Meet hometown champions Sweets of the East!June 10, 2016
Fayetteville’s rafting team is all about hometown spirit.
The Sweets of the East are the East Coast’s only rafting team, period. America puts more emphasis on recreational river sports, not competitions. But these West Virginians have big plans for their town and country.
Next year is the International Rafting Federation World Rafting Championships, and they want to fill that slot for the USA.
Forged in the Gorge
If you’re familiar with the area, you probably know Southern West Virginia boasts some of the world’s best whitewater— the New and Gauley rivers, among others.
To teammates Jo-Beth Stamm, Sherry Spilker, Margaret Cadmus and Hannah Vogt, forming an elite rafting team was a no-brainer. After all, why shouldn’t their backyard raise the world’s best rafting athletes? In fact, The Sweets— who have years of experience as river guides— placed 3rd at Nationals this year because their familiarity with the spirited New and fierce Gauley gave them an edge.
Uphill and downhill battles
If you think casual whitewater is formidable, competition raises the sport to a whole new level.
Rafters must race in 4 components:
- timed sprint
- head-to-head duel
- endurance race
The head-to-head race occasionally throws curveballs like single-lane passages, where only 1 team can pass through at a time.
As for the slalom, it’s similar to skiing competitions: teams navigate narrow metal gates upstream and downstream.
The last race has all the demands you’d imagine a long-distance challenge involves. And it’s also not unusual for challenging Class IV rapids to pepper the course.
Team Southern Virginia
Local rivers aside, the Sweets have another home-field advantage: loyal fans. Adventures on the Gorge helps out with PR coverage, sponsorship and marketing. Oak Hill’s Holiday Lodge Hotel also lets them use their indoor pool— a bonus when mountain winters get wicked.
Will it be enough? Given The Sweets’ determination and grit, it could be a winning combination!
The Sweets hit the rapids to vie for the title June 16-19 at FIBArk, America’s Oldest Whitewater Festival.
Good luck, team!