This year’s inductee to the FIBArk Hall of Fame was Nate Lord, who was known for nurturing a love of river sports in youth and promoting river sports, FIBArk and the Arkansas River to worldwide competitors.

A tribute to Lord, who died in April, stated he was a coach and athlete who was a fixture of FIBArk river events for more than a quarter century. 

He joins such FIBArk notables as Erich Seidel, Ted Jacobs, Xaver Wuerfmannsdobler and Andy Corra in receiving the honor.

Lord started racing open canoes in 1982 when he began marathon racing in upper New York state, but he began his canoeing career in 1963 when he built his own kayak and won an award at Camp Hemlocks for canoeing enthusiasm.

He became head of the English department at the Dawson School in Longmont and was founder and coach of the Dawson School canoe and kayak team as a varsity letter sport in 1993.

He founded and was president of Team Colorado Whitewater Racing Club in 2012.

The tribute stated Lord brought hundreds of young athletes to train and race at FIBArk and other events on the Arkansas River. 

He competed in open canoe slalom and downriver events, including multiple OC-1 and OC-2 medals in the signature 26-mile downriver marathon.

Over the years Lord brought a  mix of young veterans and FIBArk first-timers for a week of training before FIBArk, as well as an array of slalom and downriver canoes. 

Salida Mayor P.T. Wood, who has participated in FIBArk for more than 20 years, said Lord was a perennial figure at FIBArk and remembered him bringing a bus load of kids to Salida every year with a variety of whitewater craft.

“I think they entered every event,” he said.

Not only did Lord and his team compete, Wood said, Lord was always helping out wherever he could. 

Lord brought young athletes to FIBArk for more than 28 years, with the racers and their families becoming regular volunteers for the river events.

His athletes from the Dawson School and Team Colorado regularly medaled in slalom, downriver and freestyle events at FIBArk. Many went on to become members of the United States Junior Wildwater team and slalom team. 

Lord also arranged for athletes and coaches from Spain, the Penobscot Nation and elsewhere to train and race on the Arkansas. 

Lord promoted canoe and kayak racing as fully inclusive and diverse lifetime sports.

In coordination with FIBArk, Lord was also involved in hosting national-level races on the Arkansas and based in Salida, including Age Group Slalom Nationals, Wildwater Nationals, Open Canoe Slalom Nationals and Open Canoe Downriver Nationals.

Lord grew the sport of canoe and kayak racing and helped keep river events vibrant at FIBArk. 

He used paddling to make a difference in the lives of generations of women and men who found inner strength, lifelong skills, passion, beauty and transformation on the Arkansas, the tribute stated.

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