Most people wouldn't enjoy plummeting over a 70-foot waterfall, but for Todd Wells it's "euphoric."
Wells has been invited to compete at the 2012 Whitewater Grand Prix held in various locations throughout Chile from Saturday, Dec. 1-Friday, Dec 14.
There are five different stages throughout the two-week event, including whitewater sprint, giant slalom and endures.
Wells said competitive events for whitewater kayaking haven't existed until recently. The Whitewater Grand Prix is the world's premier kayaking competition.
There were a couple different ways to be invited to the event. Many of the racers qualified by competing in smaller events worldwide or by finishing in the top five last year. Wells sent in a video of himself showcasing his skills and was selected to compete.
Wells grew up in the Columbia River Gorge and is used to paddling on steep low-volume rivers.
"I am really looking forward to the event on the Gol Go River," Wells said. "It's a lot like what I grew up on, so I think I could do really well."
Wells is still a little nervous about the section he'll be navigating, although he thinks he can perform well during the stage.
"It is a pretty steep and dangerous part of the river," Wells said. "Not only are you paddling as hard as you can for 12 minutes, you also need to do it safely. That part has some 20- and 30-foot waterfalls.
The other section that worries Wells is the stage held on the Middle Palguin, where anything can happen. The contestants will be judged on style and technique as they drop over a 70-foot waterfall.
"It's like no other feeling in the world. To be surrounded by air and water is one of the most incredible feelings you can imagine," Wells said. "You really have to focus, but once you go over you just have to trust the decisions you have made up until that point. "
Wells is somewhat familiar with the rivers in Chile. He attended the World Class Kayak Academy and spent six months in Chile and Argentina when he was in high school. The students attended class in the morning and kayaked in the afternoon.
To prepare for the upcoming trip, Wells has been going to the gym three to four times a week as well as practicing sprints on the middle fork of the Nooksack River at least three times a week.
He has also been finishing his school work at Western Washington University, as he's leaving the quarter early to attend the event.
Growing up, Wells learned techniques from Tao Berman. With Berman, Wells developed workout routines to continue to improve. Wells said Berman was one of the best kayakers in the world.
Wells will not be travelling to Chile alone. Bellingham's Fred Norquist is filming, and Eric Parker is taking photos for the event.
Reach Kyle Elliott at Kyle.Elliott@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-756-2271