I have been paddling and doing “world championships” with Nick, Dane, Emily, Stephen, Clay, Billy and more since the 2007 World Championships so often that it feels like the longest event ever; a two year long event.   Yesterday was a very fitting finals, and one to be remembered.    Thousands of spectators, cheering loudly, stopping on the stands, a giant TV screen showing our rides as we went, Arndt Schaeflein on announcing and the music blaring.    The energy was incredible.    Dane and Jason went out against a strong field of kids, older,  bigger, stronger than them but brought the heat taking the first two spots with Jason winning the big one in good form.    The ladies went next and it seemed wide open after first rides, but Emily and Ruth killed it on their second rides to take top two, with Emily’s 500+ point ride making her the senior Women’s world champion.   The C1s were next with David Bainbridge and Guillaume battling it out against a strong French team.    Guillaume went a little too big on his flip turn and flushed one move too early allowing David to take home the gold in his new All-Star.    Finally, after a slackline demonstration over the river,  I got to compete with Stephen Wright, Nick Troutman, Joel Kowalski, and Julles Gallais from France.   I was so jazzed up already as Jackson Kayak’s 2010 All-Star (affectionately known as “Our Newest All-Star- Ever!”)  made up all 5 of the boats in the finals.   I felt like no matter what happened, I couldn’t lose.   I was so proud of the team that made the finals.   Jules is new to the All-Star coming out of a fiberglass Gui Gui prod into the All-Star and i haven’t trained with him and didn’t really know him like I know Stephen, Nick, and Joel.   It was awesome having him in the finals and seeing how much fun he was having and how many French fans he has.

The rides started with a bang, and i got to watch everyone go before my ride because i was the top seed after semi-finals.   Nick threw down his 1,500 point ride on the first ride.  It was clear that there was only one way to win this worlds, and that was to go full out and have my entire routine done in 45 seconds.    i hadn’t acheived that during the entire event, but it was now or never!  My ride started off a little slow with me bailing on my first pass as the wave greened out too much.   I got it going after that but never quite got to my blunt/mcnasty left (until after the buzzer).    my ride was a 983 on that one.     Stephen had a solid 790 and looked great, and kept the pace slower, nailing one move at a time.    My second rided started off much better as i fired through the moves and was at my blunt/mcnasty at only 35 seconds, but i flushed on it not scoring it, giving me only 880 or something like that.     Nick flushed early on his round too.    Stephen didn’t score his mcnasties as they were a little sideways.    Everyone  but me did their final ride and the results were still Nick, Me, Stephen, Jules, and Joel.   I had one more chance, as the last guy to go, to bring home the gold.     I went out in a flurry of moves, going for broke, but flushed on my back pan am to the right, which was the first time i had done that.   OK, so the results stand, and I win my second World Championships silver medal in K1 men.    In 1997 i won the silver at the Ottawa, 12 years ago, with Ken Whiting taking the gold, another Canadian.   This is the second time a Canadian won the gold and I won the silver.   I am so proud of the job everyone on Team JK did, including everyone who built the boats, David Knight who designed the boats with me, and everyone who helped support us in our quest to be the best in the world in playboating and freestyle competition.   After the event we had drug testing. Our “shadows” who had to walk around with us until we peed in a cup had a special badge for free beer.    Nick and I got a free beer to help move things along as we did the drug test.    The party didn’t start for me right away because i had 20+ boats to deal with and round up.    I found most of them, and had to kick Jessie Stone off the water (I felt bad about that) to get the boats to flo’s trailer.   Florian took the boats to his shop in Austria.   Emily and Nick are headed to Kanumesse (european trade show for paddling) so their boats were put off to the side in the “secure” boat storage area to ride with Robert.   Unfortunately, somebody walked with Emily’s boat and only Nick’s boat is left.   Then the party started- starting with a dinner at the hotel, where the hotel manager provided two free bottles of wine for us, very nice.    Afterwards we went to the “moca bar” where the drinks were coming from every direction.  i got to hang out with Richard Fox, Kristine, Nick, Emily, and even Dane was there as well as everyone else we know.  it was fun and went late.   I managed to find my way home by myself as I realized that I was one of a few people left there and got a point in the right direction by somebody.

This morning we woke to three medals in the room, laying on the floor, flowers from the awards on the chairs, and our trophys in the stroller.    A short clean up and lots of coffee and lots of saying “goodbye” to everyone today.    What a great event.

The state of freestyle kayaking has never been better.   This was the biggest world championships I have ever seen.   The number of spectators, competitors, countries competing, etc. and the level of the paddling were all impressive.   Simon, the organizer did an incredible job on it.    More than a million dollar budget for this event created live TV, eurosport coverage, and an incredible infrastructure.   Concerts every night made the party crowd happy too.   The juniors were super impressive in the depth of field.  i anticipate the strongest senior class ever in the new few years as they get older!    I can’t believe just much freestyle paddling has shot up in the past few years again after slowdown of the growth from about 2001-2007.   It feels like the 90’s again with the excitement growing everywhere, new boats, new skills, and lots of new people.   Now I can’t wait until the season again next year, the World Cup, and in two years, the World Championships in Plattling, Germany!    I’ll have to get that gold medal back from Nick there, if I can. 🙂   who knows.

I made many new friends, and re-connected with many long time friends here.    Many of the people I hung out with I knew in the 80s’, and 90’s.   There is something truly special about an event like this for paddling, bringing 32 countries together with a common goal, lots of common interest, but very unique people that otherwise have nothing in common in many cases.   We truly all get along like brothers and sisters.   Even the die hard French fans were cheering on American paddlers, and vice versa.   It was awesome. 

I will remember this worlds forever.    My kids, my team all made my very proud.    I didn’t win this one, as hard as i tried, Nick was the winner and very deserving of that honor.    The past 20 years has shown me that you can’t win them all, no matter how much you want to.    If you ever were to win 1 world championship you should count yourself VERY lucky.    Until this world championships there has only been 6 world champions in the mens kayak class, EVER!   Jan Kelner, me, Ollie Grau, Ken Whiting, Eric Southwick, and Jay Kincaid, with me winning 4 of them (taking up 8 years of reigning time).  Nick is number 7.    That is a very small exclusive club.   Nick will fit into that club well.

they are busy outside taking down the grandstands, and cleaning up.   Kristine is on the phone trying to get our plane tickets home sorted out for Wednesday.     i am thinking about things like…   Being home, making and selling boats as the world now knows, without any doubt, that the 2010 Star series makes paddling more fun and easier than ever before.   this means that anyone wanting to have more fun on the water and paddle better, that can afford a new boat. will want it.  that means we need to make them!  

It now seems like the longest season ever, as the build up for this event has been ongoing.   I need a nap, and to lay down on my couch for a day or two.    i think I need a new keg of American Ale in my kegorator too as the one I had is now 6 months old, which can’t be good.   there is still much to do at home, as you’ll see some new exciting stuff coming down the pipe in the next two weeks.

time to run as my battery is now dead on this computer.   Signing off from Thun, Switzerland, your 2009 World Championships Silver Medalist in K1 Men…