I woke up on Father’s Day hungry and ready for breakfast. We Kristine and I walked the block and a ½ to the “West End Café” where we got a table by ourselves. Within 5 minutes Dane walked in with a unicycle. I asked him when he got that thing. He said, it is for you, happy Father’s Day! Oh yea! Emily, Nick, and Dane pitched in for this very cool Father’s Day gift! I took it out for a spin while they were cooking my 4 eggs over easy and 8 pieces of toast; yumm.

I have been here in Salida for Father’s Day 3 out of the last 4 years. It is perhaps one of the most fun places to be. The weather is typically (and this year no exception) 80 Degrees and sunny. We park our RV at the “Beach”, which has a perfect view of the main hole where the competition is. Booths line the boat ramp down to the beach on both sides with the kayak companies, American Whitewater, Leave No Trace, etc. etc. all helping out. The Red Bull Tent is set up to shade the announcers who were primarily PT Wood (Salida Local, former Wavesport Sales Rep, back in the day), and Hobie (Dagger Brand Manager), and Mike Harvey (Local park designer). These guys had a hard time choosing between Red Bull and New Belgium Beer during the day. I think they got all jacked up on Red Bull during the morning and then mellowed out with New Belgium in the afternoon, but not sure.

There are concerts going on every night and a full on carnival, complete with all of our favorite rides and carnival foods all day and night. 30,000 people are said to come through this 4 block area during the weekend and for the kayak event, it is standing and sitting room only at the river front. The semi-finals and finals for the freestyle competition is the highlight of my Father’s Day. I get to watch my kids play their hearts out during the competition with so many eyes on them, and they love putting on a good show.
Dane was in the junior men’s class with his good friends, Johnathan Shales, Jason Craig, and Tommy Hehnen , among the other kids. Dane won the semi-finals but then Jason Craig was on fire in finals.

Both Jason and Dane had good rides on their first of three rides that put them in first and second place so far in their Shooting Stars. Then Jason came out on fire! He threw one big move after another and then through in a back-loop/mcnasty combo! He was now in first place with Dane ready to do his second ride. Dane was inspired by Jason, apparently as he went off! He also through in the Backloop/mcnasty combo, tricky woo, all loops, and more! It was a 167 point ride that was higher than anyone had through in any class so far in the competition! I had a tear in my eye as I watched. He was having so much fun excelling in what he loves most, and it was inspirational for so many people. One the third ride, Jason had another great ride but it didn’t beat Dane’s, so Dane went in with out a paddle and got 81 points, good enough for 3rd on that ride. Jason joined Dane in the hole as they “high fived” each other and started throwing moves together putting on a great show. That was a special moment for me on Father’s Day!

Emily was next in the women’s pro class. Emily threw a great ride out of the gate with Mcnasty, Loops, and a Tricky Woo. The Tricky Woo was only thrown successfully by Emily, Brian Kirk, Dane, and EJ in the whole competition as this move is tough enough, but extra hard to stick in this hole. Hanna Farrar came out swinging with a 59 point ride to put her in second to Emily’s ride, bumping Ruth Gordon to 3rd and Eleanor Perry to 4th . Ruth had one more ride and was doing awesome, but hadn’t scored on her McNasty yet. She went out and nailed her loop moves and split wheels before going for the McNasty and this time she hucked it hard and fast and scored on it, giving her a total of 63 points, just ahead of Hanna but behind Emily’s 81 points. Emily won her first ever Fibark and was all smiles! Wow, can Father’s Day get any better?!

The Men’s pro class was next with a semi-finals first. There were 12 of us, but only 5 would make the finals. After prelims it was me, Stephen and Nick in top three. However, in semi-finals, John Meyers, Bryan Kirk, Eddie Smilth (Scottland), Stephen, and I all had great rides, and Nick was one place out for 6th. Stephen and Bryan Kirk both got the same score but the prelims broke the tie with Stephen over Bryan.

We went straight into finals with the banks lined with cheering kayak fans and Salida locals. One lady, who runs the “Steamplant” which is the building next to the park, was in full form cheering us on like a Beatles fan! That was very cool!

Hobie and PT kept announcing that they didn’t expect me to beat Dane’s score of 167 and that they would buy me a beer if I did. Well, I was ready for a beer! I had a solid first ride, trying to look at the judges during each move, feeling like a million bucks. I couldn’t lose no matter what happened. I just watched both kids have a great day and my Father’s Day was already too good to be true. Without being nervous, I was able to really cut loose and nailed all but one of the most I tried and got a 179. Hobie graciously offered me my beer for after the comp. Stephen was in second but not with his best ride while Eddie was in third, Bryan in 4th, and Johnathan in 5th. On second rides, the order stayed the same but I got a 188 point ride getting both Phonix Monkeys but missing my Tricky Woo which would have put me way over 200 points, something I haven’t done in competition yet.

During the Final ride, where only the best one counts, Bryan Kirk threw a strong ride that bumped out Eddie from 3rd. Eddie was pumped up as he went in to try to regain his position or improve it but just fell short with a 125 point ride to Bryan’s 130 points. Stephen was next and was ready to rock and roll! He went off and had HUGE Loops in Stephen Wright Style! He nailed one move after the next but didn’t get his blunt/McNasty combo at the end falling just short with 178 points but a very close second! I got to use my 3rd ride as a victory lap and decided to try my “Combo Ride”. I had a 222 point ride in the bank but it depended upon the water being low enough for the hole to be sticky. If the water is a little lower I can land my moves right into the next one and link them together as one big move. I decided to try it anyhow with my opening “Entry move/air loop/lunar orbit/backloop/McNasty combo”. Well, I did an entry move, pause, air loop pause, lunar orbit pause, backloop/McNasty. Oh well, after only being able to combo two moves I chucked my paddle and did the “Mini-cooper in a hole” ride where I pretend to be driving a car steering only with my hips and throwing as many moves as I can without a paddle or hands. It was a fun way to end the competition!

This may have been our first clean sweep, and certainly on Father’s Day. Emily and I taught a clinic for an hour afterwards to Sue and Darrin who donated money to AW and got out of the water ready for a big dinner and a good night’s sleep. A short visit with Lee Hart and her boyfriend Trey wrapped up the evening as we planned a morning mountain bike ride before starting our drive to Oregon.

This concludes our June tour of Colorado! Vail, Lyons, Pueblo, Salida, and everywhere in between! June snow melt in Colorado is worth getting in on if you haven’t done it before!

Time to go for a short bike ride up the mountain and then piece the RV back together into driving form! It is a MESS!!!! Oh yea, the 2007 JK promo video is a hit!

Got to www.worldkayak.com and sign up on our database so we can send you one.

🙂

EJ