Road to the World Championships- A Team JK Blog
Competing in the World Freestyle Kayak Championships is the dream of many kayakers. It is a long road with many obstacles for most to get there, especially in the pro classes, and even for some, in the junior classes.
This blog will have articles from a variety of Team JK athletes, who are training for the World Championships, and just as importantly, for their National Team Selection events.
I will kick it off with my own thoughts below, but look for blogs, updates, photos, and videos coming from other members of team JK from time to time, as we finish up 2014, and enter into 2015, the year of the world championships on Garberator Wave, on the Ottawa!
EJ’s first entry into the Road to the Worlds Series:
Garberator Wave is one of the most famous waves in the world. It is the main feature on the “Lorne” rapid, the second rapid on the main channel of the Ottawa. Fast, dynamic, and challenging, but also will be a high scoring event. The wave itself isn’t always the same, as all water levels create a different feel. It goes from fast and flat at low water with no foam on it, which is a fun level for getting big air, but hard to stick moves, to foamy and very retentive, but harder to get big air, but easy to stick stuff, to green again at higher water, but narrow and harder to stick again.
Some of the keys to be good on Garburator are:
- Having a good boat that is fast/retentive. If the wave gets green a fast boat is critical. We designed the Rock Star specifically to be good on a green garb.
- Having good technique for taking off and landing the hard moves in control. Landing and keeping your boat on the good part of the narrow wave allows you to keep going, landing off to the side of the ribs, or shoulder means flushing and ride over…
- A good plan for your rides improves your average score- knowing your moves and which are higher risk in advance of competing is critical. Training is key.
For me, all of this is important, but ONLY if I make the USA Team again. I have been on either the slalom team or freestyle team since 1989 each year and have never missed a world championships for freestyle since my first one in 1993. However, each time I have to enter into the USA Team Trials, with no advantage over anyone other than, hopefully, skill and experience, it is do or die time again. This year, the USA Team Trials are in Glenwood Springs, CO on the Colorado River. This is a high volume river and a tedious wave. The wave is much wider than Garb, but not nearly as tall or fast. It is quite a different wave from Garberator, but the important thing is that it is a WAVE, not a hole. I just found out that the French team is being selected in a hole, which is crazy to me. While many of the best USA kayakers are equally as good in a hole as a wave, many of the boaters, especially on the fringes are only good at one or another. The Jackson Team is mostly a very well rounded team with skills on all features. I have won world championship medals in both holes (4 of them) and waves (2 of them), and am very fired up that we are back on a wave again. Team Trials are in June, and the Worlds are in September. Practicing and “peaking” for the World Championships are a good idea… but practicing and peaking, first, for USA Team Trials are more important, I think. My line has always been, don’t think about how you will do in the big show, until you have your tickets to the show! Making your National Team is how you get your tickets to the show. Each country has a different selection method, date, location, etc..
Some interesting people on Team JK for the 2015 World Championships will be:
- Emily Jackson- who missed the USA Team for the 2013 Worlds while pregnant, and got 1st and 2nd in the worlds before that. Emily’s strong suit is WAVE competitions and Garb is where Emily can really shine.
- Sage Donnelly- Sage would likely have done very well in the 2013 World Championships as a junior at age 13, but the ICF requires juniors to be at least 15 years old. Sage is now 15 and this will be her first world championships. She is SO READY!! I can’t wait to watch her compete.
- Stephen Wright- Stephen didn’t make the 2013 team either, and was a bronze medalist in 2011. Stephen is paddling like a Rock Star on waves right now- killing it on the Top Wave at Rock Island. He LOVES Garb and when he loves a feature, he works hard for that event and is hard to beat! Stephen Wright could be the next World Freestyle Champion.
- Dane Jackson- Of course, in order for Stephen to be World Champion, he has to beat my son, Dane, who, well, the best way to put it, is really hard to beat. Dane has Garb on speed dial, with huge, consistent moves, hardly ever misses a pass, and is the current world champion with lots of confidence.
- Nick Troutman- Nick doesn’t own Garb, but it is his home wave and waves are Nick’s strong suit, just like his wife, Emily. Nick won every round of the 2007 Worlds except finals (he he), at age 18, and he has been waiting a long time to win the Worlds on his home river. I get to train with Nick, and he is going to be one of the top three by my bet.
- EJ? Hmm… I say we just wait and see how I do. I sure do love competing on waves, getting a gold and a silver medal in the past two world championships on waves, but that was 5 years ago…
- Matt Dumoulin- France- Matt was pre-selected for the French Team, so he is already in the big show. He will be one to watch for this event.
- Alec Vorhees- this young man medaled in the last worlds in a hole, but is paddling awesome no waves already and has nerves of steel. Junior men’s class- look out for the 6’3” 17 year old!
I have my “competition” version of the Rock Star- innegra hull track, lightweight, fast, stiff. It is the perfect boat for training for the Garb event. The boat can’t win for you, but having any disadvantage due to the boat being slower, less controlled, less retentive is a big strike against you. Our Rock Star is the ticket to ride in with confidence.