Oklahoma! Move over Moscow, Midwest America the new host for ICF SUP World Cup

 

We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!

Who doesn’t love a nice farm girl? The official event poster for the new 2022 ICF SUP World Cup in Oklahoma City

In some potentially major and definitely surprising news, the International Canoe Federation (ICF) has just announced the SUP World Cup previously scheduled for Moscow, Russia will now be held in, of all places… Oklahoma.

That’s right, Oklahooooooma.

The 2022 SUP World Cup in Oklahoma City (or just ‘OKC’ based on my limited knowledge of basketball) will join Switzerland and Hungary to form a three-stop series of major events in the lead-up to the ICF’s showcase piece, the SUP World Championships in Gdynia, Poland in September.

These new ICF World Cups are basically mini versions of the World Championships that combine the three main race formats: sprint, course and distance. Winners of each World Cup will score a free trip to the Worlds in addition to generous event prize money. The Oklahoma SUP World Cup will also go back-to-back with a ‘Super Cup’ canoe/kayak event to form a massive festival featuring paddling’s three major disciplines.

After the ICF followed the International Olympic Committee’s lead in banishing Russia from the world of sport over its government’s senseless invasion of Ukraine two weeks ago, the canoe boys faced a slight conundrum: Three high-profile events were scheduled for Russia this year including two canoe/kayak regattas plus stop # three of the new SUP World Cup series. Initial reports suggested they would try to relocate, though given the immense planning involved we all just assumed these races were going down the drain faster than Russia’s economy.

But nobody told Rodgers and Hammerstein, and OKC swept in to save the day like a cowboy chasing a Midwestern fair maiden.

Oklahooooooma.

While Oklahoma may seem an odd choice for a major SUP race, the location has pedigree. The venue is “Riversport” in Oklahoma City, which hosted last year’s U.S. Canoe Nationals along with an international Super Cup event (I think it’s just a fancy term for ‘World Cup’). Riversport is a relatively new paddling arena that features whitewater slalom, flat water and marathon (apparently very few locations can run all three formats). I spoke with Jimmy Terrell of Quickblade Paddles fame today and he told me OKC was a quality host.

Dates aren’t confirmed yet but it’s definitely happening in August — I chatted with the ICF and it sounds like nothing will be decided til next month. Moscow was originally scheduled for August 27/28 but was rescheduled to late July shortly before it was cancelled, so basically I have no idea about Oklahoma… Hopefully it’s the first week of August as that would form a nice USA double-header with the Gorge Paddle Challenge in Oregon, which itself has been brought forward a few weeks to fill the now empty last-weekend-in-July timeslot that Molokai used to hold (remember Molokai?).

Fiona Wylde at the 2021 ICF Worlds (credit: Dezso Vekassy / @planetcanoe)

Oklahoma is a long way from Moscow but I love this decision. We’re moving from one new frontier to another. This isn’t a duel between Maui and Australia or France and California, it’s a choice between Eastern Europe and inland America — the two parts of the world that will (along with perhaps Asia) fuel the growth in our sport over the next decade.

Oklahooooooma.

Looking at this in a broader context, the Oklahoma SUP World Cup along with Switzerland (7-8 May) and Hungary (17-19 June) will form the backbone of the ICF’s aggressive push into the SUP racing world. Even taken in isolation, these major events are obviously a good thing for our sport, but under the surface there’s clearly a long-term play for the Olympics going on here. As you’ll recall, in 2019/2020 the International Surfing Association (ISA) “won” the rights to host SUP at the Olympics in the future before promptly forgetting about our sport altogether like a complacent lover who starts packing on the pounds after wedding day. Since then, the ICF has swept in and gained so much momentum that I now wonder if the “Olympic governance” date night will be revisited one day (the ISA recently announced they’ll hold their first World Championships in three years in Puerto Rico in November; the tug-of-war continues).

It seems 2022 gets more interesting (and bizarre) with each passing day…

 


 

We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say
Yeeow! Yippie Aye Yay!
We’re only sayin’
You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoooooma!
Oklahoma O.K. L – A – H – O – M – A
OKLAHOOOOOOMA!

 

watch on YouTube

(oh you’ll be hearing a lot more Oklahoma jokes between now and August)