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A week has passed, and I’m back on the Potomac in Washington, DC after competing in the U.S. Freestyle National Championships in Columbus Georgia. I had a blast paddling with all my friends during the week before and then competing with them on Friday and Saturday. During my prelim rides, I did really well. I scored a personal best of 276 points on one of my rides, came in second, and qualified for Saturday’s finals.

When I woke up Saturday morning, I really wanted to win, and perhaps wanting to win too much, my excitement turned to stress as the finals began. On my first two Finals rides, I couldn’t do my tricks on the wave and flushed pretty quickly. It seemed as if I wanted to bounce when the wave wanted to flatten out, and then the wave messed me up as I was trying to initiate. With one ride to go, I found myself in fourth place with one last chance.

During my third ride, at the very beginning I threw an air blunt and both spins. Those got me on the podium and closer to the top, but unfortunately, I didn’t do any more tricks within the time limit. After the whistle blew, I calmed down and finally felt relaxed on the wave. I threw a pistol flip, a back blunt, and an air screw (it’s amazing how much more energy you can have when you’re calm). While they earned me lots of cheers from the crowd and brought smile to my face, sadly those tricks didn’t count towards my final score.

I am really stoked for my friends Mason and Maddie who won first place in men’s and women’s Cadets and to share the podium with Landon Miller- the best Cadet C-1 boater I know. Awesome paddling!! Lots of fun with old and new friends, and I can’t wait for my next chance to compete on the Columbus wave. Check out the videos of my training and competition rides below. See you all on the river soon!

Competition Highlights

Training Highlights

– Kaelin Friedenson