Name: Mark Konopasek
Years Paddling: 17 years
First Kayak: Perception Dancer
Currently Paddling: Wavesport Fusion
Favorite Local River: Slippery Rock Creek
Favorite River Anywhere: New River
Who taught you to paddle? I was a raft guide and the company I worked for wanted me to learn to kayak so I could video the rafting trips. I grabbed a kayak and figured I'd just learn on my own. I was paddling alone one time and Cubby Cubbison, who just happened to be near, helped me recover from a swim on the Lower Yough. He told me I was paddling with him the rest of the way and at the take-out, he strongly encouraged me to contact TRPC.
Favorite song or music: Still by the Geto Boys
First job: Chef for a nationally-acclaimed restaurant, or more precisely, a burger flipper at McDonald's
Current job: Analyst in the Accounting Department at Hussey Copper
If your kayak was an automobile? Delta 88 because it's big and old
Big volume river, steep creek or play spot? Play spot. I am content with a few play features.
What is the coolest wildlife you have seen while boating? Birds and bees, as in "the" birds and bees. I once saw a couple of real wild lives having a wild time on a rock on the Slip.
Worst swim ever? I was paddling alone (anyone else starting to see a theme here?) on the first day I got my boat. I wanted to paddle the Slip but didn't have any paddle buddies to go with so I figured I'd show up at the Ranger Station and join some other paddlers. No one showed up so I put in by myself. The Slip was running at 5 feet that day. At the first horizon line, I swam. At the second horizon line, I swam. At the third rapid, I was terrified and walked. My wife was waiting for me at the mill so I figured I had to run the last rapid because she'd be watching. I ran it and managed not to swim. I have never paddled alone again except when racing.
Advice you would give to new paddlers? Never paddle alone!
Favorite Movie? Happy Gilmore
When not kayaking? I love dragon boat racing with the Steel City Dragons (check out the website at www.steelcitydragons.org) and coaching the youth dragon boat racing team, the Hot Metal Youth.