Wednesday, October 7, 2009

National Championships/U.S. Open 2009



Exactly one week ago, I drove to the regional airport at 4 am and hopped on a plane to Charlotte, North Carolina. I'll admit, it was a little unexpected, I hadn't planned on attending Nationals this year, because of all of the school I had already missed for World Championships...but, I had come home from school one day to find a plane ticket waiting, and I am not one to turn down a racing opportunity!
So, on Wednesday I arrived in Charlotte around noon, caught a ride to the Whitewater Center with Stacy Hepp (a wonderful member of USA Canoe Kayak), and got down to training! I hadn't been at Charlotte for six months, but I figured that my entire summer of whitewater experience had to count for something. It definitely did, because when I got out onto the competition channel, I was making moves I hadn't previously considered, with ease...what a blast! I continued training on Thursday with fellow paddlers Colleen Hickey and Catie Vuksich (both of whom generously provided me with home stays), and then went to boat control. My gear passed all of the regulations, and I was good to go, I just had to wait and see what course Cathy Hearn (USA's Canoe Coach) would set for the following day's race. My fellow athletes and I were happy when we finally saw the course, because most of the difficult gates were located on the upper half of the whitewater channel, not on the lower section, which is nicknamed "Carnage Corner" for a reason.
I walked the course by myself, making mental notes of how I planned on making each gate, and then I walked the course again with my friend and peer coach, Joel McCune, who helped me solidify my plan. By the time I fell asleep Thursday night, I was feeling confident that I could have an amazing Qualifications Day Race!
Friday came around, and I had to wait until 5:00 in the evening before the race began. I walked the course again, warmed up, and finally, the time rolled around for me to take my first run. I was pleased when I aced the first six gates on the course, but then, I blanked. Going into gate 7, I couldn't remember my line. In my moment of hesitation, I lost the opportunity and I missed the gate. The rest of my run was mediocre, and I finished with the dull feeling of disappointment. I got out of my wet gear, re hydrated and snacked, re-walked the course, discussed with my coach, Cathy Hearn, and then got myself stoked for my second run. I forced myself to entirely forget about my first run, and when I got into the start gate, I just had that feeling, that I knew it was going to be a good one.
My second run passed in a blur. Every stroke, every gate, just fell into perfect place. Not even a touched gate. I finished 1st, with the next competitor in my class 32 seconds behind me...not bad at all! To top it all, along with my making finals, all of my friends had also had impressive race runs, and were also progressing.
Finals Day (Saturday) arrived, and I woke up early to go see the new course that had been set before demonstration runs.The course was incredibly challenging, obviously set with the idea that the top boats were going to have to go all or nothing. I watched former Olympians missing and touching gates-it was intimidating. But, I stuck to my routine, walking, discussing, and analyzing the course, and found myself feeling quite good in the start gate that evening. My first run was fair. I directly manoeuvred the first 3 gates on the course-but then cut a line too close, tried to duck my head under a gate, and missed it- then continued on to speed through the rest of the gates. I knew it was a solid run, minus the missed gate. I knew I could make that gate.
Finals run came faster than I could have imagined possible. I was in my element however, and with adrenaline coursing through me, I powered my way through each and every gate, not taking the time to contemplate what I was doing, just driving. I finished my run in a state of elation! I hadn't touched a gate, and had just beat not only the Women's Canoe category, but half of the Men's category as well!
Standing on the podium that night, I couldn't have been happier. I still feel like I'm on cloud nine, and I've been home for several days now. What a great end to my season!

I would like to add how proud I was of my friends, Peter Lutter, for finishing 4th in the Men's Kayak Category, and Tyler Hinton, for finishing 3rd in the Men's Solo Canoe Category. Great racing you guys!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

World Championships


Well, I can’t say that I know where to begin. This European adventure has been one of the best experiences I have ever had. From Switzerland, to Slovenia, to Spain, I’ve gotten to paddle on incredible courses, meet exceptional people, and immerse myself in diverse cultures.
I came into World Championships with three solid weeks of training under my belt. Walking the course that had been set on the night before Qualifications, I felt pretty confident in my ability to execute clean, fast runs. I was, absolutely scared out of my wits (“Holy cow, this is WORLDS!”), but confident all the same.
I had a bad first run on Qualification day. I was always just a tad off my line, and would have to scramble to make the moves that I had competently made during practice. It was no good. I knocked myself back into line for second runs though, and brought myself up from a dissatisfying (not to mention, barely qualifying) 17th, to 13th. I was really pleased.
The next day was the day of Team runs. My team was composed of all three U.S. Women’s C1s; Myself, Carolyn Petersen, and Micky Reeves. I was able to calm down a lot, and laid down my best runs (I wished I had done so the previous day!), but my team mates were not so lucky, and they ended up accumulating several missed gates…I was a little bummed, to tell the truth, I had been stoked about my first clean runs.
Today was the day of Semi-Finals and Finals. Only the top ten boats were to progress on to finals, and the course had been changed from the previous two days to a far more challenging one. If I had been nervous on Qualifications day, I was really feeling the heat today. I aced the first four gates on the course. But then, I lost my edge coming into the fifth, flipped (I have never regretted flipping more), washed down past two gates, and rolled. I came up in an eddy, and decided, to heck with it, I wasn’t going to quit, so I attained back up a drop, got the two gates, and continued on to the seventh gate. My composure was shot, and I missed both the eighth and ninth gates (I fought like hell to get them, but just couldn’t do it). I was devastated, but pulled it together enough to finish strong (the ridiculous part is that the bottom of the course had the hardest gates on it).
I finished 14th. Not well enough to get into finals. Although I was upset, I realized, it was not because I wasn’t going to the podium. It was because I knew my potential, and it just didn’t happen this time. Not for lack of trying, either. But the C1 Women I was up against are phenomenal paddlers. I stayed throughout finals, sprinting up and down the side of the course, yelling my head off for those ladies who made top 10. And I couldn’t be more proud. Not of them, not of me. We all did our absolute personal best today. True, I’m disappointed that I’m not on that podium tonight. But if anything, this experience has simply made me want to work harder for next year’s Worlds. This has made me realize, that it is not only about the gold. It’s about all of the experiences it takes to get to the top.
In conclusion, I’ve loved every second of this trip. I have learned a lot about myself, as a paddler, competitor, and person. I’ve figured out my strengths, but also my weaknesses. I have a lot of work to do in the upcoming year, but it is a challenge I’m ready to seize.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Training at la Seu d'Urgell




Spain has been incredible. I know I seem to be repeating myself a lot in recent blog posts, but this European trip has been one of the best experiences of my life. I have been here in La Seu d'Urgell for almost two weeks now, training, and World Championships are this weekend (eeak!). I'm feeling well prepared.
To kick things off at Seu, the International Canoe Federation (ICF) hosted a Women's Canoe camp, with help from the best coaches in the world. There were 22 women in attendance from 15 different countries, and the improvement was exponential.
I had an excellent time training with all of the other women, and felt my paddling skills expanding, as well as thoroughly enjoying all of the camaraderie. I was sad when the camp came to its' end and I had to go back to my regular training slot.
But training with my country is going quite well, I'm training with U.S.A. C1W's Carolyn Petersen, and Micki Reeves, coached by Cathy Hearn.
The culture here in Spain is awesome, and I've had a lot of fun. At the close of the C1W camp, Seu held its Festival of Fire, a crazy night of flame and dancing. The past two days were my days off and I went to Barcelona, seeing the famous buildings of Gaudi, the elegant Plaza Real, mystical Ancient City, and pounding nightlife of Las Ramblas, staying with good friends from Barcelona: Alvaro, Yolanda and Otis. When I returned from Barcelona, it felt so good to be back in the mountain village of La Seu. I returned to the school where I am staying, La Salle and heard singing in the hallway. I found friends Mel from Togo, Johnny from Nigeria, Alice from the U.K. and we sang into the evening....
Now I'm getting my final preparations for Worlds in order; I'm so excited for the final stage of this incredible journey!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pre-Worlds in Tacen, Slovenia

Bouncing through some waves
Beautiful Slovenian Gardens
In front of the course at Tacen

Getting a lot of air off of a surge at the Top Drop
Reaching for a cross-bow stroke
The Top Drop at Tacen

Tacen, Smlednik, and Ljubljana, Slovenia have got to be some of the most beautiful places on earth. The towering, snow-capped Julian Alps, the frothy, turquoise rivers, small organic farms, incredible food (black truffle pizza, yumm!), and friendly locals are making my time here unforgettable. I arrived here late Monday night, too late for training, but we pulled into our hotel, the Hotel Kanu (!), and got a great night sleep before my training slot the next day.
The course at Tacen is HUGE. The top drop is a massive slide, that descends about 25 vertical feet over the course of 30 feet…and it’s about a foot deep! So flipping over is a very unattractive option. I was a part of the USA/Slovakia hour-long training slot on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then we had a 30 minute-long training slot on Friday morning before the course was set. Three and a half hours was not a lot of time to train on such a huge, challenging course, but I felt fairly good about my paddling coming into the race on Saturday morning. I had walked the course multiple times with my coach, Silvan Poberaj, and on my own, watched Demo-boats, and video, and was as mentally prepared as I was going to get.

PRE-WORLDS, DAY 1
Waking up on Saturday morning, I was nervous. That terrible, butterfly-like, why-do-I-do-this feeling. And that was no good. My run was later on in the morning, so I had plenty of time to ruminate on how nervous I was. Needless to say, I hyped myself up too much, and it reflected poorly on my first run, where I received two unnecessary fifty-second, missed gate penalties.
I was devastated. But I knew I had to pull myself together if I wanted to come back on my second run. I rested up, grabbed some calories, rehydrated, warmed up, and was fully ready for my second run.
At the start gate, I was there. There is this tangible sensation, where you know what you’re capable of, you know that the results aren’t really what matters, and it’s how you handle the journey. I knew what I was up against, women, incredible paddlers, the next youngest being twenty-one (I am fifteen). So, I began.
I did what I knew I was capable of, and finished in fourth place! I was thrilled! Semifinals and Finals were the next day.

PRE-WORLDS, DAY 2
Sunday morning was far better. I woke up calm and rested, and had an early morning run…no time to freak myself out. The course set was harder, an intense off-set move through the hole at the bottom of the top drop, and a tricky surf across a stopper-hydraulic to catch two gates, at the bottom of the course. And yet, I knew I could do it.
I got to the course, walked it once more, watched Demonstration runs, and then warmed up. My run rolled around, and I was ready. I had a very respectable run, and was surprised to find myself in second place at the end of Semifinals!
I had a two hour break before my final run, so I got as rested and refreshed as possible. The time finally came, and I gave it my all. I had a very good run, totally clean, no penalties, but I spent a little too much time surfed in a hole (I lost about five seconds there), and finished in a satisfying fourth place.
Now I am at a hotel on the border of Slovenia and Italy (Novo Gorica), on my way to Spain. I am sad to be leaving such a wonderful country as this, but I hope that someday my travels will bring me back to my home away from home; Slovenia.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tacen, Slovenia

video

This is a short clip of my first practice run down the massive upper drop at the course in Tacen, Slovenia...not too bad!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The European Adventure, Part 1


Europe is, in a word, amazing.
The first day we arrived, we went to Lake Geneva, had a breakfast of Swiss Breads, Fruits, Chocolates, and coffee. That was before we plunged into the aquamarine-coloured lake, and swam around a 1800’s style lighthouse. When we finished our refreshing swim, we (My family and our Swiss host family) walked all around the ancient city of Geneve.
It was incredible; every building we saw, was at least four centuries old. We toured a beautiful chapel, St. Peters, which was built in the 1500’s, and then continued on, stopping for Gelato, before heading to a local bridge above La Rhone River.
La Rhone is yet another gorgeous body of water, turquoise in color, and swift of speed. The bridge spanning it was about thirty-five feet high, and perfect for jumping. So we did. It was incredibly fun, and we floated down La Rhone for about a kilometer before hopping out and heading to a local “super-store” for dinner ingredients.
Swiss “super-stores” are nothing like American ones. In the Cheese section, they have mammoth rolls of cheese. Not just Cheddar and Monteray-Jack either. There were so many cheeses, (ones I have never heard of) that you could spend days, just reading the labels. The bread section was literally warmer than the rest of the store, rising a few degrees, because of how hot and fresh the loaves were. In other words, the food here, is amazing.
Our Host family prepared a classic Swiss meal for us, Raclett, which is a special kind of cheese, melted, then poured over Potatoes, onions, pickles, and dried beef. Not exactly light on calories, but delicious.
Yesterday we traveled to Chamonix, and hiked around Mont Blanc. It was breath-taking. I love the Alps so much, I wish I could stay here far longer.
Now, I am traveling over the French and Italian countryside, which is quite spectacular, where ancient castles are as common as silos on the roadside, except the fields are terraces, covered in grape vines, rather than corn rows. We are headed to Ljubljana, the capitol of Slovenia, near where Pre-Worlds will be held in Tacen (which is a small town). Hopefully, I will arrive in time to train tonight. Then I will spend the next four days preparing and training for the Race this weekend on the course at Tacen. I’ll be in touch!

P.S. How cool is this? The hotel I am staying in is called the Hotel Kanu!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Open Canoe Nationals


I got home from the road, and got straight back into a boat! I began training up at Wausau's Whitewater course shortly after getting home, and paddled through the week until the Open Canoe Nationals rolled around this past weekend.

Open Canoe generally isn't my main focus, but I hopped in and gave it my all, and ended up surprising myself by bringing home first place medals in six categories! It was a pretty thrilling feeling, and I'm grateful to have had the experience.

Check out this article if you would like to read more:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hybridlife

You know you're a lucky kid if you come home and find a box for you on your doorstep. You know that you are a really lucky kid if that box contains goodies from Keen Footwear.

I have gotten the wonderful opportunity of working with Keen Footwear, and am proud to be able to associate myself with a company that cares as much about the environment, as it does about the quality of their shoes. In other words, they care a lot.

The really cool thing about Keen, is that they encourage everyone to live a Hybridlife. What is a Hybridlife? When you learn, care, play, create, and listen, each day, you are living a Hybridlife.

So go out there. Have fun. Watch the sun set. And, while you're at it, wear some comfy shoes.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Long Road

Rodeo on the Ottawa. Photo credit Colin Moneypenney.

With C2 Partner, "Bug" Lokken. Photo credit Jean Buckley.

The Boater-X (Good Carnage). Photo credit Jean Buckley.

One of the Slalom Races. Photo Credit Jean Buckley.

It has almost been a month since I have been home. I will admit, it is definitely nice to be back in Wisconsin, but I have had an incredible summer so far.
I was home for a few days, after FIBArk, and then I took off for Canada in the aptly named "Hippie Bus", loaded full of camping and paddling gear, ready for the Junior Olympic Whitewater Festival, in Ontario, Canada.
We arrived at the first at the Gull River, in Minden, Ontario. This was a gorgeous venue, and really challenging, because it was the site of the 1977 Whitewater World Championships. We stayed there for several days, and I competed in two Slalom races, a Boater-X, and a Freestyle event.
From there, I traveled to the Madawaska Kanu Center, near Barry's Bay, Ontario, where another Slalom Race was held, as well as a Downriver Race. It was a broader, longer course, and definitely left you feeling exhausted after your race runs.
We journeyed on to the Ottawa River, where we camped at Wilderness Tours, and spent several days running the Ottawa and competing in yet another Freestyle event.
From there, we continued on to Ottawa City, where the final Junior Olympic Slalom Race was held at the Pumphouse Whitewater Park.
When the results were calculated, and the awards ceremony occurred, I found myself lucky enough to be named the Junior Olympic Female Champion (also known as the Rivermeisterein) for the third year in a row! It was such an awesome experience, and I felt truly grateful.
After the Canadian Competitions wrapped up, I journeyed South in the Hippie Bus to West Virginia, where I spent a week with family and friends on a farm in the rolling blue mountains, Paddling, Hiking, Bouldering, all told, having a fantastic time.
I have finally gotten home now, and look forward to these next few weeks when I'll be catching up on house work, friends, AP History Homework, and begin my training for the World Championships, in La Seu D' Urgell, Spain. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Doubles Canoe with and Olympic Gold Medalist

I was lucky enough to get to paddle with my friend and Olympic Gold Medalist, Joe Jacobi. This photo was taken after our Doubles Canoe Run down the Wausau Course. What a privilege!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

FIBArk/WACKO/Home

Savoring being home
Leading student, Lily Kraft, down the Wausau Dam
The Hooligan Champion Team
(From left: Lauren Buress, Laura Palmer, Sarah Dodge, Hailey Thompson, Henry Heyman, Simon Ranagan, Dane Jackson, and Jack Heyman)

I've been pretty busy lately. On Tuesday, I got home from FIBArk Whitewater Festival, out in Salida, Colorado, where I competed in Wildwater Nationals, Freestyle, Slalom, and Hooligan Rafting. I paddled Pine Creek and the Numbers of the Arkansas (both of which are gorgeous runs). I also managed to bring home some decent results: 3rd at Wildwater Nationals, 4th in Women's Junior Kayak Freestyle, 3rd in Junior Women's Kayak Slalom, 1st in Junior Women's Canoe Slalom, and my raft team won the Hooligan Race!
Once I got home, I began volunteering at the Ray McClain Kayak Camp, teaching begginers how to paddle, which was very satisfying.
After several days of teaching, the annual WACKO race rolled around. I did quite well, bagging 1sts in Canoe and Kayak, and getting the privilege of paddling with Olympic Gold Medalist, Joe Jacobi.
And now, I have a day to be at home and rest before the wandering soul that I've become takes to the road again, this time to Canada and the Junior Olympics...who knows where this journey will take me?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

2009 U.S. Senior National Team Trials






The water was roaring and frigid in Durango, Colorado, last week. 5,600 Cubic Feet per Second (CFS) pumped through the course as slalom kayakers and canoeists struggled to dance across the waves to the gates...needless to say, as soon as I was into my first practice, I knew that it was going to be a very challenging trials race.
Women from all over the country came to compete for slots on the women's canoe senior national team...making this team means getting a chance to compete in the 2009 World Championships, in La Seu De Urgel, Spain.
I had three days to acclimatize and get used to the big pushy water before race day. When Friday rolled around, I felt ready...and then I got on the course.
Friday was possibly the worst race day of my entire life. I didn't make the moves that I thought I was going to ace. I felt sluggish and frustrated. I left the race Friday afternoon, knowing that if I wanted to make team, I was going to have to turn my race around. And so that is precisely what I did.
Coming into the race Saturday, I had a completely different mindset. I focused on having fun, because I knew that the course of Saturday was even bigger and more challenging that the previous days.
I laid down two solid runs, and brought my position from a not-so-satisfying 4th on Friday, right up to a 1st on Saturday! This hugely helped me boost my race plan, and on Sunday, I landed a 2nd place also, enough to get me on the team!
This race was hugely intense, and slightly melancholy, because I'm very sad about my fellow paddlers who were out there, giving it their all, and didn't quite make it this year. It most certainly was not for lack of trying.
And so, my 2009 season has truly taken off. I'm thrilled to be given the opportunity of competing at such a prestigious event as the World Championships, and eternally grateful to my parents, coaches, friends, and sponsors.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cheat River Race 2009

Dropping off the lip of 18-foot Wonder Falls
The Whitewater Wonder Women in Flight
The Massive Mass-Start

West Virginia. The mountains are lush and green, the rivers are roaring, and the people are friendly.
I was lucky enough to go back to my mountainous home for the Cheat River Race, a mass-start (as in 150 paddlers, mass-start) down the 11 miles of roaring class 3 to 5 rapids on the beautiful Cheat Canyon.
I left Wisconsin on Wednesday night, and arrived in Albright, West Virginia at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, where I immediately put on the canyon for a practice run. It went very well (being my first time down the canyon) and I woke up the next morning to put on and do another run. I rested up for the remainder of Friday, then registered for the race with several other teenage girls, as Team Whitewater Wonder Women. We had a great race, our team finishing 6th over all, our top finisher placing second for Women, myself placing 5th for Women, and our final finisher taking a satisfying 7th.
The next morning some friends and I went over to the Cheat River Narrows for some playboating in the explosive hole at Calamity, which was running so high that many of the other rapids had actually washed out. We had a fun morning, then headed back to Albright to hang out at the festival for a while, before taking off for a run on the Little Sandy and Upper Big Sandy.
It was a fun play run, with some slides and ledge drops, but we were really excited for the next day, when we would run Lower Big Sandy.
Lower Big Sandy was running at a pushy 6 feet 6 inches, but we decided it would be manageable. We put on around 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning, and had a fantastic time on the scenic run, which plunges over 270 feet on its' way down to meet with the Cheat Watershed. My favorite drop was Wonder Falls, a beautifull 18-footer, with lots of fun play above and below the falls.
Sunday afternoon we had to head home, but I am so glad to have had such a wonderful expirience. I can't wait for next years Cheat Race!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring Paddling

Photo Credit: Michael Thompson

Ahh, the beautiful days of spring have reached the northwoods at last. And that means it's time to go out and hit the creeks! Last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity of paddling the Dells of the Eau Claire at high water. The familiar box canyon was rumbling and frothing, but lots of fun! I threw my creek boat on the hood of the car, and my dad and I hit the road. We spent a fun afternoon at the playful park-and-huck falls, and got some good pictures too!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Art Exhibit


I love art. Really. Always have, it's what calms me down.

Recently, I've been trying my hand at scratchboard, an unusual medium which requires you to switch your brain around, and scratch away the areas of light, rather than layering on the areas of dark. The scratchboard is a sheet of metal (alluminum or brass) coated in india ink (an unpleasant black substance that likes to coat your skin).

Anyways, I submitted this piece of myself playboating to my art teacher, who submitted it to an exhibit, who submitted it to it's judges, who decided it was good enough to give it an award of excellence...so the whole submissive process ended up making me feel pretty good.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Junior National Team Trials





Another great week! I trained and playboated at the Nantahala for the week following the U.S. Open. I had a great race to look forward too!
As the week progressed, more junior paddlers (ages 15 to 18) poured into the gorge from all over the country to train and prepare for the race. I was pleased to see more girls out on the river as well!

I trained hard, with my coaches Cathy Hearn and Nic Borst, and when the weekend rolled around I was feeling confident. Race day began, and the course was difficult, but manageable, with a hard boof move over the falls, and some deceptive-looking offset gates.
I laid down a clean kayak run, which put me in first, and a mostly-clean canoe run (one touch), which also had me seated in first place. The afternoon runs were a little more difficult, because I was getting tired, but I finished day one of racing still at the top.
The next morning dawned, perfect racing conditions of 80 degrees and sunny! I was a little apprehensive about the new course, which contained a difficult crossing through a hydraulic, but I performed a clean canoe run, although my kayak run was less-than satisfactory.

My afternoon runs made up for my morning runs, however, and I finished the race in 1st for women's kayak, and 1st for women's canoe!

This was all fantastic, and I was really content with how I did. Unfortunately, the team requirements mandate that in order to make team, your time has to be within a certain percentage of the top men's kayak. This is difficult, because the top men's kayak was a sixteen-year-old who trains full time at the Olympic-caliber Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC.

I was about 10% our of range, so although I was the fastest women's boat, I did not 'technically' make the team.

The good news is that a separate Junior Trip has been planned for this August, and I have been a member selected for that trip, so I have a lot of training and travel to look forward to this season!

Thanks, as always, for reading, supporting, and just checking in! Should be a great, paddling-filled summer!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

U.S. Open at Nantahala, NC

From left: Colleen Hickey (2nd Place), Hailey Thompson (1st Place), Jen Singletary (3rd Place)





The U.S. Open has always been a rather monumental race for me. It was my first major National level race last year, and my first race of 2009 also.

The Nantahala River is located in western North Carolina, in a beautiful and pristine gorge, but it is definitely cold here. I spent the past two weeks here training, getting used to the topography and flow of the water, practicing gates, and mentally preparing.

So, the race weekend finally arrived (March 28-29) and I felt very comfortable on the river at that point. The course that had been set was challenging, with difficult off-set gates, and the weather wasn't cooperating very well either, with temperatures in the mid 40's, rain, and chilling wind, but I came into the race feeling very confident.

My first canoe run came, and I did really well, having a solid time, with only one gate touch. I took a kayak run next, and it didn't go nearly as well as I had hoped.

The afternoon runs rolled around, and I didn't do as well in my C1 (canoe) run as I had in the morning, but my kayak run went far better.
I finished day one in a solid second place in canoe, 2.5 seconds behind the leader, Colleen Hickey, and in first for Women's Junior Kayak.

Day two rolled around, and with the new course set, I laid down an even faster and cleaner first run in my canoe than I had imagined possible. I decided against taking my first kayak run to save energy for the afternoon's runs, where I wanted to go all out.

In the afternoon, I pulled of another very fast and clean C1 run, which had me finishing in first place for Women's Canoes, beating the winner of last years Olympic Team Trials.

I took my second kayak run, and laid down a slightly slower, but totally clean run, which had me finishing fourth for all women, and first for Junior Women's Kayak.

All said, this years U.S. Open was my best race to date, pulling out two first places, and accomplishing some of my greatest goals.

I'll be down here in North Carolina for the next week, finishing up my training in preparation for Junior National Team Trials, which will determine weather or not I travel to France this summer for Junior World Championships. I'll write soon!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Last Snows and Canoecopia







Winter! It's gone already? I can barely believe it, but none the less, I'm ready for paddling season to begin.

Ski season was wonderful, I wrapped it up with a 20 Kilometer ski sesson, and I know I'll miss the lovely snow we had this year.

At the same time, I have been packing. On Wednesday, our family hops in the Subaru yet again to journey to North Carolina. We'll make a pit stop in Missourri for the Missourri Whitewater Championships (a great race on a gorgeous river), then continue on to Nantahala, North Carolina where we will dwell for two weeks, paddling and training for the US Open, and the US Junior Team Trials. The US Junior Team Trials will determine weather or not I go to Europe this summer, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

And last, but most definitely not least, Canoecopia was this past weekend. Canoecopia is the largest canoe and kayak expo in the world, and it is hosted by my sponsor, Rutabaga Paddlesports Shop...all in all, it is a complete blast, a time to reconnect with old sponsors, meet new sponsors, and meet a heck of a lot of cool, fun people.

So, follow me in my journeys. I'll keep you updated, as I'm going to try to write while I'm down south, and as always, I love to hear from you!

Peace,

Hailey

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Northern Girl


From Left: Hailey Thompson, Camber Sannes, Brooke Bougie


In the summer, my lower half seems to be a boat. In the winter, it's becoming skis.

I've been training hard...not only for paddling, now I'm working on my skiing technique. And it's finally paying off! Thanks to my incredible coaches out at the Iola-Scandinavia Ski Club.

My last race was on home turf, on the Iola trails.

Unfortunately, I had fallen fairly hard on my hip the day before (darn ice) and had an unpleasant cold...despite this, I decided to race.

And I'm so glad I did! The race was four kilometers (fairly short) on difficult terrain...but I was familiar with it, and as soon as I began skating, I could feel my rhythm. I took a good place, about mid-front in the group in the first kilometer or so, only to more firmly establish my position towards the middle of the race, when I was holding second. I hung on to second until the very last half-kilometer of the race when a girl passed me going downhill. Still, 3rd was an exceptionally satisfying placement for me, and I can't wait until my next race!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Looking Back





As 2008 drew to a close, I found myself recollecting all of the amazing experiences I've had this year! What a lucky person, I keep thinking, to have met the people I have, to have been the places I've been...
The crazy thing is, even though it's the off season, time seems just as scarce for me to come by as it is in the on season! Fall flashed by before my eyes...after the World Series race in Maryland, I hurried home, only to leave a week later for a training block in Denver, Colorado, where I worked with Christopher Weigand for a solid week on slalom, even getting a chance to run a creek up in the mountains...where the water is as cold as the ice in the eddies and the mountain goats leap from one precarious boulder to the next.

Denver was an exceptional training camp, with the help of Coach Weigand, my entire off-side stroke was rebuilt, and became far more efficient!

Soon after, I journeyed down south to Charlotte, NC, where it was schockingly colder than Wisconsin for once. This was over the course of Thanksgiving.

I worked with Coach Cathy Hearn, on Charlotte's incredibly chalenging man-made course...someday I hope to be in complete control on that course. The week was very challenging, both mentally and physically for me, but I felt like I overcame a lot of bariers, and became a much stronger paddler through sessions in the freezing rain and over big drops. It truly was a great expirience.

As I type this, I look out of my window onto four solid feet of snow, and snuggle closer to the crackling fire...my days are now filled with hours of cross country and downhill skiing, both of wich are now becoming just as much passions as they were a way of cross-training. Only three short months now remain before I'll be back in the saddle---or shall I say boat? again.