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Original Issue

Cold, Wet and Happy

The agonized figure at right, looking like Frankenstein's monster rising from a watery crypt, is really a half-frozen canoe slalom champion named Bill Bickham, thrashing his way down the 40° waters of the West River in Jamaica, Vt. before his third straight national singles title. To get to the event, attended by a cheerful band of 180 competitors, Bickham drove 12 hours from his Pennsylvania home and slept on the river bank in his battered Chevy. At dawn he was up, studying the swirling currents along the course. Then, with amazing control, he guided his 13-foot fiber-glass canoe Let's Go (with crash helmet to match) through the 550-yard course a full minute ahead of his nearest rival.