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Showing posts from May, 2014

Live from the Grand Prix, stage 6 - Giant Slalom

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The Whitewater Grand Prix is a 6 event series combining freestyle and creekboating aspects of kayaking. In 2014 it took place mostly in Quebec. In 2012 it was a race series in Chile, and Natalie competed. Check out all of Natalie's 2012 Grand Prix writeups, and here are links to the rest of the stages in the 2014 series:
Stage 1 - Big Trick Contest
Stage 2 - Boatercross
Stage 3 - Time Trial
Stage 4 - Big Wave Freestyle
Stage 5 - Freestyle

After two weeks of traveling and competing, we finally arrived at the final stage of the Whitewater Grand Prix: the Giant Slalom. The event was planned for the Basse Cache river, which is French for "Arms Hat" river. We arrived the day before for some practice, only to find that the ArmHat river was off the Richter scale, way too high. There were a number of steep rapids, and the river had a very continuous character, so that if anything went wrong, rescues would be highly difficult. It was the Grand Prix, so we were pretty confident…

Live from the Grand Prix, stage 5 - Freestyle

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The Whitewater Grand Prix is a 6 event series combining freestyle and creekboating aspects of kayaking. In 2014 it took place mostly in Quebec. In 2012 it was a race series in Chile, and Natalie competed. Check out all of Natalie's 2012 Grand Prix writeups, and here are links to the rest of the stages in the 2014 series:
Stage 1 - Big Trick Contest
Stage 2 - Boatercross
Stage 3 - Time Trial
Stage 4 - Big Wave Freestyle

Stage 6 - Giant Slalom

Stage 4, the big wave comp at Black Mass, had been the low point of the series for me. However, things started to take a turn for the better that very night. Joel came back to the hotel room pretty late and didn't snore at all. Natalie and I woke up bright and early to learn that the day was a stakeout day, which basically meant free day. There had been a lot of talk about a big green wave way upstream on the Mistissibi, which everyone kept saying would be perfect for our surf boats. We loaded up a small crew of the two of us, Tino Spe…

Live from the Grand Prix, stage 4 - Big Wave Freestyle

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The Whitewater Grand Prix is a 6 event series combining freestyle and creekboating aspects of kayaking. In 2014 it took place mostly in Quebec. In 2012 it was a race series in Chile, and Natalie competed. Check out all of Natalie's 2012 Grand Prix writeups, and here are links to the rest of the stages in the 2014 series:
Stage 1 - Big Trick Contest
Stage 2 - Boatercross
Stage 3 - Time Trial

Stage 5 - Freestyle
Stage 6 - Giant Slalom

Stage 4 was a "3 trick standard" freestyle comp on the Black Mass wave, in the Hawaii rapid on the Mistissibi river, deep in the heart of real Quebec. This was probably the low point of the series for most competitors.

The scoring was pretty simple. Each paddler had the same number of attempts at the wave. If you caught it, you had two minutes to throw whatever tricks you could. Your best three tricks were scored (with combos counting as a single trick). Sort of vaguely similar to ICF rules, there were point values for each trick, with d…

Live from the Grand Prix, stage 3 - Time Trial

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The Whitewater Grand Prix is a 6 event series combining freestyle and creekboating aspects of kayaking. In 2014 it took place mostly in Quebec. In 2012 it was a race series in Chile, and Natalie competed. Check out all of Natalie's 2012 Grand Prix writeups, and here are links to the rest of the stages in the 2014 series:
Stage 1 - Big Trick Contest
Stage 2 - Boatercross

Stage 4 - Big Wave Freestyle
Stage 5 - Freestyle
Stage 6 - Giant Slalom

After the boatercross, we headed north to Shawinigan. As we were packing up, I was a little nervous because we didn't have a phone or really any way to check internet on the road, so I got the most precise directions available, straight from Pat.

"Pat, where exactly are we meeting?"

"Shawinigan."

"Like, at a park, or maybe at a Walmart?"

"Shawinigan."

"Just get there and everything will sort itself out?"

"Shawinigan, Leif. Shawinigan."

Based on this conversation, I figured …

Live from the Grand Prix, stage 2 - Boatercross

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The Whitewater Grand Prix is a 6 event series combining freestyle and creekboating aspects of kayaking. In 2014 it took place mostly in Quebec. In 2012 it was a race series in Chile, and Natalie competed. Check out all of Natalie's 2012 Grand Prix writeups, and here are links to the rest of the stages in the 2014 series:
Stage 1 - Big Trick Contest

Stage 3 - Time Trial
Stage 4 - Big Wave Freestyle
Stage 5 - Freestyle
Stage 6 - Giant Slalom

After the big trick contest, we packed up and headed over east to the Rouge river for the big water boatercross. The rains closed in and the weather cooled off quite a bit. Also, of incredible importance, we drove approximately 5 minutes north of a particular bridge, which meant that all of a sudden, everyone started speaking French instead of English.

The Rouge is a pretty sweet river. We were there at relatively high flows, but I imagine there are good rapids there at almost any level. The river is not incredibly large (for our race, the…

Live from the Grand Prix, stage 1 - Big Trick Contest

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The Whitewater Grand Prix is a 6 event series combining freestyle and creekboating aspects of kayaking. In 2014 it took place mostly in Quebec. In 2012 it was a race series in Chile, and Natalie competed. Check out all of Natalie's 2012 Grand Prix writeups, and here are links to the rest of the stages in the 2014 series:
Stage 2 - Boatercross
Stage 3 - Time Trial
Stage 4 - Big Wave Freestyle
Stage 5 - Freestyle
Stage 6 - Giant Slalom

Stage 1 of the 2014 Whitewater Grand Prix was a Big Trick Contest at Gladiator. Natalie and I rallied from Colorado to the Ottawa, with a whole trailer of six boats, without invitations to the event. We got to the valley a day or two before the WWGP started, and started chumming it up with the invited athletes. We were both on the alternates list, and we had been hoping for those last-minute cancellations, but we were starting to run out of last minutes. We figured that even if we didn't get into the competition, we would have a great paddling …