Training for the World Championships in Plattling, Germany is heating up for me, as we draw near to the actual event. Unlike many sports, Freestyle Kayaking World Championships only take place one time every two years! This really makes each World Championships a big deal. Surfing, skiing, skateboarding, etc.. all have the opportunity to win titles 1 or more times/year. This really makes the title a special one. I held the title of “current” World Champion from 2005-Sept of 2009. Nick has held it from Sept of 2009 until June of 2011 at a minimum. He’ll have to defend his title for the first time this June. I am runner up/silver medalist from 2009 and want to move up, of course. Stephen Wright proved himself to be in the running last weekend with a 1530 point ride in a very difficult hole. Looking at the competitors’ results in Europe and their training, this event is going to be HOTLY contested. Can a European take over the title of World Freestyle Kayak Champion in the men’s class for the first time since 1995 when Oli Grau won at his home spot in Augsburg, Germany? If any spot has a home court advantage for the Europeans, it is Plattling! Ruth and Stephen won this past weekend, both with the homecourt advantage in Reno. Ruth beat Emily, thwarting Emily’s undefeated record this year. Stephen beat me, thwarting my undefeated record this year. Both Reno locals. How will Plattling shake out? I expect that the competitors will do awesome in Plattling and make it very difficult to beat them in their home spot. That would make a win that much sweeter, of course.
The Rock Star is proving to be the boat to have, and while a better boater can win in a boat that isn’t a Rock Star- this boat is designed to set new high score records this year and is already doing so. Reno was a perfect example as Stephen, Dustin, Clay, and I all had record high scores here at a much harder to score level than normal. Yes, we are getting better as well, but the Rock Star is the icing on the cake. I am getting very used to it and feel like it is an extension of my body now. It took me about 2 weeks to gel with it and feel like there are no situations I would prefer the All-Star. No looking back now, I have my tool for the competition and will have it in both plastic and carbon for the Worlds. I have been training in both the Carbon and Plastic boats here in Reno. Normally alternating back and forth each session. This has been a great exercise and will prove to be ideal for Worlds. There are people who only have carbon boats at Plattling. If the water is low- look for me in my plastic boat, jumping off the bottom and plugging huge loop moves while the carbon paddlers will be paddling scared knowing that a big hit early in their ride could put them in a broken boat quickly. I remember hitting hard in Plattling even at 1.8m on the gauge which is the ideal level according to the locals. While the USA/Canada is having a record high water year, Europe is in a dry year and the Isar River is currently super low. Rain could come any time and raise the levels, as it did last year (went up to about 100,000 cfs in 1 week and flooded out last june!) I hope we’ll have ideal levels, but am mentally and physically prepared for low water, or flood levels (I have two boats and am training in all types of conditions)
Right now we are going into the final 30 days before heading to Germany. Emily and I will do two sessions here in Reno again and are having a ton of fun training together. I wish we could do Reno over again as I think I could duplicate my 1,600+ routine now after some more practice and lower water levels. Today the river is at 2,000 cfs and much better than the 3,000 cfs we competed in. 1,500 tomorrow likely, perfect!
Emily and I will head to the “Dominion RiverRock Festival” in Richmond this weekend to do Boatercross and big Air Ramp contest. This isn’t exactly good training for worlds, so I hope to tire myself out today and be ready for training again on Monday when we go to Green River, WY for training and the next competition. We do PaddleFest and BV Rodeo in BV, CO the following weekend, and then Teva Mountain Games the following weekend in Vail, CO. That is the end of our training in USA/ and competition experience before heading to Germany that Monday after Teva. Then we are in Plattling and able to train in the actual hole. However, training at worlds is not exactly ideal. Paddlers from all over the world descend upon the site and getting hole time is not easy. Coming into the Worlds is one of the hardest events to prepare for the week before it starts. The europeans will be watching us train and be able to sit on the sidelines if they want and know their routines and “tricks” of the spot while we attempt to figure it out in a few rides. Coming into the event with more skill and competition expertise is key to overcome that local advantage.
My personal challenges so far have been my right hand moves- mcnasty and phonix in particular. Doing combos in that direction have been plaguing me this season, but they are improving rapidly this week. My Lunar Orbit and Tricky Woo have also been weaker than other moves, but again, are getting better this week and I am continuing to work on them. Big air bonuses and linking bonuses are becoming my strong point, plus going fast and nailing my moves on my first attempt.
I am very excited to see how things go going into the worlds as I try to ramp up my skills and competition mind to the final push.