Monday, May 27, 2013

East to West 2013

Chasing Haley during the SUP Cross
Two weeks ago, I got to travel to Richmond, Va for the Richmond Dominion River Rocks festival. I signed up for three events, the Boater Cross, SUP Cross, and the freestyle event. This event is super cool because we are in the middle of downtown Richmond the whole time and there are all sorts of other events going on at the same time. It is like the east coast version of what used to be the Teva Mountain Games, now called the Go-Pro Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado. 

 The boater cross was awesome and it ended up being three heats of going really hard for 2 minutes at a time. I won the event and all of the other girls were super stoked. We headed to the SUP Cross shortly after that and it was the same set up. We did a time trial, then on to the SUP Cross race. Three races again and we had three gates to go through. Haley Mills (my Partner in Crime) is a super good SUPer and she "missed a gate" so I ended up winning,  even though I fell over, head first, into the water during the race. 
Right before the head plant. 
 The next day we did a freestyle event but it was a downriver freestyle because there was no feature to surf. It was pretty interesting and we all did as well as we could, I think I won because I did an awesome rock spin :-) All in all, the Dominion event was awesome and I came home with some money in my pocket. I will most definitely be back there next year!
Courtney and I taking first and second in the SUP Cross.
Right after the Dominion event, I headed back to Greenville for a day just to re-pack my car and drive to Colorado, solo. I made it all the way to Salina KS and stopped for four hours, only to wake up next to Clay Wright's rig!! I finished the drive and was stoked to make it to Buena Vista, Colorado in good time. We have better water here than last year and the event went off without a hitch. Blog on that to come soon.  
Freestyle winners!

A small bag of 5 foot candy
There are a lot of things that I want to share with the kayaking world about the travels of the "Colorado Tour" because everyone thinks that it is this glorious lifestyle but it's really not. The tour is full of good times and hard times. Every day is not as easy as it looks.

Our days are full of selling gear, doing blogs, competing, and having fun. That sounds easy right? On the side, there are always other things going on; family problems, travel drama, where to shower, what to eat, not doing well in competition, and watching other people do really well.

I will share more of this later. I want to personally thank Jeff Turner and Matt Porter at Kokatat for housing me and taking very good care of me over the weekend during BV Paddlefest. I have been embraced by the Kokatat family and I feel really loved by them. So, thank you, Kokatat for all that you for me and the kayaking community.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

2013 US Freestyle Kayak Team Trials

Even though it was a cold, rainy weekend, last weekend was great. We had the 2013 US Freestyle Kayak Team trials for Worlds, which are being held at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in September. I learned how to kayak at the NOC over 10 years ago and the Nantahala River was the first river I ever paddled on. I thought it would be pretty amazing if I could represent the US in this monumentous event. 
Trying to make the best out of a cold day.
 I was super stoked on Saturday when it was 55 degrees and raining that I had just picked up my newest sponsor, SurfFur. They have super warm sweatshirts and a full length, waterproof, windproof, parka that is big enough to change in. In prelims the day before, I ended up in 1st place going into semi-finals! Throughout the day on Saturday there were rumors of impending heavy rain and some speak of having finals on Saturday night. 
Flippy flopping my way to victory. 
 Saturday after semi-finals I was in 2nd place behind Haley Mills with Elaine Campbell in 3rd, Emily Jackson in 4th, and Devon Barker in 5th. Emily is heavily pregnant at over 7 months but we all knew that she had a lot of "tricks" up her sleeve for finals. Sunday morning we woke up to heavy rain and a  rowdy looking radar. As a "creek" boater I would normally be pretty pumped, but I had other things on my mind that morning. I knew what I had to do to come away with what I wanted, a spot on the US Freestyle Team. 
Dropping into a flushy, brown, feature.
The water came up over 400 cfs in under two hours and it was raining over an inch an hour while we were eating breakfast (at 1030). We were all watching the hole slowly disappear and we were all on edge not knowing if we were even gong to have a finals. The five women got into our kit and all of us were (abnormally) quiet in the eddy prior to competing. Haley, Elaine, and I are pretty well known for being a bit rowdy in the eddy. What's the point of competing if you can't have fun!!??
Nervous faces or game faces???
 I won't give the play by play but Haley and I had "good" first rides and we ended up 1st and 2nd respectively. We were (once again) the ones to beat. Elaine pulled out a ride that was up to par and placed her in 3rd again. For the first time ever Emily Jackson ended up in 4th place and just out of contingency for Worlds, she is first alternate however, so there is still a chance she will compete at Worlds in September.

Happy face!!
Stoked that even though the hole was not so good and it was cold and rainy, I still made the US Team!! I represented the US in Thun Switzerland in 2009 and I wanted to have another chance that this "kayaker" can do some freestyle!! 
Celebratory beers with my teammates. 
We all ran into the dry area where, magically, there was a keg of beer!! We celebrated the night away with our victories and tried to stay warm and dry. 

I then traveled back to Greenville, SC on Monday and headed to an awesome 24 hour shift with Greenville County EMS, like nothing ever happened. I sure do love the split of lives that I am living right now!! Super shout out to my sponsors; Liquid Logic, Kokatat, Werner Paddles, Jen-ai Apparel Shred Ready Helmets, SurfFur, Watershed Drybags, and Smith Optics