We interviewed Team Captain, Chad Smith and wanted to share their story, bios, and adventures with you as they get ready to head to Australia in May to represent the United States in the World Master’s Rafting Championship .
Who is Team WV?
We are rafting buddies that met on the Gauley River in West Virginia who have been paddling together for the last 20 years. Our love and passion for whitewater brought us together to form Team WV. Our team of 7 competed in the National Championship held on the New and Gauley River in September 2018. This opportunity brought us a National Championship in the Master’s Division.
Chad Smith, Team Captain
Chad was born June 17th 1978 in Troy Ohio. He ran his first New river trip when he was 12 years old. When he was 15 his father took him on the Middle Fork of the Salmon, in Idaho. On the third day of the trip he told his father he was going to be a river guide.
When he was 18 he came rafting with the outdoor club from Hocking College. He then came back the following spring in 1998 to start his guide training with the Rivermen. In 1999 Chad Met his wife Stacey as a customer, they began to travel. Chasing whitewater and adrenaline, they lived in Hawaii, Florida, and Colorado. Always coming back to West Virginia each year for the Gauley Season. They have never missed a Gauely season in 21 years.
In 2003 Chad and Stacey got married and settled their roots back into WV. They now have a 13 year old boy “Kai”. They spend most of their days chasing soccer balls, working on their small farm. They love to get as many play days and overnighters on the rivers in their back door of West Virginia.
Chad has been an employee of the Rivermen “AOTG” for 21 years. When the companies merged Chad was hired on as the maintenance facility director. Chad continues to do as many commercial trips as he can throughout the year. He always tries to honor his request. In 2016 Chad received the Employee of the year award.
Whitewater is in his blood. It has given him many opportunities throughout his life, and heading to Australia to represent the USA in the Men’s Masters division is another one of those amazing moments.
Chad has raced in National raft races in the past, however it was 18 years ago. He also has competed in the local Gauley Animal race several times with his local teammates called Team “Maravia”. Three of the members of the National Team are former members of this race team.
As a 5th generation Floridian, Linc decided to trade swamps and beaches for mountains and rivers early in life. He was introduced to whitewater at age 10 while traveling through West Virginia on a family trip. He the spent most summers of his youth at summer camp in NC whitewater canoeing, kayaking and rafting. But it was that first little float trip down the New River many years before that unleashed a current that still flows strong today.
Linc has spent over 20 years guiding whitewater trips throughout the southeast, mid- Atlantic, Rocky Mountains, Alaska, Ecuador and Costa Rica. When not entertaining customers on his home waters, you can find him seeking out new creeks to R1 and S1. Although he has many years under his kayak’s sprayskirt and guiding his privately owned paddleboard tours, his passion has always been for paddling rafts. This year marks two decades of guiding on his two true loves, the Gauley and Chattooga Rivers.
He looks forward to fulfilling a lifelong dream of competing alongside his WV teammates on the world stage. And most of all, he’s excited to represent the southern Appalachian rivers, the Mountain State and the United States at the 2019 World Rafting Championships in Australia.
Mike Edwards has been a commercial Whitewater guide for 20 seasons, working on rivers across the US. Mike has guided in Alaska, California, Colorado, Montana, Washington, and West Virginia, where he was initially trained on the New and the Gauley rivers. In addition to commercial work, Mike has traveled internationally to paddle. During the winter months he is a ski patrol in Utah, and lives with his wife and dog.
Mike is extremely excited about this opportunity to race for US and the world rafting championship and would like to thank everyone that sponsors his team to get there.
Scotty Skaggs, Local native from Ansted, West Virginia. Been Guiding rivers for almost 30 years. His passion for whitewater rafting started in West Virginia on the New and Gauley rivers. His brother in-law guided the rivers in the 80’s and got him started the art of reading water. Even though it took him a while to master it, when he did he ran with it. This journey took him to different country’s where he was able to learn different ways of guiding and languages. Most of his travel time has been spent in Costa Rica. Where it has been a great experience all around.
His love for nature and whitewater has exceeded all that man could build. He was fortunate to be able to share this love with his children while they were growing up.
He consider this a great honor to represent West Virginia, and the United States of America in this event, and to participate in this with all the others involved.
He starts his day with looking to a higher power for guidance and safety for each day.
Born 1/22/1960 in Uzbekistan, former Soviet Union.
After finishing high school in 1977, attended Tashkent State University, Geological Faculty. Graduated 1982 as engineer geologist.
In lat 70’s started being interested in whitewater and mountaineering.
Started extended trips up to 30 days in the remote wilderness of Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Kavkaz region.
Ran well know river like Katun, Chuya, Uda, Ohta, and UlugO in Russia, Chatkal, Pskem, and Chirchik in Uzbekistan, Ugam and Uba in Kazakstan, Vrazob and Kafirnigan in Tajikistan and many others.
Participated in largest whitewater festival in Losevo near St. Petersburg in K2 division.
In 184 presented team Tajikistan in all union whitewater competition in K2 division in Western Ukraine.
1988 started training Uzbekistan slalom Olympic team for games in Barcelona.
In 1990 moved to USA. From May 91 started working in Nantahala Outdoor Center and worked on Nantahala, French Broad, Nolichucky, Ocoee, and Chattooga rivers. Ran Biobio river in Chile and Rio Grande with the NOC adventure program. Paddled Skokomish river in Washington, Merced in CA, Chiriqui Viejo in Panama, and kayaked the Grand Canyon in 1997. In September of 1996 started working with Class VI on the Gauley and New River in WV. In 2015 competed in the Animal Race in the Upper Gauley river and placed 1st. In september of 2018 participated in USRA 2018 AR-6 National Rafting Championship in Master Division on the New and Gauley Rivers. Full time guiding finished around 2001. At present time live in Florida with wife and 2 children. Kayak and raft a few weeks a year on the Chattooga, New and Gauley.
Steve Brenner: Born on 9/29/1961 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He currently reside in his hometown. Steve played QB in youth football with Doug Campbell who was his favorite receiving target, which eventually landed him a part of the Campbell clan. Brenner met Steve Campbell in 7th grade where they hit it off and started taking him on whitewater canoe trips in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and NC. First rafting experience was in 1977 with Campbell and Brenner taking an Upper Gauley trip with Mountain River Tours. Mr. Campbell started RIVERMEN in 1980 where Brenner learned to read whitewater. Steve received a football scholarship to William and Mary the same year where he played strong safety, starting all 4 years. He graduated with a BS in Geology in 1985. He worked for RIVERMEN in 1987 before taking a job as an environmental hydrogeologist in Florida. Steve returned to the WV rafting community in1995 when he was transferred to Maryland. He has primarily been a weekend guide ever since with a few stints at full time guiding between jobs at environmental engineering and consulting companies. Steve paddled with team Rivermen in 2 US national championships and Canadian National Championships. Also race in Gore Canyon Race. Now guides for Adventures on the Gorge. His hobbies are motorcycles, working out, and reading about history and philosophy.
Team WV would like to thank all of the Team Sponsors and individuals that have supported them as they prepare for their National Championship Voyage to Australia.
If you would like to Sponsor Team WV or support them as they head to Australia,