It has been an awesome summer and its only July. I have just gotten back to Salida, Colorado where the water is still raging and shows no sign of coming down. Just a week ago I was in Plattling, Germany competing in the Worlds for freestyle kayaking. I trained for this event since this time last year and rearranged my life so I could paddle as much as possible before the event. I spent about two weeks in Germany at the worlds feature training and working on my routine before the actual competition began. My routine was to get my huge clean air loop, both huge godzillas, mcnasty, felix and cartwheels. I spent the first week dialing in my loop tricks and spending a ton of time working on my mcnasty. My training revolved around getting on the water before the lines got to long, so getting up and being on the water before 6am was a must.
During all my sessions I had my personal coach and boyfriend Mike Tavares watching my rides and giving me feedback on what was working and what was not. We also used video to help me see how my training was progressing over the weeks. As the competition grew closer I came to the realization that my mcnasties were not enough to count in the competition. As the competition grew closer, I had to change my routine to make sure that all my tricks were going to count.
With just four days out, we started team training. The training sessions were split so each athlete would receive about three minutes per day. The US was one of the largest countries, so we received 75 minutes to train each day. We split into two groups to maximize our time in the eddy and we all focused on our 45 second rides during team practice. I was nervous about team practice, but it turned out to be the most crucital part of my training. It was nice to have other team members helping out and watching each others rides. It was helpful to see how my routine was progressing and I was able to make changes based on what happened in team practice.
The competition was my longest and most stressful one to date. With 45 women competitors, the prelims was a tough and stressful cut down to 20 women. After battling it out in the prelims, I was sitting in 13th place. It was a perfect place for me to be because it allowed me to move on, but motivated me to improve my scores. With fear of rising water at the venue, the semi finals were moved to the following day and the stress of the next round began. After much deliberation, I decided to take some rest time instead of practicing for the next round. I knew the tricks i needed to do and I knew that I needed to be fresh and rested. The next day, the semi finals went off, and I improved my score landing me in a solid 10th place. I was happy to be improving my scores and excited to keep moving on.
Next up was the quarter finals. I knew that i needed to have a bigger score in order to land me in the finals. After throwing some of my best rides in the competition yet, all I could do was wait and see how the rest of the women did. Watching the rest of the heats from shore, tons of thoughts and emotions were running through my mind. The rest of the women were paddling very well and I knew that the scores would be close. Before the scores were posted, I thought that I was sitting in 6th place, but as I saw Kristine Jackson post the scores she gave me the look that I was hoping for. I made it into the finals in 5th place and I could not have been more excited.
Making it into the finals at the Worlds felt like such an honor. I finally felt a payback for all the hard work and training that I have been enduring over the past years. Getting to this point was not an easy task, but I felt like all that weight had been lifted coming into finals. The final round was a tough one. There was a little more pressure and all eyes were watching as we battled it out to try and take a spot on the podium. Over the course of my three rides, I had one ride that I was happy with. I didn’t get all the tricks I was hoping for, but it landed me in a solid 5th place at the Worlds.
After the whole experience I have learned an overwhelming amount about myself and competition. Here is just a few things that I learned of the course of worlds:
Listen to your body. Rest can be just as important as practice
Have fun. After all, thats why we started to paddle
Booty Shaking music makes life better
Listening to your coach and taking feedback is a good thing
You can’t always paddle your best during competition
Be Happy with how you finish
Coming out of Worlds, I feel more prepared for the next competition and I am looking forward for the chance to make it on the US team the next time around. This year has been very successful and I am happy with where it has taken me. I could not have done this without the help of many people including my great list of sponsors.
Alabama Mountain Games 2nd Women’s Freestyle 4th OC1
Connecticut Triple Crown 2 Women’s Freestyle 4th over all
Nantahala Outdoor Shoot out 2nd Women’s Freestyle
Reno River Fest 4th Women's Freestyle
Green River Fest 4th Women’s Freestyle
Buena Vista Pro Rodeo 3rd Women’s Freestyle
Teva Mountain Games 3rd Women’s Freestyle
7th Downriver sprint
World’s Freestyle Kayaking Competition 5th Women’s Freestyle