Welcome to the heart of the Italian Alps, where we find ourselves navigating the thrilling Class III rapids of the Adda River. This majestic river, whose bed cuts through the picturesque Lombardy region of northern Italy, originates in the Alpine peaks near the Swiss border. Stretching eastwards for approximately 313 kilometers before joining the Po River, the Adda River winds its way through the enchanting Valtellina region, forming the breathtaking Lake Como. And it is within this valley adorned with lush greenery that the most significant event of the year is taking place—the World Rafting Championship 2023!
Thanks to abundant snowfall from the previous winter, the Adda River boasts an impressive water flow, providing an ideal challenge for over 400 athletes and technicians hailing from 32 countries around the world. The championship, running from June 26 to July 2, carries high stakes as participants compete for the prestigious title of World Champions.
The athletes will engage in various categories, including Downriver, Slalom, and the Head-to-Head Downhill (RX) race, where two teams simultaneously compete in the same section of the river course, vying for victory.
This year, the race introduces larger Aquadesign boats to accommodate the growing number of participants. During the accreditation process, several new countries have joined our rafting movement, expressing their enthusiasm for this inclusive sport. Teams from Italy, India, Costa Rica, Japan, and Brazil were the first to arrive, followed by Kosovo, Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, North Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey, and Ukraine. Additionally, three African countries—Morocco, Senegal, and Uganda—bring a new dimension to this championship.
The athletes had their first official training session yesterday afternoon, allowing them to explore the rapids and become familiar with the challenging river.
Throughout the week, spectators can look forward to a variety of entertainment options. Yesterday, a parade featuring the teams began from Piazza Teresina Tua Quadrio, culminating in the vibrant city center, led by the Albosaggia and Ardenno gangs. The races will provide heart-pounding moments, but the valley will also come alive with celebrations, featuring performances by local artists and DJs.
One of the highlights of the event is the thrilling night descent along the Mallero River. Benedetto Del Zoppo, the host of the World Champs as the president of the Italian Rafting Federation, explains that the river will be illuminated for this captivating descent. Danilo Barmaz, the esteemed President of the World Rafting Federation, passionately emphasizes the pivotal role that the championship plays in fostering inclusiveness and encouraging active participation in sports and recreational activities. The event serves as a powerful platform for raising awareness among young individuals and the local community regarding the importance of environmental protection and nature conservation.
Barmaz firmly believes that the World Rafting Championship serves as more than just a thrilling competition; it serves as a catalyst for uniting people from diverse backgrounds and cultures, transcending differences in the face of their shared passion for the river. By bringing together participants from around the globe, the championship embodies the spirit of solidarity and friendship, promoting understanding and cooperation among nations.
Furthermore, Barmaz underscores the significant impact that the championship has on inspiring the younger generation to become stewards of the environment. Through witnessing the athletes’ dedication to environmental sustainability and witnessing the mesmerizing beauty of the natural surroundings, young people are encouraged to actively engage in the preservation of our planet. By instilling a sense of responsibility and respect for nature at an early age, the championship leaves a lasting imprint on the minds of these future leaders, fostering a lasting commitment to protecting and conserving our precious ecosystems.
In this regard, the World Rafting Federation is dedicated to fostering an inclusive and environmentally conscious environment throughout the championship. By showcasing the “Peace and Sport” project by the “Organisation for Peace through Sport,” the federation aims to promote peaceful coexistence and understanding through the universal language of sports. Additionally, the federation’s partnership with OneTreePlanted demonstrates their commitment to offsetting the event’s environmental impact by supporting reforestation efforts, ensuring that the championship leaves a positive ecological legacy.
Ultimately, Barmaz extends his heartfelt wishes to all participants, spectators, and supporters, expressing his hope that the World Rafting Championship 2023 will not only showcase exceptional athletic prowess but also serve as a powerful catalyst for positive change, inspiring a generation of environmentally conscious individuals dedicated to preserving our natural heritage for years to come.