There are just 3 days left until competitors take to the NOC hole to battle it out for a spot on the US team. Everyone is trying to squeeze everything out of these last few training sessions to ready their mind and body for the trials that lay ahead. As the event draws near, the lines in the eddy are getting longer and training rides are becoming few and far between. Here’s our list of who’s paddling well today, three days before trials begins, and who is on the fringe. It’s anyone’s game out there come Friday in prelims, but here are some folks to look out for.
Mike has been training hard all winter and spring to get ready for the games. He’s been flanked by an equally as driven Pyranha Kayaks Demshitz crew that have been pushing each other for months now. Mike has been laying down very consistent rides, and linking up some impressive combo’s from time to time in his carbon boat.
Jason is a few years out from a really tough injury from a creeking accident in California, that had many questioning if he would ever kayak again. Not only has he been back paddling for quite a while now, he’s looking just as good as ever. In the 2009 worlds in Thun, Switzerland Jason won the Junior Mens title with a score that would have put him in third place amongst the men. Don’t let his past define him though. Jason is busting out the hardest moves, both ways, consistently. He’ll be one to watch.
Eric “EJ” Jackson
EJ has been here so many times before. He has 6 world championship gold medals under his belt, so he’s certainly there mentally. His calm demeanor shines through while he’s in the hole. EJ is also a very smart competitor. He watches the other competitors carefully to see what everyone is throwing and makes sure he is on par with their rides, but most importantly, is planning out rides that will beat them.
Haley said she’s never trained so hard for one specific event before. She’s figured out the hole to catch big air and stay retentive. She’s already tapered off her training to 4 rides a day to ease a little bit of shoulder pain, but her rides are all looking very consistent.
Stephen is always one to watch out for, but he’s got a fresh carbon boat on the way for the trials that is still on the way to the gorge. The question remains if he will be able to get his boat suited to his needs in time for adequate practice before trials begins. If he gets it dialed in watch out though. He throws some of the biggest tricks in the game, and having a lighter boat could play big to his advantage.
Dave has been training hard all winter, and primarily in a carbon boat. A fresh batch of carbon boats showed up for the team riders today, and Dave has had a little trouble getting his outfitted just right. He headed out for another session not long ago, and things may be on the up and up for him. Make sure to watch for Dave’s combos if he gets the outfitting sorted out. He’s been linking up moves beautifully in the past few weeks.
It’s weird to put Kirk on this list. He’s always a front runner and head contender in any competition he enters. We’re not sure if Kirk is starting to taper off his rides to save energy, or he wasn’t showing all his cards today since EJ was on shore scoring his rides. Keep an eye out for Bryan, he may be hiding some moves up his sleeve to break out late in the game to boost him to the finals.