Adventure Sports Center International

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Adventure Sports Center International
Locale McHenry, Maryland USA
Managing agent Adventure Sports Center, Inc.
Website ASCI
Main shape Loop
Length 579 metres (1,900 ft)
Slope 1.7% (300 m Slalom Course)
Water source Deep Creek Lake
Pumped 4 pumps (usually 2 or 3)
Flowrate 16 m3/s (570 cu ft/s) max
Practice pool Yes
Surf wave Six Wave Shapers
Construction 2003-2007
Opening date May 2007

Adventure Sports Center International is an Olympic standard white water rafting and canoe/kayak slalom center located on the mountaintop above the Wisp Ski Resort at Deep Creek Lake, McHenry, Maryland, USA. In addition to serving as a venue for slalom races and training, the center offers a range of services to the general public including guided raft trips, inflatable kayak rentals, and riverboard rentals.

ASCI Raft Drop.jpg

The center opened in May 2007, constructed at a cost of $24 million, and is the third pump-powered artificial whitewater facility built in North America.[1] Its educational partner in water sports instruction is the Adventuresports Institute of nearby Garrett College, which offers degrees in outdoor adventure sports.


The concept of Adventure Sports Center International (ASCI) originated after the 1989 Whitewater Slalom World Championships on the remote Savage River in Western Maryland. Sergi Orsi, then president of the International Canoe Federation encouraged the organizers of the 1989 Savage River event to build a pump-powered artificial whitewater course in a more accessible location nearby. The Maryland state government supported the project to promote summer tourism in the region.[2]

Since the Wisp Ski Resort already had a pump-filled mountaintop reservoir to supply its snowmaking machines with water in the winter, the artificial whitewater course was sited next to this reservoir to make use of its water in the summer. The roads, motels, and restaurants which served the ski area in the winter made the location accessible to summer visitors.

In April, 2011, ASCI was chosen as the site for the 2014 World Championship slalom competition. The races will be held on September 16-21.[3]

Course Design[edit]

Adventure Sports Center International (ASCI) map.svg

The course plans were drawn by the McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group, architects of the Ocoee Whitewater Center, which served as the canoe slalom venue for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The Ocoee facility is the only Olympic whitewater venue built in a riverbed, using natural boulders to direct the water flow, and McLaughlin used a similar design at McHenry -- with a channel shaped like a natural streambed and lined with natural boulders blasted from the mountaintop. The purpose was both aesthetic and practical. Irregular surfaces dampen the water surges that can occur in geometrically regular artificial channels.[4]

Adventure Sports Center International (ASCI) aerial.jpg

The first 100 meters of the course is a continuous rapid called "Pinball Alley." It originally began with a drop from the start pool and a split around the "Dark Destroyer" boulder in the middle of the stream, however in the winter of 2013 the top drop was narrowed and moved back into the start pool, reducing the slope, and the mid-stream boulder was removed. The first 100 meters remains the steepest and narrowest part of the course.[5] In the slalom course layout shown here, the first seven slalom gates are in Pinball Alley. To increase course difficulty, more of the gates can be hung in this section. The course then becomes a pool-drop river, with a wider channel and lower overall slope. At any point below the middle of Pinball Alley, swimmers can escape the current and swim ashore.

The last 280 meters of the course, starting at the end of the 300-meter competition section, is a practice area with easy put-in and take-out on either shore. The last feature is a 10-foot (3.0 m) spillway drop into the lower pool. A conveyor belt carries boats and paddlers back to the start pool.

To create standing waves for freestyle (rodeo) competition, hydraulically adjustable wave shaping plates were placed under the water in six locations: two where pump-driven water enters the start pool, and one at the bottom of each of the four concrete-walled spillway drops. Jimmy Blakeney, 2003 U.S. National Freestyle Kayak Champion, assisted in the final design of the wave shapers.[4]

Gallery - Slalom gates for major races[edit]


  1. ^ The first, Dickerson Whitewater Course, built in a converted industrial water channel, uses the cooling-water pumps of the Dickerson Generating Station. The second, U.S. National Whitewater Center, in Charlotte, North Carolina, was the first designed solely for recreation.
  2. ^ "Making Waves on a Maryland Mountaintop". Weekend Adventures Magazine, Fall 2007. Retrieved 2010-09-20. 
  3. ^ Sports Center Wins Bid to Host 2014 World Champs Retrieved 2011-05-11
  4. ^ a b "PROJECT NOTES - Adventure Sports Center International (ASCI), Self-Contained Whitewater Course". Retrieved 2010-09-20. 
  5. ^ The absence of the mid-stream boulder is evident in this July 2013 video. Retrieved 2013-09-21.

Coordinates: 39°32′46″N 79°22′19″W / 39.546°N 79.372°W / 39.546; -79.372

External links[edit]