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The circus is in town. The sleepy town of Rock Island has been invaded by the top 100 freestyle kayakers hoping to earn their spot on the US Team. This is America and if you want to represent it, you have to prove your mettle in competition. There is only one way to compete for the US Team without making it on Friday. You have to have won the last World Championships. So, Jay Kincaid and Brooke Winger are the kayakers who can watch this coverage on my website and not get a single gray hair. The river has only been running from 3pm to 10pm so the lineup is as close to insane as it gets. Last week, I paddled alone with Dane, this week, I surf Brave Wave and do a ride or two, and that is it.

The stress levels are at a medium level since this is the trials that will qualify you for the International Freestyle Championships (Pre-Worlds) this coming January in Sydney, Australia. The World Championships won’t happen until 2005 in Australia. However, the US National Championships are the co-current event that is enough to raise a few neck hairs on most competitors.

The Venue- Rock Island Hole at 2,800 cfs.

The Competition Format- Two rides- both counts for Prelims, Two rides- one counts for Semi- Finals, and the team, as well as the national champion will be determined by the finals, which is two-rides one counts.

The schedule- Everything happens on Friday, October 10th from 9am-5pm.

Who competes? The top 40 men, 25 women, 10 C1, 15 juniors, 10 junior women for 100 total.

Who makes the team?
5 Men
3 Women
3 Junior Men
2 Junior women
2 C-1’s

How hard is it? Well- take our your dart board and aim one time for the bull-eye, it is that hard. If you are good enough, hitting the bulls-eye every time is not impossible. I made every freestyle team since the first one, starting in 1993, but Friday is a big day, and there are plenty of people who would love to have that spot I have occupied for so long.

What about the National Championships- The last one held at Rock Island was in 1999. I won C-1 and K-1 in the X boat. It is a new millennium. The moves are faster, bigger, and include air. Can I win it again? Time will tell. I am really interested in what happens in the Cadet classes.

Cadet? That is 14 and under- I have two kids competing for the first time in a National Championships in cadet. Emily is 13 and competing in women’s and Dane is 10 and in the boys class. They have been training hard and focused on this for a while, very cool.

I will show some photos of the madness in my article tomorrow!

Check in then.