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.


paddlechick said...

hey my name is sarah i am 13. I paddle C1 and recently got an old racing boat. You are one of my idols! i saw/breifly met you at the junior nationals two years ago. You were[are:-)] amazing! Anyways i was wondering if you had any tips for me pleeeease?! I just moved from a cascade so i am out of my comfort zone a bit. Thanks :^p

Hailey Thompson said...

Hi Sarah! It's great to hear from another girl in a canoe : )
Ah, well, the most I can say for canoe, is that the more time you spend in your boat, on whitewater, the better...if you get the chance, working in slalom gates is really good too. I'm so happy to hear from you, and hope to re-meet you at a race in the future!