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January 28, 2005

Today was the first time since 1997 that I didn’t
win quarter finals in the World Championships. It isn’t a factor
in the competition, since the only thing that matters is getting to the
next round, but every day we compete is a test of one’s ability
to win, and I prefer to be able to win at will. Of course, this is not
something that I have mastered, nor has anybody else in the sport.

We did three rides with two counting. I was the last
to go since I won prelims. After first rides, Anthony Yapp had the highest
score, with me in second. Then after second rides, I was winning by about
40 points over Jay. On third rides Jay improved over his first ride and
it was already known that I was currently in second with nothing to lose.
I told Jay that I would look up at him during my ride at the point that
I had him beat. That point never came as I flushed on my entry move (the
only one that does them every ride) and then flushed again, making my
third ride the throw away. At the end of the day, Jay was in first, and
I was in second. I am the only person who was in the top three after prelims
that is still in top three. Billy Harris moved to 8th, and Tobias Bersch
moved to 4th.

Ultimately, my rides were good, and watching them on
video, they look cool enough, getting big air loops, a huge space Godzilla,
nice blunts, a back loop, to lunar orbit on the buzzer but flushed. I
am a hearbeat away from nailing my moves but just a little off and it
is hard to pinpoint what is causing the ends to flatten out, the moves
to flush, or the decisions to be wrong at the crucial moment.

Tomorrow I won’t practice, in hopes of eliminating
the dull focus that comes from too much focus on one thing. Sometimes,
the best focus is when you feel that things are different or fresh. Not
that this is some type of secret, but it goes against common thinking
in sports. If the water level was to change, for example, I would be very
focused on the fact that I don’t know what it is going to be like,
exactly, when I am in the wave, so I will really absorb the information
as it comes to me and act accordingly. Currently, I find that I react
as if I know what is going on in front of me, but actually I am reacting
to what I have experience with and react to what I know should be happening
without factoring in the actual stimulus that comes from my eyes, and
feeling. This is called autopilot and it is deemed a great athletic tool,
but it is actually total BS and did more to kill my slalom racing than
anything else when I bought into it. Yes, knowing what is supposed to
happen is a good thing and having a good feel for the feature is important,
but nothing is better than being totally awake to what your boat and body
is doing even if it is flying around faster than you can put the moves
into words.

Tomorrow I will get my highest scores yet, 600+. The
plan is simple. I came into today with a feeling of equity in the win.
I won prelims, so technically if the competition consisted of only two
rides, I would be the 2005 world champion. Even though this is not the
case, your brain can’t possibly get by without having that thought,
and once you have that thought you already have equity in the win, meaning
that you feel there is something to lose, but nothing to gain. Rationally
you don’t think that way, you simply proved that you can win, but
in your gut, you are playing a different game, a game of holding on to
what you already have. Well, today I lost that position to Jay. I was
second in the quarter finals. I am back in the fighting business, where
I like to be. Never get in between me and my goals, unless you are prepared
to meet me face to face. This is not a bad thing, it is what the competition
is about. We officially have a fight for the win now. I can’t just
get my prelims scores and win every round until I am crowned three time
world champion. Instead, I must conjure up more focus, and better rides
than the best of the best in the first round. Now Jay is on defense. He
is the current leader after quarter finals and it is his position that
I am after, not my position that he is after. That means that I am on
offense and he is on defense. Of course, we haven’t mentioned Billy
Harris or Anthony Yapp or Tobias Bersch or the other paddlers that made
top 10. Each one of them is on offense, and by no means, can you ever
discount a paddler who makes top 10 from being capable of making the top
5 cut. Billy must be pissed by now and ready to show that he is the best.
He made it public knowledge that he planned on dominating the competition.
I admire that and know the power of his conviction and that he has never
quite gotten what he feels he can accomplish.

So, tomorrow. I will make the next cut, with the highest
score of the competition so far, 600+ points. Then we will be in the head
to head knockout rounds, where the whole competition changes gears and
is a survival game. I know how to play this game too, but we aren’t
even in striking distance yet, got to finish the job tomorrow, where I
am happy to be in the offensive posture, trying to take the lead back.

Exciting stuff! Time to sleep! It is crazy, but
I am finally getting comfortable and will sleep well tonight, while I
couldn’t sleep at all last night. Weird, but as the stakes get higher,
I am more in my element and better prepared to deal with the task at hand.

🙂 EJ 10:44pm

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