Junior Olympics Festival and the Triple Crown
by Janet Burnett Cowie
Hey everyone! This is my (Katelyn Green) first blog for Team Z! I'm really excited to post about all my paddling adventures from here on out! SYOTR!
The week of July 15-19 I spent my nights at T'ville as part of this year's Junior Olympics Festival. This year there was a small, but talented group of kids. There was Alden Henrie, a slalom boater who drove up from Pennsylvania to compete, plus David Silk, Vincent Packer, Logan Grosclaude and myself, who are all local. Every night we had the opportunity to paddle with some awesome boaters like Dave Su, Andy Kuhlburg, Jessie Stone, and EJ. I gained a lot of confidence throughout the week and eventually landed a loop or two; it only took breaking my AllStar to do it! All the coaching was preparing us for the Triple Crown that weekend. I was super nervous because it was my first competition and I hadn't done too much slalom or wild water in the past, if any. However, by Friday night, I was fired up, despite the patching job that had to be done to my boat the night before the races started. Friday ended with a delicious dinner at a nearby pizza joint. The entire week was put together by Pete Cassebeer, an awesome dude who has such a passion for boating and getting people into the sport. He was so generous with his time and would do anything for us kids, or anyone for that matter. If you ever see Pete don't forget to give him a shout out for all his hard work! Thanks Pete!
The 2013 Triple Crown kicked off with a quick race meeting at the Tariffville Mill, and then we jumped right into the wild water. I ignorantly declined all offers for a wild water boat and hopped into my AllStar. It was a poor decision. It was extremely tiring, but I was determined to use my boat for all three events. I still pulled off a decent time of just under six minutes going from the mill to the site of the old Spoonville Dam. While everyone was still doing their runs, I went through the motions of the slalom course and got warmed up. Then when it was time to race, and I headed up to just below the bridge abutments. I was pleased with both of my runs, one run I went through gate 13 the wrong way; it was a 'sideways gate' and I couldn't see which way to go through, and my other run I missed an easy downstream. I was pleased because it was the first time I had ever done slalom, and I was in a play boat. I just reminded myself that the odds weren't exactly in my favor, being in a play boat and all! All in all, I found slalom to be the most fun on Saturday, because it requires complete focus throughout the course and ignoring your burning muscles at the same time. The freestyle, by far the most anticipated event, followed the slalom racing. I was the first to ride, which unnerved me a bit, but I pulled off 3 good rides, sticking a spin and a cartwheel overall, I tried for a loop several times, but I couldn't quite get it. I think the best part was getting to watch my paddling mentors, Elaine, Jessie Stone, and Courtney Kerin battle it out on Saturday and Sunday. These three awesome ladies are evenly matched and it was interesting watching them compete. At the end of the day Saturday I won the Women's Single boat class, uncontested! All the ladies moved on, Elaine, Jessie, Courtney, Barrett Phillips, and I.
Sunday came around and we did it all over again. I raced Wildwater in Andy's Vajda Slalom boat. It was light, fast, and sleek, and cut my time by nearly a minute. I stuck to my play boat in slalom, because I didn't feel confident enough in the slalom boat to use it. My first run I unfortunately botched completely, I caught an edge and missed a bunch of gates. I didn't let it faze me, and without thinking, I carried up and waited to take my second run. It was my best run of the whole WEEK. I had two touches and no misses, and I powered through every gate. I impressed myself by not letting the first run faze me. At the beginning of the weekend I wasn't even signed up for slalom, but I pushed myself, and I was happy that I did. With less people, slalom ended fast, and freestyle quickly followed. I just went out there and had fun, not aiming for any particular trick, but trying everything. The fun part was getting to watch Jessie, Courtney, and Elaine. They were completely tied, and the freestyle would decide who would take home what prize amount. They all killed it, Courtney Kerin was the women's victor and took home the grand prize, even with her separated rib. Elaine closely followed, just 20 points short of Courtney, and Jessie took 3rd. I took fourth, but with a new goal for next year; top three!
What an amazing weekend! I really discovered who I was as a paddler and decided that I am a competitor from here on out. The desire to improve is just to tempting to pass up, and the pressure in a competition is addicting. I met some amazing new friends, and some people whose dedication to boating amazes me. I can't thank all the organizers and volunteers enough for making my incredible weekend possible. I can't wait until next year! Peace!