2012 World Cup’s Recap! (Yepp I did TWO)
This past world cup really put me to the test. I was determined to compete in two world cups in one year, Slalom and Freestyle.
The Slalom World Cup was first and I had never competed in a Slalom World Cup before because the Slalom World Cups aren’t open, you have the make the team. I made the US Slalom Team in April after two weeks of training. I then bought my first Slalom Boat packed up for Europe and left. It felt crazy to leave and not be training for freestyle when the world cups for freestyle were coming up. I spent two months in Europe. The first month I spent Cardiff, Wales with quick visits to London and Dublin, Ireland. It was fun to be adopted by the owner of a B&B that was a two-mile walk from the course, and also adopted by the Cardiff Slalom Club. This made it so I was on a schedule for a full month (which is crazy for me). I would wake up, walk to the course, do flatwater sprints, flatwater gates, my training slot, walk home for dinner, then sometimes walk back for another slot. My race went okay. I didn’t do well but I had moments of greatness. My first run went really very well until the last little section where I totally botched a move. My second run was a little sloppy… just a little : )
The next race was in Pau, France. Which I didn’t even know was in France so it was cool when someone told me- enjoy france and I was like oh I am not going to France and then sure enough, I was in France! The course was epic. It was FANTASTIC. Big water, fun moves and lots to work on! With only 3 hours of training I did not feel ready for the race. But I listened to my coaches and had a great first run. It was smooth and one of the best runs I have had in a slalom boat yet. My next run was a bit fast and a bit rough but I had a great time anyways! The Athletes Tent had a hot tub so I was loving life either way!
The third Slalom World Cup and my last one (there are 5- two later in the year) was in Seu, Spain. I love Spain, I spent my time training, eating amazing food and testing wines. It was the site of the 1992 Olympics where my father competed. It was INCREDIBLE because I got to watch his race run during the Olympics right before my run. I was laughing the whole time because my Dad looked 100% the same. All the coaches and everyone knew who my Dad was as well… he is quite unforgettable and does some ridiculous things… My race run wasn’t terrible but I wasn’t happy. I tried to better it on my second run and did a touch better but nothing special. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching and learning while eating my bag of fresh fruit from the market. All n all the Slalom World Cups were a learning experience and something that I do want to come back to and hopefully perform even better. I loved the challenge and I loved the feeling of having no clue how I was going to do!
I left Europe VERY ready to see my family, my dogs and my husband. I got back and struggled to regain energy as I just finished up the World Cups and I had to compete in a rodeo the day after I landed. My first couple rides were rough as I totally couldn’t control my little playboat! Everyone was laughing at me and I was getting nervous! I thought this was the boat I could control! I competed at two more events then headed east to get ready for the Freestyle World Cups.
I got home a touch early so I could have a few sessions at the Pigeon and NOC Feature. Rock Island was also running but not at competition levels. I started getting my groove back but certainly still felt behind!
The first World Cup event came fast. We got 2 training sessions before the event started at the event level. It was a really tricky feature as the moves could all go…. But sticking them was another story. I ended up winning every round and had Nina Csonkova and Adrienne right behind me. The Juniors, C-1’s and OC-1’s were super fun to watch and see who could get their moves and stay in, with lots of switching around and surprises. The mens class was INTENSE. The level of competition and and the confusion of what was scoring and what wasn’t always kept you at the edge of your seat. My Dad and Dane made it to finals and my husband just missed it in 6th place. Dane ended up placing second with SUPER solid rides, making it look like the feature was easy and retentive (which it wasn’t!!) It was a super fun event with two great dinner parties, dj’s, free, drinks and more!
The second world cup was at the pigeon hole at the NOC Outpost on the Pigeon River. This hole is EPIC. I mean purely AWESOME! I love the hole and I loved the event too. I expected the event scores to jump from the last event and they sure did. In the women’s we had okay scores. Nothing special but the judging was super harsh. People would leave the holes with zeros and they would have been in for the entire 45 seconds. The level of competition in all the classes went up. The juniors in particular, many of their rides were competitive with some of the men! In the women’s we had a tough finals and I ended up placing second with okay rides. I was happy because I was still in the lead for the overall….Claire had placed 6th at the first event so I knew I had to just get top 5 at the final event and if she won again, then I would just need to be top 3. It was possible! The men’s was incredible. Each ride the men’s scores got HIGHER and HIGHER. Just when you thought they couldn’t have a better ride, they started to combo EVERYTHING. I was enthralled with the event and couldn’t stop watching! Csonka pulled out in first again with Quim from Spain in third, the exact same top three placings at the last event. There really wasn’t anything going on so we went for a nice family dinner and drove to NOC.
I arrived at NOC not feeling well. On Monday I was feeling unusually tired. I decided to take 3 rides and get out and call it an off day. Team Training was going to begin the next day so I figured it would be better to have energy for that. I only got worse and that evening I ended up miscarrying my first pregnancy. I was only 11 weeks along and had a feeling for that it wasn’t going well as I had lost all feelings of being pregnant. I kept this to myself as I didn’t want stress my family or husband out during the big events. I had to take the following day off as the contractions and pain continued. On Thursday I decided I would paddle as I wanted to do more than 3 rides before the event, it was the final one and I needed to paddle well to win overall. The session was awful and the pain in my back was unbelievable. I went back to laying in bed and the pain increased significantly, I didn’t sleep that evening and I only had one more day before the event. This is now a week of no sleep and severe pain. I decided it was time to go the hospital. At the hospital they gave me an IV, pain meds and antibiotics. The back pain was increasing because I had gotten a kidney infection- go figure! I left the hospital feeling hopeful that the pain meds would get me in a state that would allow me to paddle. I slept better that night and got ready to paddle the next morning. I was laughing as the last World Cup in 2008 I did the same thing during the second event. I had pneumonia and couldn’t paddle, had a really hard time breathing, and popped 2 ribs coughing. I didn’t train once. Slept the hospital that night on IV’s and hopped in the water on competition day for the win. I kept telling myself I could do that again I just had to believe in myself. On Friday the women weren’t competing but the Men and all other classes were. I watched my family and a couple friends compete then hid in my Sprinter RV for some R&R before the big day. Saturday morning rolled around and I headed out as the first class to get on the water. I made the cut and knew I just had to keep continuing on till finals where I would go hard. We competed again that evening and I made it in to finals and in second place. I was happy to be moving forward and in a great position. To win overall I knew all I had to do was not get below 3rd to Nina or not get 5th and have Claire win. The finals kicked off with low rides from all the women. I was sitting in second by 10 points but knew the rides would all get better. Then they did, Ruth Gordon came in with a great ride, scoring big moves and lots of air. I went afterwards with a solid ride also, only 10 points behind Ruth but happy as I had scored many of my moves and I haven’t had any training. Nina, Islay and Claire continued with okay rides but not high enough. We all went for another round and I had another great ride that scored both of my Phonics Monkey’s- which are the highest scoring trick that can be done in a hole. My felixes however didn’t count, so I still sat in second but either way I was stoked as I knew I paddled well and I had just won overall as Nina, Ruth and Islay had already gone. Claire went in for her final ride and took it over pushing myself into third and Ruth to second. It was a great and exciting final’s and I was so happy and ready to just lay down. To have pulled off top three given the circumstances was fantastic. I would have been more happy with a super solid run, but if the moves in my run would have counted it would have been super solid, so I can’t complain. After us was the men’s class like always. It was a thrilling finals once again. My husband finally made it in and I was super excited to see him out there. The placings switched around a little bit compared to the other events with the top two being the same- Csonka in first and Dane in second, but in third was Jason Craig who only came to the NOC event, pushing Quim in fourth and my husband in fifth. The rides were incredibly complex with every move in the book and then some! Jason Craig was trying new moves such as the jedi flip- a front ender landing into a back loop! Super neat!
The after party was quite as many people were packing up and getting ready for their flights back to Europe. I spent my evening having a home cooked meal up in the mountains with the marketing people from Red Bull. It was nice to be up in the mountains watching the sun set on another big day. After everything that happened I needed some reflection time. I am super proud of myself as I really had to be 100% determined to make it through this event. The level of women’s competition was great! I am super proud to be amongst such strong females! Cant wait to see what the future brings from our lady competitors and all competition!
Happy Paddling to all!