Action County: Ron Burke |

Action County: Ron Burke

Summit Daily/Kristin Skvorc

When a young Ron Burke canoed around Sonoma County, Calif., he had no idea that he’d one day be going paddle- to-paddle with the U.S. whitewater rafting team.Burke, 27, spent five years as a commercial rafting guide in Winter Park before forming Team Pinchie. The team races all over Colorado and the nation, making the podium in more than one event.The team placed second in the recent Teva Mountain Games in Vail. They also placed third at the Royal Gorge Race and second at Fibark in Salida. The U.S. team competed against Burke’s squad at the Teva games.

Burke, who currently works as a painting contractor in Breckenridge, began racing with other guides at Winter Park.”I never thought we’d be any good,” he said. A couple of years ago, the team decided to take things more seriously, and results improved, Burke added.Team Pinchie once competed at the Gauley Fest race in West Virginia.”That race used to be called ‘the Animal’; long, big and tough,” Burke said.

For the rest of this season, Burke and his teammates: Joe Saliano, Johnathon Morse, Paul Renfro, Bobby Sisti and Ben Copithorn look forward to the Pine Creek and Numbers Race, and then to the national championships.At the national championships, a technically demanding slalom course must be navigated by the competitors.”It’s very hard to manage,” Burke said. Making it through every slalom gate on the rapids is extremely challenging, he continued.Burke said that there are not a ton of races for whitewater teams to compete in, and that finding sponsorship for his team is a real challenge.

Team Pinchie is currently without a sponsor. Even the U.S. team struggles to find corporate support as most companies pour their money into kayakers instead, Burke said.Team Pinchie also deals with scheduling issues. Coordinating a six-man rafting team is very difficult, and Team Pinchie has been forced to used substitute paddlers in some races this year. But despite lineup issues and lack of sponsorship, Team Pinchie and Ron Burke are floating along just fine.”I do my own thing, and race my raft in the meantime,” Burke said.

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