The Wintering Grounds Image

The Wintering Grounds

By Bradley Gibson | October 16, 2023

Director Jeff Springer presents The Wintering Grounds, a short documentary film about a seasonal kayaking community that sprung up since urban whitewater rapids were restored on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia. For most of the year, world-class freestyle kayakers travel to the best whitewater around the country. However, when the rivers freeze, many athletes and their families find their way to the Chattahoochee River between Phenix City, Alabama, and Columbus, Georgia. Camping in an abandoned parking lot, they spend the winter training for the next world championships on North America’s highest quality, warmest winter whitewater.

“…about a seasonal kayaking community that sprung up since urban whitewater rapids were restored on the Chattahoochee River…”

Professional kayaker Stephen Wright (six-time USA National Freestyle Kayak Champion) talks about the rapids in Columbus: “There’s world-class whitewater an hour and a half from Atlanta? There’s world-class whitewater that is so great that people are coming here from Europe. People are coming here from Canada? People are so stoked to come and join us that they’re willing to live in their vehicles for a couple of weeks, or months, at a time!”

Springer’s sharp cinematography includes pulse-pounding sequences of kayak experts taking on massive hydraulics to practice elaborate, seemingly death-defying routines. They rotate and flip end-over-end and spend a great deal of time submerged. Not only are the performances on the water surprising, but the stories of winter life in the nomadic community are engaging and revelatory. Many of the kayakers are teenagers. Even for viewers unfamiliar with the sport, The Wintering Grounds is an exciting and entertaining look at where the world champions practice in the winter and how they live.  

For more information about The Wintering Grounds, visit the Azailia Films official website

The Wintering Grounds (2023)

Directed and Written: Jeff Springer

Starring: Stephen Wright, Abby Holcombe, Peter Holcombe, Mason Hargrove, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

The Wintering Grounds Image

"…when the rivers freeze many athletes find their way to the Chattahoochee River..."

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