This year I had a very successful year in kayaking, and I just want to give a shout out to all of those who have helped me have a banner year..
Colin Kemp, World Kayak, for teaching me how to cartwheel, aiding in my loop, and helping in my all around boating skills.
The Jackson family, for always giving advice to make me a better boater.
Michelle Kvanli, Mark Poindexter, Chelsea Easley and Andre Sanborn of Red River Racing for excellent slalom and C1 training.
Ruth Gordan Ebens, for helping build my foundation and support.
The Gold Medal Camp Coaches, Joe Jacobi, Bob Campbell, Kenneth, Chad, Smiley, and Tom Long, for awesome instruction.
My dad, Matt Donnelly, and my mom, Stephanie Viselli, for ALWAYS being there with advice and support!
Thanks to all the kids and people who I have met and boated with throughout the years-you’re awesome!
Jackson Kayak, for making kid’s boats as well as adult boats, and believing in me all these years.
Kokatat, for making such incredible dry gear in small sizes that fit kids (women’s small) as well as adults.
Snapdragon, for making the most awesome, bombproof sprayskirts that my whole family wears.
Keen Footwear, who makes the best shoes for any condition, for both adults and kids.
Predator Helmets, for making a quality, comfortable ORANGE helmet.
American Whitewater, for making the rivers flow!
Red River Racing, for providing support and training.
Truckee River Foundation, teaching river safety to kids on the Truckee River
Outdoor Nation, supporting kids getting outside
This year, the jr. olympics were scheduled to be in Golden, CO. but due to high water, it was moved to Lyons. CO. a few days before it was scheduled to start. Thanks Lyons, for taking us on at such short notice! The venue was awesome and the town was super supportive, we even had free camping along the river. The competitions started on a Thursday and went all the way through Tuesday with a different event featured every day.
This year, Canada had 3 teams, Australia had 1, Valley Mills from Maryland/D.C. Mach 1 from Pennsylvania, Red River Racing (TX), as well as several individuals from California, Colorado and New Zealand were in attendance.
The first event was sprint slalom which is a slalom race with 10 gates and I did K1, C1, C2 Women with Chelsea Easley , and C2 mixed with Andre Sanborn, both from Texas. It was the first time I had ever been in a C1 and I had a ball. Thanks Team Canada for letting me use your C1 and C2! There was tons of kids competing and they all did great:)
Freestyle was lots of fun. I did C1 and K1 and I was able to get the ride I had planned. There was lots of kids trying it for thier first time and they looked great! Several kids were able to Loop and Spacegodzilla so the competition was stiff! It was my first time in a C1 play boat and I managed a shuvit, and almost a spin but I flipped and combat rolled in practice!
Next up was the down river race. There was a variety of boats, from down river race boats to plastic play boats, and they were all separated into different classes. We put in at Apple Hill Road and took out at Blackbear Hole where freestyle had been held the day before. The race course was class 2 and ran through Meadow park where the Lyons Outdoor Games are held, and is very beautiful and green. I competed in my k1 slalom boat and had a great time. That evening, Oskar Blues supplied the group with a pulled pork dinner in their restaurant, and even though I couldn’t eat it, everyone else seemed to enjoy it.
Monday was the traditional slalom race, which had about 18 gates and was created by Brendan Curson and Cathy Hearn who had her adorable little baby with her! There were several down river gates right on the eddy lines so you had to really plan each stroke. We had to limit the runs to 3 boats per person because there were so many racers, so I competed in K1, C1 and C2 Women’s with Chelsea Easley from Texas. It was lots of fun!
Tuesday was boater cross time and the final day of Jr. Olympics, as well as Dane Jackson’s 18th birthday! Everybody wrote their names on a piece of paper which were put into hats according to age, and teams of 4 were picked for boater cross, each consisting of a Jr., Jr. 16, a cadet and a cub cadet. I lucked out and was put on a team with Dane Jackson, (Tennessee) Sam Fletcher, (Canada) and Hannah Penner, (Canada). The only rules were you had to keep your hands on the paddle, negotiate 2 up river gates, your boat couldn’t run until your 5 sit ups or push ups were finished and the teams bib had to be visible on each team. I was first to run for my team, and I did my 5 push ups and Dane ran with my boat to the put in at the other end of the park. I managed to get in my boat first and get down the river quickly where I stripped my bib off and gave it to Sam who put it on and did his push ups-Dane ran with the boat again and we stayed in first. Hannah was next and maintained our lead with Dane, once again, running the boat. Dane was finally up, and yes, he ran his own boat. We moved on to the next group, and eventually made it to finals where we won! Everyone agreed that this was a super fun event and it was great for meeting other teams and making new friends, and it will probably be the first event in Jr. Olympics from now on.
For the final awards ceremony, There was cake in the shape of the yellow Jackson smiley face for everyone to celebrate Dane’s birthday, and lots of awards were passed out including the naming of the Cadet National Team Members. I made the K1, C1, C2 Women’s, Freestyle and Down River Teams, and also received the Rivermeisterene award and the Spirit award along with 10 gold medals and 2 silver medals. The Spirit award was extra special because the first person to ever win it was my Jackson Kayak Teammate Jason Craig who is recovering for a horrible waterfall accident.
Overall, the Jr. Olympics was lots of fun! I loved seeing old friends, making new ones and learning new skills. Thanks again to the City of Lyons, Mike Hyde, Gina Gilbert, Nate Lord, Mark Poindexter and all the coaches and parents for making this event a blast! I can’t wait to compete next year!
The tour in Colorado has been great! For the first few weeks Lauren Burress was traveling with us and we had a great time, taking first and second in most events. Right after The Teva Mountain Games, Lauren left to go to Worlds and it was back to 4 dogs, a cat, and 3 people in a van.
In Buena Vista, Colorado, I helped Nick Troutman with an intro to play boating clinic. There were two people in the clinic and I had a great time helping. Thanks Nick, for letting me help. Then I went to go help with the kids clinic on the pond. It was tons of fun and it was awesome seeing so many kids on the water.
Next up was the Creak at the Peak competition on the class 4 section of Clear Creek. It was a fund raiser for a non profit called G.O.A.L.S. (Get outside and learn something.) there goal is to get kids out on multi-day river trips. The river was lots of fun and it was AWESOME.
Lyons was up next. We arrived to an awesome hole with a sweet looping spot. For the comp. I was 3rd in Jr. Men since there were no other Jr. women. In Fibark, I competed against my friends Sage Kitson and Anna Scherer in the Salida wave, not the usual hole due to high water. I was 1st, Sage was 2nd, and Anna was 3rd. Good job girls! In between FIBark and Gunnison I was able to teach Wyatt, Ellie, and there mom Chris how to roll. Can’t wait to see you guys next year! Last but no least was Gunnison where I was 1st, Anna was 2nd, and Sage was 3rd:)
From Colorado, we drove to Missoula, Montana, where we visited some old friends and I competed on Brennan’s Wave at high flows. It was super fun and I was able to get clean spins, shuvits, round houses and back roundhouses, but flushed on my loops. I won first in Women’s pro and won a trophy half the size of me! KB
and Luke put on an awesome festival!
Then it was off to Cascade, Id. for the National Championship’s at Kelly’s Whitewater park. The city is small but the park is wonderful! The top hole, called Big Nasty, has a huge foam pile with a tractor beam pull back to the trough and can really chunder you, but if you drop from the top or paddle through the chunder spot, its a lot of fun and you can go HUGE! The next wave down is a sweet, little wave hole where you can do both wave or hole moves and stick them easily. There are 2 other features that looked fun but I never made it to them. There were tons of people working on the park and it looked beautiful and the bathrooms were always clean and nice.
The jr. Women’s, Expert Women’s and Cadet’s were held in the 2nd feature while the Jr. Men’s, Expert’s and all the Pro’s were held Big Nasty. Going into finals, I was in 3rd place to Courtney Kerin, a 17 year old from New Zealand and currently 2nd in the world, and 15 year old current World Champion Lauren Burress. I knew I had to throw down a really good ride to be close to these two incredible boaters, and I was determined to do it.
On our last rides, Lauren was first and I was second, followed closely by Courtney. Unfortunately I flushed early but paddled up quickly and threw an airloop, space godzilla’s both ways, front and back roundhouses, spins and a shuvit in about 30 seconds! It was enough to put me in first by 5 points, and after everyone’s rides were over, I realized I had won!
After the competitions were over, They held the awards ceremony downtown and I received an awesome, HEAVY medal and a beautiful ceramic bowl, as well as a skateboard for first place. The whole experience was incredible!
The tour has been an awesome experience this year and I loved meeting all the cool people and traveling to new and old places. I am off to Jr. Olympics right now in Golden, Co. so I will keep you posted.