A Boycott of the worlds by some athletes?
Rumors are going around that there may be a few athletes from some European countries that will boycott the worlds. The reason, I have heard, is because the event is being held in a hole when the organizers promised a wave when they got the bid two years ago. That is a fact, they promised a wave, and we have a hole. What happened? They found out that making a wave requires more skill, engineering, and control over the river than they had at their disposal. So the end result was to attempt to make a wave, but a hole was the result. When did they find out that it was a hole? Less than a month ago when the river came up for the first time from snow melt and there it was. It would have been nice to have a wave, that way we would be alternating between wave and hole. 1999 wave, 2001 hole, 2003 wave. Instead we will have two worlds in a row in a hole. So, certainly these athletes have a complaint worth expressing. Unfortunately, there is nothing the organizers could have done or can do to create a wave at this point. It is a hole and will remain a hole. I would hate to see any athletes miss the opportunity to compete to make a mute point. The IFC has already decided two things.
#1- They will accept no bids from a site that is not already completed.
#2- The next world’s bid will go to the best site with an existing WAVE.
These two decisions will prevent this kind of thing from happening again. Will the boycott actually happen? Who will it be? Will it effect the competition? These are questions that can only be answered after the competition. I only worry about any athlete that participates in the boycott, if it actually happens. They are certainly at risk of regretting it and perhaps never having another opportunity to represent their country in a World Championships again.
I will let you know if it happens, and perhaps get the answers to the questions, like who, from where, and why.
Tomorrow is the Opening Ceremonies and the first competitions. Let the show begin!
The river bank is packed with kayakers watching their competitors practice, trying to learn what they can, and see what they are doing for moves. Team captains, coaches, and athletes are all videoing, and then taking the information back to their teams. Final plans for the competition are being made. Predictions for what kind of scores are needed to advance are being tossed around. Everybody is getting their game faces on. Some are trying to train with the hopes of intimidating their competition, some are trying to save their good stuff so that people don’t feel they need to step it up. Head games are going on everywhere, with people that are sick saying they are fine, and people who are fine, saying they are sick.
It is a funny business, the mental side of competition. The truth is that most competitors don’t have much experience with events of this magnitude, with so much upside potential. A chance to become the next World Champion is enough to make most people think twice about their standard approach to a competition. I saw some very impressive rides yesterday, by people like Andrew Holcomb, Jimmy Blakeney, Brooke Winger, Debs Pinnager, Jessie Murphy, Roberto from Italy, Yagi from Japan, Mario from Costa Rica, Marc Birbeck from England, Pat Keller, and others. In C-1 watch for Bill McNight, Dan Burke, a dude from the Czech Republic is killing it, some brits, and the reigning world champion, Barry Keenan. Literally the best rides these people have done here, seem to be happening right now. That is a sign that the competition is going be a step up from practice. Entry moves are becoming standard now for the first time in a World Championships, which used to be considered too risky by most.
People are figuring out the aerial side of the hole now. Big air loops are being thrown. Many people were complaining about the hole being lame, saying that it is a step backwards for freestyle to have such a cartwheel dominant competition. The truth is that it isn’t a good spot for beginners to learn to do big aerial loops, but the world’s best can get them. So what is the end result? The world’s best will get air, the rest will be put in their place. An air loop in an easy hole is easier than a cartwheel in many ways, so I figure that this hole is a great test of skill and will provide a great world championships. I am all about the aerial backloop. In Spain I did two aerial front loops on every ride, which was key in my winning. Here, I will not do any front loops, only back loops. I like the feeling of them, they are worth the same as the front loop, and I can set them up faster, and I can come out hucking! Is this a big secret technique for winning? No, everybody has seen me work on them. I must say that I have had my troubles getting them right, but when it goes right, it is sweet! Check out this short video of what it should look like…
If you want to know who is competing, and when, I posted a schedule, you can get to it on my home page. Also, great news for those waiting for my two new instructional DVD’s, they will be done this week!!!! Don’t forget that I am having a contest. The first person to order one on this site will get the other one free. Sounds easy enough, but when will that Pay Pal “add to cart” button be hot? Exactly, I don’t know. I will make activate it when the DVD’s arrive at my house in Rock Island. Kristine’s mom is in charge of sending them out. So far she has had same day turnaround everytime, pretty impressive, I think. Free shipping anywhere in the world too. It is funny when she sends my Strokes and Concepts DVD’s to Norway, Japan, Slovenia, etc. Anyway, this doesn’t have a lot to do with the World’s does it?! Well, such is life of my website, no rules.
Check in tomorrow for the first official results!!!!
Competition Day 1
The stands were full, the music was loud, and their was plenty of electricity in the air as the first boats, got the green light, the clock started, and the crowds cheering. Today the OC1, Junior Women, and the C1 classes competed in their preliminary rounds.
Five OC1 paddlers, five Junior Women, and ten C1 paddlers advanced to the next rounds. The hole, which has been super retentive since I arrived here a month ago, is was not so retentive when adrenaline charged athletes entered with hopes of doing big and multiple moves. The theme of the day seemed to be jitters getting in the way of many who had much better practice sessions than their competition rides. That was not the case for those who made the next round, of course. Luke Hopkins had an awesome first ride to win the opening round, with Brock Flowers of Australia, Barry Keenan, and Bill McNight right on their heels. Dan Burke had a dissapointing performance, considering he was one of the best in practice. All in all a great mix of countries advancing.
In the OC1 class David Bell showed up the competion with Clean cartwheels and linked ends to crush everybody in the first round. A little kid made a big debut with 15 year old Seth Chappelle getting 5th and moving on to the next round, he celebrated his second ride when he came out of the hole with lots of enthusiasm.
K1 Women Junior
Katerina Migdauova shocked the spectators with aggressive controlled rides that were awesome. Cleans, Splits, and nearly a Tricky woo on each ride. Lianne Wagtho from the Netherlands had a first ride that was equally impressive with lots of great vertical ends, but blew out entirely on her second ride. Ali Wade and Hanna Farrar both made the top 5 for the US each with their own style. Ali had one awesome ride and a short one, while Hanna had two consistent rides. Either way they move on! Michelle Clifford from Canada was training really well but the jitters got her and she flushed downstream before showing us here stuff, the same happened with Brooke Bevan who was quite simply the bravest of the junior women in the early training here.
Tonight is the opening ceremonies and tomorrow is Junior men, K1 women, and squirt. Men start on Wednesday and finish on Thursday, I am the last to go, oh boy!