Riversport Rapids opens in the Boathouse District 

click to enlarge Photo provided by Georgia Read
  • Photo provided by Georgia Read

This week, Team USA arrives in Oklahoma City to celebrate the grand opening of Riversport Rapids with its Road to Rio Tour Saturday and Sunday in the Boathouse District, 725 S. Lincoln Blvd.

OKC Riversport’s newest Riversport Rapids facilities span 11 acres and cost $45 million to build. Its grand opening is timed to coincide with welcoming Team USA, as the site also is home to one of few U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Sites in the country.

Mike Knopp, Boathouse District director, expects Oklahoma City’s involvement in the year’s Olympics to be huge.

“We have Olympic hopefuls, athletes that want to try to make the Olympic team, to qualify to represent the United States in Rio, so they will come to Oklahoma City to qualify on our whitewater course,” he said.

The U.S. Olympic Team trials for canoe/kayak slalom happen Saturday and Sunday in conjunction with weekend festivities.

Weekend activities include a family-friendly festival with concerts by Aaron Newman & The OK Caravan and Matt Stansberry & The Romance Saturday afternoon and a country music concert and fireworks to wrap up the night. Sunday, music acts Shawna Russell, FM Pilots and Mike Hosty will perform. Food trucks, a beer and wine garden and the district’s Big Water Grill also will be on-site.

Activities also include whitewater rafting, water games and volleyball, Knopp said. Olympic athletes will welcome visitors, demonstrate whitewater routines and update guests on the upcoming games.

Road to Rio Tour events feature past and present Olympic kayakers and rafters, interactive sports, volleyball athletes training at the University of Central Oklahoma, 1984 Olympic gold medal gymnast Bart Conner; virtual reality experiences with pole vaulting, gymnastics, diving and more; team giveaways and more, organizers said. While here, athletes from across the U.S. are using Riversport Rapids facilities to try out for Olympic competitions.

The nine-stop Road to Rio tour launched in July 2015 and runs through Sept. 10. Featured cities include Philadelphia, San Diego, Boston, New York City, Oklahoma City, Indianapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles and Birmingham, Alabama. Team USA athletes launched its 100 Day Countdown to the Rio Olympic Games 2016 April 27 from a tour stop in Times Square. The games run Aug. 5-21 in Brazil. The Rio 2016 Summer Paralympic Games follow Sept. 7-18.

The tour is a precursor to the Olympics, and Team USA helps highlight the various games by giving fans and visitors opportunities to see what’s in store for the 2016 Olympic Games.

While the two-day event is free and open to the public, tickets for whitewater rafting will be for sale. Due to the large number of crowds expected at the opening, Knopp said, guests are urged to preorder tickets online. Visit boathousedistrict.org for more information.

Plan your summer


 Boot Camp: Boathouse District fitness camps are 5 a.m. Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays and 6 a.m. Saturdays at Devon Boathouse in the Boathouse District, 725 S. Lincoln Blvd.

 Indoor Rowing: Boathouse District fitness rowing is available 5 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Chesapeake Boathouse and 10:15 a.m. Saturdays at Devon Boathouse in the Boathouse District, 725 S. Lincoln Blvd.

 Silver Sneakers: Boathouse District fitness group meets 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Chesapeake Boathouse in the Boathouse District, 725 S. Lincoln Blvd.

 Youth League: Program offers rowing to Oklahoma City high school students. Call 405-552-4040 for more information.


 OKC Riversport Adventures: Activities on the Oklahoma River and at Lake Overholser include the new Riversport Rapids, whitewater rafting and kayaking as well as SandRidge Sky Zip, Sky Trail, Sky Slides, Rumble Drop, Youth Zone, paddle boarding and cycling. All-access passes are good through the entire season. Visit boathousedistrict.org/buy-a-pass.

 OKC Riversport Sailing: The Sailing Center at Lake Hefner, 3821 S. Lake Hefner Drive, offers youth and adult sailing lessons. Visit boathousedistrict.org/sailing.


 May 14: OKC Riversport Youth League Championships happen May 14 on the Oklahoma River and feature student rowing athletes from U.S. Grant High School, Santa Fe South High School, ASTEC Charter High School, Northwest Classen High School and Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics.

 May 20: LeadWell leadership, business and health conference lead by Shanna Teel, founder and CEO of Dr. Shanna Teel & Company. Event is 8 a.m.-5 p.m. May 20 at Chesapeake Central Boathouse in the Boathouse District, 732 Riversport Drive. Registration is $245. Learn more at drshanna.com/events-2.

 June 25: Stars & Stripes River Festival celebrates the Fourth of July at this special event that features the PaddleFest Dragon Boat Festival, Riversport Challenge duathlon, races, talent contests and a family festival with music, food, Olympic adventures and, of course, fireworks.

 Aug. 3-6: The 2016 USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint World Championships happen Aug. 3-6 on the Oklahoma River’s 200-meter race course.

 Aug. 6-7: The USA Canoe/Kayak Slalom Age Group National Championships at the OKC National High Performance Center on the Oklahoma River are Aug. 6-7.

 Sept. 29-Oct. 2: Oklahoma Regatta Festival is a family-friendly event that celebrates dragon boating, kayaking and rowing and features youth activities, food, beer and fireworks Sept. 29-Oct. 2 in the Boathouse District, 732 Riversport Drive.

— By Gazette staff

Print headline: Fun, Games, A two-day opening celebration for Riversport Rapids welcomes Olympic trials, Team USA and the community.

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