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By Ruth Gordon

is up and running again this year. This time around we’re ‘mini’ with myself coaching Jackson Kayak team member Sage Donnelly. For 3 weeks now Sage and I have been meeting at the Reno Whitewater Park to hone her freestyle skills in preparation for the Reno River Festival and upcoming Colorado events.

I have known Sage for a couple of years and have watched her paddling progress. In the past year her skills have soared and her learning curve is on a steep upward climb. What a fun time to train with Sage.

We’ve spent a good amount of time in the flatwater working edge control and boat and paddle dexterity. Paddling backwards is one of Sage’s least favorite warm up practices so we definitely spend time backwards. She can even eddy in and out backwards! We race and chase each other a lot. It gets our heart rates up and it good race practice.

Our sessions include a lot of surfing. Sage has great control in the smaller holes of the south channel. While surfing in one of the holes she managed to get 60 spins, both left and right! Yes, she is a good little surfer!

Hole 3 in the north channel provides us with ample challenge. It is a big hole for a little lady. But don’t be fooled, Sage can spin both ways in this hole, and she loves to plug. She tells me her goal is to learn to loop. Sage is not keen to roll in the hole but we spent an afternoon practicing this too. Then last week one of her plugs rotated into a pirouette and suddenly she was required to roll in the hole. I could see her paddle; the first attempt was on the upstream side and didn’t look like it was going to work. It didn’t. But that didn’t stop Sage from moving to the other side and rolling up. YEAH! I was SO proud of her.

Sage and I still have a month of training together so stay tuned for more updates.


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