Monday, July 20, 2009

Senior Team Trials, Nationals, and FIBArk

This last month has been amazing! I want to apologize for not posting here for a while. I have been unbelievably busy. It's well into summer now, and I have some amazing stories. I spent a week training and racing on the Arkansas river in Colorado, almost 3 weeks in Italy, and seven days in Switzerland at the biggest race of my life. I qualified for the Senior Mens National Wildwater team, placed second overall at Wildwater Nationals by less then .15%, won my third Junior National Championship title, placed third in one of the oldest and longest races in the US, won the head to head sprint competitions against a long time rival, and last but definitely not least I met my goal of top 10 at World Championships in Bouchs Switzerland.

First I would like to say thanks to two of my coaches, Andrew and Middy, who were always pushing me to train harder and smarter. They always made training a lot more fun and interesting, as well as rewarding. I would also like to thank Maurizio Toganacci. Maurizio is the USA Junior National team coach. He organized my stay in Italy and helped me a lot with preparation right before Worlds. Lastly and most importantly, thanks Mom and Dad for giving me the chance in train and compete in my second World Championships.
Well I've got a lot to talk about, but I guess I'll start with FIBArk. First in Boating on the Arkansas (FIBArk) is a huge whitewater festival that take place ever year. There are thousands of paddlers, plenty of events, and numerous vendors. This year the US Nationals and Senior Team Trials, were combined and hosted at FIBArk. One of the events that took place was the head to head wildwater sprints. This was great, because there were lots of spectators and plenty of action. Below is a picture of Geoff Calhoun and I battling it out for first. Geoff was the one that got me into wildwater, and he has been someone I've been trying to beat for over a year now. I managed to beat him in the sprints, but something tells me that every race won't have the same outcome.

The first day of racing was the individual sprint race down Cottonwood Rapid. This was a sweet sprint course. I had two great consistent runs in the class III-IV water. When I saw the results I was first overall with around 8% away from the next junior and over 2.5% away from second place. I was stoked! The following day brought the classic. Now I'm definitely better in the classic then in the sprint, but I really struggled in this classic. Around five minutes in the altitude really started to affect me. My breath was becoming raggy and short. At 7,000 feet in an 18 minute race, being used to the altitude is a huge factor. Nonetheless I have to hand it to Andy Corra and Mike Freeburn, who both beat me in the classic race. Andy Corra became the 2009 US National Champion by less then .15% overall. I was in second and Mike Freeburn got the bronze.

The last big race for me on the Arkansas was the 26 mile downriver race. The longest race I had done before this was maybe 11 miles. The Arkansas river is in a desert, so hydration adds to your worries about the whitewater and your pacing. I was very happy with my third place finish. I was very impressed by Andy Corra and Mike Freeburn again, as they finished first and second. Both of these athletes are well past their prime, and it is inspirational to see them beating out younger paddlers.
Apart from all the racing I managed to have a lot of fun. Below is a picture of Hailey and I racing C2 in the slalom race. We might have missed a few gates, but it was still a blast.

Photos by Susan Hollingsworth, Chrissy Zeltner and Dr. Chris Norbury

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