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September 9, 2006

Athletes from 20 countries came to Watertown, NY and were training on the Route 3 Wave until Wednesday night when the wave flushed out. All day Thursday athletes waited for it to come back in, but by Friday morning it was still not in. The organizers and athletes decided to move the competition to “Hole Brothers” downstream. Hole Brothers is the most famous of the Black River playspots and the hole is in good form today. Helixes, air blunts, flip turns, and donkey flips were replaced by Space Godzillas, Back loops, phonix Monkeys, Lunar Orbits, blunts, backstabs, cartwheels, Air Loops, etc. The athletes handled the transition well and were relieved to have a spot that they could train on the day before the competition.

At 7pm last night the Hoopla got started with Opening Ceremonies. Design Services which is a business that creates ceremonies such as this one did a great job in decorating, doing the audio/visual presentation, and recognizing the proper people for their contributions to this world cup event. Fanfare music, the national anthem of both the USA and Canada (we are currently 30 miles from Canada and the Canadians hosted World Cup #1) played to a standing crowd. The athletes marched in as the announcer ticked off the countries competing and spectators, including the city mayor, city council members, sponsors, friends, and family all cheered. Ruth Gordon and Lukas (from Switzerland) read the “athletes oath” which set the tone for the event to come. At 7:30 the event was declared open and “Ed and the Neds” fired up the stage with live Rock and Roll, with awesome guitar riffs to songs such as “Stairway to Heaven” , Black Crows, and other classic rock favorites. Upstate New York is definitely a classic rock haven, just turn on any radio station and you will know what I am talking about.

We drove back to Hole Brothers where I got to bed early (in my RV) but Dane, Emily, Nick, Jason, and a bunch of other competitors paddled until at least 11pm. I woke up at 5:45am and got dressed for an early session only to find Jay Kincaid, Tanya Faux, and a British paddler already on the water. Tanya Shuman had gotten on and off already. I was joined by Nick, Emily, Jason Craig, and others shortly after I got in and we all enjoyed an early session to a fading, nearly-full moon. (yesterday was full moon).

The competition is about to begin this morning with Junior Women, then Junior Men leading off. C1, OC1, Women’s Pro, and Men’s Pro to follow for prelims today. Semi-finals and finals will take place tomorrow. The way I figure it, I have a huge points deficit taking 8th place at the Ottawa (oops!). I need to win here at the Black and then again at Rock Island to have a chance of winning. Stephen Wright needs to place lower than 2nd in one event for me to win if I take the next two events. All I can do is the best I can and we’ll see how the cards fall from there.

Head Judge is Shane Benedict, with Matt Solomon holding down a spot and then the third position is held down by an athlete judge. The high and low score from each ride is dropped making it impossible for a judge that misses something or a judge that is overly generous to affect the scores to any real extent. The middle judges score is the only one that counts. The scribes have to be on it too for a good accurate event. Luckily we have athletes that are willing to help with out question and they are very familiar with the scribe sheets and can score even the top men who throw moves so fast that you can’t be looking around for the move on the sheet and get them all written down.

Brian Lippy brought a crew out to film for his “Fusion TV”. He is producing a show for OLN, MTV, and something else on the World Cup. He just finished his show on the Reno River Festival that will show on OLN and other cable channels. I will find out when that TV show airs so you can turn on the boob tube and see some kayaking action at home!

I have my routine worked out, in theory. I have not gotten much of a chance to really train. This event will be a “let’s see who can show up and throw down without practice” event. My routine right now is:

Air Loop, Space Godzilla Right and Left, Air Back Loop, McNasty Left and Right, Pan Am Left, Lunar Orbit Left and Right. That will be more than 45 seconds. We’ll see how it goes in a few hours!

🙂 EJ