This blog has been a long time overdue. I have been thinking about creating one since the first day that I started training and traveling to race kayaks back in 2008. What actually got me in gear was coming to Europe for the summer this year and realizing how hard it is to keep in touch with everyone back home. Hi Mom! Hi Dad! Hi Nishi, Ashley, Otso, Jessica, Monica, Makeda, Val and everyone else!
My goals are: for everyone to join me in my adventures, share the love of kayaking that I have found, realize what the life of a training athlete is like, and to give back - whether it be to guide those coming behind me, teach someone totally new to kayak, or just allow people to fall in love with a crazy idea and adventure.
Before I start writing on a regular basis I feel that I should catch everyone up on where I have been and what I am currently doing. In 2006 I was dared by the infamous Erik Amason to learn to kayak. Having grown tired of throwing me down waterfalls in a plastic boat he challenged me to learn to race slalom kayaks. I took the challenge and fell immediately in love. I started racing in 2008 and it has been love and war ever since.
Currently, I have been in Europe for over a month. I started out traveling with my family on the legitimate trip of a life time. We started in Dubrovnik, Croatia and traveled through Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Holy Athos (the boys - only men are allowed on the island), Budapest and Istanbul (the girls - we wanted to play while the boys were being entertained by monks).
I then flew to Prague, Czech Republic to rendezvous with the US National Slalom Team where World Cup number one was held at the Troja Slalom Course. The Slalom World Cup is a series of races held throughout the world that qualified countries may enter their top boats in. The grand finale is called the World Championships and is held in the early fall. This year it will be in Tacen, Slovenia. Basically, it is the best of the best racers from around the world gathering to find out who is actually the fastest.
I then grabbed a car with Hailey and Jean Thompson and drove cross continent to La Seu d'Urgell, Spain for the second world cup at the Parc Olimpic del Segre. This was the most beautiful drive I believe I have ever seen. We drove across Germany and stopped at the famous Irish Roman baths in Baden Baden, Germany. We then continued through France where we decided to drive the national non-toll roads instead of the major highways. I have never seen such beautifully peaceful country side in my entire life. Or wanted to vomit so much from sitting in the back seat of a tiny European car loaded down with paddling gear and suitcases on crazy windy roads through the mountains.
We even made a point of driving through Andorra and stopping to get groceries. This grocery store was bigger and better than any Walmart or Target I have ever seen. It was so big it had escalators for the baskets!
Hailey, Jean, Michael Thompson(who joined us in Seu), and I then drove across the Pyrennees to Foix, France where we met up with the US Junior National Slalom Team. The bi-annual Junior World Championships will be held here next weekend and I am helping to coach our amazing athletes. Junior World Championships, like the Senior World Championships, is the best athletes 18 and under from across the world racing to see who is the fastest. We have a group of eight awesome kids that are at the top of their game that are ready to race it out, just like the senior team, to find out which of the juniors is the best in the world.
So there, you have it. I am exploring Foix, France with some of the neatest teenagers I have ever met. While I wish I was on the water myself, coaching them from the side is just as rewarding.
Oh! And today is Canada Day! We are going to celebrate by cooking and hanging out with the Canadian Junior National Slalom Team...should be a blast!