JOE JACOBI – One of my more memorable whitewater slalom competitions didn’t take place at an Olympic Games or in a far away, culturally unique world capital.
Instead, it is one particular race: our 1996 U.S. National Championships — a big deal for all Americans in our sport — that was contested in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee U.S.A. The actual *river* was hidden in the middle of a worn-out amusement park, now long plowed under. In its heyday the park, Opryland, was hanging on with the occasional second-tier country music act and, of all things, its whitewater rafting ride where an organizer decided it would be a swell place for a slalom race for post-games Olympians and a hundred other competitive boaters.
The whitewater venue was one of the first water splashing circular cement channels in which customers would ride in huge multi-person rafts. At one time it was popular with families who had Deliverance as their idea of outdoor adventure while still making it home in time for dinner.