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Olympic trials will be back in OKC in 2021

Madeline Kimmel competes in women's kayak at the 2019 American Canoe Association Slalom National Team Trials at the Riversport Rapids in the Boathouse District along the Oklahoma River in Oklahoma City. Olympic trials are returning to Oklahoma City's whitewater venue next year. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]
Madeline Kimmel competes in women's kayak at the 2019 American Canoe Association Slalom National Team Trials at the Riversport Rapids in the Boathouse District along the Oklahoma River in Oklahoma City. Olympic trials are returning to Oklahoma City's whitewater venue next year. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]

Olympic competition is returning to Oklahoma City in 2021, and 2020 MAPS 3 whitewater park activities are shifting into high gear in the coming week.

The U.S. Olympic whitewater trials have been rescheduled for Riversport Rapids after being postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent delay of the 2020 (now 2021) Tokyo Olympic Games.

Canadian sprint kayak trials also are coming to the Boathouse District next year, Riversport Foundation Executive Director Mike Knopp said Friday.

Knopp said the whitewater park's pumps will be turned up next week as a raft guide school opens. Starting Tuesday, kayakers with their own boats can get on the water.

All this leads to opening the park with strict social distancing and sanitizing precautions for rafting starting Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.

Reservations are encouraged to avoid lines by calling (405) 552-4040.

Riversport has introduced deals and lined up sponsors to broaden the reach of activities on the Oklahoma River this year.

Lopez Foods will sponsor the new surf machine set to open by the end of July and will make season passes available in the Latino community, Knopp said.

Commitments include Oklahoma City Community Foundation support to enhance access for northeast-side children to the whitewater park, which is a public park operating in a partnership with the Riversport Foundation.

To assist families enduring financial hardships due to the pandemic, Riversport is giving away a 2020 season pass for each season pass it sells. Regular passes sold through the promotion are good through 2021.

Details on "One Family Helping One Family" are on the park's website, riversportokc.org.

Concrete was poured for the surf attraction this week, Knopp said. The $2 million dual-rider surfing machine is expected to net $250,000 per year for the foundation, helping it stabilize its finances.

Knopp told the city council this week the foundation had reduced annual expenses by $281,600, or 17%, over last year.

The foundation received a $750,000 federal Paycheck Protection Program loan to help cover payroll, rent and utilities through June 22.

The city council agreed to a $1.5 million cash infusion last September and is expected to be asked for a similar amount in the budget set for adoption June 9.

William Crum

OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman. Read more ›

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