Sunday, June 10, 2012

Teva Mountain Games 2012

Heading into the "bird bath"
Even though this years Teva Mountain Games didn't go the way I had planned, I was still very excited to be in Vail again for one more year of pure excitement!

 This year both of my parents came out to watch and cheer me on. I did heaps of runs on Homestake prior to the race on Thursday and I was feeling really good. The water was really low this year so there were loads of rocks everywhere to get stuck on.... or pinned.

The Teva Games have been really well known throughout the industry because the pay out is huge and there is a lot of publicity that comes with it.

Ending out the mank section of Homestake Creek.
The beginning of the waterfall section.
Left air wheel in a shallow hole in a composite boat!
I even made it into the newspaper!
So, anyways, the day of the race came and I was nervous, as always, because I had won the race last year. I knew a lot of people were watching me closely to see what my next move would be. I had done about ten really clean runs up to this point and I had confidence that I would do just as well on my race run.

I made it through the "mank" section and I was feeling really good, then, I let my head get out of the game and suddenly I was pinned. I was head up and in no danger but I was losing time quickly. I was stuck there for about 30 seconds and finally got myself off of the pin spot. I knew I had lost the race and that someone else would be taking the top honors this year.

I learned a lot that day. I have been racing a lot in the last six years and I don't mess up races very often. It is a lot harder losing than it is winning.

So, just because my steep creek race didn't go well,  it didn't mean my weekend was ruined.

On to the freestyle!

The scene at Vail during finals. Pretty awesome in there.
 Freestyle has never really been my forte but somehow I always do kind of well in it. (the BV Pro rodeo for example!) When we got to Vail there was literally no hole at all. It took two days and lot of man power to make a hole for the rodeo. Note the plywood on both sides of the hole and ropes attaching them, it was a pretty amazing feat! But, my problems were just beginning. I was in a composite boat, in a really shallow hole, in really cold water. It was always interesting dropping into the hole.

In one of my practice rides I hit my head so hard that I almost knocked myself out, I also hit my paddle on the rock so hard that my wrist hurt. Needless to say, all of us in the eddy were trying to be "careful" while also trying to do the biggest tricks we could.

Looping huge in the composite boat! Representing Liquid Logic to the world!!
Right air wheel during finals. You can see the bottom....
The finals in Vail is always my favorite because its like a miniature stadium in there. With the people on the streets and then the hotels with people hanging off of all of the balconies, it's pretty awesome. I ended up in fourth but still got a bit of a pay out, that was nice :-) Claire O'Hara had a huge ride, stomping both of her phonix monkeys and doing a huge mcnasty, I guess there is a reason she is the World Champion!!

Huge thanks again to Bryon Dorr for taking some awesome photographs!! Check out his website at

I've also gotta thank Shane Benedict for making an awesome composite boat that didn't even break in Vail, even though I was trying my hardest.... if I can't break it... I don't think anyone can. 

Also huge thanks to Kokatat for the immense support in the last few months, it's been amazing meet everyone that works for them and learning about their company. Also, having gear that is warm, dry, and breathable is life changing!! Check their gear out if you have never looked at their stuff, lots of good things coming out of their company right now!

I am now off to my new adventures, a full time job being a Paramedic with Greenville County EMS.
Until next time. Over and out. 

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Stomper and I go to Idaho

Last winter, I had to choose between going to Physician Assistant school in Idaho or Colorado, and after weeks of deliberation and angst, I chose Colorado, my home state.  To see what I was missing, I took a trip to Idaho this Spring with four fun female kayaker friends.  Needless to say, I had a severe case of regret over not choosing the PA program in Idaho simply for the quality of kayaking.  It was that good!

So, I sort of thought I knew this already, but it turns out you don't really know until you jump right in, especially if you live in a state where you often paddle on 150 cfs or less: big water is BIGGER from your boat than from the road.  After a fifteen hour drive, we got out of the car at the South Fork of the Payette.  It was pretty high, but after looking at the rapids in the Staircase section, we put on our gear with the attitude that it would be a fun warmup run.  Immediately after entering the first wave train, which looked so mild from the road, we realized that we couldn't power through things like we could at home. We had to use more finesse and set up for our lines much further ahead of time.  We got out to scout the biggest rapids again, at river level, and this time we got nervous, knowing which holes and waves would be friendly and which would flip us for sure.  But my Stomper performed better than I ever could have imagined, and I styled the lines.  I knew I loved it in the low-volume creeks back home, but I loved it more for keeping me on-line in powerful, exploding water.
 After a few runs on the Staircase, we got used to the disconnect between what we were seeing from the road and what we felt when we got in our boats.  We continued northward to the South Fork of the Clearwater, the Lochsa, and finally to the Selway, where to my surprise, and thanks to the Stomper, I felt in control in 24,000 cfs.  

I am happy to report that I moved to Denver from Southwestern Colorado last week, started PA school yesterday, and already had one of the best days of paddling of my season thus far on the Big South and the Poudre, despite the low water here on the front range, just two hours or so from my new home. 
SF Payette

Here are some photos.  Enjoy!

Annie on the Selway

Girl posse, SF Clearwater

One thing I love about kayaking: there are so many ways to have fun.
1st Gorge of Lime Creek

Oh, the packability! Upper Animas overnighter

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Composite Playboat

Buena Vista Pro Rodeo.
So, after a heinous drive across Kansas, totally solo (the only things to talk to were the bugs on my windscreen) I made it to Colorado. Nothing exciting happened during the drive, thankfully, but when I got to Buena Vista I realized really how low the water was this year. This is a vast difference between the 175% snow pack they had last year and the 70% snow pack that they have this year. 
Looping the very light composite boat

Shane had surprised me with a brand spankin new composite boat just in time for me to make the trek west. Its not a biscuit and it paddles like nothing I have ever paddled before. But I can say one thing, I could do some massive loops in it!!

Jordan going for a space godzilla
 Jordan did super well, as always, in both C-1 and K-1 juniors. He was flying just as high as I was and loving the light boat. The feature was a tad small this year.... but we all made it work.

Finals ride, huge space godzilla
 Going into finals I was second behind Ruth Gordon, who is a past world champion and Claire O'hara was in fourth who is the present world champion. My first ride I did everything I could in the feature within the first 30 seconds, a massive loop, a huge space godzilla, another space godzilla, and some spins. I scored my highest ride of my life which was a 360 and that put me really comfortably in first place!!
My sparkly masterpiece by Shane Benedict
 Claire had an awesome second ride and she was getting really close to getting her McNasty's. She ended up tieing me for first place. I was stoked to be able to know that I could keep up with these two powerhouses of freestyle.
In the end, the judges averaged out our Claire and I's scores and I had won the rodeo. It was my first ever pro rodeo that I had won in my whole life!!! I was super happy to have been able to share the eddy with all the awesome people in Buena Vista Colorado and will be sure to come back next year!!

I want to thank Byron Dorr for the awesome photos that he shot, check out his page
He has full coverage of the event on there, check it out!!

Im super stoked on this new playboat and so happy that Shane has made it happen! Keep your eyes out for posts for this coming weekend which is the Teva Mountain Games in Vail Colorado!!