Having not quite achieved what I aimed for as a junior, I was excited to push harder but also apprehensive for how the feature would be.
Once on site, my first session was an interesting one - mainly being power flipped and sucked into a lot, in a feature that looks like nothing from the bank. However, after taking the time to learn to position and set up, before working out where the sweet spot was, I was soon able to start throwing aerial moves. The feature surprisingly has a lot of resemblance to flat water, making some moves a little harder.
As training days went on, I was having a blast - loops, spaces, some McNastys, even going for lunar orbits! It was super hot and with no shade at the campsite, kayaking even had the extra benefit of cooling down! As we continued to train on the river right channel, slalom paddlers also trained for their competition in the other channel.
Team trainings soon were upon us, along with a tender atmosphere and the knowledge of how close the competition was. This seemed to zap my fun of paddling and ended up going for morning/evening sessions to just go kayaking. Although I know to practice my run, doing the same moves, often which are pretty reliable, seems a bit of a drag - so I made sure mcnastys, lunars and party surfs were regular!
Soon it was time for the opening ceremony of the Freestyle and Junior & U23 Slalom over in Bratislava. It was an interesting one for sure. Almost certainly more acceptable than the last opening ceremony in Slovakia, but also still questionable, with dancers not leaving much to the audiences imagination. Back on site, I had a day off while the C1, Men K1 and Junior Women K1 had their heats.
On Friday it was my turn. I was third paddler in the last heat at 11:30am so spent the morning chilling out, stretching and hiding in limited shade. Dropping down I knew there were no expectations, although I was aiming to make semi finals. Having worked with Adam in the days leading up, I was pumped and just happy to be out there having fun, switching up my ride and keeping it flexible. Despite my (out of time) lunar, I managed to bag 8th place going into semi finals!! I was stoked - my first senior international having been selected for Team GB and I was in semi finals!!
Saturday morning ended up being much the same - I was third paddler in the 11:30am heat (first semi final heat as in reverse order). Having heard all out Junior Men has made finals, I was excited and was happy to just be going out there to show what I could do. My rides were good and although dropped scores on a few moves I scored my first lunar!!!! Buzzing, I was happy to finish 7th and it was straight to the lake for a swim!
Despite the feature not being the most ideal, it was a good challenge and the event was run smoothly. It was really fun to catch up with everyone and stoked with the results! Well done to Tomasz and Anne for taking the victories alongside juniors Tom and Ottie.