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The 2014 World Cup has officially commenced. The first event of three being the Natural Games in Millau, France, followed by two in Spain. The Natural Games is very similar to the Go Pro Games in the US. With several different events and lots of vendors, its action packed all week long. Freestyle Paragliding, Kayak Events, Freestyle Slacklining, Biking and the Bouldering World Cup.   Prelims was Thursday and many of the athletes who came from the Payette River Games only got one day of training, and in that on day, only an hour! The French paddled well showing that they knew their home spot better then anyone. It was a tiny feature but every hole trick was possible. The World Cups always bring new competitors, especially in the Junior classes. It was cool to see new Junior Women and Men representing their countries here. In the Junior Women Nuria Fontane had a commanding lead each day with scores to possibly make it into women’s finals. Hot on her heels was US Team Member and current World Champion- Rowan Stuart.   The Junior Men switched up quite a bit, with several big names, and big scores. Max Karlson took the gold with silver worlds medalist from France, Thomas Richard placing second. Following closely behind him was Team JK’s Lane De Maleanure. Current World Champion Hunter Katich coudn’t pull himself or a ride together to podium. C-1 Men was exciting to watch with several athletes going just as big in the C-1 as K-1 Men. The US has three C-1ners here- Jordan, Tad and Dane. Dane did not make it into finals, his rides were pretty good but not quite good enough. Everyone watching thought he was in after his second ride in Semi Finals, as it was an impressive ride, but the score came in super low- guess the judges didn’t like it. Jordan didn’t have his best finals and Tad Dennis took the gold with most of his points getting scored in the last 15 seconds of his ride! Silver went to Sebastian Devred, and bronze to Jordan. In the ladies class it was a stacked field. During practice I was amazed at the number of ladies performing mcnasties, phonics monkeys and other high scoring moves. Many of them didn’t quite sell them to the judges during the rodeo though so their scores were based mainly on three loop moves. Hitomi from Japan spent three weeks training here, and you could tell. She had this place dialed in ride after ride. For womens semi finals, there was a three way tie between 5th, 6th and 7th, which made an exciting round to see  who was going into finals. It was between Courtney Kerin, Marlene Devillez, and Kat Levitt. When it came down to the second ride Marlene took the 5th spot. I was very happy for both Courtney and Kat who paddled well in the competition. Zofia from Poland made it to finals with BIG space godzillas and cartwheel moves. In Finals after round one I was in first, then round two I was pushed to third, then I moved back up to first after round two, then round three I was first all the way to the last ride of Hitomi’s. Hitomi managed to score a 605 with only a few moves. The Rockstar was perfect for the feature and Hitomi showed us how big she could make it go! We are hoping to have a short video for the website here shortly where we can show the top moves!   The Men’s was an impressive finals but it also showed who was buckling under pressure. In the first ride, Dane had an impressive ride of over 1,200 points with huge mcnasties and space- tricky woo combos, then Sebastian Devred had a 1,400 point ride. Those two rides from the first round ended up keeping the 1st and 2nd positing with Mathieu Dumoulin taking 3rd in his Carbon Rockstar. Quim and Abel seemed to struggle with the pressure. Quim had a very impressive second ride but continued to do the same moves (one mcnasty three times, and the same lunar twice) so his score came out much lower then he was expecting. Once he got upset over the score he couldn’t pull a ride together on the third try. Abel from France had an early flush and knew he couldn’t beat a 1,400 so he simply paddled around the eddy slow for the remaining of his ride.   The Rockstar took 4 out of 6 medals in the Mens and Womens classes, Won Junior Women, 3rd in Junior Men. It will be interesting to see what happenda when we head to Salt, which is in Quim’s backyard. We will have to see how the Hometown advantage goes!   Sunday’s events here were canceled due a HUGE storm last night. The storm was super intense and started only moments after awards was done. The had to cancel the big ramp competition, but on Friday they did have boatercross finals and Nick took top honors. It was a boatercross where everyone was in the Fun Runner and man did they make that boat look good! Off a big ramp into the water, each athlete had to make buoy’s and touch certain platforms. It was super exciting to watch and had over 80 competitors!   Now we are all packing up to head to World Cup #2! I hope all the competitors have safe travels!  Spain here we come!!!