Winter evenings might seem like an unsuspecting time to practice whitewater skills, but a visit to the WVU Student Recreation Center on Thursday evenings proves otherwise. Every Thursday from January to March, the Rec Center pool becomes a playground for kayakers looking to improve technique and practice their rolls.
Roll sessions are hosted by Adventure WV from 8:30-10:30PM and are free to WVU students and Rec Center members. The public can pay $5 for entrance to the pool and access to equipment, which is distributed on a first come first serve basis. Participants are welcome to bring their own boats.
Instructors like Daniel Ford are available to teach skills and provide feedback. “A lot of people have specific goals,” he says. “If someone has never kayaked before, it might be a successful roll session for them to get in the boat, paddle around, and get the feel for stability, bracing, and wet exits. A lot of people come to roll their kayak. It’s really individual, but we look for progress with gaining comfort in maneuvering your boat.”
Opportunities for practice grow as the days get longer. March marks the close of roll sessions and the beginning of another adventure: Paddle Nights with Morgantown’s outdoor shop, Pathfinder. Instructor Bill Brandow will help students progress from pool, to lake, to river. “This year we’re aiming to transition smoothly from roll sessions here at the Rec Center into paddle night through the summer.” The Lower Youghiogheny, he mentions, is great for advanced beginners venturing into Class 3 rapids. “It has a lot of features, a lot of eddies, a lot of stuff that you can teach with.”
Paddlers: plan for your next kayak adventure by checking out roll sessions this Thursday night.