Welcome to the Worlds!

National flags, colored uniforms, rental cars, and boats – boats – boats EVERYWHERE up here on the Ottawa River. They are on every car, hanging out of trunks and tailgates, draped over 4-wheelers and chained to trees all through the woods. Freestyle World Championships is here on the Ottawa once again, and this the 3rd round looks to be bigger and better than ever.


We’ve got an hour of ”Team Training” a day where we assemble on the famed ”Garberator” wave as the USA to make the most of the wave while our coaches, friends and family video or give feedback from shore. Within sight is the tow rope for the famed ”Buseater” wave where Worlds 07 was held, this wave is smaller but fast and dynamic, with ample opportunity for big air. Garb requires a technical precision to land tricks because all the speed comes in front of a very narrow foam pile. Paddlers paddle after Time-slot hours under lights, at dawn in the fog, at dusk through a cloud of mosquitos. The squirtists are upstream disappearing into the ”Smoothy” eddy within sight of the 97 Worlds site just downstream at McCoy’s. Warm, muggy days give way to cool, dewey nights under stars so clear and bright you can’t help but admire the hazy Milky Way galaxy shining bright when you turn off the lights.



There are still 2 practice sessions to go, an opening ceremony to attend, and lots of athletes to watch before we take the water but already to mood is growing more serious, making the eddy feel a bit like the last school day before final exams. Go-pro’s are everywhere, headphone encased paddlers stare intently at computer screens as they learn from the mistakes of the last session. Scores are compared, rides are revised. Paddlers are acting very un-paddler like, as they all know this is the moment to shine and no one wants to flush early. Thankfully, the river runs along as beautifully unaware as ever – there for for us all to appreciate and enjoy when this time of test taking is over. Judges will officiate, paddlers will perform, tears will flow, winners will be crowned. For all of us camped out here on the Ottawa – competitors, coaches, volunteers and officials – lets remember to appreciate the river, the wilderness, and the wave for giving us this amazing opportunity to shine as a sport and enjoy each other’s presence in such a magical spot on this big blue planet of wonder. Artificial courses are great, but I LOVE the Ottawa.

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