Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Midwest Championships!

Wow, what a great weekend. I headed out to Wausau on Wednesday for a two-day freestyle clinic with Nora and Laura. The clinic was taught by two Jackson instructors: local Wisconsin paddling diety John McConville and longtime instructor/competitor Colin Kemp. The two had very different teaching styles that complimented each other nicely and in the end I feel like the clinic brought my paddling to another level. Huge thanks to Julie, Cole, Colin, and John for making the Clinic such a great experience!

The one downside (not complaining, believe me) to the clinic is that we spent such a rediculous amount of time boating and practicing that by the time the actual competition rolled around, my out-of-shape self was pretty much worn out. As such, I spent more time counting fish than throwing tricks in the competition. I actually almost swam after washing out of the hole during the team comp, and by the time I rolled up I was too far downstream to help the rest of the team. Apologies to Nora and Graeme for the fact that I contributed approximately 0 points to our "team" run, but thanks to them for stepping up and scoring big in my absence.

Speaking of other boaters, while I was struggling to stay upright, it seemed like everyone else was going huge! Team Pabst was well represented (as usual) and put up some big runs, with Jim going all the way to clinch 2nd in the Men's Expert class behind John McConville. Graeme was a spinning and cartwheel machine, and even landed some loops! Nora had great runs and made it to the Finals with a couple of cartwheels and some sweet blasts, all while proving that she's got more stamina than half of the younger boaters combined. Mike M was throwing gigantic space godzillas, and Melissa landed a couple of the biggest loops I've seen at Wausau. These are only a couple of the people who had amazing performances, but if I went through them all it would take up about 10 posts so I'll leave it at that.

There were some Newbies along for the weekend as well. Laura participated in the clinic with us and made some huge leaps in surfing, spinning, and controlling herself in a hole. Pike missed the clinic, but wound up entering both the rodeo (in the Expert class, no less!) and the boatercross. He did great in both events, including becoming a crowd favorite for nailing a couple huge enders in the competition. Bryan and Sara made it out for Saturday and paddled, surfed, and took pictures. Unfortunately I didn't get much time to actually paddle with them because of the competition, but from what I saw they were rippin' it up. Also, Sara picked up a new nickname - "Diagonal Sara" - for her uncanny ability to body surf the feature of the same name. Sorry Pike and I are so lousy with the throw ropes....

On the whole, the weekend was filled with awesome people, great weather, an amazing paddling atmosphere, and tons of fun. I'm already counting the days till next year's comp...

BUT.... To make an incredible weekend truly over the top required a bit of luck right at the end. The grand prize for the weekend was a free boat, generously donated by Jackson Kayaks. It, among many other impressive prizes, was raffled off to the competitors Sunday afternoon. To my total shock and amazment, Cole drew my name out of the jar first and I won the boat! Still kind of in shock over the whole thing, as I never dreamed I'd win, but I've pretty much had a smile on my face ever since. Quite the finish to an awesome weekend.

1) Melissa giving lessons on how to loop HUGE
2) Me, in one of the few moments I was upright
3) Jim reaching out for victory in the expert division (if you don't count the pros)
4) Pike on his way up!
5) Melissa going ridiculously big
6) Nora digging deep for a loop attempt
7) Graeme gettin' dizzy
8) Craig, doing what Craig does
9) Jim showing his true colors

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