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Friday, September 20, 2002 - Sunday, September 22, 2002 -- Oak Hill, WV
Gauley River Rolling Rodeo (iPO Event Id#: 5193)
Story and photos by George Gannon

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [2001 Event Coverage]

[Ed Note: iPlayOutside was only able to attend the amateur class event on Sunday. Friday's pro results are included.]

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The only way to surf in
West Virginia
"This ain't about money for these boys. It ain't about prizes neither. This one's about bragging rights at the bar. It's a long winter if ya don't win this."

That was Bud Fuller's summation of the 2002 edition of ACE Whitewater's Gauley River Rolling Rodeo. His son Ted would later have one of the event's signature moments.

The waters of the world-famous Gauley River were not going to yield points easily, but the 30 boaters on Sunday were ready for anything the "Beast of the East" could throw at them.

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Anxious boaters wait their turn
The day started at Geek Wave. Scoring the most points was Huntsville, Ala., native Nick Klemnisky. Competing in the junior expert class, Klemnisky earned frequent flyer miles he was up so high on some of his flips.

Dru Smith scored the highest in the men's expert class by penetrating the hole and making it wail with unencumbered ecstasy. Smith's run was marked air-born flips and super-sexy cartwheels.

However, the wave play that drew the biggest reaction from the crowd was "Texas" Ted Fuller's run. Fuller, who was working the wave with sublime skill, was charged by a raft full of people. Instead of backing down as the raft approached, Fuller bumped the boat, forcing it to flip. A cheer emanated from the spectators and competitors that reverberated through the canyon as the raft overturned, spewing her guide and his crew into the river.

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Churnin' it up at Pillow Rock
"Ted's had some practice at that," his father would later announce.

Next up was Pillow Rock. The class V rapid is marked by a line of surfing holes at the top, followed by a wave train that sends boaters into the "Room of Doom." Scott Mann, showed the room that he could play in her walls with ease. After a few tricks at the top, Mann stroked the wave train into the room. Once there, he pulled off trick after trick, never once letting her bubbling waters trouble him.

At the Hungry Mother, Klemnisky stole the show. His first flip would have knocked a crop plane out of the sky. His cartwheel was so deranged it could have made medicine sick.

"I've been throwing it out for awhile," Klemnisky said of his favorite trick. "I try to go big every time."

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A traffic jam at Sweets
The rodeo culminated at the legendary Sweets Falls. A five-on-five race sent boaters off the 13-foot drop, into the narrow passage between Postage Stamp Rock and the left bank, through another narrow passage then back into the middle section of the river.

Scott Mann and Pat Metheny battled hard for the top spot, with Mann ultimately crossing the finish line first. In the junior expert class, the purple-haired Austin Rothman left the other racers in his wake, with eventual rodeo winner Dustin Urban taking the number two spot.

Back at ACE Adventure Center, awards were handed out, with Dru Smith earning top honors in the expert class and Urban winning the junior expert class. Brad Isaacs captured the number one spot in the beginner sport class.

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Finding the sweet line
Bud Fuller might have been right about bragging rights over a few cold ones, but all the boaters in Sunday's rodeo could easily walk away with their heads held high.

An iPlayOutside shout-out goes to Ted Dallinger for guiding the boat I was in safely through the water and to Beth Gill for getting us the results so quickly.