Saturday, September 12, 2015

Day 4 & 5 : Freestyle Women and C1 Prelims and Semi Finals Cuts

Women's Prelims

Thursday quickly came and I was super fired up to get out there and have my chance to compete. I had a plan and knew what to do. I was ready for the event. I opened up strong in my first ride with a big flashback but as I landed I just missed my landing stroke which meant the power of the move sent me flying of the right side of the wave ending my run fast.

It didn't matter though as it was 4 rides 2 count format so I got back to the top of the eddy and spoke to Den and we hit the reset ready to go again. The second ride went much better. I opened up with 3 big moves and then I flushed off the wave again.

Throwing a massive back blunt

4 rides, 2 count. No stress. Still plenty of rides left.

I dropped in for my third ride, hit the wave and … flushed! What was going on?

Feeling the pressure going into my fourth ride
(photo by Dave Wortley)

4th ride... no pressure!!! I had come back from many big comps over the years in my final run. In fact I had won the last worlds in my last high pressure run. I had a plan. I felt the pressure but it felt good. I was ready. I listened to the announcers call my intro and lead me in. I looked at Den who gave me a thumbs up and a grin and I dropped in. As I hit the wave. I knew I wasn't quite in the right spot to open with a flashback so I played it safe and went for the spin. A safe, easy, very solid and well trained move worth a massive 10 points!!! I brought it round to set up for the next move and then I flushed again! As I dropped of the wave for my fourth and final time I knew there was nothing else I could do but fist pump, smile and claim it. That was it. My prelims rides were done.

A fist pump to celebrate. It may not have been quite
what I had planned but I did it all the less
(photo by Dave Wortley)

As I paddled back into the eddy I felt all the pressure of being world champion, of defending my title, of trying to perform and showcase all the amazing moves I had learnt over the last few years and of trying to podium at my first real wave worlds and of trying to triple the double vanish. It actually felt great. I felt the warmth and support of the crowd and my fellow athletes, family and friends as they cheered and gathered in to give me hugs. Everyone knew I had given it my best but that it hadn't worked out. The rides I had put out did not represent what I could do or the work I had put in but they were my world prelims rides. They were all I had been able to give on the day and that was it. I had no more chances left.

No one ever wants someone to under perform. To not make the cut because they haven't done well. To be beaten by a good performance is a truly great thing. To be beat or make it through because you or someone else has under performed not so fun.

But right there, right then, despite my rides not going to plan it didn't feel to bad.

Thankfully I have an incredible team around me
who have helped me realise whats important at
these events
(photo by Tom Zach)

However it turned out that I wasn't to be the only one not to get the rides I could have. Throughout the womens prelims although there was some stand out exceptional performances; for example Adriene Levchnekt who set a personal best to qualify in 1st place after some consistently good solid rides of big moves and Rowan Stuart who in her first senior semi finals stepped up to the plate with some solid runs. There was a lot of other women who for whatever reason found that this was not their day, did not get into their flow and did not have the opportunity to showcase anywhere near what they were capable off and that was a shame. A real shame. Competition is tough.

Adriene Flying with massive moves in the prelims
(photo by Dave Wortley)

However luckily for 10 of us. We had a second chance. We did make the semi final cut and we would have the chance to paddle again.

Jezs C1 Prelims

Striaght after the ladies semi's it was Jez's chance to paddle again. This time it was the C1 prelims. Jezs strongest event. He set off strong with an awesome start to his runs but just couldn't get his bigger moves to work. Despite some great rides he once again just missed the semi finals cut. It was amazing to watch him paddle and see how much he had progressed with his wave moves over the last year or so and especially given what he has been through over the last month. With a massive amount of support from the Australian team and friends and family from around the world he laughed and smiled the whole way through his runs showing how much fun it is just to be out here on the water surfing this incredible wave at this event.

All eyes on Jez in the C1
(photo by Dave Wortley)
Jez going for a massive Pan Am

 Great news now though is although he is out of paddling at the comp. He will now be able to focus all his energy onto announcing and will be sharing in every single athletes rides as he is part of the team that will announce the rest of the event including the finals. So although he's out of the event on the water he is still very much in the event on the mic.

Straight back into action representing
(photo by Philip Robert)

In his element on the mic
(Photo by Philip Robert)

Women's Semi Finals

Semi finals is a big round. 2 rides 1 count. No room for error its the big cut and last chance to get into finals.

So with the pressure on I decide a great way to start off would be to continue with my ride of choice for the event so far and flush!!! Luckily this time I did manage to shake it off and get things back together in my last and final ride and pull out 3 bigs tricks. Would it be enough?

Flying with a big right blunt
(photo by Dave Wortley)

Going into semi finals in 9th place meant I then had to watch the others compete to see if I had made the cut. My rides were again no where near what I wanted so I sat and cheered everyone on. I wanted to make the finals but more than that I wanted everyone to have some good rides and showcase what we could do.

As I watched and cheered I saw the pressure of the competition fire up and drive up some paddlers and for others become to much. Emily Jackson, Hitomi and Emily Wall really came into form but it wasn't to be for all the girls and some of the other top boaters didn't quite get into flow, or got the unlucky flushes and just missed the cut.

Emily Ward celebrates an awesome performance
securing her place in finals in the lead spot
(photo by Dave Wortley)

Somehow I made it through again this time in fourth with Katya in fifth.

In the other heats the standard remained crazy high. There was loads of excitement as Bren, Sophie all the Team GB junior boys (Hugo, Hugo and Charlie) made it into their respective finals events.

Sophie McPeak showing us how its done in the junior class
(photo by Mike McPeak)