North Fork Championship is a ‘magical feeling’ for the world’s best kayakers
Every year, the world’s best paddlers travel to the North Fork of the Payette River for a three-day event. And for some, the experience is all they need to be satisfied.
BANKS, IDAHO, Idaho – The world’s best competitive kayakers take to the Payette River this weekend for the North Forks Championship, one of the premier whitewater kayaking events.
The three-day event runs June 17-19 and takes place just seven miles north of Banks.
Once you’ve driven Highway 55 and immersed yourself in the culture of the competitors, you realize that they’re much less interested in the prize – a $ 17,000 purse – and more in the fun.
For honorary Idahoan Sage Donnelly, the weekend is a kind of homecoming.
“I spent a lot of summer here. I think the first time I ran the North Fork I was 11, ”said Donnelly.
Donnelly is from Carson City, Nevada, but his love for boating was sculpted by the curves of North Fork.
“It’s a pretty magical feeling,” she said. “It’s like another home for me.”
This weekend marks Donnelly’s first appearance in the North Fork Championship, and she shares the moment with her fellow competitors. However, they are a crew best described as family.
“There is a lot of camaraderie here. I feel like coming back and seeing my family again, ”said Donnelly. “It’s a small sport so it’s a very close community. It really is special.
Donnelly is a member of Team USA and a former freestyle world champion.
“Coming back to that has been really sweet and special,” Donnelly said. “You can paddle the river and your boyfriend turns around and smiles at you and you know exactly how he’s feeling.”