Lisa Adams

USA Canoe/Kayak

Lisa Adams
Birthplace: Grand Junction, Colorado
Event/Discipline: Slalom Canoe & Kayak, Wildwater Canoe & Kayak
Birthdate: 1987
School: Trinity University-San Antonio (class of '09); Currently enrolled at Ft. Lewis College (Durango, Colorado) in their teaching program.
Club: Great Blue Herons Canoe and Kayak Club (founding member since 2005)
Coaches: Cathy Hearn, Chris Wiegand, Nate Lord, Lecky Haller, Davey Hearn, Ben Kvanli and by countless racing peers who have worked with her both in the past and present.

Career Highlights:

  • 2011 U.S. Slalom National Team Member
  • 4 Gold Medals in Slalom C-1 and K-1 in one weekend at 2004 Junior Olympics and US Cup Races
  • Junior National Wildwater Team Member 2003-2005
Lisa withdrew from racing after a death in the family in June of 2005 and stayed inactive while focusing on her undergraduate years in college. She had not competed before making the 2011 Senior Slalom Team. She is serving as coach/manager with a kids racing program, The Alexander Dawson School Summer Program, in Summer 2011, while training and competing herself when and where possible. She is currently studying Spanish and Classical Studies/Latin at teaching school. She aspires to be teacher and whitewater coach.

Lisa started her paddling career by doing extended wilderness trips in tandem canoes at age four. By her freshman year of high school, Lisa was very familiar with the major desert rivers of the Colorado Plateau and was competently paddling large open solo canoes, OC-1's, on Westwater Canyon, a "big water" Class IV that is normally run by rafts and kayaks - rarely by expert open canoeists. Lisa has an exceptional big water combat roll, a skill that has helped greatly with the smaller boats used in whitewater racing. 

Lisa was introduced to racing by Cathy Hearn (multiple World Champion and Olympian) in the Fall of 2002. Cathy was doing an overnight canoe trip in our area and came by Lisa's home with coaching friend Chris Wiegand to borrow a boat from Lisa's father. Hearn met Lisa there and encouraged her to try racing. A few months later Lisa did a very cold weather (February at 7000 feet in the mountains) racing clinic with Cathy and was hooked.

Lisa started racing a month later in the Colorado High School Cup Racing series with the Alexander Dawson School Team--a school located five hours away from her home. The two nearest slalom courses to her home (in Grand Junction, Western Colorado) were four hours away. She instead practiced in local lakes and on the wide and flat Colorado River by imagining she was running gates on whitewater. Her first race was not imaginary. It was the US Open on the Nantahala Falls Course in North Carolina where she competed in the C-1 Junior class. She was notable for flipping on a hard move just above the four-foot high falls, running the falls up-side-down, losing her paddle in the hole, and for staying under water still in her boat while feeling around blindly until she found the lost paddle. She then rolled up, having missed multiple gates. Her time was very unimpressive but everyone was extremely relieved to see that she survived.

That same season, 2003, she made the Junior National Wildwater team and filled in as an alternate to compete in K-1W for the Senior National Wildwater team at the Kernville, Calif. ICF World Cup for Wildwater Races. As the team's youngest racer (just turned 15) Lisa was the flag bearer in the open ceremonies. Two weeks later she was the junior team's highest K-1W finisher at the Junior Worlds for Wildwater in Mayrhoffer, Austria. 

After finishing her kayak runs at Mayrhoffer in 2003, Lisa borrowed a teammate's C-1 wildwater boat, tucked her hair under her helmet, and did an extra run so she could compare her canoe time to her kayak times. She was faster in the canoe, which is normally a slower boat. In those days, C-1 was only a men's event in Europe. Lisa's run was six years before the ICF (International Canoe Federation) rules changed to allow women to compete in canoes. In 2003, Lisa was sternly reprimanded afterwards by the ICF Chairman who told her, "the next time you feel like racing in a C-1 that she should get in her kayak and pretend it was a canoe." Four years later, in 2007, Lisa received a special "International" medal for being first ever woman C-1 competitor in an ICF competition. It was awarded in a surprise presentation after a touching speech by (the same ICF Chairman) at the awards ceremony at the Jr. Worlds in Charlotte where Lisa was serving as a US Jr. Wildwater team assistant manager/coach.

This January, after 5 years of not competing, Lisa started training again in slalom and wildwater with an informal training group in Durango, Colorado. After borrowing some modern boats and receiving a lot of help from her fellow racers on how to run the challenging Charlotte National Whitewater Center course, Lisa finished her first race since 2005, the 2011 US Senior Team Trials at Charlotte this past April.  Her second place finish in the new (since 2008) class of C-1W gave Lisa her first ever spot on a National Slalom team. She is very excited to be racing again.