The Alpha Geek

EASTERN ONTARIO IS SILO COUNTRY, a canvas of flat farmland, shambly barns, and hoof-stamped fields stretching in all directions. Except for a few gradual rises and dips, there’s nothing to suggest that one of Canada’s largest rivers roars through this blank landscape, nor that this river—in springtime, the color of root beer shaken to a froth—funnels off a steep ledge and boils into one of the largest standing waves in the world, a feature both feared and revered by the world’s best whitewater kayakers. On a too-cold Tuesday evening in early May, less than a week after the Ottawa River surrendered its last ice floes, 175 of these kayakers have come to battle the monster wave known as the Greyhound Buseater in the 2007 World Freestyle Kayak Championships.

By far the most famous on the roster is Eric “E.J.” Jackson, the big daddy of freestyle and—by his own estimation and nearly everyone else’s—the most decorated paddler in history.

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