathed, shaking his head in admiration. Everyone watching had Dennis high on their list for the top three, with bets that he would take the crown.

 

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Second Place Finisher Tad Dennis. Half the blade, twice the paddler?

 

Because times are recorded on RFID chips, neither athletes nor competitors knew where they would finish until the awards ceremony later that evening. Speculations and wagers were high, tensions building as each name in the top ten was announced. Wild Card Evan Moore was the first called to the stage, Rush Sturges and Will Griffith taking 8th and 9th. Competitors were apprehensive as they waited to see if their name would follow. The shock, excitement and uproar when Kyle “King Hesh” Hull was announced as third place was overwhelming. “I forgot about Kyle!” voices exclaimed over the sound of whistles and cheers. Even Hesh was surprised, thinking that his 5 second penalty on Oceana had taken him out of the top ten. The noise and suspense peaked as Ted Dennis placed second, and applause rippled through the crowd as Dane Jackson was crowned king. Smiling, one fist in the air, one hand holding his giant $5000 check aloft, Dane reveled in his moment as “King of the North Fork.”

 

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Top Ten Celebrate On Stage.

 

Jackson, Hull and Dennis weren’t the only winners of the evening. Jah Bananah called out the names of those lucky enough to win incredible raffle prizes like a Yeti Cooler full of Payette Brewing Company Beer, Yakima Racks, Mountain Mind Collective DVDs and merchandise, NRS straps and swag, GOPROs, a Werner paddle, and a one of a kind NFC Dagger Mamba.

 

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Todd Wells and Nate Garcia admire the NFC Dagger Mamba up for grabs in the raffle.

 

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Payette Brewing, the offical beer of the NFC. Try their North Fork Lager. We did- it is delicious!

 

The stoke and party high continued across the road to the infamous bar The Dirty Shame where bartender Holy poured drink after drink and DJ revolved turned tables. Athletes and spectators mingled, twerked and celebrated until the early hours of the morning when the bar doors shut on another North Fork Championship.

 

A massive thanks to the incredible James and Regan Byrd, and the many volunteers and sponsors that come together to make this weekend a success.

 

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Hand Welded NFC Fire Braziers warmed the evening, getting the crowd fired up.

TOP TEN:

 

  1. Dane Jackson 1.57.60
  2. Tad Dennis 1.58.28
  3. Kyle Hull 1.59.00
  4. Alec Voorhees 2.00.31
  5. Aniol Serrasolses 2.00.53
  6. Joe Morley 2.01.67
  7. Nick Troutman 2.08.90
  8. Will “Jam Boy” Griffith 2.10.35
  9. Rush Sturges 2.10.71
  10. Evan Moore 2.11.82

 

For Full Results Go To:  http://northforkchampionship.com/races/results/

 

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SATURDAY JUNE 18

2016 THE NORTH FACE BOATER X RECAP VIDEO

Boater Cross Recap from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.

Top 3 finishers:

  1. Dane Jackson
  2. Matias Lopez
  3. Kyle Hull

 

THE NORTH FACE BOATER X PHOTO RECAP

SPECTATORS lined the banks of the North Fork Payette's S Turn rapid for what many consider to be the most entertaining of the three NFC races. The Boater X is eXtreme, it is eXciting, and it is anyones race to win.

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The North Face Boater X official Bracket. 6 Heats of 6 competitors made up of the Elite Athletes and the 30 fastest paddlers from the time trial, only the top 2 finishers of each race continued on to race again.

 

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This is a crowd favorite event, as the S-Turn rapid is nearly a quarter-mile long and the race offers chaos at every turn.

 

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Competitors check heat lists with NFC organizer and mastermind James Byrd.

 

6 Heats of 6 paddlers make their way down the quarter mile long rapid, battling it out all the way to the finish line, as only the top two paddlers in each advance on in this burly, elimination style race. It truly isn't over until its over, and it isn't over until 2 people touch the North Face banner on river right.

 

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Racing down the course.

 

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Dane Jackson and Evan Moore fighting for the finishing touch.

 

Safety was on hand, making sure every one made it down uninjured. Taking a paddle or the bow of a boat the face is not uncommon in this event, and it is no wonder that several of the Elite competitors for the next day's Jacob's Ladder Giant Slalom opted out.

 

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Safety Crew and Payette River Local Parker sharing some stoke and North Face Love.

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Kalob Grady leading the charge through S-Turn with Matias Lopez and Kyle Hull behind him. Kalob may look like he is in for the win, but  it was Matias and Kyle who snuck through to advance into finals.

 

Brendan Wells and Matias Lopez were two of the fastest paddlers, each coming through first in their heats to make it to finals alongside Kyle Hull, Dane Jackson, Alec Voorhees and Wild Card bib winner Evan Moore.

The six duked it out, with Dane Jackson taking the win in front of Matias and Kyle Hull.

 

For Full Results, check out http://northforkchampionship.com/races/results/

 

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Dane Jackson showing off his winners trophy.

 

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BEHIND THE NFC: Profile: “McLeod-Bursting” with James McLeod

 

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James McLeod

 

In his recent literary achievement How to Shake a Stick at Anything, Regardless the Quantity, James McLeod counsels readers that “If Jamaica can have a bobsled team perhaps it’s time that I reconsider my own perceived limitations.” It is advice McLeod has certainly taken to heart. A man possessing a mysterious aura of hilarity, James is at once a talented kayaker, skateboarder extraordinaire, artist, stand-up comedian, friend, and legend in the Banks and Northern California paddling communities.

 

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Skateboarding on Cali Classic Dinky Creek. Friend Todd Wells Paddled the Skateboard in for the First D.

 

Almost anyone who has paddled the North Fork Payette has a story about the hyper-talented James, ranging from the summer he kept his entire wardrobe in a bush near the Banks Café, or when claimed the first descent of the NFC 1 Ramp (it has since been “McLeod-Proofed”), or hitchhiked a ride to a friends house in California without any plans for a ride back, and decided instead to move in for a while.

 

The respect and appreciation are mutual, with James attributing a huge part of his inspiration to all the amazing he has found in Banks, Idaho. "It would take me a whole day to list the names of all the rad people I've met here in Banks" says McLeod. "It's a pretty amazing community."

Self described as a “wingless bird of flight”, attendees of the NFC may best recognize James for his creative Zines published every year with titles such as Fry Sauce and Banana Hammock or ask: “is that the guy in the banana suit?” What they may not realize is that James’ boundless, out to lunch, positive energy is a driving force behind the NFC and has been for the last five years.

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The Man Behind the Banana

 

“What does James bring to the NFC? Dude- everything!” says founder James Byrd. “This year, I needed someone who could JB Weld something for me- and I mentioned it to McLeod, and he was like “oh, yeah, I did some of that in high school” – and he absolutely crushed it. The guy is a wizard.” Elliptical, plaid, interleaved- there is no box in which to place James McLeod.

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Boater X Winner Dane Jackson shows of his JB Welded Trophy

 

Watch out for his subtle genius on Saturday at the NFC main event, where he will be announcing alongside Ryan Chainsaw Bailey. If you don’t his get humor, don’t stress it, and be sure to buy a copy of this years “MANKS BAG.”

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FRIDAY, JUNE 17  

 

The 2016 Melt Awards Recap from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.

THE MELT AWARDS kicked off at Boise’s Egyptian Theatre last night. Designed to showcase and highlight the multi-talented individuals in the world of whitewater, The Melt Awards brings an assortment of films and images to the public eye. An integral part of what makes the NFC what it is, The Melt Awards is a moment of appreciation for the progress made each year in whitewater and for those who capture and share it with the world.

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Crowds filter into The Egyptian for the Evening

 

First up on the film reel for the evening was Chasing Niagara by Rush Sturges and River Roots, followed after a brief intermission by short edits from Evan Garcia, Kyle Smith and Seth Dahl, and a humbling highlight reel by the Serrasolses brothers.

Photo submissions from Tait Troutman, Evan Garcia, and Galen Volckhausen and others drew the audience in, with images incarnate of 1000 words telling the story of the captivating beauty that is whitewater wilderness.

 

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Jah Bahnanah, and MC Ryan Bailey on the Microphone

 

Roughly 200 people made the rally to the big city to share in the festivities and crown a peoples choice favorite for film and print. Payette Brewing Company poured liberally, the libations contributing to the general buzz and atmosphere.

The spectators mingled as they voted, before regrouping to hear the final results.  Erik Parker took the win in the photography class for his image of Aniol Serrasolses in Iceland to the shouts and cheers of the crowd.

 

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Parker and Aniol Celebrate with MC Bailey to the Cheers of the Crowd

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The Official TMA Results

 

Despite not being to compete in the Jacob’s Ladder Giant Slalom this Saturday, Evan Garcia came away a peoples choice favorite, winning the Reel category for his Cali Love edit.

 

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Evan Garcia winning accolades from the other side of the lens

 

Jah Bananah made a surprise guest appearance, joining legendary MC Ryan Bailey in announcing the raffle, where winners of note were Joe Morley with a coozie, and the far luckier Talitha Fagen, who walked away with a Pyranha 9r.

 

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MC Ryan Bailey on the microphone. He’s smooth, he’s creamy, the ladies love him.

 

Just before the evening closed, the crowd gathered and collectively hushed as the time trial results and wild card bib winners were announced. Chilean Pedro Astorga was the fastest man of the day, followed by young gun Alec Voorhees and Dane Jackson. The men of the evening were Pedro Astorga, Argentinian Matias Lopez, Evan Moore, Sam Ellis, and Phil Mitchell.

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Pedro Astorga, Phil Mitchell, Mattias Lopez, Sam Ellis and Evan Moore celebrate earning their Wild Card Bib for the NFCV Giant Slalom on Jacob’s Ladder.

For Full Time Trial Results Click Here

 

Celebrations abounded and the usual chaos ensued as the Melt awards closed and the crowd migrated to nearby Tom Grainey’s. A massive Thank You to The Egyptian Theatre, Loku Onu and the Red Lion, Payette Brewing and the many others who make this night possible.

 

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White Slalom Love in Boise with Kyle "King Hesh" Hull and Jo Kemper one of many who made the rally to support friends and neighbors with films and images on display.

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Rush Sturges and Sam P. Grafton celebrating before heading into the competition. Rush's film Chasing Niagra was this voted this years best adventure film at the BANFF, but lost out on the peoples choice of the Melt Awards to Evan Garcia's Cali Love. 

 

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BEHIND THE NORTH FORK: ATHLETE PROFILE:  THE WELLS BROTHERS

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest’s paddling mecca of Trout Lake, Washington, Todd and Brendan Wells have grown up with the river as their playground. The two have recently taken their love of whitewater to the big screen with the creation of the production company Mountain Mind Collective. Their film For The Love was on tour in the United States this past spring, and their success is clear- athletes and spectators alike at the NFC are showing the love in the form of MMC hats, t-shirts and stickers.

The only brothers to compete in the fifth North Fork Championship, the Wells bring positive energy, some brotherly love and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry to the racecourse. Todd is a four time top-ten finisher, and Brendan snuck into last years Elite Race with the fifth wild card bib. With Brendan voted into the Elite division this year, both the Wells are strong contenders for the top 10. Check them out at northforkchampionship.com and mountainmindcollective.com

 

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Todd Wells

 

Brendan on Todd: There is definitely some sibling rivalry between Todd and I, but it only makes us faster knowing that stakes are even higher racing against each other. Todd has said many times that he’d retire if I ever beat him in a race. Although I finally crushed him in the GoPro Games, I have a feeling he’ll still be plunging off the ramp into Jake’s this weekend. I guess it just means I’ll have to beat him again so he knows his place!

 

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Brendan Filming for Mountain Mind

 

Todd on Brendan: Brendan did beat me at GoPro Games, but I’m still here. Guess it just means I’ll have to show him his place this weekend! No, while there is definitely a little rivalry between us, and I always want to beat him more than anyone else, I was stoked for Brendan to do well at GoPro and am fired up to race him this weekend.

 

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Truck Life

Brendan on Todd: Todd and I definitely have way different styles of boating, but when you see us on the race course we usually take the same lines which other racers don’t take. I think this is a product of growing up on the style of rivers we did in the PNW. I think our main difference would be that Todd usually takes a lot more strokes than me, when I concentrate more on staying perfectly on line. This works sometimes, but on a race like Jake’s it usually takes as many strokes as possible to win. So I might have to rethink my strategy a bit this year.

 

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Brendan taking it to the face on Jake's

 

Todd on Brendan: Brendan has some more off the couch steeze than I do- I paddle more often, but Brendan has this out of the blue style: he can take risks, but he usually sticks it and manages to somehow make it work, and look good doing it.

 

On the North Fork Championship:

 

Brendan: The NFC is an amazing event because the energy that is shared between the racers on the water and at the start line is unlike anything I experience all year or at any other event. It’s definitely a family style event, and the same camaraderie that we all usually share on the water really comes through. This weekend is about paddling with your friends and there is nothing better.

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Family Reunion

Todd: This event is the sickest event in kayaking. Its super fun- we call it the family reunion because amazing people from all over the world rally in for the weekend. Whether it is for the sickest party, stoutest race, its about enjoying the river, the weekend and the friendship.

 

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THURSDAY TIME TRIAL VIDEO RECAP

North Fork Championship V Day 1 Recap from The North Fork Championship on Vimeo.

 

 

THURSDAY, JUNE 16th

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Banks Cafe: A NFC staple for food, friends, and info

 

CLOUDY SKIES and intermittent rain made for a damp start to the first race of the North Fork Championship. Groans were audible as competitors rolled out of their tents in search of coffee before making the journey down Otter Slide road to the registration tent where warm bagels and cream cheese waited.

 

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Kayakers Assemble at Otter Slide

Despite inclement weather, stoke was high as over 100 people queued to sign in or snag a last minute entry bib. Athletes discussed lines, angling to see who knew the fastest routes with lower water levels. Some were still waking up, having driven through the night from California. When the list of 99 competitors was finalized it included paddlers from the US, Chile, Canada, France, Slovenia, New Zealand, Mexico, Argentina, Ireland, the UK and Costa Rica. There was a strong ladies crew representing with fifteen women racing, a new NFC record, and a handful of under 18ers.

 

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Brian "B-Real" Ward leading the Safety Charge

Six locals were on hand to set safety under the guidance of Brian Ward, reminding competitors that while the most friendly of the three North Fork Championship races, Juicer and Crunch were still to be taken seriously.

 

 

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Registration Tent Chaos: I got 99 Bibs but yours ain't one

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NFC Lady Love

For those already racing Saturday, today was designed to seed the Elite, giving the public their first taste of who to be on the watch for. The roughly eight minute time trial will also determine who joins Saturday’s race, with the top five fastest “Wild Card winners” announced tonight at the Melt Awards. Few who have won wildcard entries have gone on to place in the top 10, local legend Tren Long being a notable exception. This could be the result of different race formats- a longer distance race without gates perhaps highlighting a different skill set than what is needed to excel on Jake’s more defined maneuvers.

 

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Brit Phil Mitchell finishing strong

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Rush Sturges leading the Masters Class

 

Kayakers clustered together in the eddy below the highway bridge, waiting for their turn to pass under the Kokatat banners demarcating the start and finish lines. Microchips stuck to each individual’s helmet make this race a bit of a free-for-all, with competitors able to race at their leisure. The free flow format means that people can choose to paddle down with a crew for additional safety or for the push of paddling faster than your friends.

 

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Team Racing.. More friends, more fun

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3rd Alternate Tad Dennis showing that one blade is just as fast as two. Look out for him on Saturday

From the road, the river looks deceptively easy until you place the paddlers in perspective with the waves. It is hard to give the shift in gradient its due as the river careens around corners, flowing from headwaters in the Sawtooth and Salmon Mountains until it joins its sister, the South Fork Payette in Banks. Water rises and falls, dwarfing the kayakers, momentarily obscuring them from the view of the spectators watching on the banks. Heavy showers of rain precluded all but the staunchest of onlookers, though sunshine at the takeout had racers stripping down, enjoying cold beverages, and making plans to paddle before migrating to Boise for the Melt Awards and the evening’s festivities.

 

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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15, 2016

THE HYPE IS REAL. As the fifth edition of the North Fork Championship approaches, boaters from all over the world are flooding into the town of Banks, Idaho (population 17) for what has become possibly the world of whitewater’s most notorious race.

 

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Fred Bailey on the Megaphone

 

Every year for a week in June, all eyes turn to a select group of individuals chosen to compete on a Giant Slalom course down the North Fork Payette’s Jacob Ladder and Golf Course rapids, arguably the crux of a steep, continuous, 15 mile, big-water class five stretch of whitewater.

 

Nate Garcia launching the boof at Rodeo Hole. NFC 2015

Nate Garcia launching the boof at Rodeo Hole. NFC 2015

 

The winner walks away with $5000 and the hard earned title “King of the North Fork.” Past winners include Ryan Casey, Louis Geltman, Jules Domine and Gerd Serrasolses. No athlete has ever claimed the rank of King more than once- and with last years reigning royal injured, this year’s crown is available for the taking.

 

Casey Carried Jessica Murri

 

The 30 athletes competing for imperial status this weekend are comprised of the top 10 finishers from the NFC IV, with another 15 voted in from a pool of online applicants, leaving 5 Wild Card spots yet to be filled.

 

This year’s NFC will consist of three races: Thursday’s Kokatat Time Trial down Juicer and Crunch, where the five fastest finishers will earn the right to compete among the Elite and fight for Saturday’s crown. The winners will be announced Thursday night at The Melt Awards, a film festival dedicated to celebrating those behind the lens, devoted to capturing and sharing the magic of whitewater.

 

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On Friday, the top 35 racers from the time trial will continue on to compete alongside the 25 invited elite athletes in a Boater X through “S Turn”, an elimination style race where heats of six will battle their way downstream, with only the top 2 advancing to the next round.

 

Boatercross Race. Eric Parker shown.North Fork Championship III 2014.

Boatercross Race. North Fork Championship III 2014.

 

Saturday will bring the climax of the weekend: The Elite Division Giant Slalom on Jacob’s Ladder. 30 Athletes fighting for the fastest, cleanest line down seven gates on class five whitewater. The final awards will be held at the family friendly NFC Whitewater Festival Saturday night, at the Weilmunster Park in Crouch, Idaho.

 

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For complete details on each event, or for more information on being a spectator at this year’s NFC, please visit the NFC website at http://northforkchampionship.com/races/events/

For more on THE MELT AWARDS, where attendees will have the chance to view and vote on some of the latest images and videos, crowning a peoples choice favorite, please visit http://northforkchampionship.com/melt-awards/about/.