Monday, July 09, 2012

European Championships 2012 – Opening Ceremony

2012 GB Freestyle Kayaking Team
Training has been going really well. Despite the extremely fluctuating water levels I've managed to settle into a good routine of short, effective sessions intermixed with active rest. Lienz is an amazing venue for an event, ok the feature isn't great but the facilities around the feature are brilliant. Across the road from the river is an amazing outdoor swimming pool with slides, diving boards, massage jets, volleyball and football courts. There's perfectly level bike paths along the river and a lovely town with the best ice cream shop ever, all surrounded by one of the most impressive mountain ranges i've seen. So each day between sessions I would join Den and the rest of the European athletes playing football, mountain biking and cooling down in the pool. 

Active rest Lienz style
As the competition drew nearer I was feeling pretty happy in the hole. I was beginning to be able to throw all my main moves and some of my newer ones but I did have one major concern... the feature at Lienz is super feisty and had constantly been changing during training so my consistency rate on hitting my moves was really low. During training this wasn't a real problem but as we drew closer to the event it became more of a concern. I knew my base moves were solid (ish) my loop and my felix but the rest would just come and go for no particular reason! I wasn't the only paddler with this concern, it was the nature of the hole. But leading into a major international event not being 100% happy / confident the you can hit your run is definitely not ideal.

Claire O setting up for another big move
The event kicked off on Monday with our first official training slot. Every year at these major events the days directly before the event starts are set aside for official team training. Each team is designated a period of time exclusively for them to train. This year we (Team GB) have a 92 minute slot, 3 ½ mins per paddler! Luckily we have an afternoon slot so levels are good and the weathers nice too. I'm first in, in the first group with the Junior Men, Women and OC1's. Training goes really well and everyones paddling great.
Team Training Begins

Monday evening comes and we all head to the Lienz castle for the opening ceremony. It is one of the most beautiful opening ceremony venues I have ever seen. This quaint, traditional castle hosts several big music festivals and events through the year. 

Opening Ceremony at the Castle

Tonight the 2012 European Freestyle Kayaking Championships is officially opened here. There are loads of speeches and free beer. I am invited up on stage to say a few words of thanks on behalf of all the athletes. Then the entertainment begins. The entertainment is brilliant, 4 local musicians play a set by drumming on two old kayaks. Its awesome and a perfect launch for the event. Its also great having my mum and her friend Carol here supporting me.

Who would have though it ... freestyle kayak drums
GB Girls
Me and Mum at the castle
The next day its team training again this time in the midday heat. Then we have a lovely team meal in town. Hippy Dave (GB Team Manger) gives us a motivational speech and then its an early night as tomorrow we compete.

Loving Lienz