Last month I had the honor of being able to represent my country at the U23 and U18 Slalom World Championships in Foz Do Iguacu, Brazil. It is a small city on the border of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina and is the home to one of the seven natural wonders of the modern world, which is also the second highest waterfall in the world, the Catratas do Iguacu Falls. It also has the second largest operating hydroelectric facility in terms of annual energy generation, the Itaipu Dam.
I left straight from Senior Slalom Team Trails in North Carolina to Washington D.C. where I had to leave a day later than the rest of the team because of visa/passport problems. Luckily, the team was nice enough to fly with my boats so they could get transported to Foz. I flew in right before our first training session and was able to quickly get in my gear and start feel out the course.
We only had a one hour session everyday, and shared our time with the Canadian and German teams (it was crowded), so everyone was trying to get as many runs in as possible. I was happy to not spear or get speared by anyone the whole time. The course was very technical with several sick potential hole moves, but I think the craziest things there were the crocodiles in the bottom pool (they were supposed to be the least aggressive breed there, but I didn't want to find out) the stingrays in the warm up pool, and the capybara (pig size rodents)! The scenery was also gorgeous, with all sorts of bright, pretty flowers, trees, and butterflies everywhere you looked! There were also fruit trees all over, which were amazing (my favorites were the banana, pineapple, and avocados)!
Training had been going really well until two days before the competition when one of the pumps broke, so we were only able to have a half hour of water time each day (that was probably for the better so I couldn’t wear myself out). Luckily, we still had two good sessions before the race and I was feeling sharp and ready to go for my C1 run the next day!
The morning of race day I got to the course early so I could cheer on the US U23 K1 and C1 men and check out some of the harder moves on the course. After they were finished, I found a nice shady spot and rested for a couple hours till my run at 15:00. Later, I was lucky enough to be able to Skype with my coach Jordi (he was in Spain) and then walk the course with the US coaches, “Butter Hurd” and Silvan Poberaj.
Once I was 100% sure on what moves I was going to do on the course, I went to warm up in the top pool (with the sting rays and crocodiles). After doing my usual warm up and doing an imaginary flatwater version of the course I hopped out for a little while until it was closer to my start time. My first C1 run was really good, my lines were on point, but I have three touches putting me in 10th place. I made top 15 on my first run so i didn’t have to take a second run and was into semis!
The next day I was the first K1 Jr. Woman to start. I went in the morning so I got there early, watched some of the U23 athletes and then went to warm up. After i finished, I walked the course with my dad and Silvan again and was ready to go! I had an almost clean run with only one touch and only two small mess ups on my lines. It put me barely in the first cut in 20th place so I didn’t have to take a second run again. I finished cheering on the rest of team USA, then headed back to the hotel to get ready for my semi finals runs the next day.
The next morning I woke up and headed to the course to dial in the gates and get ready. My C1 run was first up and it was pretty solid. Sadly, I had several touches and ended up 12th (the finals cut was 10th). I was pretty bummed and was trying to get my mind reset for my K1 run. Sadly I wasn’t able to pull it off and was 29th in K1. I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, but I still had a blast and it was an amazing experience. Now it’s time to get ready for freestyle team trials in June!!