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By Justin Owen

It has been a harsh winter in West Virginia. Non-stop winter storms accompanied by bitterly cold conditions have made it hard for me to stay motivated…. keeping me off the water more than I would like this winter. This uncharacteristic behavior would not be allowed to continue, so I made my way home to a sure fire motivator – Rock Island.

Many things crossed my mind on the way home. The focus was on things that were missing in my paddling game at the moment. I was definitely not in the best shape, and my resilience that I leaned on so heavily was missing. How could this be? These traits were taken for granted as an athlete. I soon realized that they were derived from a special place with a very special group of people. I really couldn’t tell you why the hole makes me better at every aspect of kayaking as well as the mental ones, but I am now sure that it does.

My teammate John McConville must have felt the same way. I received a call from him immediately following his epic trip to South America, letting me know that he was in need of some Rock Island therapy as well. We both started our progressions together in the very same hole we now find ourselves migrating back to annually, and are drawn back for the same reasons… which we can’t exactly lay our fingers on. Although, it can never hurt to have the worlds best paddlers in your corner. Just seeing EJ, Clay, Nick, and Stephen was enough to drive my motivation back to previous levels.

Look for some new first d’s on the plateau as well as some Rock Island footy with the next big rain… for now, here are some pics from the hole in the snow. They were taken by Cathy Sachen and edited by John McConville

 Click to see larger image

John Kick flipClick to see larger image

John Right BluntClick to see larger image

John Takin offClick to see larger image

Owen air screwClick to see larger image

Owen and John Putting InClick to see larger image

Owen entering the holeClick to see larger image

Owen entrie moveClick to see larger image

Owen righty backstab