Looking Back: The ’89 Slalom Worlds

The Savage River. Its name alone is forbidding. And fitting for a river tucked away from the crowded Eastern cities, sitting on the fringe of Appalachia where a thick canopy blocks out light piercing through to the rocky riverbed. Ancient mossy boulders choke the stream’s continuous, tumbling pace of 75 feet per mile, though a dam quiets the Savage to a whisper. When the dam opens, however, unleashing the cold reservoir water, the river transforms. Growing from whisper to roar, the suddenly wild and ferocious stretch of relentless Class III-IV whitewater entangles with the air of cool summer mornings, blanketing the gorge in a mysterious fog that leaves outsiders wondering what lies within.

In late June of 1989, the river exposed itself to all.

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