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!