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2010 was an awesome year. For me, it was a year of many firsts and new opportunities. Here is a chance to look back.
The year started out really well, I learned how to cross country ski and competed for the Middlebury Tigers and I was really enjoying going to a normal high school, but I could not wait to go kayaking again. Over my school breaks I would fly down to North Carolina so I could paddle and train for a little bit before I had to go back to school. One trip it was only in the 30’s, snowing and the water was freezing. Am I nuts? Answer, yes, but then aren’t all kayakers?
Before I knew it I was getting everything together so I could finish 4th quarter through independent study and my spring began.
My first competition I went to was the New England Triple Crown. This was such a cool event for me because I had never competed in a down river race, or slalom. I soon realized slalom was a lot more difficult then I thought it would be, but it was also a lot more fun. I then went down to North Carolina for the NOC Shootout which I won! It was the first time I had ever won an event, so I was really excited about it and it was a great way to start off my season. It was also great being able to paddle in a junior girls category with six participants. Paddling with others is great because everyone is so encouraging when we are on the water together. This is one of my favorite things about kayaking: the support system and the friends you make through it, even though you are competing against them.
Then it was time to go home – New Orleans style – I got to see friends, go to the Jazz and Heritage Festival, but most importantly eat all of my favorites, Red Beans, Gumbo from Mother’s Restaurant, Crawfish Monica and everything at Jacque Imo’s. Mostly, I love going back and seeing my friends.
Reno River Fest was the next competition and it was such a fun event. I stayed with Team Jackson member, Jason Craig, and his fabulous family. It was super cool because he got to show me all of the sick things Reno has to offer, including some amazing burrito shops. The event was truly awesome and it was so cool seeing so many people watching kayaking. I’m proud of my finish here – it was 4th place in the Open Women’s Division – and these ladies were competitive!
I met up with fellow Team Jackson member, Devon Barker, in Reno and we traveled together and trained. Devon even let me drive her Suburban! We competed in the Best in the West, both winning the coveted belt buckle and then off to Germany for the Word Cup.
World Cup was super fun, but would have even been better if the second event did not get canceled due to flooding. I then finished up the rest of the Colorado tour with events in Lyons, and Fibark. My dad met up with my and drove to Missoula Montana where team trials were being held. It was a great feature, and very similar to where the Worlds are being held in Platling Germany in 2011. I was bummed that I got third instead of second, but it just showed me I have to work harder next time. I learned a lot about competing this summer, and I cannot wait for next year.
I have spent my summers on the Ottawa River for the past three years now, and I always love going back. It is such a fun river and this year we got to experience some super low levels. It got down to some low negative number, and when I was there even to low for Garb, which made Push Button a great small wave to practice on because you really had to have a good recovery stroke.
My star made competing and paddling so much fun this year, and I cannot wait to try out the new 2011 Rock Star.
In the Fall I began school with World Class Kayak Academy, a fully accredited boarding school dedicated to kayaking. Each semester you have a quarter in the states, for us it was in Canada and through out the South East. Then for the next quarter you have an international destination. This year I got to go to Africa and spent a month in Zambia and another month in Uganda. This is the 4th school on my high school transcript as I have balanced kayaking and school for the past 3½ years.
The quarter began in Montana and we paddled the Alberton Gorge and we also paddled at Brennans Wave in downtown Missoula, site of 2010 Team Trials. Soon after all 9 students (with me as the only girl) and 5 staff piled into the vans and headed off to the Ottawa. Again it is such a fun river because it always has something in like Garb. We then spent a couple of days at Lachine which is by far one of the best waves I have surfed – I loved it. We then put our river running skills to the test and spent some time on the Upper Gauley. I had always heard that the Gauley was so much fun and finally got to experience it for myself. This ended the quarter, and started my college touring process before going home for a couple of days to pack for Africa.
The Zambezi River is massive and is definitely the biggest water I have ever paddled. The entire time you are on the river it is so serene. You have about a twenty-five or thirty minute hike down in the gorge, where you can see baboons chasing each other and having fun. When you finally reach the river, you can’t help but to jump in, because of the scorching heat, usually 100 degrees plus. No matter what section you are paddling, it always starts off big. This river helped me learn you have to be on your game all the time. After our first day on the river, after every rapid I would look up and be like “ Wow I can not believe I just ran that.” I am so glad I had my star because not only was I stable in such big water, I also knew I could shred up any feature the river had to offer. Each rapid ends in a pool so if anything happens you don’t have anything to worry about, but these pools also make great fishing spots for the locals. Almost everyday we would see someone fishing, and usually catching something as well. Running the river was always an adventure either by trying new lines, learning a new trick on 12b, or seeing some amazing wildlife on the shuttle back. I was so surprised by how big elephants are. The zoo’s really do not do them justice.
We then traveled to Uganda and I have to say I fell in love with the place and can not wait to figure out when I can go back. The White Nile is an amazing river and is super versatile. There are tons of channels perfect for beginners, and other channels that will push you no matter what your skill level. My favorite place on the Nile River, is the Hairy Lemon. The Hairy Lemon is an island in the middle of the river, next to one of the best waves in the world The Nile Special. This feature is super tricky, and has gotten harder over the years because of the changing water levels due to the Dam. Regardless it is worth the struggles to get on, because when you do you are on a tall fast glassy wave and can try to do just about any trick. The people of Uganda are super friendly, and it is the only place I have ever been where you can buy an entire pineapple for 50 cents. The Nile River is also about to have a dam put I on the Silver Back section (the top section) and I am so glad I got to be able to experience the Silver Back before it was too late.
Africa was the perfect way to end my year, although it may not have transitioned me into 10 degree winter days of Vermont. It was an experience that I will never forget.
Now I am shredding with my new snowboard and just started snow kiting. I only need to take classes in the 3rd quarter to finish my school year and I am planning for the 2011 kayaking season in the new Rockstar.
My year was a great one and I cannot wait to make 2011 even better.
See you on the River