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Colorful Colorado is home to many great rivers, which to us paddlers means only one thing! Plenty of great paddling! Many whitewater events have become an annual occurrence in this state, influencing a lot of boaters of all abilities to tour round the river towns from one event to the next, to hone their skills and express their passion in a competitive scenario.

2014 has been an amazing year for whitewater here in Colorado, with a strong winter snowpack we have seen plenty of melt and nice high water levels at all the events.
First on the list was the Paddlefest in Buena Vista, A beautiful small town with a river play park flowing through the downtown. Buena Vista has some of my favorite freestyle features on tour, so I am always stoked to go there! This year I won prelims and scored my first Air McNasty, with my first competition in my new Murky Water Composite Rockstar Small. Water kept rising with the warm weather and I didn’t quite manage to score my full routine again in finals, finishing 2nd behind my buddy Emily Jackson who threw down a great ride!

From Buena Vista we moved on to Lyons. A town that was submerged by floods late last year, causing much damage and reshaping the river. The South Saint Vrain creek race here was no longer, as the creek was destroyed. But luckily two freestyle features still remained in town, black bear hole and A Hole.
A hole was a diagonal hole that kicked out surfers left and had almost no eddy access. It was tough work on your right hand side just in order to stay in. Black Bear hole was just upstream and was a flushy but slightly more straight wave/hole with eddy access and much nicer on your shoulder. So with my current status I opted to compete in A hole. Competitors were given the choice of which hole to compete in. I managed a second place in the open women’s with some big air. It was a fun event with lots of warm weather and an awesome ice-cream shop just a couple minutes walk from the features, so how could anyone not be stoked???

On ward and upward we moved up the altitude to Vail, for the GoPro Mountain Games (with a quick stop for some snowyaking on the way up!). One of the biggest events of the year. This town is expensive but a lot of fun and an incredible atmosphere with all the different sports coming together to compete in the village. This is the first year I haven’t competed in the Homestake Creek Race, which was a huge shame to me but a sacrifice I made in order to continue letting my shoulder recover. Although, it was awesome to watch and cheer on all my paddling friends who did compete!

Freestyle was exciting and nerve-wracking. The feature was different all day everyday building up to the freestyle, with constant changes in water level and feature shape thanks to the bladder system in the water. I had a lot of fun but did not paddle my best and missed out on finals.
One event to go and that was the downriver kayak sprint. I raced the Karma Unlimited and wow this boat is fast and incredibly easy to drive for a longboat! There were many fast racers this year, including some of my kiwi buddies so I was stoked with my 5th place result.

And just like that the Colorado tour was over for me. There is still one more event, which I love called FIBArk in Salida, but this year I will not be attending as I am now in Idaho training for the biggest US event of the year, the Payette River Games in Cascade. Stay tuned to hear how they go…

Cya on the water!!

Courtney Kerin