Select Page

It’s been a couple days since the Freestyle Kayaking World Cups-

The day after was a blur of packing up, helping many team JK athletes get organized to leave, and my Monday Morning meetings where I had to present the weeks numbers on online sales, click through rates and so forth.

Today is day 3 of being home with house guests, the kids school, 2 hours a day of working out and a task list that seems to only grow not get smaller.

On my drive back from Atlanta yesterday after dropping off another athlete (the worlds most amazing Bartosz) it dawned on me- Holy Shit- I Won World Cups. To be fully honest it brought me to tears….

I was so active (I don’t like the word busy) I didn’t give myself time to process it or think of what it means to me.

This event was exciting to me as any excuse to be “focused” on paddling and growing as a paddler- I am all about. I use events as added motivation to show up, even when I am tired or unsure.

I worked moves I didn’t think I would ever put in my routine the week before the event (Mason and David McClure can tell you how many poo turns I tried when hoping to get a clean blunt)

I did not think of a routine, and I kept wishing the water might drop so I could train ambush as Ottie, Hitomi, Abby and Rachel Scheffe were absolutely killing it up there.

My approach to this event felt a little less mentally committed due to us already having a World Championships in the year- it didn’t feel right to me to make everything else in my life pause again. I was mentally committed to paddling every single day as the wave was so much fun and the people I shared the eddy with are amazing humans and I wanted to milk every second with them.

At Ambush I continued to move round to round but knew I didn’t have the points to take over as Ottie’s approach of throwing the big hole tricks versus wave moves. (They have a much higher opportunity for points and she’s a very smart and strong competitor.) Before each round and in the morning I trained the hole moves hard and I finally got to where I was throwing my McNasty at the end of my ride but I flushed each time. Being less then 100 points off winning and sitting in 3rd lit a fire under my ass as I didn’t realize how attainable a win could be.

I often do my best in competition and I forget that it’s not always the case for many of my competitors- another athlete who does their best in competition almost always without a doubt is Hitomi. You can never determine how she will do by watching her train- she is on fire when the judges give her a thumbs up.

As we transition from Ambush to Good Wave I funneled all my meetings into the one day “off” from competing but the only training day for Good Wave- I successfully presented my marketing budget and it felt like winning a big event! I did the meeting with wet hair and in my poly pro, and several other meetings throughout the day followed the same outfit.

The first day of competition at Good Wave we had no ladies competing, so I got to be the best cheerleader for my family, friends and athletes.

The next day it was my turn to go- I had a competitor in my heat that I have paddled with over ten years and she was a ghost, pale and unresponsive. I tried to get her excited about the event and realized I was missing something. I looked back at my Dad who was sitting on a rock and bawling his eyes out. We can read lips together so we find communicate without verbalizing, and I had found out that the person next to me just unexpectedly lost their sibling. Immediately a rock was stuck in my throat, my grief for my friend, and the thought of what she was going through. I watched her peel out and focus on her paddling and I knew if she could do it, clearly I could too. Trying not to look at my dad I had a great 15 seconds followed by a flush, the next ride I improved and stayed on the wave. The third rides I went with the flow and tried moves I hadn’t executed in an ICF event ever. I was so proud in that moment- but as soon as I got off the wave the tears and grief flooded back. Grief not just for my friends sibling, but grief in thinking about what she may have been feeling, going through or processing…

Kayaking felt like cheating, avoiding life. I have always found kayaking like meditation. When I compete the only thing I am thinking about is me and the wave- no kids, work, or outside influence.

But when I saw my friend paddling after receiving news of her sibling, only an hour later, I realized how blessed we are in life to have something that helps us disconnect and distract from when life gets heavy. In a healthy and positive way. Not to mention the outpouring of love and support our community bestowed upon her and her partner throughout the rest of their stay. How lucky are we.

I was reminded that grief can be seen as a beautiful thing- as an act of love to those we loved. You cannot have great grief without great love.

The feeling of gratefulness, and appreciation for our community stayed with me throughout the rest of the competition. I used the opportunity to tell people as we should always, how much they mean to me, how inspiring they are and to the volunteers, how grateful I am to their work and time.

I’ve said it a million times but people will not remember how you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

As we had a moment of silence for those lost, I held hands tight with my fellow competitors and in that very moment, in our vulnerable state- our community came together with an outpouring of love. I could feel so much support, love, understanding between everyone’s glances, hugs, and hand holding. It was a reminder that in our points of weakness, or sadness, we are not alone.

The next round was Semis and I paddled okay, not amazing but okay, I was in first again and proud, my family and team continued to to amaze me with high scores and commoradity.

From Semis we rolled straight into all the finals. For the entire event I was coaching someone in almost every discipline or felt the need to be there for morale support. So my spot next to the wave was always ready for me (coaches rock) so I could help whoever was up next. One of my favorite moments was MK’s 576 point ride- 16 points higher then my highest score so far at Good Wave. Watching her I knew she could very much so win women’s class and was stoked to see the level so high. She also had the highest JR women ride of the whole event for the World Championships earlier in the year. I was also amazed that it was Seth Chappelle’s first time winning an ICF event. I had just assumed with his level of paddling and 20 years of competing it had happened, but when he won- you knew it was his first Gold- and everyone was so excited- even the people who had just lost to him minutes before.

It was my turn to paddle and I was antsy- antsy to stick on the wave and do my tricks- to perform. I was excited but it had been a long day (long week) and I was so ready.

I had an okay first ride that left me in 1st place, then I got bumped down to 3rd in second rides. I laughed and said why do I always do this- the added pressure of having to perform on my last ride is something I am very used to. I told my Dad and Dane- the worst I can do is 3rd and the best I can do is 1st- and that’s awesome! My Dad responded “Well, yeah, but go Win!” With that mindset I paddled like I had nothing to lose and completed my off side clean blunt as well as several other high scoring moves. This was exciting for me because I learnt most my moves over ten years ago- but never felt ballsy enough to try and integrate them into my competition runs. In 2022 I managed to have scored 4 moves in competition that I had never scored before.

I waited on the wave and enjoyed the enthusiasm of my friends and family- I could see Rowan in the tent with a huge grin on her face and I knew I had won. I eventually pulled off the wave (hard to stop surfing) and I was greeted by MK. I asked very quickly- “please tell me I got her!” Sure enough I sneaked past her score. All in good fun we laughed, hugged it out and I was in complete shock, as I often am when I pull off a win on a third ride.

Seeing my friends joy for me- was the best part of the whole experience. I think those close to me know how surprised I was, how excited I was and how much it meant to me.

The men’s quickly followed and I had to be ready to transition to coach Mason, Dane and Nick. I was also very happy to be cheering for Rob Crowe and Kalob Grady.

Mason killed it but fell short on his points, Dane got a zero on his first ride and used that pressure to lay down the winning ride afterwards, Rob wowed himself even and laid down the second highest score, Kalob had a great ride but was shy of the 3rd place by a few points held by Mason. My favorite guy, Nick had great starts to his ride but each one ended with an early flush. Dane celebrated his win by doing a no paddle ride- of which he shocked everyone with a helix, airscrew, back pan am and more.

The high from cheering and ending with such a FUN ride in the men’s class really concluded the whole event. The wave, the atmosphere, the support and love for not only the sport but its people, made for a wonderful and memorable week.

As I continue to say “Bye for Now” to the athletes a from all over- I look forward to the opportunity to share the eddy with them once more. To connect, grow and learn as a group, to challenge ourselves and overcome whatever is thrown our way. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the incredible athletes I am so fortunate to call friends and family. Till we share an eddy again… Happy Paddling!


ps- Thanks to the Wonderful humans behind the camera – Peter Holcombe and Chris Funk