Whitewater course design plans falling into place

Conceptual designs for a proposed white-water course alongside the Oklahoma River downtown include elements for users both novice and professional. Course design said he is basing it on previously ones developed in Charlotte, N.C., and used at last summer's Olympics in London.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Published: December 31, 2012

The conceptual design also includes several buildings for meeting space, administrative offices, locker rooms and a restaurant.

The Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation, a nonprofit that currently oversees operations of the rowing facilities on the Oklahoma River, will be tasked with operating the course.

That organization's executive director, Mike Knopp, said the white-water course is part of an ambitious project to redefine Oklahoma City as a town friendly to water aquatics.

The original MAPS program in the 1990s funded the low-water dams that filled the river, and a series of private-public partnerships over the last decade has brought about several boathouses, rowing training facilities and a racecourse on the river, Knopp said.

USA Canoe/Kayak moved its headquarters to the boathouse district last year, and the Olympic and Paralympics kayak teams currently host their flat-water training there.

“When we were talking about rowing 10 years ago people thought that was nuts and now we've got one of the world's top venues for that,” he said. “The idea of being able to build a white-water course in the heart of the city is pretty unique.”

Shipley said the Oklahoma City course is modeled after one the company previously designed in Charlotte, N.C.

The former competitive kayaker — who competed in three Olympics before getting graduate degree in engineering — said S2o also designed the white-water park used in London for last summer's Olympics.

The circular course will include channels both for Olympic style training and general use, he said. Its design is flexible enough that it could also be used for firefighter swift water training.

Todd said construction is scheduled to begin near the end of 2013 with an opening expected sometime at the beginning of 2015.


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The idea of being able to build a white-water course in the heart of the city is pretty unique.”

Mike Knopp,
Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation executive director

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