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August 17, 2008

It was a great experience for all of us from North America coming to the Czech Republic for the first time for an event like this. Different language, different manners and customs, different type of hole than I have ever competed in, and many different paddlers to compete with. Other than the relentless rain, the experience was terrific for everyone I talked to. New friends and new experiences. It is nearly dark on this Sunday evening as the finals party is about to begin. Live music and lots of dancing and frolicking are about to begin at the top of the Prague Whitewater Park. The results achieved by each competitor becomes less important as the total experience becomes the reason for competing and the reason for living this day.

When I win an event, the feeling of achieving my goals is very satisfying and addictive, as long as the competition is fierce. When I don’t win an event, I always have the feeling of letdown for a short period, assuming that I don’t feel I competed to my potential. Today I had my worst round of the competition, which is unusual for me, and it was disappointing for sure. However, the chance to get out there and throw yourself on the line against 77 competitors, then 20, then 10, and then the top 5, all of which want to win, and by the finals are able to do so, is something I never take for granted. Peter Czonka is the guy who many of the Europeans consider their weapon against total North American domination of freestyle kayaking. Today he lived up to that role taking the top honors in style. When I get to look him in the eye and know that he has a 980 point ride on the board already and have the opportunity to try to outperform him, with an audience watching and knowing that I may just do that, to get to try, in the context where people actually care about it, is very satisfying. I didn’t rise to the occasion today and like anyone living a life, you wonder what happened when you don’t do your best. I am not dwelling on this, as this has happened more times to me than I can count. My life isn’t over, my wife isn’t leaving me, my kids are still the same, and my paddling is still what it was. If I were to win them all, it wouldn’t be very interesting. So the question is, now, what is going to happen in Augsburg? Am I going to let Peter Czonka, Nick Troutman, and Mathieu Domoulin take the honors there too? What about Stephen Wright, Clay Wright, Dustin Urban, etc.? The results will not be the same in Augsburg as here in Prague, I will put money on that. This is why the World Cup is such an adventure. The outcome is not pre-determined and is up to each action you take from here to the end!

See you in Germany!