Thanks to those of you who have donated so far, I really appreciate your support. I also really thank all of you for your thoughtful comments.
Due to some of your comments I plan to revise my essay a little bit. I would like to add hidden hazards (submerged logs, weird currents and the like) to my list of uncontrollable risks associated with boating. I would also like to add a little discussion about the difficulty of assessing rapids and perhaps the propensity for most everyone to underestimate the power of the water. I also would like to have everyone realize that this is a two way street. If you are taking out a fried that is less skilled than you are you need to remember that runs and lines, which may be easy for you, can be very very difficult for less experienced paddlers. As we take out newer paddlers, we have a tendency to underestimate the difficulty of the run compared to their ability (I am guilty of this).
As far as slalom... I've always wanted to get into slalom, but I haven't had the necessary introductory exposure. There aren't any slalom courses in Fort Collins and I don't know enough about the sport to really set one up myself.
I encourage everyone to cross train. Slalom, freestyle, etc. It will make you safer on the water. One of the reasons that I like running steep creeks, is not only the challenge, but the beautiful places it takes me. I admit, I have to have some component of willingness to take risks and seek excitement to whitewater paddle, but my main point, is that although accidents do happen, we can minimize this risk by being prepared and very aware of how the difficulty of a line/run relates to your specific skill level. This sort of assessment is VERY hard to do. As you get more skilled and as you gain more experience you get BETTER at this. I am less skilled than Evan Garcia at assessing waterfall dangers because I have much less experience than him. So if I do run a waterfall (this is actually not my favorite type of boating), I make the decision carefully. How soft does the landing look, how easy is the entry, how have other people's lines gone?, What happens in various scenarios at the bottom? What kind of safety is set up?
This is a good discussion. Thanks everyone. Events like this do have a tendency to push people maybe a little further outside their comfort zone than they usually paddle. I recognize this. By participating in this event, I am accepting a higher level of risk than I usually do when I paddle. I will keep in mind that just because I am going doesn't mean that I need to run all the events if I am feeling uncomfortable about them.