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This past weekend in Reno was awesome for me as a dad. I had the opportunity to paddle with my kids all week and prepare for the big event with them. Emily was pushing herself and getting better every day, while really feeling good about her progress. Dane was trying some really hard combos and you might say he was training. However, I would see him out at 10pm playing on the course just being Dane. When it came down to competition day, it was a fun family day with Kristine at the course at 8am on the water watching us get in a final training session. Emily and Dane were both having a lot of fun on the water. We cheered each other on (as well as all our team members and friends) during prelims, Quarter-finals, and semi-finals. Finals were staged after some hard rounds of eliminations. Nick had just missed the finals by 9 points to Andrew Holcomb, who had been 4th place four years in a row here. The finals were: EJ, Stephen, and Andrew in the men’s class; Emily, Tanya, and Ruth in the women’s class; and Dane, Jason, and Jonathan in the junior class. Some really good boaters got cut before finals. Bryan Kirk, Nick Troutman, and Macy Burnham were all in the top 6 but didn’t quite make the cut to the final round.

The rides were scoring higher this year than any other year. I had a 180 on my best prelims ride and a 152 on my other one, getting into the quarter finals in first place but only 1 point ahead of Andrew Holcomb, who had a 160 and a 171 on his two rides. Last year, Jay won the event with a 168, so the scores are still rising.

In Quarter finals my first ride was a 195, so close to breaking the 200 point barrier, but not quite! Stephen was second with a 177 and a great ride. Nick got a 160 and was still in third until Andrew did his second ride and edged him out with a 169. I did a hand paddle ride for my second ride since I had already won Semi-Finals and was the last to go. That is one of my favorite positions to be in. Getting a “victory lap” on any round is always fun and it doesn’t happen that often.

In the finals, Reno still does the “knock out” rounds. Each paddler does one ride and the lowest scoring ride drops out. Andrew was first with a 138, which wasn’t his best ride, but still required a solid ride to beat. Stephen went out and missed a few moves, but went huge on several of his moves, like his right Phonix Monkey that launched into space, and his Air Loops which go ballistic. In the end he had one less high scoring move than Andrew but his “huge” bonuses out weighed the move and he beat Andrew by 1 point with a 139. I don’t remember my score on that round, but it was higher than 139.

In the final round, Stephen had a good ride but not his best one of the comp leaving an opening for me to win if I just nailed my routine which was:

Entry Move while keeping my eyes on the judges (hair dry means 10-15 points for a good one)
Mcnasty Right (going for the Huge Bonus by standing up early and hucking it as hard as I can to get the extra air)

McNasty Left (this move is really hard just to complete properly here as your bow hits the bottom before you get vertical enough and I hit my head two times during competition on this move, leaving me a little punch drunk by finals and really hoping I didn’t hit it again in finals.

Phonix Monkey Right- without going to the corner to spin into position, but I forgot that part twice, costing me a move each time, but I was able to get a least a big bonus on this move most times as I was able to do it well.

Phonix Monkey Left- I was 50/50 for getting a super quality version of this or just eeking it out. When I nailed this move, it felt really good.

Tricky Woo right- scary move for me because when I don’t do them right, I simply can’t do it again and nail it. Luckily I was “on” for this move on 5 of the 6 rides.

Air Loop- going for huge bonus each time, but Stephen’s was bigger than mine so I only ever got a Big bonus, but still 20 points is better than 16.

Air Wheels- right was easy and consistent, but left I didn’t get credit for mine a couple of times lowering my score as I couldn’t get the air.

Lunar Orbit right and Lunar orbit left- after the buzzer most times, except when I forgot to do my loops on my second prelims ride and I got both of them in.
Emily’s routine was quite impressive and she was the first woman to break 100 points. She did:
Entry Move
McNasty Right
Trick Woo Right
Phonix Monkey Right
Air Loop
4 point super clean cartwheel right
Phonix Monkey Left (she never got that one)

I don’t know what Dane’s routine was as he switched it up some.

During the awards they had all of the winners get on the podiums and only in that minute did it really occur to me what happened as Dane and Emily joined me on the 1st place stand. Wow, how cool is that, three Jackson’s lots of “bling bling” as the medals were a thick silver rope with a big buckle on the end. The kids are very humble about their position in the sport, even if dad is writing about it right now and bragging on them. It is something for me to be so lucky to have kids that are so excited about what I am excited about. For the three of us to be able to strive for the exact same thing at the same time is awesome. It isn’t like I am retired and was once competing, but we actually get to train together, compete together, cheer each other one, and in this case, stand on the podium as a 14 year old, an 18 year old, and a 44 year old.

The Team (Team Jackson Kayak) was out in force and everyone performed incredibly well. Jud Kiser, KB, Luke, Jason, Jonathan, Devon, Ben, Ruth, Nick, everyone all represented well.

We even had the opportunity to do a Hotel Charlie: Lost World premier during the event. Ben and Jesse put on a great party and premier as always and their latest film is a huge hit! I recommend getting this film if you don’t already have it.

Right now we are on State Road 50 in Nevada, dubbed “loneliest highway” as it is beautiful, but barren and hilly! Passes are about 6,500-7,500 feet and a good number of them. Our Garmin says this is the shortest distance, but not the fastest. We went for shortest this time but our speed is only 32 Mph at the moment!

We are headed to Colorado now and will be at the CKS Paddlefest this weekend if you intend to be there. CKS received 50 boats from us last week to prepare for the event. Last year we ran out of boats to sell on the first day. This year we actually will have boats to sell all weekend, so if the boat you try out is your new favorite boat you can bring one home with you!

Bye to Reno, hello to Colorado!