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March 13, 2006

The North Alabama Whitewater Festival was the latest stop on the Team JK Fun Tour for 2006 and it was a great one. Three days of awesome weather and paddling. It was 85 degrees today, 80 yesterday, and 75 the day before! The day before that, it rained an inch, any questions?

We had a waterfall competition and boatercross on Short Creek on Friday. Boyd did the best kickflip I have ever seen off a waterfall on his first run. Emily did a few runs throwing freewheels, while Dane did countless runs, with or without his paddle, doing anything he could think of . I did a different move each time, and tried not to do a freewheel, since those were happening more than you could count. The comp would be judged later by video, and Keith Yell took top honors with a rock spin to kick flip off the far left side, and it was sweet!

A boatercross was next, and I hadn’t done one since my Great Falls accident where I was leading the final round and took a bow to my side from 20 feet above, putting me out of commission for 5 weeks. This falls race was a good place for a rerun of my last one, with the hole at the bottom stomping and keeping paddlers perfectly in place for the next boater to drop in on them. I won the first round easily enough, only to find that the finals would be a 10 person mass start in a narrow creek! I made the mistake of not paddling my Fun for the competition and found myself battling hard against Spencer Cook for the pole position and we were side by side only 20 feet above the lip of the falls. I managed to get him too far left for a good landing and he yelled, “Go ahead” just in time for me to straighten out, but when I put my boof stroke in his boat was on my stern and I didn’t get turned right enough. I landed and if you watch the video it looks like he landed on my head, but I was under far enough that there was no impact. I popped up left of the boil and 9 people passed me in 3 seconds as I was pushed into the undercut finish rock on the left. I managed to get out of there and went around the rock that made the turn, and hit the afterburners and managed to pass 5 people as we made out way behind the curtain of the waterfall for the cool finish sprint. I was going for the pass into 4th place by going left of the paddler stuck in the curtain on the exit from the other side of the falls but got in between him and a rock and was passed there, and ended up in 5th after all.

The next day we went to “Ender Hole” on the locust Fork. Dane won the junior division, his first win EVER! He did it quite convincingly, sticking awesome moves on both rides. I won the men’s Pro class, throwing more variety, with the Lunar Orbit and back air loops adding to the space godzillas and air loops, cartwheels, etc. Tia Beat Emily in the women’s class as they battled all weekend long. Tia had a great weekend and won each event she entered! Emily was hot on her heels though.

Today, Stephen, Emily, Dane, and I with Boyd’s help, taught clinics at the campground. I got three students rolling, each in 15 minutes or less, of course, and Nancy hand rolling. Anna almost hand rolled too. Stephen got his students rolling, while Emily taught a 9 year old girl, named Savanna to paddle. Dane taught playboating and got Troy doing his double pump and I am not sure what else the other students learned.

There was a very tall ramp set up that was fun to slide down. The transition at the bottom was so quick that you got slowed down enough to make it quite safe. I did a few runs, while Dane did about 100 of them.

We drove back to Rock Island, only to find Eli from Blacksburg waiting for someone to do a moonlight surf session with him at Rock Island. Stephen and I said no, but Dane said yes. I went inside for a couple of minutes and realized that I was making a mistake and headed down to the river, with nothing but the moon to light up the water and caught up to Eli and Dane in the parking lot. We surfed for an hour or so and it was very moving. I hung out in the eddy after each surf and just stared at the waterfalls and the moon. When I peeled out above the hole, I also looked up at the moon and water falls and then just threw myself into the hole and let it catch me any old which way. It was at least 75 degrees out and the water is also quite warm now. On a couple of rides I just looked straight up and did spins and watched the stars go around, and then get a powerflip and roll up and focus on doing fun stuff in the hole again.

Tomorrow is Emily’s 16th birthday. The kitchen is decorated, she is in bed, the presents are wrapped, and life is good.

Thanks to everyone who is part of my life.

🙂 EJ