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January 10, 2005

January 8-9 were great training days. I am still learning
quite a lot and improving my overall performance. My biggest improvements
have been in the clean blunts, getting them more consistently and more
vertical. My cartwheels are still going in and out a little meaning I
need to focus more of my energy on reminding myself of the basics before
going in the hole, like “go fast, keep body forward, look at target”
etc. so that I don’t make classic mistakes. I’m starting to
think that my loop is good enough to add a second one, especially since
you get an extra 4 points for any aerial move. I can do loop, air loop,
and space Godzilla. The Tricky Woo is certainly tricky, while the lunar
orbit is still going OK. The Phonix Monkey isn’t getting much play
and it tough to set up quickly, It is much easier on the entry. Kristine
has taken video on each ride for all of us and it is really helping. Billy
Harris is by far the smoothest on his transition from blunt to blunt to
ends, etc. while Yappa gets air on some of his blunts and goes fast and
vertical, getting great loops too. Scott Fiendel is getting lots of variety
and consistently improving still, it seems.

January 11

Yesterday was not a good training day. I had fun, but
it should have been a day off. On a good note, I started the day by trying
out a 3.7 meter slalom kayak called a Sweet. It is made right here in
Australia and is awesome. The guy who made it let me take it into the
flatwater gates in the morning before the water came on. There is a strong
possibility that I will be able to race this boat today in the “Pre-Australian
Championships”. I paddled it around and practiced some flatwater
upstreams and offsets. I can’t tell you how much easier a shorter
boat is than a longer one! The turns are way snappier, and it is generally
easier to paddle. I will be working on one with David Knight in the spring
for Emily, Dane, and I to race in Team Trials.

Today is race day, my first one in 2005. It is a warm
up race for tomorrow, the National Championships for Australia. Since
it is summer here, and the World Championships for Slalom are here in
October, there are quite a few international paddlers here. About 30 New
Zealanders, Americans, German, Austrian, British, Canadian, and more.
I really don’t know a lot of the new slalom racers, while I do know
the older ones. Either way, I am going to do my best to do freestyle boaters
proud to have a good race, using only my freestyle training as my physical
preparation. In general slalom racers don’t consider freestyle boaters
to be in good shape, and of course, they are right, in many cases, but
it is like anything. Those who paddle hard and often are in great shape,
those who paddle for short periods and with lots of long breaks are not.
I paddle all year, and hard most of the time. So, I am more curious than
anybody on how I will perform both physically and technically. I only
have my 1996 and prior training to fall back on for technique, plus all
that I have learned or developed since then for strokes and concepts.
I am better with my strokes now then I was in my training days, since
I have focused so much time on them. I know what applies to the long boats,
and what doesn’t, however, my habits are 100% geared to the short
boats now and I am sure I will try to throw the slalom boat like a playboat
at least once down the course, only to get rejected. I hope I will be
strong all of the way to the finish. Then, I know that I can focus primarily
on technique when we I make my own slalom boat and prepare for the 2005
US Team Trials in Durango, Colorado.

Back to Freestyle- Emily is starting her run for the
title by replacing her fear of the hole with a desire to do well. It took
a week, but her desire to start using her skills to the fullest and developing
her skills specifically for this event are quite apparent. Yesterday she
paddled from 10:30 to 5:30 all day, getting out just for lunch. She is
now going for her loops for the first time and will have them before long.
She nailed a couple yesterday and will get consistent with them, I’m
sure. She has a terrific air loop, that she developed this year in Salida,
CO. Dane is on his own program. He mixes good training in the hole with
lots of playing around the course. Yesterday he had the biggest loop I
have seen anybody do there, flying 3 or more feet over the water! He is
going for his clean blunt and getting something in between a Pan Am, and
a Donkey Flip. It is a cool move that only a little kid in a 5’
boat could do, but it is fun to watch. He can link a split into about
three fast ends, before he flattens out and goes for something else. I
haven’t seen him put a long ride together yet. Russ and Jake from
Australia are both doing incredible rides, with lots of technical and
variety. Todd Baker and Justin Pat are experiencing the early woes of
not being able to perform to their own expectations yet. This hole is
like that. They are both going from struggling with doing any moves to
getting much better each day. I think both of them will be ready for the
competition in a few more days.

I am going to take a break from training freestyle
until after the race, unless I decide to do a short session each day (most
likely). Thursday we are going to Manly Beach, very cool. Then on Friday,
it will be back in action with only 10 days left until the competition.
My body typically goes really strong for three weeks, before it needs
a break or it will break. So my typical training cycle, when training
really hard, is three weeks hard, and then 5 days paddling at 50% of the
volume, then back to three weeks hard. Here I only had three weeks until
the competition when I got here, so I would be at risk of breaking during
the competition. Instead, I did one really hard week, then I will do 5
days easy, then 10 days really hard, into the competition, which is 5
days long. So I will be at the end of my second hard week by the time
finals come around. This is a good time. The second week is usually the
strongest period. (7-14 days).

🙂 EJ