NAME: Lance Reif
NICKNAME: Fancy Pants, or just Fancy.
This was the name given to me when I was a "rookie" guide on the New and Gauley rivers of West Virginia where I trained at Songer Whitewater. I am not sure how it came about, maybe because I had a pair of board shorts with flowers, or just because my guiding style was so slick.
GIVE US A LITTLE BACKGROUND INFORMATION ABOUT YOURSELF.
Growing up I played soccer year-round. I was really competitive and had a lot of energy, so soccer was a great sport for me. Eventually, I got a new passion after a high school teacher introduced me to whitewater kayaking. I didn't know many people that kayaked, so I decided to try and get a job as a guide. Every day I wasn't working I would kayak along with raft trips trying to get better.
Lance surfing on the New River Dries, WV
Eventually, I entered a few kayaking competitions to see how I compared. My first claim to fame was in the 2007 Wavesport Open on the Upper Gauley River, where I took home a brand new Sweet Protection helmet for the best (worst) carnage of the day for getting stuck in the "room of doom" on Pillow Rock rapid for over 4 minutes but managed to not swim. In the same event, I also took 3rd place in the boater cross race through "Lost Paddle" rapid.
Lance competing in the 2008 Big Air competition, Clackamas River Festival
Here as some other events I have taken part in:
-2nd place 2007 ASCI Wavesport Freestyle Rodeo
-2nd place K-1 playboat category, 2008 Upper Gauley Animal race
-Finalist in Big Air competition, 2008 Clackamas River Festival
-5th place 2009 nation wide Eddy Flower Vertical Challenge, kayaked 24,755 vertical feet in 32 days
-4th place 2010 nation wide Eddy Flower Vertical Challenge, kayaked 28,205 vertical feet in 32 days
-2nd place short boat category, 2010 Upper Wind River Festival
-17th place (in a 3 way tie!), 2012 Little White Salmon Race
-8th place Long boat category, 2014 Upper Wind River Festival
Lance running S-turn rapid on the Rio Alseseca, Mexico
Aside from competitions, I have kayaked class V rapids and big waterfalls in Ecuador, Mexico, British Columbia, and all over the United States.
Lance dropping 50 foot falls on the Rio Texolo, Mexico
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RIVER AT WILDWATER?
This is a hard one to answer with so many great rivers, but if I had to choose a favorite river that Wildwater runs it would have to be the Green River Gorge. It is a hard one to get on due to its unpredictable flows and early season, but the combination of amazing scenery and exciting whitewater make it my favorite.
Green River Gorge, WA
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RIVER OR MULTI-DAY TRIP?
The favorite river would have to be the Little White Salmon in Washington. This class V river drops almost 1,200 feet in 4 miles and has some of the best whitewater in the world. The water is perfectly clear and turquoise in color. There are several springs that you can pull over to and drink from and the rapids are top-notch. It may not be the hardest river in the world, but it sure is one of the best.
Lance boofing Stovepipe rapid on the Little White Salmon, WA
WHAT GOT YOU INTO WHITEWATER? WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BECOME A GUIDE?
My first time in a raft, I was probably 5 at the time, was on the Snake River in Wyoming on a gentle scenic stretch outside of the Grand Tetons where my cousin was a guide. Then, while I was in 5th or 6th grade, my family did a whitewater trip on the New River in West Virginia. For the next few years I rafted almost every Summer on the New River with friends or Youth Groups. My senior year of high school I got introduced to kayaking from a teacher and quickly bought a kayak. That Summer, my Dad took my brother and I down the Grand Canyon for 13 days and I started thinking about becoming a guide. Through friends I met a guy with a raft and my freshman year of college he invited me and some friends to raft the Gauley river. He wanted to sit up front for the last big class V rapid called Sweets Falls, so he asked who wanted to guide. Being the only person in the boat who kayaked and with the most rafting experience I stepped up and he let me guide Sweets Falls and several other class IV-V rapids. In the Spring of 2004 I became a guide for Songer Whitewater in West Virginia and I have never looked back.
Lance getting the pillow ride at Pillow Rock rapid on the Upper Gauley river, WV
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD/MEAL?
Pizza! I know it's cliche but melted cheese with any toppings and sauce on a delicious crust is hard to beat.
Lance catching some air in the Wasatch back-country in UT
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE?
"Would you rather have bankruptcy of pocket or bankruptcy of soul?"
Lance dropping Punchbowl Falls on Eagle Creek, OR
WHAT IS YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL AND WHY?
I have always been drawn to the cheetah. They are beautiful, elegant, fast, and determined. They rest most of the time so that they can devote all their energy to one thing, which in their instance is to eat, but I think there is some deeper meaning in that.
Lance took over Wildwater in October 2012. He re-branded the company, changing the name and introduced ACA kayak instruction, stand up paddling trips, and private rowing instruction. Wildwater was founded in 1980 and will continue to grow and progress for years to come.