Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Word on Worlds

As I type this, I find myself in the Ljubljana Airport, waiting to get on a plane, and consequentially, other planes, that will bring me home, to Wisconsin. Before passing through security, I was able to spend an hour or so talking with two fascinating guys over mugs of Slovenian Hot Cocoa - one of them was Slovenian/Australian, and one Norwegian…it seemed to be a reminder of all of the amazing, multi-cultured people I’ve had an opportunity to meet while being here. That said, I have to admit, I am really, really excited to get back and see my parents, my dog, and my friends. These past two weeks in Slovenia have been truly incredible. I came alone, to Europe, for the first time, which was an adventure in itself, but also found myself in some truly interesting situations leading up to the competition. Tuesday evening, I had wrapped up my last training session. I returned to the police academy with Nuria Vilarrubla (Spain) and Reka Forizs (Hungary), to put on our team uniforms for the Opening Ceremony Parade…I was really excited, because Opening Ceremonies are always a fun show, and a great opportunity to meet foreign friends. Nuria, Reka, and I were joined by Jane and Ella (New Zealand and Cook Islands), and we began walking to where the bus would take us to the ceremony. Barely 5 minutes away, I tripped on a metal stub, and came crashing onto the sidewalk with a hefty cut on my knee…not too smooth on my part. A kind Slovenian lady helped us, and gave us a ride to the meeting area. The French coaches, Pierrick, Medhi, and Jonathan met us, looked at my knee, and told me I was headed to the hospital…so, I missed out on Opening Ceremonies, but I did get to experience first-hand, a Slovenian operating room, and a couple of stitches. I was pretty bummed about the stitches, but even more concerned about how I was going to kneel in a canoe the next day to race. The course set was complicated, with lots of energetic bursts of speed required. I had studied video, and walked the course, and with the exception of the stitches (which kept me out of my boat for time periods of more than 3 minutes, so no good warm-up) I was feeling prepared. It was a cold, rainy day, but the sun came out through the rain just before my run…it was almost as good a getting a hug for luck before starting. Once I began paddling, I barely felt my knee; I was focused on the race. I laid down a clean, if not remarkably speedy run, which planted me firmly in 10th place. I wasn’t sure if I should take a second run, because I was top 20, and progressing to Semifinals anyways, but I’m not one to watch other people paddle…so two hours later, I got back in my boat, and took a second run. It was going to be flawless, but at the 14th gate, I hit a wave wrong, and was pushed down beneath two gates – sustaining two 50-second penalties. After everyone had raced, I was still in 12th from my first time, so I made it to semis. The next day, racing was cancelled. The previous day’s rain had swollen the river into a massive, roaring torrent which poured out of the side walls and onto the sidewalks. I spent the day at the riverside, wishing I could hop in a boat and play in the mammoth waves. The following two days were qualifying runs for men, and finals for women kayaks…I love cheering for my friends, but I am also much more of a competitor than a spectator, so Sunday, and Semifinals couldn’t come fast enough. The water was back to normal levels, and the course was unchanged, so I reviewed it carefully, and prepared for my run. My knee was a lot less painful after three days of rest, so I hopped in the boat early for a proper warm-up. Feeling good, I awaited my run in the start gate. The timer clicked away beside me, and I was conscious of the mass of humanity on the river bank – Slalom is pretty popular here, and there were a lot of very happy spectators. Finally, the last three seconds beeped away beside me, and I took off. My run had the right pieces, but it wasn’t as fast as I had hoped. I leapt out of my boat, and ran to the scoreboard. I ranked 3rd, initially, but there were 12 highly skilled ladies left to go. Anxiously, I watched each competitor charge down the course, hoping I could cling to top ten, and make it to Finals. Finally, the last girl made it down the course – and I rested in 10th place! I was stoked! This was my first time in the Finals of a Senior World event…and I couldn’t be happier. The next several hours before my run were tough. I vacillated between total disbelief, minor panic moments, and pure, care-free anticipation. Finally, the time for me to get in my boat rolled around. Things blurred, and then I was doing my final run. I lost a lot of time when I flipped beneath the big upper drop, but regained some of it at the bottom of the course. When I finished, I was in 1st place briefly. I was bumped to 3rd, and remained there for quite some time, but ended up finishing in 6th. I couldn’t be happier about this finish either – it’s my best result to date, when competing with women of all ages.
That night, the competitors gathered one last time, and whiled away our last hours dancing together, celebrating the victories, consoling the disappointments, valuing each others’ company. This morning, I woke up bright and early to catch my flight…and in about 17 hours, I’ll be home. It has been an amazing journey, and I will treasure the memories I made here for a very long time.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tacen, The Trashings

A short film I put together of some of the best paddlers in the world, displaying some of the best wipe-outs in the world!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tacen, Slovenia and World Championships Training

Getting to town: Slovenian Style!
Lake Bled (Above) and practicing (Below)

Slovenia is very much like Wisconsin in the Fall. Cold and windy, bright sunlight, crisp air, laiden apple trees - the main difference for me has been that I am here, training for World Championships, rather than starting my Junior Year of High School...which has caught me by surprise! Due to some crazy politics, I found out about my attendance of World Championships two days before I left. My family took it in stride though, and I gound myself on a plane headed to Slovenia a day later!
I am here now, boarding in a Slovenian Police Academy (I definitely know I am safe!), with men and women from all over the globe: Australians, Hungarians, Ukranians, Spaniards, Togo-ans (?!)....basically, quite a diverse group. I have been fortunate enough to spend my days training with other talented Women on the challenging whitewater of Tacen, under the instruction of our three comical French Coaches, Medhi Deguil, Jonathan Marc, and Pierrick Goesselin. They have been wonderful, and helpful, and hilarious at the same time - I feel quite fortunate to have such great coaching!
We've been spending our time off wandering into Ljubljana, the capitol of Slovenia, and a beautiful, ancient city. Also, much time has been spent at the best restaurant in all of Slovenia - possibly, all of Europe - the Kaval Club. I personally adore their Black Truffle Pizza, but the other canoeists highly recommend their Ravioli :-)
I still have several days before the actual competition begins, so I will be training hard and trying to keep energized, while enjoying every minute of my time here!
See you on the river,
P.S. I don't have photos of me paddling this time, because I came (for the first time!) solo...and it's quite tricky to take photos of yourself while you're paddling :-)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Midwest Freestyle Championships

P.C.: Nora Whittemore, Editing: Hailey Thompson
The Midwest Freestyle Championships were a wonderful competition held in local Wausau, Wisconsin. It was refreshing to find myself among fun-loving and lighthearted competitors. I trained and practiced in the days leading up to the camp and recieved quality coaching from Jackson Kayak's Colin Kemp. Training with the local playboating gurus was a lot of fun, and a top-notch learning experience - and there is always more to learn.

Once the weekend rolled around, I was stoked and ready to compete. Over the course of the week I had learned to Space Godzilla and Backloop (two of the more difficult tricks to perform) and I was anxious to display my new skills. During Preliminary rides, I laid down some solid tricks, including multiple spins, cartwheels, and two Frontloops. These rides got me into the top five, and Semifinals the next day.

The following day also hosted the famed Boater-X event: like rollerderby, only in kayaks. Competitors are released in groups of six, and they race down the river. Anything goes, you just have to be the first one to pass the finish line. I was in a lineup with five basically, when the starting flag dropped, I got the heck out of there so as not to be crushed under all of them. The positive side effect of this was that I got pretty far ahead of all of them, and finished first. The rest of the heats went, and I was put into the Finals line-up. With all guys, again. So, I went with my first tactic - paddle hard, get away. It was working too, with the exception of one detail. In the middle of the race run, you have to circle a buoy, basically, to add dificulty to the race. The preliminary run, I circled it without error. In the finals, I began to circle the buoy, only to have it bob under my kayak. When it resurfaced, it was on the wrong side of my boat, meaning I would have to go back to circle it properly. As I considered doing this, I looked upstream to see all six of the other finalists hauling down the river towards me. Noting that I didn't desire being squashed by men twice my size, I decided to skip the buoy and get out of there. I still crossed the finish line far ahead of the other competitors, but was disqualified for the buoy incident - oh well :) I had so much fun that the final order didn't much matter to me.

Semifinals and Finals were around 1:00. I hopped in my boat and warmed up a bit, then quietly waited for the rides to begin. When they rolled around, I laid down two very solid semifinals rides, which bumped me into third - and top 3 enter finals. In Finals, however, all of the women were getting fairly tired, and we all had mediocre rides. In the end, however, I was able to snag second place! Pretty exciting for one of my first freestyle competitions.

To top it all of: at the awards ceremony, a raffle is held, the top item being a boat - and guess what?! For the first time ever, I got lucky at a raffle! I am now an owner of a brand-new kayak. Pretty stoked :)

See you on the river,


Monday, August 16, 2010

Paddling Instruction

Photos: Sasha Staniski

Since returning from my great adventure in Europe, I have had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer and work as a kayak instructor for young students. I really enjoy working with kids, especially, to teach them the basics and advanced skills involved in paddling. They are forever enthusiastic and appreciative, and nothing is more rewarding than seeing them light up when they learn to roll or ferry.
Soon after I got home, I volunteered for several days at the beginners paddling camp in Wausau, Wisconsin, called the Ray McClain Camp. I had a great time, and worked with the smaller girls in the camp who were learning basic ferrying, rolling, and river running skills. They had a wonderful time - and so did I! On my own I have been working with several pupils - one was a 12-year-old boy from Berlin, Germany, (Willie) who was an absolute joy to work with.
To top it all, this past weekend I was able to go back the the summer camp that I attended when I was younger, to teach campers there whitewater skills. I had an amazing time, and was overjoyed to be back in one of my favorite places in the world, surrounded by great campers and counsellors.
It's wonderful being home now, spending time in the water, and being able to spread the paddling love...
See you on the river!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Junior World Championships, Foix, France

The Podium!
Hiking outside of Foix: Just like 'The Sound of Music'
The purple boat...
Carrying up...

As I drive north to Prague, the vineyards, sunflower plots, and lavender fields of Southern France flash past my window. I leave Foix with something close to reluctance – my time there was wonderful. Training with the U.S. Junior Team and the international C1 Women was invigorating and challenging, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, along with being in such a beautiful place - nestled in the Midi-Pyrenees, with a glacial river, in an ancient town overshadowed by a castle. After over a month, I am ready to return home though. But before I move on – I will describe the results of Junior World Championships – the best race of my life.
Junior World Championships is the most prestigious event I have had the opportunity to attend, the only exception being Senior Worlds. The competitors were multiple, talented, and from all over the globe. I was fortunate enough to compete alongside the most capable C1W’s in the world, as well as to befriend them.
Prior to the races, the city of Foix hosted a jaw-dropping Opening Ceremonies. All of the Nations paraded through the center of the town, through cheering crowds. It was almost a surreal experience, and it was very fun to be there, with my team, and all of the foreign competitors.
Thursday was the Women’s Kayak and Men’s Double Canoe, so I had the day off. The following day, Friday, was Preliminary heats for Women’s Canoe, Men’s Canoe, and Men’s Kayak – I was on. I took my first run and finished devastated by a 50 second penalty. My second run wasn’t much better, although it got me into Semifinals. I finished the day disappointed – I had been anticipating a top-10 finish, and I was in 16th. I needed to clean up my act if I wanted in on Finals.
Semifinals rolled around. The course had changed slightly, although the main crux move was still in place – a heinous wave crossing leading into a deceptive off-set. I walked the course multiple times with mentors, and planned. Finally, I was ready. I took my run. It was clean with the exception of a touch, and I directly approached moves that the other girls looped around. I had made up the time I needed, and moved up to 5th – top-10, and Finals!
I approached Finals with a light heart. No matter what, I knew I was top-10. I could have a stellar run, or a poor run, and I knew I would be happy…although one always hopes to reach the podium. I realistically thought I might not make it. I recharged, and then took my finals run. I don’t know entirely what happened, but adrenaline works wonders. I dropped my time from 169 to 155. Finishing, I was happy, and past the point of caring about placement. But I miraculously clung to 1st place until the very last two paddlers, Chinese and Australian. Shocked, and overjoyed, I realized that I had a medal. Bronze!
The Medals Ceremony was lovely, and overwhelming. I’m still sort of shocked. It was definitely the competition of a lifetime.
With Gratitude,
P.S. Special thanks to Laurri and Medhi, the French International Canoe Coaches; Tom and Trish Littman, for their wonderful homes; Klasinski Clinic and Team Schierl; Darren Bush, Lili Colby, Brian Cook, Tyler Lawlor, Jim Miller, Lynn Rowe, Jessica Lynds, and Dinver McClure, for their exceptional support; My Grandmothers, for their kindness and love; and last, but not least – my wonderful, loving Parents. You are the ones that help make this happen.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Training in Foix, France

Tucked in the foothills of the MidiPyrenees is a small French town called Foix. The narrow cobblestone streets are lined with houses over 500 years old, that lean over you as you stroll beneath them. Then, overlooking the city is Chateau D'Foix, a castle that was initially built in the year 1000 A.D. I've spent the last week and a half in this quaint little city, training for the Junior World Championships.
Training has taken place on a local river which is fed by the snowmelt of the surrounding mountains. The water is big, wavy, and powerful - a drastic change from La Seu D'Urgell. I am learning to love it though, and I look forward to my last two days of training before the race.
The race is this weekend. I will take Preliminary runs on Friday, and Semi-Finals and Finals runs on Sunday.

I will check in as soon as I can. For now,


Seu World Cup

After spending a week training in the lovely Pyrenees, and living in the local school, La Salle, World Cup #3 began.

Yesterday, Saturday, preliminary runs were held. The course was a tricky, off-set spotted thing, that supposedly favored right-handed C1s...despite this, I had a slow and yucky first run, and an absolutely horrendous second run (I flipped at the bottom of the course and missed four gates : / ). I was pretty bummed last night, finishing a dissapointing 18th, and barely making semis. They set the Semi-Finals and Finals course after preliminary runs. I walked it several times with other C1s, and although it looked intimidating, I was pretty determined to just go all out the next day...better to have lost trying than to have not tried at all, eh?
So today, I went down to the course, cheered on a couple of team mates, and then hopped in the boat to warm up pre-race. Seu is lovely, and the warm-up area is this gorgeous pool and canal with a fountain, all of the nations flags fluttering about, and the pyrenees mountains surrounding it. As I paddled around, it really occured to me how awesome this situation is - regardless of my penalty points, race results, etc. - to even be where I am, competeing against so many incredibly talented women in canoes!
I laid down a solid Semi-finals run. It wasn´t quite as fast as I had hoped (I guess that is an automatic athlete response :) but I only had two touches. I hurried to cheer on the other ladies, and once all was said and done, I looked at the score board to see that I had finished 11th. One spot out of finals, but I´ve got to admit, I am more than happy with that result. I was very proud of my fellow competitors, and I can´t wait to catch up to them :)
Tomorrow, I will head to Foix, France (a nice short drive of 2 hours - the drive from Prague to here was more like 18) for Junior Worlds where I will see how I stack up against competitors my age. I am really excited to meet new paddlers from all over the globe - that is probably one of the best parts about competing internationally - the boundless camraderie one experiences.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Prague to Seu

With my team mate, Caroline Queen....
Coming into the hardest gate on the course...
Prague: The Start Gate
I’m now sitting at the cafĂ© overlooking the whitewater course in La Seu D’Urgell, Spain. We had a wonderful journey from Prague, stopping overnight in Baaden Baaden, Germany and Carselle, France. The roads wound through stunning mountains studded with ancient castles carved out of the stones.
The Prague World Cup wasn’t my most successful race. I finished 14th in the semifinals…just missing finals. I was very disappointed in myself. It’s been difficult, but I am very happy to be racing against so many incredibly talented C1W’s. I’m still mulling things over, trying to debrief my feelings regarding the race, but I’m discovering that I can learn just as much from missing the podium as I can from standing atop it.
This week I will be training on the course here at La Seu. Its fun, squirrelly whitewater and I’ve missed it since last years’ World Championships. The ICF (International Canoe Federation) will be hosting a training camp for C1W’s prior to the race, so I will take part in that to prepare for this weekend’s World Cup.
Thanks for checking in, I’ll be updating again soon, and I’ll see you on the river!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Prague World Cup Preliminary Day

After a week of enjoyable training on the Troja Slalom Course in Prague, CZ, the days of racing began. Today was Preliminary runs, determining the racers who will progress to Semifinals, and possibly Finals tomorrow. I did my usuall pre-race preparation - walking the course, talking it over with my fellow athletes, and getting plenty of sleep the night before. This morning I woke up, walked the course, watched pre-runs, warmed up, and then hit the course for my first run. My first run was clean, but not nearly as fast as it needed to be. I finished feeling unsatisfied and longing for the speed that I lacked. After my first run I went inside and got warm, and tried to remove my mind from the race for an hour before my second run. When the time rolled around, I warmed up and went through my race plan in my mind again. I went all out on my second run - directing gates I had spun, and throwing far more gutsy moves than on my first run. All went well until gate 11...then I drove right by a gate. I was shocked, and severely bummed out - I knew I had just blown a good run. I went back for the gate, and gave the rest of the course my all, but my run still wasn't made up in my mind or on the stopwatch. I finished the day sitting in 13th - so I'll advance to Semis, but I'll have to step up my race in order to make top 10 and advance to Finals tomorrow afternoon.

Thanks for checking in - I'll let you know how tomorrow goes!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

United States Sports Academy: Athlete of the Month

I have received the incredible honor of being voted the U.S. Sports Academy Athlete of the Month.
The award is given to one man and one woman, of any age, nationality, or sport, each month. Six men and women are nominated, and then the voting process begins. I was fortunate enough to be nominated by my good friend, and fellow female canoeist, Pamela Boteler, and then was further blessed to be voted for by enough people to put my name at the top of the list. It means a great deal to me to have won this award, and I want to say thank you to all of the supportive people who gave me their vote.

To see the results:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Flatwater Practice with my Training Partner

Here is a little clip of my usual training session. I'm the first paddler...then there's a pause, and then my training partner took his run. I've got to admit, I'm jealous of his solid technique.

The Last Days of Home

I'm getting the final preparations in before we head over to Europe - squeezing in my last training sessions, packing up, and savoring my last couple of days at home. I'll miss this wonderful pocket of Wisconsin, with the bubbling stream in my backyard, the lupines and daisies in our wildflower garden, and the luscious green woods that surround our home. I'll miss my friends, and my family, but I'm terribly excited to begin this chapter of my adventure! Wish me luck, and I'll check in again soon!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wausau Release with the Molan

I got to hop in a Pyranha Molan today! It is a lovely boat, with quick, clean, responsive lines - and I had fun! Here's a shot my dad, Michael Thompson, caught of me while I was playing...

Friday, June 4, 2010

European Races

This summer is approaching faster than I could have imagined! I've been training constantly, finishing up my Sophomore year of High School, and getting ready to head over to Europe for the Races I will be competing in this summer - the World Cups in Prague, Czech Republic, and Seu, Spain, the Junior World Championships in Foix, France, and the World Championships in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
I fly out on Saturday, June 12th, and I'm incredibly excited to get to travel and compete in new places. I am competing, and keeping close to heart that not only do I want to race to the best of my abilities - I want to be a good ambassador, for my country, and for my sport.

Thanks for checking in!
See you on the river,


Friday, May 7, 2010

U.S. National Team Trials

2nd Place: Caroline Petersen, 1st Place: Hailey Thompson, 3rd Place: Mickie Reeves

For a refreshing change, the U.S.A. National Witewater Canoe Team Trials were held in my home state of Wisconsin this season - and I was spared the drive cross-country to the event! Several of my friends, fellow competitors, stayed with me and my family in Stevens Point, and the event was made better by our shared friendship and support for one another.
I spent the week leading up to team trials diligently training for the competition, in addition to attending my AP classes in the morning - quite a juggling act, and it made for an energy draining week! It was wonderful having trials so close to home, but I found difficulties because being at home was far more distracting than being away and solely focused on the trials. Friday, April 30th was the first day of team trials. I knew the course exceptionally well, but I could tell I wasn't as rested as I should have been. To add to my energy dilemma, I chose to paddle not only womens' canoe, but also womens' kayak. Two classes in a team trial means 4 race runs per day, rather than 2...over the course of 3 days, that rate would have been exhausting. Because of this, I felt that my runs were solidly mediocre, although my friends and family insisted that I had performed well. I finished Friday's competition in 2nd for C1W - and feeling very dejected. Saturday I woke feeling determined and motivated. I wanted desperately to perform excellently, and my first canoe run was solid. I had two touches, but I was much faster, and made up the time. Because I felt so good, I elected to skip my first kayak run, and
conserve energy for my second canoe run. This worked astonishingly well, and I laid down another solid run n(even faster!) and then took my second kayak run as an enjoyment/cool down run. I had needed those two solid runs to move me up to first boat - and it worked. I finished Day 2 30 seconds ahead of the next female competitor.
Sunday, the third and final day, came bright, hot, and preposterously windy. The course was painfully long. The course worked for me however, and I put down two speedy-fast canoe runs (once again electing to skip my first kayak run). After the second C-1 run, I hung in first place and for the first time ever, I claimed first boat on the U.S. Senior and Junior National Team in womens' canoe! I also made the Junior National Team in my kayak, for the first
Team Trials was an ordeal, a challenge, but also a growing experience. I felt incredibly fortunate to compete alongside such talented athletes as I was given the opportunity to. I can't wait to see where this journey shall take me!
See you on the river,


Saturday, April 3, 2010

The U.S. Open and the Charlotte Open

This spring my family and I made the annual pilgrimage back to the mountains of North Carolina for two of my favorite races of the season – the U.S. Open and the Charlotte Open. I love these races primarily because they are a challenging but enjoyable re-entry to the racing circuit after a long winter on the snow, and it’s always fun to see the members of the paddling community again. We arrived in the misty Blue Mountains surrounding the Nantahala Gorge a week before the U.S. Open. I spent the week training hard on the chilly waters of the Nantahala River. Entering the race weekend I felt confident and comfortable on the course…the first day of racing hit me like a bag of bricks. I was racing both Women’s Kayak and Women’s Canoe, and in both classes I consistently failed to smoothly complete moves that I had made in practice. I was frustrated, and realized that I needed to change my racing approach on the day of Finals. Finals day challenged me – mentally, but also as a difficult course – however, my race runs were clean and quick, and I pulled in a 4th in Women’s Kayak and a 1st in Women’s Canoe. I was pleased with the race – although as a competitor, I’m always seeking perfection – and sad to be leaving the beautiful Gorge, but excited to hit the road to Charlotte to train for the World Ranking Race, the Charlotte Open. Charlotte is home to the U.S. National Whitewater Center, the most difficult and demanding artificial whitewater course in North America. It has a tendency to run race nerves higher than usual – but for some unknown reason, Charlotte also happens to be one of my favorite courses on earth. I trained with several other C1W’s, and enjoyed coaching from Joel McCune and Cathy Hearn, as well as the camaraderie of the generous and loving paddling family that exists in Charlotte. The training week flew by, in a blur of sunny 80 degree days filled with long, hard sessions on solid whitewater – my idea of heaven – and I was anticipating race weekend with a static buzz of nervous and excited energy. The course set for the preliminary day of racing was deceptively simple; easy gates on difficult whitewater, which could have tricked me if I hadn’t raced at Charlotte before. I was racing only the C1W class, and I laid down a totally clean and fairly quick run. I laid down an even faster run in the afternoon, but received and unfortunate penalty for missing a gate. I finished the first day of racing in first place, and moved on to Semi-Finals. The Semi-Finals course was composed of more difficult moves, but ones I had been practicing all week, and felt confident with. My Semi’s run was not nearly as fast or clean as I would have liked, but it landed me in second, to Canadian C1W, Sindy Audet, a good friend and great competitor. I moved on to Finals. I rested up and rehydrated, then hit the course for my run. It flew by. I was still not as clean as I would have liked, but I finished 89 seconds ahead of the next C1W, and I received my second first place in two weeks.
I have had a great beginning to my 2010 racing season – 1st place finishes at both the U.S. Open and the Charlotte Open – I hope it carries through!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Outdoor Nation

I've been given the incredible opportunity to become an Ambassador for Outdoor Nation - a community that encourages youth to become involved with the outdoors. This association is one that I feel really good about. Getting more teens active and passionate about their natural surroundings is an exceptional undertaking, and one that I have personally believed in for years. To support the nation, and their mission, please join the online community at*:
*and if you wouldn't mind, in the box asking for which organization referred you to Outdoor Nation, please choose 'Other' and enter: HThompson
Along with Outdoor Nation's good vibes, I'm gearing up for Canoecopia 2010! Canoecopia is a fantastic event in Madison, Wisconsin, held from March 12-14 at the Alliant Energy Center. Canoecopia is sponsored by Rutabaga Paddlesport Shop, and is one of the world's largest canoeing expos. Speakers, vendors, and paddling movie premiers are all a part of this fun-packed three-day weekend. If you have never experienced a Canoecopia before, you may want to pencil this into you calendar.

The Winter

Abby Devita, Olivia Steinmetz, Hailey Thompson, Chase Benzine, and Gibson Hladky
Skating up a hill at the Iola Norseman...

My wonderful ski team....

Skiing in my backyard....

Winter has always been a season for me to contemplate my past season, and plan for my next, but it is also a time for me to savor living in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. I love everything about this season, from the quiet peaceful snow that covers the woods to the way the sun rises over the frozen lake. Not only do I love this season for the serenity it brings, but also, the opportunity. I find my life to be consumed by paddling in the spring, summer, and fall (not that I'm complaining), but the winter brings me the chance to swap my paddle for poles, and my boat for skis.
So, in addition to dedicating myself to my school work, I've been skiing up a storm. I am a member of the Iola-Scandinavia Nordic Ski Team, where I Skate ski and Classic Ski three times a week, and race for on weekends at State-wide Highschool competitions. Nordic Skiing is an incredible sport - not only for the enjoyment I find in it, but for the intense dedication and endurance it demands. Nordic is a gift. I have the opportunity to really enhance my strength and endurance, while enjoying the company of other teens on the team who love the outdoors.
As well as Nordic Skiing, I have been weight training. I had to make the difficult decision of working with a new trainer this season. My former trainer, Jennifer Dombrowski, is a wonderful woman, without whom I never would have gotten to where I am. The decision was made by the fact that the Lake Placid Strength and Conditioning Coach for Canoe and Kayak works in my home town. Kevin Ebel is his name, and he has had a lot of experience training Elite-Level Canoe and Kayak athletes. I realized that I would be able to attain a high level of performance working with Kevin, and working with him has been very rewarding so far.
On top of all of these activities, I've still been getting in a little time on my Telemark Skis. I've telemarked since I was ten years old - skied since I could walk - and I love it. I still dream of that 'someday trip' out West, floating through 6-foot-deep powder...but that will have to wait.
I hope all of you who read this have the opportunity to get outside and savor the winter!