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Weiss, Rich

Date of Birth: 1964

City/State of Birth: Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Current Residence: Deceased

Olympics and Events Attended:
1992 Olympics, Barcelona, Spain - Kayaking
1996 Olympics, Atlanta, Georgia, USA ~ Kayaking

Brief Biography:
Weiss grew up in Steamboat, learning to kayak on many of the fast moving rivers in the area. There were times in the spring that Weiss would have to chip away at the ice in order to train for early season events. Weiss was the overall champion of the first-ever Champion International Whitewater Series in 1990, a title he also claimed in 1993. He also made U.S. history in kayaking when he placed third overall in the World Cup standings in 1991, the highest finish ever for an American men's kayaker at the time. Weiss became the first American to win a medal in men's kayak at a World Championship when he won silver on the Noce River in Mezzana, Italy, in 1993. He placed 16th at the 1992 Olympic games and finished 6th at the 1996 Olympic games. He was named 1996 U.S. Canoe and Kayak Team's Slalom Male Athlete of the Year.

Weiss embodied the true meaning of sportsmanship and in 1989 he was awarded the United States Olympic Committee's Jack Kelly Fair Play Award, presented to an athlete, coach or official for an outstanding act of fair play and sportsmanship. He received the award for his handling of a controversial gate-touch penalty at the 1989 World Championships which bumped him from second to fifth place, causing him to miss the first-ever top-three finish by a U.S. men's kayaker.

Weiss earned a Masters degree in Hydrogeology from Penn State University, in State College, Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia. After the 1996 Olympic games he moved to Hood River, Oregon with his wife Rosi. He owned his own company, Weisswater Associates, where he served as an environmental consultant.

While kayaking with a friend on the White Salmon River in Washington in June of 1997, Weiss was killed when he went over a 15-foot falls and failed to surface. His wife was 6 months pregnant with their first child at the time. Steamboat renamed the kayak course, which Weiss helped create, on the Yampa River and later placed a bronze statue of a kayaker in the Park.
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