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By Nick Troutman

WOW! What a trip. It was a blast the whole time, between boating some amazing play-spots, hanging with and making new friends, traveling across Europe, and competing in the World Cup.

For me it started with a road trip to New York, a flight to Washington, and a connecting flight to Munich Germany. On arrival we realized that half our paddles were broken, that was a bummer, though it got better once we found everyone and we were focused on heading out to do some kayaking. Jackson Kayak rented out some wicked black FBI vans for the team to travel in. Once we had loaded up all our belongings we were off to Prague, in hopes to get some training in before the crowds showed up. It wasn’t long before the eddy lines were 10 people full. We were camping at first, but with Emily’s deathly cough, we got a hotel room for the competition. The competition at Prague was amazing. It was the first of the three competitions so they had the opening ceremonies for the World Cup, with parties and concerts every night of the competition. The feature was man made, which made it interesting for some of the moves. There were some great European competitors, some that I had met like Peter Csonka, Mathieu Domoulin, Ed Smith, and then there were also some ripper’s that I hadn’t met before, such as, Simon and Seppi Stohmeier, Tuomas Kurnen, Tomasz Czaplicki.

My Favorite part of the Prague competition was the semi finals. The Men’s Semi Finals were held at 9:30 at night, in the dark! It was the coolest feeling ever, there was music blaring, flashing colored lights on the banks of the river, there were multiple spot lights lighting up the hole, and the most spectators of the whole competition, it was packed! It literally felt like there was a river, flowing threw a nightclub. As a competitor, we were in the eddy up stream, in the dark, and as you paddle into the feature, BAM, you’re in the spot light and you are the entertainment. I had a ton of fun, and after it was over, EJ and myself stayed out doing hand-paddling rides. The next day was finals, were Peter Csonka took 1st, I placed 2nd, and Mathieu Domoulin was 3rd.

From Prague the Jackson Team and myself packed up our tents, and were off to Augsburg Germany, to the Eiskanal. This was a really fun venue, it the where the 1972 Olympic games were held for slalom. The course was really fun, and it was amazing how well designed it was for being over 35 years old. The hole was called the Washing Machine, because it has a tendency to work some people. It was really good for pretty much any move, though the loop moves went the biggest. Some people like Jason Craig, Stephen Wright, and Jonathan Shales, were practically landing on the Moon.

We were camping in Augsburg as well, and Emily illness was continuously getting worse. We had gone to the hospital twice, and once was the night before finals. She had some x-rays, a couple IV’s, and had given blood, and they diagnosed her with bad Bronchitis. Though by finals she was obviously feeling better enough to win, and throwing both a Mc Nasty and a Phonix Monkey in her rides. Ruth Gordon did amazing as well placing second, and having a 400-point ride in competition. I was judging the Jr. Men’s who all had some great rides and Huge Loops, though in the end it was the local German boy who took it home. In the Men’s class, Dustin Urban took the top seat on the Podium, with some greats rides, following him where Peter Csonka, and EJ. I ended up in seventh place, though I felt like I had an amazing ride, the only problem was the judges still didn’t think so.

From Germany we headed to Thun Switzerland, the land of Chocolate. Thun was just a beautiful little town. All of the buildings are old looking, and very European looking ski town. The continuous joke was that “Thun looks a lot like Vail Colorado.” This was the first competition of the World Cup were the feature was a wave. The Wave was right in town, there were hotels and stores on either side of the river, and there was this nice little wooden covered bridge just upstream of the wave. I was lucky enough to stay in the hotel over looking the river, though it cost an arm and a leg being that everything else was full. The wave would always surge, so it was hard to tell who would be the man to beat. There were a lot of Europeans who did very well. Peter placed third, while Stephen Wright and myself battled it out for First place. It was down to the wire, but I beat him by a mere 24 points. Though I think we were both just excited at how well we paddled, with breaking the 900-point barrier.

They also had the Over-All Results for the World Cup, as well as for the Thun Competition. Peter Csonka took the well-deserved Gold, while I was excited with Silver, and the Father to be, Dustin Urban took Bronze.

In the end it was a great excuse to go paddle some great rivers in Europe, and hang out with some good friends.

Nick Troutman