BACK IN THE LOOP: Whitewater slalom paddling, by any measure a small player on the burgeoning sports scene, long has maintained a big presence in the Washington area, specifically in the Brookmont neighborhood of Bethesda. Over the decades many slalomers have made it a point to move there or nearby -- including 2004 Olympians Scott Parsons and Brett Heyl -- to train with the best paddlers and coaches in the country.
The Feeder Canal, on the Potomac River, is a short walk away, and you often see Olympic and national team-level paddlers working out there. Also around is Brookmont resident Bill Endicott, a longtime coach of the U.S. team who returned to be the team manager in Athens. He has been one of the biggest slalom presences in America over the years, as well as a mentor to many of paddling's far lesser lights, including this writer.
His influence extends to the books he has written about whitewater racing, including "The Ultimate Run," which should be required reading for slalom hopefuls (the Chinese have retranslated it to help get up to speed in whitewater in the 2008 Games). The problem was that until recently the book, published in 1983, was out of print and hard to find.
However, Brookmont resident David Hearn, a two-time world champion in slalom canoeing, and his wife, Jennifer, are in the process of posting the text (as well as Endicott's "To Win the Worlds") on their whitewater paddling Web site, www.daveyhearn.com. Also posted is Endicott's 2003 case history, "Two Trips to the Top," detailing the kayaking careers of Oliver Fix, who won gold for Germany in 1996, and the U.S.'s Rebecca Giddens, who won the 2002 worlds and earned a silver medal at the Athens Games. If you want to learn about the sport, this is the best place to start.
FILM FEST: Hudson Trail Outfitters, a longtime Washington-area outdoors retailer, again will host the local stop of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, which touches down Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Loyola College in Baltimore.
There will be about four hours of short films with subjects including adrenalized steep skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, mountain biking and climbing. Tickets are available at Hudson Trail stores. For more information about the festival, visit www.chestnutmtnproductions.com/banff/balthome.htm. For store locations, visit www.hudsontrail.com.
-- John Mullen