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Friday of this past week, I had so much fun teaching a freestyle clinic and holding a freestyle a competition for a group of Junior Olympic Slalom paddlers from different parts of the US at T’Ville. The kids ranged in age from 10 to 16 and shared a great enthusiasm for paddling. It was wonderful to be around that kind zest and excitement. Dave Kurtz from Pennsylvania put together this Junior Olympic training camp for the kids, and an army of parents and volunteers came together to hang gates and work out all the logistics for the weeklong training camp and competition. Andy Kuhlberg of T’ville Triple Crown fame originally told me about this event for the kids and asked if I would be willing to help out. He also very generously took time out to help coach and judge the kids with me on Friday.
We had a ton of fun. It was impressive to see how much talent there is out there and how much all the kids wanted to work on their skills to improve. Another great thing is that the kids were willing to try anything we asked them to do. The hole at T’Ville was at a slightly low level on Friday so it was quite easy and almost guaranteed to hit your bow or stern every time you went vertical in the hole either for loops, space godzillas, cartwheels, phonixes or really anything. Happily, no one was deterred and despite a few cracks in boats, everyone kept practicing and trying for nearly two hours before we held the competition. Some kids even enjoyed swimming in the hole sans boat. During the competition, the kids got to try all the things they had been working on and it was really great to see that – everyone paddled well and had fun, most importantly. It was also really wonderful to see what the future of paddling looks like in these kids. I have a lot of excitement for what’s to come in our sport and thank you to everyone who made this possible and continues to help kayaking grow.