The owner of the Dickerson Generating Station was incorrect in a whitewater slalom story in the Sept. 18 Sports section. It is owned by Mirant. (Published 9/20/04)
About a month removed from competing in Athens, members of the U.S. whitewater slalom Olympic team will compete this weekend at the Dickerson (Md.) Whitewater Course for the 2004 Whitewater Slalom National Championships.
"We're not tired," said Joe Jacobi, a Bethesda native who competed in Athens and won a gold medal in the 1992 Olympics. "We're very enthusiastic about the good feeling we had in Athens about our sport, and we're ready to show people that energy and enthusiasm."
In addition to Jacobi, Olympic team members Chris Ennis, Brett Heyl, Scott Parsons, Matt Taylor and Rebecca Giddens -- a silver medalist in single kayak in Athens -- will compete at Dickerson tomorrow.
The biggest star of the event, however, may be the course itself. Considered one of the premier courses in America, the Dickerson Whitewater Course is the only warm-water artificial whitewater slalom course in the world and is part of the reason many of the United States' premier paddlers live in the area.
"It's a unique course," said Richard Perlmutter, the race organizer. "The course runs 48 weeks a year, and it has probably the best, consistent whitewater in the United States."
The course, which is the discharge channel of the Potomac Electric Power Company's Dickerson Generating Station and feeds into the Potomac River, also is set up well for spectators because it is straight and relatively narrow -- the size of about two car lanes.
"What's nice about the course is it's very continuous, very fast, very pushy," Jacobi said. "And what's nice for spectators is the course runs in a straight line. You could never have a race on the Potomac River; it's too wide and big. Here the spectators can get close to the action."
Championships will be decided in men's and women's single kayak, men's single and double canoe and women's double canoe. Kayakers sit in their boats and use a double-bladed paddle; canoeists kneel in their boats and use a single-bladed paddle. All the races are based on timed results, however, with two-second penalties for touching a slalom gate and a 50-second penalty for missing a gate.
Admission is $5, and racing begins at 10 a.m. tomorrow. One potential problem is the weather. Steady rain is expected during the weekend, and if the Potomac River gets too high, it will flood and subsequently flatten the end of the course.