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 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!