Well, now that that's out of the way: I totally won! Hell yeah! Every year, I've moved up a little bit in the rankings. Mostly that's because at the inaugural event Jonny Meyers, Jed Selby, and Conor Flynn were all there to beat me. At the second event, Conor was in Japan, and Jed Selby was too scared to show his face, so only Jonny beat me. This year, Jonny broke his back, but Conor came back from Japan, so it was down to me vs. Conor. I was further aided by the fact that the publicity for the Glenwood Ender didn't really take off this year, so there was a pretty small crowd of competitors. If anything, that just made the event more fun.
Before I start in with the detailed account of the mighty battle that took place, here is a slideshow of some of my favorite photos from the event.
|Conor Flynn eyes the competition. Gwood Ender 2010|
Considering the fact that this is the last event of the season (hence the name; it's a season ender) the flows were much higher than I expected. However, this made the hole pretty tough. Previous years, the levels have been lower, which made the hole flushier. At these levels, the hole was quite sticky, almost too sticky. It was hard to climb up the pile away from the green water to set up moves. However, in the immortal words of the event organizer, Ty Newton: "Sticky is good, right? Helps you stick your moves." (Those words were uttered just moments before swimming out of a particularly sticky playspot.)
|Ty "Shingles" Newton. Gwood Ender 2010|
The high water levels must have been quite intimidating for the huge ton of little kids that showed up. The pro class might have been a little thin, but this was more than balanced by the junior and cadet classes. The Kellogg family circus showed up. They're a family with 10 kids, and as far as I could tell, they all paddle. I was amazed. This single family probably made up about half of the whole competition. Furthermore, I was keeping track of the scores, and I think that every one of those Kellogg kids managed to beat their dad. In a few years, these kids will be crushing the whole Colorado scene.
|The dad, Conor and I watch the gaggle of young paddlers. Gwood Ender 2010|
Speaking of crushing, here's how the competition went down. In prelims, I had a couple relatively solid rides. I started with the fonix monkey each time, since that was a more technical move and a little harder to set up for. Once that was stuck, it was a hard battle to get far enough up the pile for another move, so I mostly finished off the rides with minor moves. I managed to place first in prelims, with Conor right behind me. His fonix monkey was not as strong as mine.
The junior and cadet classes were right after the pro prelims, so a couple of us stayed in the water for safety, although it was completely unneeded. In the junior class, Max Karlsson of the Swedish Junior Freestyle team took first, and in the cadet class, the Kelloggs completely took over.
|Conor, Ty and I killing time between rounds.|
Photo by Nico Rienaecker. Gwood Ender 2010
After the kiddie classes came the ladies. The women's class was very small this year. There were only three women. There were almost four. We convinced Shaina to come down from CSU to the Ender, but once she got there, she refused to enter. The nerve! Anyway, of these three, Natalie was the only pro, so it was no real surprise that she won, but she still put together a great show for the crowd, including her first ever competition mcnasty.
|Natalie loops to victory. Again. Photo by Nico Rienaecker. Gwood Ender 2010|
Finally, after sitting in the eddy getting psyched up through the other classes, it was time for finals. There were 4 paddlers in finals: me, Conor, Ty, and the hometown hero Phil Nylund. I was super pumped up for that first ride, and put together a pretty good routine. I managed a fonix monkey, a mcnasty, and I think an orbit also. I might have done both mcnasties, but I can't quite remember. Conor knew the heat was on, and threw some nice air under his loops, but wasn't able to keep his fonix monkey straight enough to impress the judges. Then, out of nowhere, Ty managed to bust out the loop to orbit combo. It was completely unintentional, but it was textbook precise. He was super lucky.
|Conor cartwheels in finals. Gwood Ender 2010|
|Ty throws a loop. Notice that Natalie's loop was larger. Gwood Ender 2010|
This put Ty ahead of Conor (and me ahead of both of them), and Conor started freaking out. He was sprinting around the eddy, grinding his teeth, and swearing a blue streak. He grabbed this big stick and broke it right in half. A raft full of fishermen came past in the boat chute, and Conor paddled up to them, pulled out his river knife, and sank 'em! Man, he was pissed. Alright, I may have exaggerated some of that, but the point is, Conor was so surprised by Ty's move that his whole game was out of whack. He wasn't able to regain his focus enough to get that fonix monkey straightened out enough to score. The final order was me in first, Ty in second, and Conor in third.
|Leif wins! Gwood Ender 2010|
|All the podium finishers from the various classes, at the afterparty at Moe's.|
Photo by Nico Rienaecker. Gwood Ender 2010
Now, to continue the glorious tradition of the original event, here are a couple pictures of people looking awkward.
|Phil does some freestyle dance in finals. 10 for artistic impression! Gwood Ender 2010|
|My former instructor Peter Benedict shows that he took more time organizing the event than he did training. Gwood Ender 2010|
|Ty with one of his less successful lunar orbit attempts. Gwood Ender 2010|
There is a video of the competition at the Kellogg Show which has footage of all the competitors. Natalie's mcnasty is at about 5:25.
Big thanks to Ty Newton for being the main organizer of the event, and of course all the sponsors, like Harley Davidson, Alpine Bank, and CRMS. We'll see you next year. I'll try to hold on to first again, and now Natalie officially has a streak to defend. Hopefully I didn't just jinx her.