At the 11th hour ahead of the Whitewater Grand Prix, one of the final changes to the athlete roster is a big one. Just days before the first stage of the 2014 competition, Evan Garcia was offered the ‘Last-minute Wildcard’ position and bought his plane ticket to the Ottawa, confirming and committing that he will have his presence felt in this year’s WWGP.
Suffering a badly broken leg running the second descent of Salto Puma on the Fuy River in Chile, Garcia re-injured his leg during the healing process making the likelihood of his attending this year’s WWGP very low.
“I tried to come back too early,” Garcia said of his injury. “I just didn’t give it enough time to properly heal and ended up re-fracturing my tibia,” said Garcia.
Getting back on class V rivers a few weeks ago left Garcia optimistic about paddling this spring. A few warm-up races in the Pacific Northwest and EvGnar, as he is referred to in the Columbia Gorge where he makes his home, felt like he could get back on his game. “It just felt good,” said Garcia after a high water Little White lap. “I thought if I can be running this stuff, I can probably get out there and race too.”
After competing in both the 2011 and the 2013 WWGPs Garcia will get his shot at another title this year in Canada. In 2011 Garcia finished 3rd Place at last year’s event in Chile he finished 12th in 2011. All eyes will be on how he is able to race with his recent injury and whether or not this will play a factor in how he is able to finish.
Other last minute shuffling of the Athlete Roster saw Steve Fisher drop out of the competition, an athlete many people wanted to see for the first time in the Grand Prix. He now will have to wait another year to get his shot. The current first alternate, Juanito de Ugarte from Peru, now has a last-minute chance to take Fishers place in this year’s competition. Juanito has spent the past year exploring rivers in Peru including high-water descents of the Apurimac River. It will be exciting to see how the takes these experiences with him to the Canadian whitewater of the north.
Last days until the 2014 Whitewater Grand Prix is finally underway – excitement levels are peaking as all of the athletes arrive.
By: Capo Rettig // World Class Academy