Instructors

Nick Wigston

Nick Wigston is the founder of Downstream Edge. He has been a kayak instructor for 10 years in Colorado. Nick is married to Nicole and has a two year old daughter Zoe. Kayaking has been a part of his life since he was young. His father got Nick into paddling when he was six years old in Atlanta, Georgia. After high school, he moved to Colorado attended college at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He worked as a kayak instructor for the Boulder Outdoor Center for several years and managed the kayak school for two seasons.

Tommy Hilleke

Tommy Hilleke is one of the best kayak instructors around. He has been paddling and teaching for over 10 years. Tommy grew up in Alabama and went to college in Brevard North Carolina. He got into kayaking when he saw a picture of a kayaker on Gorilla rapid of the Green River. “I want to do that!”, he said. Being a natural athlete, he picked up kayaking quickly and became an amazing boater. You’ll never see anyone else paddle so consistently with great technique. He is a perfectionist, which makes him great at eyeing good paddling skills. His wife Polly is also a paddler and they live in Glenwood Springs with their 4 sons.

Evan Stafford

Evan Stafford is an accomplished paddler and guidebook author. Evan is married to Nicole and has two daughters, Kaija and Roxy. Evan took up kayaking during his terms at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He now resides with his family in Ft. Collins where he owns a web marketing business. He is a great Downstream Edge instructor on the side, and he runs the Junior Kayak League team in Fort Collins. You can find out more about Evan at www.coloradokayaking.com, where you can read trip reports and view amazing kayaking photography.

Evan Ross

Evan Ross learned to kayak at the Jackson Hole kayak club as a young man. He now lives in Salida colorado and heads up the Downstream Edge classes in that area.  Evan is a really fun guy to be around. A class with him will leave you lots of funny memories. As a kayaker, he is among the best, and he is emerging as a top notch instructor. His method of teaching lends to a fun class with lots of hands on learning.

dan piano - steamboat springs colorado

Dan Piano is a really fun guy to be around. I mean, look at that smile. Dan makes the most of the outdoors living in Steamboat and doing anything he can to make enough money to keep him in Routt County. I’ve never met anyone so excited to be outside doing the sports he loves. He’s a backcountry skiier and snowmobile guide in the winter and kayak instructor in the summer. Dan also works as a carpenter year round. Mr. Piano is a valuable member to the Downstream Edge team and he brings energy to every class he teaches.

Chris Menges

Chris Menges is the most dedicated river and outdoor guru you’ll ever meet. He lives in Crested Butte and works for a non-profit environmental organization. For Chris, it’s all about being in the right place so he can make the most difference. We are lucky to have someone on our team who is such a good representation of what a kayaker is all about.  He loves rivers and being outside, and he shares that with every student he teaches.

zach springer

Zach Springer is a key member to the Downstream Edge team. He’s a veteran paddler, Crested Butte Ski patroller, and Denali search and rescue point man. He is the creator of our most intensive class “Wilderness whitewater rescue and first aid”. He brings is wilderness medical knowledge and combines it with the DSE river rescue strategies to create a new and unique course for expert kayakers. Zach lives the ultimate Colorado dream, he spends every day in the mountains and he loves sharing is experiences and skills with others who aspire to have the mountain sense that he does.

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