Adventurer to share stories today

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— A world-class kayaker with about 30 years of experience will share his stories today at Olympian Hall.

Chris Spelius, an Ohio native who spends much of his life on the Futaleufu River in southern Chile, will present a slide show starting at 6 p.m. on the top floor of the Howelsen Ski Lodge.

The slide show, Spelius said, will help raise awareness for the protection of the Futaleufu River.

Spelius lives in the Futaleufu River Valley for six months out of the year with his wife, Rosa, and 2-year-old daughter, Chiloe.

The other half of the year he and his family tour the United States, where Spelius serves as a kayak instructor.

"In the paddling community, he is pretty much a legend, an icon," said Karl Borski, director of sales for Expediciones Chile in Steamboat.

Spelius, a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic kayak team who also won several national championships, owns Expediciones Chile, which is a tour company in Patagonia, Chile.

He and Borski recently opened an adventure center in Steamboat near Colorado Mountain College. The local adventure center sells trips to people traveling to the Patagonia, Chile, region.

Patagonia has several hundred glacial lakes connected by thousands of kilometers of rivers, Spelius said.

Spelius, who made it to the Olympics in sprint paddling, spent his college days at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He kayaked and guided rafts on the Colorado River while attending the university. At the '84 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, he was a member of a four-man kayak team that made it to the semifinals.

Throughout his career, which also included him medaling at the World Rodeo championships in 1991, Spelius has done a great deal of whitewater kayaking and sea kayaking.

He said both are challenging.

"In the ocean, the waves can build up quite a bit," he said. "The shore always seems very near. But it is hazardous if things don't go as planned and you are trying to bite off more than you can really chew."

Rosa Spelius, who met her husband in Santiago, says she is aware of the hazards involved in kayaking. However, she said, her husband is very capable of staying clear of danger.

"I think he is very prudent and if he makes a decision to go, I have confidence in that," she said.

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