Where there’s water there’s a way

Just Liquid grows water sports in the East Kootenay

Just Liquid Sports offers community paddle nights throughout the year.

Just Liquid Sports offers community paddle nights throughout the year.

Barry Coulter

When Rob Porter moved out to Cranbrook from southern Ontario in 2006, he at once started making a splash.

The extreme kayaker undertook multiple first descents of local waterfalls, like the Bull River or Moyie Falls, Paddling his kayak over the edge for “the thrill of a few seconds of freefall that renews my excitement for life every time”.

Since then, the whitewater fanatic and adrenaline junkie has helped create a whole culture around East Kootenay water — and that’s the focus of this month’s Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce feature business.

Just Liquid Sports, launched by Porter five years ago last May, has helped grow watersports exponentially in the East Kootenay since then. Porter explains that in the Cranbrook area alone, there are about 20 lakes within a half hour drive — “and more and more people are using them for recreation.”

But that’s not all. While 70 per cent of Just Liquid’s business involves recreational ‘flatwater’ paddling, there is still a strong adrenaline-seeking whitewater demographic. And because Just Liquid has helped publicize local creeks and rivers, professional kayakers are travelling from all over the world to paddle them.

Just Liquid offers instruction in all paddle sports, using the local lakes and rivers as a classroom in the summer months, and the aquatic centre at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook in the winter. Paddleboarding in particular is really taking off, Porter said. “It’s the fast growing sport in the world right now.”

Three years ago Just Liquid set out to open up the area to scuba diving, and now gives instruction in that sport, as well as accreditation for locals, so when people head south on vacation they already have their PADI scuba diving Certification. Since last spring the shop has evolved into kiteboarding and is currently growing this year round sport with instruction programs and equipment sales. Look for the local kiteboarders on Moyie Lake, Columbia Lake in the summer and Elizabeth Lake in the winter.

Just Liquid Sports sponsors local athletes: wakeboarders – Dagen and Ryder Duczek, whitewater kayakers – Craig and Conner Schartner and Neil Ross and team Wakesurfers — Brittney Nyrose and Gabrielle Hockley — are making a mark on the international wakesurf circuit. “We have some of the best ambassadors for each watersport on our Team and couldn’t be more proud of them” said Porter.

Just Liquid conducts community paddle nights three times a week, whitewater and flatwater, for youth and adults, local biweekly community Scuba Dives and are out kiteboarding every windy day. In the winter, community snowshoeing tours, First Aid certification courses & Avalanche “AST” Training are added to the agenda, as well as scuba diving & paddling courses continuing at the aquatic centre.

The store itself offers full lines of all watersports equipment and apparel, and avalanche and snowshoe gear for the winter months. It’s clothing department is fully stocked with winter outerwear, beachwear, swimming suits and lifestyle apparel.

Porter said “I started the business to develop and grow healthy active community oriented lifestyles above or below H2O in this region, and our mission statement remains the same five years later”.

The Just Liquid Team especially wanted to send a thanks and shout-out to our community, friends, family, Chamber of Commerce and BDC, “for believing in us.”

Mr Porter would also like to send a big thanks to the entire staff at Just liquid “whom I consider my family and to my girlfriend Kate. Just Liquid Sports could not have accomplished what we have without all of your hard work and dedication.”

For more information on Just Liquid Sports, located at 106 Van Horne Street South in Cranbrook, check out www.justliquid.ca and follow us on Facebook.