The first day of trails was a joke. Everybody choked hard enough that the number 5 or 6 ranked person could have easily made it if they raced well. Rich Weiss had the best run of the lot and secured his spot, which was only to be two. Eric Giddens got second that day. I was fourth.
The second day had Scott Shipley, who had won the world cup and a silver medal in the 1995 world championships left to qualify, and me too, along with the other 50 athletes who hoped to make it. I was winning after my first run but Shipley’s run took me into second. On my second run I improved my time and was clean but was still second to Shipley. It was bad luck for me that Shipley didn’t make it the first day, but that is how things go sometimes. I bugged out of there so fast I can’t tell you, tears in my eyes and for the first time it occurred to me that I had broken my own rules of never “sacrificing” to achieve goals. Instead, if the goal is important enough, the activities required to achieve the goal should be considered a privilege and never a sacrifice. I was getting on Interstate 75 North to go back to DC when I had a sudden impulse to go to Disney World, so I got on 75 South and took the family to Disney for a 7 day first class vacation that I put on a credit card.
After some soul searching I decided that I wanted to have the Dan Gavere lifestyle, which was to live in an RV full time and just paddle at whatever rivers I wanted. At the time I owned a kayak and rock climbing school, Adventure Schools, and felt it was also stymieing my growth as a paddler. I was struggling. I had a $1400/ month rent payment, a $400/month Landcruiser payment, and was living like a yuppie. This was not me. I spent the fall and winter just paddling for fun, and then got back into my kayak school in the spring and all summer, and the only thing I really looked forward to was going to the World’s on the Ottawa in September. I went and placed second to Ken Whiting that year. I then went home and plopped down on the couch depressed really for the first time in my life. How could I not be in charge of my own destiny when I am a full time kayaker?
Kristine is the smarter of the two of us. She is also not afraid to just let go of what we have today and do something completely different. She suggested that we buy and RV and sell everything we own, ASAP. That was in September of 1997 right after the Freestyle World Championships. In the space of a 10 minute discussion, we decided that we were going mobile. I can’t tell you how excited and relieved I felt. I was becoming a kayaker again. Just a kayaker, nothing else. For money, I would teach clinics when needed, and I was selling my kayak school. I was also getting paid by Wave Sport to design the X and be an athlete.