Do the R-2: Tiny rafts, steep creeks, big fun

first_imgLinc Stallings running Class IV+ dueling waterfalls. See the full gallery. Photo: Jeremy Rogers“I’ve got a 50/50 success rate with that drop. About half the time, I swim,” Linc Stallings tells me after he negotiates our boat over a 10-foot waterfall into a deep pool flanked by massive boulders. We’re running the North Fork of the French Broad, a small stream that drops off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Western North Carolina. It’s a rain-dependent creek with class IV+ vertical drops, deep pools, and technical boulder gardens scattered throughout a two-mile stretch that’s popular with creek boaters. We’re running it in a small two-person raft called an R-2. Across the Southern Appalachians, a handful of boaters are beginning to take these small, 10-foot rafts down narrow, class IV-V creeks that have previously only been run in kayaks and the occasional canoe. It’s a niche sport that even some creek boaters think is a little crazy.“People freak out when they see rubber coming down a creek,” Stallings says. “There are only a few people who would take a raft down these narrow rivers, so people still think it’s wild.”Of those few R-2 boaters, Linc Stallings is easily one of the most experienced. The 36 year old has been guiding rafts down class V rivers for 15 years, working the biggest rivers in the South and Colorado depending on the year. He’s a rare breed: a professional raft guide, someone who’s committed to this as a career, not just something to do between college and “the real world.”“I always thought I’d do it and move on. But I just kept doing it,” Stallings says. “I love it. I love taking people out on the river. I love hanging out with other boaters. I love the water.”R-2 creeking is essentially what raft guides do on their day off. They borrow a small two-person raft from their bosses and push it, scrape it, and paddle like hell through tight rain-dependent creeks in the mountains. The North Fork of the French Broad is one of Stallings’ favorites. He first learned to creek boat here while attending Brevard College’s wilderness immersion program. He knows the nuances of every significant rapid the way a tween girl knows the lyrics to a Justin Bieber song.“A ton of people have run this creek in a kayak,” he tells me as we begin to paddle toward the first class III rapid, just 50 yards from the put-in. “But running it in a raft has a completely different dynamic. Running tight drops in this big boat is fun, but there are some logistical things you have to work out. It’s like doing a math problem.” 1 2last_img read more

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One Dead, 40 Injured in Stadium Stampede

first_imgAt least one person has been killed and nearly 40 injured in a stampede at a Madagascar football stadium on Sunday.The incident occurred just before the start of Madagascar’s match against Senegal in the qualifying round of the Africa Cup of Nations, local media said.Thousands of spectators were still trying to get into the stadium through the only entrance. Two of those hurt are in a critical condition in the capital, Antananarivo.Many people had been queuing up since the early hours of the morning for a 14:30 (12:30 GMT) kick-off at the Stade Municipal de Mahamasina.French radio station RFI reported there was a rush to enter the stadium when the gates were opened.“We were waiting in the queue from six o’clock in the morning. We were metres from the gate when the stampede took place. I was trampled on the back, but my backpack cushioned the impact,” Rivo Raberisaona told the AFP news agency.“I do not understand why there was only one gate open into the stadium when it’s such a big match,” said Henintsoa Mialy Harizafy, whose uncle was injured in the stampede.The game, featuring stars such as Liverpool forward Sadio Mané, was played as planned in front of a capacity crowd and ended in a 2-2 draw.Stampedes at stadiums in Africa occur on a regular basis, often due to poor crowd control in over-crowded stadiums.A stadium stampede in Angola killed at least 17 people in February 2017.In July 2017, eight people – including seven children – died in a stampede at a match in Malawi.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

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Kroos Scores Late to Give Germany 2-1 Win over Sweden

first_imgSOCHI, Russia (AP) — The desperate world champions from Germany were seconds from losing control of their World Cup fate when Toni Kroos whispered to Marco Reus just outside Sweden’s penalty area.With the score tied in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Kroos seemed to remind Reus of a tricky set play from training that will live in World Cup lore.Down to 10 men after Jerome Boateng was given a second yellow card, Germany rallied for a 2-1 victory over Sweden on Saturday to suddenly revive its title defense thanks to a strike from Kroos that caught the Swedes by surprise and won’t soon be forgotten in Germany.“The fact Toni Kroos put it away is just incredible,” Reus said. “He’s shown that talent on previous occasions but really in this case it was practically the very last opportunity to win this match.”Kroos lined up for a free kick as if he was going for goal but just tapped the ball to Reus, who held it with his toe as the defenders paused. Kroos swung his right foot, curling the ball past a spinning Sebastian Larsson and over the outstretched hand of diving goalkeeper Robin Olsen.The Swedes watched the ball go in, mouths open in disbelief.The Germans ran to Kroos and erupted in emotional relief.Sweden’s Andreas Granqvist, left, and teammate Andreas Granqvist gestures during the group F match between Germany and Sweden at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia, Saturday, June 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)“Happy of course. It was a tough game again today for us,” Kroos said. “We suffered. … If you don’t score an early goal and we have the chances then it’s going to be difficult until the end. It was, but now of course we’re happy because I think we also deserved the victory.”Coming off an opening loss to Mexico, Germany fell behind again when Kroos’ early mistake led to Ola Toivonen’s goal in the 32nd minute. Reus equalized in the 48th. A point for a draw would have been enough to stay alive for the knockout stage, but the Germans would have needed help on the final day.Now Germany has some control of what happens. Mexico leads Group F with six points, and Germany and Sweden both have three. Mexico faces Sweden and Germany takes on winless South Korea in the final group matches.“Of course this was a thriller, full of emotions and a rollercoaster ride right up until the final whistle,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said.Crazy as it seems, all four teams still have a chance to advance on the final day.“There’s nothing strange to get ready for that match,” Sweden coach Janne Andersson said. “We still have an excellent opportunity to qualify.”For 90-plus minutes, Germany looked as if it would enter the final match facing the same possible fate as Spain and Italy and potentially become the third straight defending champion to fail to reach the knockout stage. They played the final 10 minutes without Boateng.Toivonen gave Sweden the lead, but Germany controlled every aspect by playing aggressive and attacking soccer. Germany forced Sweden to play defensively for almost the entire second half and eventually the attack paid off.Germany’s Toni Kroos celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal with his teammate Germany’s Antonio Ruediger, left, and Marco Reus, right, during the group F match between Germany and Sweden at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia, Saturday, June 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)“Something that I did appreciate today was that we didn’t lose our nerve, we didn’t panic after going down after conceding a goal,” Loew said. “We kept a level head.”Reus scored to pull Germany even, finishing Timo Werner’s cross that was tapped by halftime substitute Mario Gomez and caused the ball to pop up perfectly for Reus to finish with his leg.Olsen made a major save by stopping Gomez’s header in the 88th minute and Julian Brandt hit the post in the 90th, but he had no chance at Kroos’ strike.“This is probably heaviest conclusion that I’ve experienced in my career,” Andersson said.AFTER THE WHISTLESweden’s bench took issue with the way some Germany staff members celebrated after the final whistle. There was a confrontation between members of both teams on the sideline at midfield and the two groups had to be separated. Loew said he didn’t see “any gestures or aggressive gestures” directed at the Swedes.Andersson said he was annoyed by what he saw from the German celebration.“People behaved in ways that you don’t do,” Andersson said. “You cheer together, maybe, and you leave your opponents to feel sad, and that is the end of it.”NO OZILGermany coach Joachim Loew showed he wasn’t willing to stay with the status quo, making four changes to his starting lineup. One was due to necessity after central defender Mats Hummels injured his neck in training on Thursday.The surprise was Loew dropping Mesut Ozil from the starting lineup in favor of Reus.It was the first time Ozil was dropped from the lineup in a major international championship in his senior career. He started every game at the 2010 World Cup and was one of the stars of Germany’s winning squad in Brazil four years ago.“It was important to give Ozil a break today,” Loew said.INJURIESGermany midfielder Sebastian Rudy broke his nose when he was caught by the foot of a Swedish player in the first half, Loew said. Rudy had to be replaced by Ilkay Gundogan.GROUP DYNAMICSThe victory puts the Germans back on track to advance to the knockout stage if it can get a win against South Korea and have a better goal differential than the Swedes or Mexico depending on the outcome of their final match.Even if it does advance, Germany may be looking at being the No. 2 team from the group and potentially a matchup with Brazil in the round of 16.—By TIM BOOTH , AP Sports WriterSweden’s Viktor Claesson, left, challenges Germany’s Toni Kroos during the group F match between Germany and Sweden at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia, Saturday, June 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)Blood drips from the nose of Germany’s Sebastian Rudy during the group F match between Germany and Sweden at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia, Saturday, June 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

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