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World Cup #1- Cardiff Wales and Our Olympic Trials

As the race was coming up I was getting super excited to see how I would do. Watching the other women paddle I knew that paddling well wasn’t going to be the hard part but placing higher then last and possibly making a cut was going to be a challenge. When they set the course I was very excited to see several moves that I truly enjoyed doing, but I was also nervous about a few others. Originally I wasn’t too nervous about it as the Men were going to go before us and show us how its done. But due to Hurricane Winds the race was canceled entirely the first day. What did that mean, that meant that all the athletes that were competing on the first day- K1 Men, C-1 and C-W would be moving straight to semi finals. Semi Finals is only ONE run. So our Olympic Trials for K-1 Mean and C-1 was going to come down to this one run. HOW INSANE IS THAT! It was impressive to watch but nerve racking as well… I was nervous for everyone else more than myself! Scott Parsons and Casey Eichfield pulled it out and ended up claiming those places with their one run.


The Next Day was my turn, and I was to go after Men Finals and C-1 Finals, so that meant that it was going to be a different course. I did my best to barely watch so that way I would be going down doing the wrong course. After the Men, C-1 and C-1 Women had finished the race entirely, the women and c-2 began.

I was the very first person to do the qualification course as the semi’s was also a different course. This made me very excited! I got to the top ready to paddle after a day off!  I started really strong, and paddled not amazing, but way better than I have been right off the bat. This lasted all the way to gate 18 (and there was only 23)

I was paddling pretty hard and the crux move was a hard off set with a breaking wave, that if you lean back on you wont make it over to the next gate without looping. Well that’s exactly what I did and I totally went back for the gate too! All the local kid’s coaches and kids came up shocked that I looped it as the race run was over already by having to loop, but they were all very impressed with me going back for it, so to me it was worth it, if I got to set one good example than I am still proud of it!

My next run was feeling good but not looking so good, and a naughty head duck landed me a 50. I ended up near the bottom of the pack, but I can honestly say that I was having a great time and even though I didn’t paddle well, it sure did feel good!


Big thanks to Farlan House B&B (and Welsh Mother, Kathryn, and big brother Adam, my mother in Law Paula, The Dempsey’s, Square Rock, Welsh Paddling Club, all the staff at the Cardiff Whitewater Center, Craig Ayers, and those who encouraged me that week! I wouldn’t have changed anything because you guys were so amazing!

Biggest thanks go to Ben Hayward for dealing with me, cooking for me, introducing me to game of thrones, taking me around GB, and making me feel good about my paddling. (hugs!)


World Cup #2- Pau, France


I decided to go on one last traveling adventure with Ben and Adam. So I sent my boat with the coaches, visited an amazing town called Bath and then got on a train with Ben to London where I would be flying to Barcelona. I ended up having my last dinner with the Dempsey’s and Paula and flew out early the next morning.


It was a mission that Monday to get around, picking up team members, boats and getting to Pau, France. But we got there eventually!


When we arrived at the Cabins it was raining and pretty entertaining. No bedding, not enough beds, no tp, you name it. Sketch! To give you an idea, the cabin next door was filming a porno… lets leave it at that….

The week went really fast and the cabins got nicer once the rain stopped and we spent the time out by the lake where they were located. The paddling was AMAZING. The course, oh my goodness, was SO FRICKIN fun. Bigger water, fast moves and crystal clear water.  We only got like 6 sessions before the race, all being an hour long. This left me feeling really anxious to race as I knew that there would be moves I would have never done!


That didn’t end up being a problem. Even though there were moves I hadn’t done before. I rocked them all! I wasn’t fast but I was smoother than I had ever been and I just felt great on the water. This was a breaking point as I wasn’t paddling hard in my runs, but I was fast then I would have been if I had paddled harder. The coaches and everyone kept telling me how fast I was getting better and how impressed they were with my paddling progression. This was nice to hear as I have a hard time gauging myself. Like learning a move and saying did it count?! I didn’t make it through by I placed higher than the race before and their were more people. When I was off the water I would chill out in the team tents which had a JACUZZI!! Or go on the rope swing with the hilarious Irish Boys.

World Cup #3, Le Seu D’Urgell- Spain

I was so excited to come to this race because it was where my Dad raced in the 1992 Olympics. It was GORGEOUS! The town; amazing, the people, amazing, everything just incredible. The course, well the course, super fun, but holy moly it was HARD. Shallow, swirly, narrow and long, but SO MUCH FUN. I loved the challenge of just dealing with everything. I had even less training on this one then Pau and with the course being so long, I knew there would certainly be moves I hadn’t even thought to do.  That was the case but I ended up loving every second of it.  It was cool how visualizing, and executing what I was visualizing really went hand in hand. If I saw myself dong a gate really well, I usually did. It was the ones that I would be a little un sure of how to approach them that I would lose a lot of time one. But I think that will come with experience (I hope!)

I had a good mental break right before the race by going to the Head Quarters for Roc Roi and Paddling Down through Sort on one of the most beautiful rivers ever. Big waves, fun play and slalom gates made it a great all around river. Lluis, Richard and His Daughter, Silvan and myself made a great group. Richard was in a plastic boat and myself in a glass one, quite the switch around. Lluis took us down and showed all the cool lines and waves, he also treated us to an AMAZING meal at one of his rafting companies. If you ever want to go enjoy the rivers near Sort Spain be sure to check in with Roc Roi!

I did some moves really well and I cant complain as I learnt so much about myself and my paddling. To be fully honest after my last run, I was bummed knowing I didn’t make a Semi’s as I know I can, but I regret not having a shit eating grin on my face as always because 5 minutes after I got out a friend said he had never made a Semi’s and its his 5th year racing internationally. Knowing that I can, and that it’s my first year is really going to be my drive to get fast this winter.

Many people keep asking me if I am going to train slalom or freestyle. I will be doing both, and I will do everything I can to excel in each! I think they will help each other immensely.


I cant thank everyone who supported me on this trip enough and I hope that everyone takes some time to try something new, who knows what you’ll learn about yourself!


Happy Paddling!


Emily Jackson- Troutman