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I’ve been on the US Team before, my first time being in 1995, and I’ve always trained up on the spot and just paddled my brains out like normal leading up to the comp. But after 10 years of not making the Freestyle Kayak Team (besides in squirt) I now realize what an honor, privilege, and obligation I’ve earned with my spot on the 2011 US Freestyle Team.

Obligation? Sure! As someone who’s sat on the sidelines watching how people prepare or don’t prepare for the Worlds, I can tell you for sure I’ve felt some hard feelings for those that ski all winter and then creek all spring and just roll into the event like they already won something just for being there. I’ve also seen the panic and regret that comes when someone flies across the world only to realize they forgot their A-game and will be watching the event from the stands after just 2 rides – and I do NOT want to be that guy!

So – with extra focus and incentive that comes from the upcoming challenge of Worlds I’ve worked harder on my playboating this year than ever before. Joined a gym, gone out just for flatwater sessions, the Uganda trip, bought a Carbon Rockstar, and of course I’ve been Rock Island surfing at just about any level just about every day I’m home. I even jogged to the Dam n back a few times for cardio – normally I don’t even like to walk that far.

Does this mean I won’t be sitting on the sidelines after Prelims? Absolutely not! As someone who used to revel the challenge of showing up late for an event after creeking all week – with nothing but beer and Poptarts for breakfast – with the goal of still making top 3 (and often meeting it) I can tell you that Hard Work is only effective at making you as good as you can be. I know for a fact that there are plenty of paddlers with more natural ability, better strength to weight, and the advantage of not caring so much about the outcome that will be able to outperform my 44 year old self on a regular basis. So with that in mind I’m training harder, planning smarter rides, and giving myself every competitive advantage I can think so that IF I’m a spectator for most of the event it will be with no regrets on ‘what I should have done’ to prepare in advance.
Crunch time is at hand, and I’ve competed in 2 events already this year with 4th place finishes in both. While I haven’t placed as high as I would have hoped, this season I plan to continue going for the high scoring tricks that will but me on the podium rather than my usual ‘nickle and dime’ strategy that generates more consistent results. I figure the more I try the harder moves I’m not 100% with now – even in competitions – the better my chances are of sticking them in Plattling. We’ll see how that goes soon enough. Heading to Reno next week for more training – so if you see me with beer and a Poptart in the parking lot just ask me how much the ticket to Germany costs – that should be more than enough get me back on track.