Sunday, June 14, 2009

US Freestyle Team Trials at Glenwood Springs, CO

Hannah and Althea excited to hit the wave

We left Missoula, MT on the afternoon of May 25th eager to get to Glenwood for the highly anticipated wave and Team Trials event. After spending a night in Salt Lake City at Hannah Kertesz’s house, we finally arrived at the wave with the full team of: Scott Doherty (MT), Ben Kinsella (MT), Quinton Barnett (MT), Brian Jamieson (WA), Hannah (UT), Althea Sullivan (OR), and Quinn Connell (OR). Following our first practice session on the terrific breaking wave we then headed to the Palmer’s house. The Palmer family graciously put us up with excellent accommodations at their warm home, along with numerous other members of the paddling community. On behalf of everyone you housed and fed, Thanks!

First class accommodations at the Palmer's home

The next three days were spent visiting the wave twice a day, resting in between sessions to review video, work on homework, or to socialize with the other paddlers in town for the event. As the days progressed we all became more confident with the wave and each of our individual approaches to having our best performances over the weekend. One afternoon was also spent at the Glenwood Community Center assisting with the local boat swap, which turned out to be a fun activity and a great opportunity for our group to get to know many of the other junior paddlers.

Hannah Kertesz looking smooth and solid in the wave's chaos

Big tricks on big waves

When the weekend arrived we were all excited to compete and to watch the other competitors performances. During the event, we also had a tent set up for a nice place to hang out in the shade while we weren’t competing or assisting the event organizers with time keeping. All in all, World Class had a proud showing with four of our present and past students making the U.S. Freestyle Team selected to represent the U.S. at the world championships in Thun, Switzerland later this summer. Of notable mention were also Hannah Kertesz and Quinn Connell, the first ones out for the junior women’s and junior men’s teams, respectively.

Quinn, mid-McNasty

World Class Kayak Academy representation on the 2009 U.S. Freestyle Team

Michael Palmer (10’) – Jr. Men’s – 3rd

Johnny Meyers (04’) – Men’s – 3rd

Rush Sturges (03’) – Men’s – 5th

Adriene Levknecht (05’) – Women’s – 2nd

Quinn getting his moves perfected

A great, fun and well-organized event!

Nice work, everyone, on your efforts at the event. You worked hard to get there and competed with grace and determination – we are proud of you. Thanks, as well to the entire community of Glenwood Springs, you have an amazing playspot and a supportive atmosphere for kayakers. We look forward to coming back soon!

Scott Doherty

Thursday, June 11, 2009

WCKA Athletes at Teva Mountain Games

School might be out of session, but World Class continues to bring young kayakers to the best rivers and competitions the summer offers. For the month of June, Colorado happens to be one of these hotspots with a different competition every weekend all throughout the state. Our students originally from this part of the country will rave to you about the variety in paddling this state offers. From the big waves in Glenwood Springs to the creeks in Crested Butte, no matter where a kayaker travels here, there is whitewater to paddle.

A classic event for the Colorado tour is the Teva Mountain Games held in Vail June 4th-7th. This event has it all and draws in some of the world’s most talented athletes in multiple extreme sports. The kayaking events always end up being the most attended and most exciting of the games.

Kicking off the weekend, the Homestake Extreme Creek Race sets the bar high for anyone who thinks they can maneuver through class IV/V whitewater the fastest. World Class' Sebastian Scholl competed in the race alongside the fastest and smooth athletes in the world, powering down the creek with a powerful finesse.  Head Coach Jesse Shimrock made it to the finals in this event, also representing WCKA with style.  

Sebastian daftly maneuvering Homestake's technical and steep rapids 

WCKA alum, Adrienne Levknecht, flying off one of Homestake's many drops

Back in the town of Vail Freestyle competitions continued throughout the weekend with current and former students throwing down hard. This wave is one of the best venues for a large competition. Two bridges, up and downstream of the wave, allow for 360 degrees of viewing pleasure for the massive crowds draw to this event.

Current student Michael Palmer competed in his new Guiguiprodd carbon fiber boat. This lightweight boat, along with some serious freestyle moves, allowed him to hold his own among the world’s most talented kayakers with a 12th place in the qualifiers.

Michael hitting a massive loop for the crowd's pleasure

Michael in his lightweight boat, smiling at his high scoring run on the wave

Griff Griffith, another student signed on for this fall’s Peru semester, also threw down with the best in the competition giving the pro’s a run for their money. In addition to competing in the freestyle competition, Griff placed an incredible 11th place in the downriver sprint, just seconds behind pro athletes Tommy Hilleke and Geoff Calhoun.

Griff getting reading to head out on Vail's wave

Griff hitting all the right moves

Many other junior athletes competed over the weekend showing the world that the next generation will be pushing the limits! I'm really looking forward to traveling around the world this these guys and all the other incredible young athletes already signed up for the fall semester.

Check back in for updates on Team Trials, the upcoming FiBark festival in Salida and WCKA's summer sessions!

by Susan Hollingsworth