The International Whitewater Hall of Fame Board of Governors has announced the names of the Class of 2007 of the International Whitewater Hall of Fame (IWHOF) honorees. This newest class of whitewater legends includes a manufacturer, coach, and an artist/illustrator whose diversity represents significant accomplishment and contribution to both the sport and business of whitewater:
Walt Blackadar (deceased), of Stanley, Idaho is honored in the Explorer category not only for his first descents of Turnback Canyon on the Alsek (British Columbia) in 1971 and Devils Canyon on the Susitna (Alaska) in 1972, but for his impact on whitewater sport. His article in Sports Illustrated in 1972 chronicling his solo descent of Turnback Canyon propelled him to almost a cult hero overnight making him a legend. Seen by millions of viewers on ABCs American Sportsman in the 1970s, Walt became the face of kayaking epitomizing big water river running.
Toni Prijon, Sr. of Rosenheim, Germany is honored in the Pioneer category for his life-long and on-going influence in the paddlesports industry. Tonis touch as a designer has impacted more than 45 years of the world of whitewater as few others have. Although much of his focus through his company Prijon Kayaks has been on slalom and wildwater competition, his pioneering work in design has influence the sport broadly, popularizing plastic kayaks for every aspect of Paddlesports: creek boating, playboating, recreational whitewater, and sea kayaking.
Bill Endicott of Bethesda, Maryland and William Nealy (deceased) of Hillsboro, North Carolina are honored in the Advocate category for their life-long contributions. Endicott, a coach and writer, influenced whitewater slalom in the U.S. and internationally for thirty years. Over his illustrious career, he coached athletes who won 57 medals in World Championship, World Cup, and Olympic competitions, 27 of them gold. Among these athletes include the C-1 athletes of the 1980s who dominated world competition, including Champions Jon Lugbill and Davey Hearn, both inducted into IWHOF in 2005. His books have provided invaluable insight into the world of championship slalom competition.
An artist/illustrator and often heralded as “Whitewaters Poet Laureate,” Nealy was one of the best known ambassadors of the sport. His art captured the essence of whitewater paddling and whitewater paddlers. William began drawing river maps of the more popular rivers in the southeast U.S using his now hallmark cartoonist style. He is perhaps best known internationally for his groundbreaking book, Kayak: A manual of Technique (translated into five languages). It combined expert paddling instruction along with artful caricatures and parodies of the whitewater enthusiasts themselves.
Athletes Richard Fox of Penrith, Australia and Cathy Hearn of Charlotte, North Carolina are honored in the Champion category. Fox is the most decorated slalom kayaker in the history of the sport having won ten World Championship gold medals, including five individual titles. He was the innovator of smooth slalom techniques emulated by many, and was the first to use a double torque kayak paddle at the 89 World Championships. After retiring from competition, Richard moved from Great Britain to Australia to be the Head Coach for the Australian 00 Olympic team and played an active role in the ICF campaign to include slalom in the 00 Olympics. He is currently responsible for the Australian Slalom and Flatwater programs building toward the 08 Olympics.
Hearn began her two-decade-long winning career in international competition with an unprecedented three gold medals (79 World Championship) in slalom, slalom team, and wildwater team events. She has always been extremely competitive in all types of whitewater including C-1 (her first whitewater boating experience) and C-2, and in wildwater in addition to slalom. Cathy has shared her knowledge during most of her career providing affordable and volunteer coaching nationally and internationally. She is the current U.S. National Coach, primarily working with the C-1 and C-2 national team athletes.