Monday, August 24, 2009

Queen of Gore Canyon '09

My name is Maria Kallman and here's a little about me and kayaking that I realized recently when work obligations forced me to take a break from boating.
The sensation of floating and gliding on water, combined with the exhilaration of facing challenges both as an individual in my boat and with a group as a team is, for me, the definition of true joy.
This sport is full of power, self-discovery, challenge, and gratification.
I grew up racing slalom, and while it brought me all over Europe for five summers when I was younger, competing eventually caused me to associate kayaking with pain from ongoing injuries, nervousness, and sometimes even failure if I didn't achieve a goal I'd set for myself. As you might imagine, this was not a very fun relationship with kayaking. While I wouldn't trade this past for anything because I learned the technical skills that allow me to run hard rapids with style (some of the time) and I got to travel to places many tourists never go, I believe that I've found a much more sustainable, healthy and fun pursuit in running creeks and rivers
. Whatever you choose as your passion, in whatever realm, there's no better feeling than using your entire body, all your senses, and the power of logic to solve a problem, whether it's running rapids, climbing rocks or mountains, or navigating a mountain bike trail. It really forces you to live in the present moment.
I do still love to try to paddle fast though, and I started to dabble in creek racing last year which has been fun and humbling. But nowadays I paddle for the enjoyment of the intimacy with the river and friends, not to win races. If I race, it's the process of racing that counts more than the end result. The only race I did this year was the Gore race, details below! Enjoy.

There was hot weather and plenty of water
Racing off-the-couch made my day harder
But clean lines were had by BOTH women,
And both of us were winners in my opinion :) ...

But really, it was a fantastic weekend with water levels over 1300 and abundant carnage to watch! There were only two women (me and Natalie Kramer), and having been out of my boat for 5 weeks, I just tried to take it easy and have clean lines. That worked out most of the time, except when I got eddied out above Tunnel Falls and had to let someone pass me that I'd already passed... My time was 25 minutes and change, about five minutes slower than the fastest guy in a wavehopper!

Next year it would be fun to see more girls get out there and race!

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