America’s Deliverance

Scott Strausbaugh and Joe Jacobi gave U.S. paddlers their first Whitewater gold in history

As in Paddling a Canoe, there are two sides to consider when figuring how best to negotiate a Whitewater slalom course. One approach holds that a paddler should “go clean,” racing conservatively to avoid incurring any five-second penalties for touching a gate. The more reckless approach—call it hell-for-lather—says a paddler should pick a line on the course and blow down it, confident he can handle anything the river throws at him.

When U.S. paddler Scott Strausbaugh dropped in on Whitewater assistant coach Fritz Haller on the eve of Sunday’s two-man canoe competition, it was to tell Haller that he wanted to risk getting dirty. Strausbaugh believed that was the only way his boat could emerge from a closely clustered pack of canoes on a fairly easy course. But neither he nor Haller thought to inform Joe Jacobi, who sits aft in the canoe, about their conversation. “It’s not that we wanted to keep it from him,” Haller would say. “It’s just that Scott leads the boat. Joe needs to turn the boat, to keep it clean.”

Read: America’s Deliverance | Sports Illustrated