On May 18th, I made the journey westward to Canmore, Alberta. I joined up with Coach Brendan Curson and Saskatchewan athlete Kylie Zirk, to get some time on the water before official training began on the 23rd. It was my first time on the Kananaskis River, and I absolutely loved it. Nestled in the mountains, it’s friendly, wavy and an absolute pleasure to paddle.
We spent the week getting to know the river, working on building smooth and consistent technique. I was so fortunate to have a “home away from home” with Michael, Lauren and Georgia Turcot. We met through a SEVEC ski exchange over 6 years ago, and it has been a blast keeping up with their adventures. Having a quiet, warm house to go home to every night made preparation for team trials so much more relaxing…especially because we were graced with snow, rain and hail throughout the week!
My teammate, training partner and best bud, Lois Betteridge, joined me on the 23rd, and luckily she seemed to bring the sunshine with her! The next couple days consisted mainly of technical sessions with Ontario coach, Anthony Colin, followed by stretching, food prep and rest.
Saturday was the first day of racing. Everyone was competing for a spot on either the Junior or the U23 National Team, who will compete at Jr/U23 World Championships in Poland, in July. In order to qualify, each paddler was aiming to make the performance benchmark for their category, as well as place in the top three.
Going into this race I was excited and nervous. Being my first year as a U23, i had no idea how hard it would be to qualify for the team. Unfortunately, a couple mistakes slowed me down in my first run, but I was able to step it up on my second run, reaching the performance benchmark and securing my spot on the U23 national team! This meant that I could focus on having solid performances for the rest of the weekend, without the stress of qualifications.
It was super fun to get back on the water with our teammates from across the country, and it was so exciting to see new faces qualifying for the Canadian team for the first time! A full list of the 2016 national team can be found here: http://canoekayak.ca/slalom-teams/
Before heading to the airport, we took Monday morning to do a river run with Lauren and Georgia. With a mix of a tandem canoe, a kayak and a C1, it was an absolute blast. Surfing, flipping and so much laughter, it was a great way to unwind after a weekend of racing.
Photos by Michael Turcot