Team Canada now, EH!

October 13, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

untitled-05593Sam Duff during Finals I have been living in Canada the majority of the last five years, although I always doge the winters I am here Spring, Summer, Autumn pretty consistently.   Since first arriving here I have always felt at home on the Ottawa river.  It has more than just amazing whitewater but also an amazing community of highly skilled and motivated whitewater kayakers.  Last year, as regular readers to the blog know, I became a permanent resident of Canada.  The gives me about all of the same privileges as any other Canadian, except for having  passport and being able to vote which is reserved for citizens of Canada.  Included in being a resident is the ability to represent Team Canada at Freestyle kayaking events and since next 2017 Freestyle Kayak World Championships is taking place in Rio de Janeiro Canadian team trials were slated to take place in August, 2016.  Being a fairly competitive paddler I signed up to compete.

 

untitled-05644Reigning OC1 World Champion Andy Hill Ready for his next ride

 

 

The feature in Rio, is still unknown but since it is most probably a hole, team trials were to be hosted at a fast, trashy, challenging feature in Valleyfield, Quebec, just out out side of Montreal.  The field was fairly even as most competitors have not spent a lot of time paddling there.  The men’s competition was particularly tight, although there were a few paddlers who were ahead of the rest the 5 team spots to paddle in Rio next year would be hotly contested.  After a consistent performance in prelims I went through to Semi-finals in 6th place, meaning I was in the first round to gleaming the final 5 aware of what they had to do to make the team.  I paddled well through both of my rides but I felt it probably would be just a bit too short.  I settled in to cheer on the other 5 in my category, knowing that I wanted everyone to do their best, but also hoping their best wasn't as good as my score. I tensely watched all of the rides and was elated to slide through by the skin of my teeth by staying ahead of 6th place Billy Harris by just 13.3 points.  

 

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But the real star of the weekend was the winner of the junior mens category, Sam Duff (Pictured above).  An Ottawa Valley kid who has only been paddling for a couple of years, he stole the show with a performance so strong it would have rivalled most of the top mens scores (including my own).  He showed a cool head through each round achieving consistently high scores and smiling throughout.  I’m looking forward to seeing him train and progress in the run up to Rio, where he will be a real contender for the junior men’s category.  

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