July 9, 2011- National Championships Finals- Day 1 of 2

 

Today we start competing at the National Championships Point Series Final event, on the North Fork of the Payette, in Cascade, Idaho.

 

This region has a long history of rodeo paddling starting in the 1970’s and created some of the best rodeo paddlers in the USA back in the day.    It is only fitting that we are doing the USA National Championships here in Idaho on the Payette in 2011.

 

This year’s National Championships is a point series event.    Each athlete’s best 5 events from the point series events (not all events were part of it) make up their score and the highest scoring athlete wins.

 

This event at Kelly’s Whitewater Park is the finals, and it counts double.    I have only 3 events under my belt so far and am in 4th place.   Those ahead of me have 4 or 5 events making up their score.   Since this event counts double, I will have my “5” events after this one.   For the men’s class, I think it is pretty simple- the winner of this event, will win the National Champion title.   Ahead of me is Craig Kleckner,  Dave Fusilli, and Bryan Kirk.     As long as I win this event, I will win the national championships title.    Of course, that is always easier said then done.   I am not the only one that wants to win, or that is paddling really well here.

 

In the other classes- Dane is attempting to get three golds in the National Championships in the C1, Oc1, and Junior men ‘s class.

 

Emily is trying to win the Senior Women’s class.

 

In the Junior women’s class it is hotly contested between Lauren and Sage for the title, but Courtney Kerin from New Zealand is also competing to mix things up and is in second after prelims to Lauren.  Courtney’s scores don’t count towards the National Championships, but it is great having her compete and challenge the ladies.

 

The feature is quite fun and impressive.   3,500-4,000 cfs is running through the park and is creating a big wave shoulder into a big hole.     Huge loops, mcnasties, cartwheels, lunar orbits, etc. are all avaialable in the hole, while flip turns, helix, pan ams, back pan ams, clean air blunts, air screws, flashbacks, and more are available on the wave with some big air possible.    The scores should be pretty high as long as people don’t waste too much time setting up.  The wave feeds into the hole and fluctuates enough to make people miss passes.   It is a little bit like High Tension but smaller (on the Gateneau in Quebec) but angled the opposite way.   Before I got here I was told that it was just a big trashy hole that you can’t do anything in.   Ha- that is so far from the truth, this is a sick wave/hole and a great test of both wave and hole skills during one competition.   Each athlete can choose to do only wave moves (like Emily), only hole moves (nobody is doing that, most people are doing both) or do both (like I am doing).

 

Dane does his first class very shortly, and then the C1, Pro Women, and then Pro Men.

 

The prize money is healthy here for both this event as an individual event, and the overall point series.  The prize money comes from Kelly’s Whitewater park for both purses.

 

$7,500 for both this event and $7500 for the National Champion.

 

First place in men’s and women’s is $1750 for both purses so the winner tomorrow will take home $3,500 in men’s and women’s classes.   That will make any kayakers day.

 

The most I have taken home in one day for a freestyle event before is $4,000 at the IR Triple Crown, and $5,000 for the Gorge Games Extreme Race and Boatercross.   This puts this purse up there for USA freestyle kayak events.

 

Reno was $1500 this year, Vail $2,000 and the others were $1,000 or less.

 

While you can’t make a living only on prize money, it sure doesn’t hurt.    Many events don’t have a purse, which is fine as well.

 

It is sunny and 75 degrees today in Cascade, the water temperature is 68 Degrees (I am not kidding!) and this is shorty weather!

 

I will update the results from prelims later today.

 

Tonight there are two big concerts here- one from 5-8pm, and one from 9-12 and there is an “expression session” under the lights at midnight for both kayakers and surf boards.

 

Food, beverages, etc.. are all in large quantity here.   Last night Kristine and I bought 20 pizzas for everyone paddling Jackson Kayak to say thank you.   It was a fun, relaxed pizza party that ended just before dark, which is 10pm here.

 

Signing off to go watch Dane!

 

J

EJ