Tuesday, September 10, 2013

2013 Freestyle Worlds

Canadian photo bomb!! Tyler Curtis in back, Haley Mills, Ruth Gordon, myself
Well, I didn't expect that one!! I spent the last two months at the NOC training for the Freestyle Worlds, hoping that I would at least make the first cut. I was not super consistent on my McNasty's or Phonix Monkeys but I was hoping to make a showing.

The opening ceremonies were amazing. Bryson City was bustling and the Worlds were beginning. The parade of countries was great and having 28 countries in Bryson City was pretty inspiring. It was the most "culture" that Bryson City has ever seen!!
My daddy and I zip lining at the NOC
After the opening ceremonies, the competition was in full force but the women did not compete until friday! I had four days to sit around, so my mom, her boyfriend, and my dad and I went zip lining at the new Nanatahala zip line. There is a 1/2 mile zip and I would highly encourage going if you get the chance. 
Going for a phonix monkey
Finally, friday came and I was hoping to show up to the party as a semi-finalist. That was the only goal that I had for Worlds. I was lucky to go into prelims the last person in the 5th heat, there were only 4 other competitors behind me. I knew immediately if I was in the semi-finals. For prelims the set up is 2, 45 second rides, both count. This is to show the judges consistency. I'm pretty well known for being consistent (the last three Green Races I have been within 1 second of the last). My first ride was not so hot, second one I brought the heat and I was sitting comfortably in 5th place, I ended up in 6th place going into semi-finals. 
Looping huge.
Semi-finals was held under the lights at 9 pm on saturday night. This made for a fantastic feeling when paddling into the feature. I had trained the night before under the lights with Tyler Curtis helping me out on my Phonix Monkeys and making sure that I was sticking my McNastys. I was already really happy with my showing so far but being under the lights was an amazing feeling. I also was blessed with the presence of Shannon Christy's parents. They were standing on river right, immediately above the feature. Semi-finals is 2 rides, 1 counts.

My first ride was frankly, crap, so I knew I had to step it up. I looked up and saw Shannon's parents in an embrace, praying. I'm not a praying woman but I do love my best friend. I spoke to Shannon, I told her to make me fly, make me agile, make me do my best. Shannon was there with me, sitting in the eddy with me. I was surrounded by love before my second ride. My second ride went the best that I could have asked. I got my highest ride ever, 410 points, but I was sitting in a very uncomfortable 3rd place. There was still another heat after me.
Finding out I made finals on my home river
I couldn't get out of my boat until I knew what was going to happen. I ferried across the river to watch the last 5 people go, I wasn't getting my hopes up as the next heat was very stacked, with two previous World Champions and a couple of women who have the talent to be World Champions. Pretty much everyones first rides sucked. I watched Courtney go, she scored less than a 400, Nina just couldn't get anything to stick in the hole, and Ruth couldn't get anything to go aerial. After the second rides, I was in 5th place. I had made finals. 

I started crying so uncontrollably. My whole family was watching me, Shannon's family was there, my friends were all in the stands. Shannon was with me.
Hugging Hitomi after making finals
I saw my dad, for those of you who know my father, he is very calm, doesn't get very excited. Dad jumped up and down and was hollering, he even picked me up!! My mom was also very excited along with my amazing boyfriend and Shane (the Liquid Logic designer, also known as "dad"). After getting a deluge of hugs and congratulations I finally made it across the river to see Shannon's parents.

Shannon's dad, he said this was the happiest he has been in months
Her parents are amazing people, they love unconditionally, they are caring and beautiful people. They make me understand why Shannon is an amazing soul. I am more than blessed to have them in my life. 

The next day was finals, after a pretty eventful loser party. I was heartbroken to watch Mathieu Dumoulin not make finals as I had money on him winning the whole thing. There were other disappointments also, as always at an event like this.

The finals are 3 rides, one counts. Its a spectacle to see that is for sure, anything can change at any moment. I was the first person to go, which kind of sucked but I was more than elated to be there. My first ride, not much, second ride, even less. I was hanging on the edge. Hitomi came out with am amazing ride and she was on top the whole heat. My third ride was better than any of them but still not my best. I was sitting in 3rd place. Anne Hubner came out with a great ride but I beat her out by 2 (!!!!) points. Katya also didn't have her best rides and I was in 3rd place. I knew I had gotten the bronze. Claire finally came out with one of her great rides that put her in the gold spot. 

Champagne celebration on the island!
After the rides, we paddled to the island and celebrated as the gold, silver, and bronze medalists in the whole world. It was an amazing feeling to have all of my support and love there with me. 
Interviewing for ESPN!
After the champagne celebration, I paddled to river left where I was met by some huge cameras and a really nice reporter. He laughed and said "I bet you didn't expect that!". He got that right!! I said at the Canoe and Kayak party in August that I hoped to podium at Worlds, I was kind of joking though!!
Sharing the podium with amazing women
I was honored to be able to share a podium with Claire O'hara and Hitomi Takaku. The feeling of seeing everyone from up there was pretty cool, guess that's what it feels like to be 6 feet tall!! Clearly, all of my hard work and dedication paid off, even if I only trained for Worlds for two months. Imagine what I could do if I trained harder/longer!!

Champagne, smile, medal...... PERFECT!!
So now, its back to the real world. Working for Greenville County as a Paramedic and being a housewife. I made a beautiful sushi dinner for my boyfriend last night! It is also two weeks until the Animal Race on the Upper Gauley, probably the most painful race I do every year. 

After the Gauley race, I head to the Sickline race to attempt to keep my "World Domination" going. Its a busy time in my life, trying to balance training, work, and being a good girlfriend. I am so lucky to have the support that I do. 

Kim and Lee Christy- for making my best friend and changing my life forever
My mom and dad- for the support and love
Shane Benedict and the whole Liquid Logic factory
Kokatat- for always keeping me warm and dry
Werner Paddles- for the family and the best paddles in the world
Shred Ready- for the amazing helmets
Jen-ai apparel- for keeping me cute off the water
Watershed Drybags- for keeping my phone dry!!
Jati Suits- for giving me fashion ;-)
G-form- for keeping my elbows happy
Surf Fur parkas- for windproof and waterproof parkas
The Nantahala Outdoor Center- for the support, friendships, and for putting on a great event

 I'm sorry if I have forgotten anyone, I am overwhelmed by the love that I am receiving right now. This year has truly been amazing, and its not over yet!!