My boating season never really ended last summer! I have been so fortunate as to paddle pretty much all winter! Here's why...

So last fall I got lucky (because none of you faster more talented ladies showed up for race day in Gore Canyon) and I won "Queen of Gore". The US Women's rafting team was there, too, and when I got home on Monday after an awesome weekend of kayaking, there was an email from the team captain in my inbox. They were traveling to Costa Rica in October for the Pre-World Championship and wanted me on the team. Unreal.

I had literally just told a group of ladies who have always rafted down Gore and have been scared to step it up in a kayak that, "I used to raft Gore until I started kayaking, and tell you what, it's violent in a raft. Kayaking is soooo much better - you should all kayak. Kayaking is the best. I would never go down the canyon again in a raft. That's just silly."

Kayaking is the best. But I was gonna have to take that last part back...

So we trained together for about 6 weeks, they taught we as much as they could about raft racing in that time, and we traveled to Costa Rica for the competition. Really quick back story...

The competition was hosted on the Pacuare by Rios Tropicales. I used to live in Costa Rica. For about a year and a half, over three different North American winters, I worked first as a raft guide and later (after I got better at kayaking) as a safety kayaker and photo boater for Rios Tropicales on primarily the Reventazon and the Pacuare rivers. Here's a vintage shot of me destroying some Germans in a 16' raft on the Reventazon back in '06.

Upper Bamboo, Reventazon, photo: Luis Ivan
Here are some fun shots and video clips from Pre-Worlds. All photo and video courtesy of Jordan Kurt-Mason.
The Brazilian Men's team wrapped at the top of a rapid.
Six Brazilians standing on a rock in a class IV rapid. Watch the video to see how they solve the problem...

Olman and a Czech dude wrestle a defenseless Boa.

Getting stoked for the downriver race!
Lining up against the Czech Republic, Venezuela and Costa Rica. Watch the start below
So Dan Piano and I (I am Dan's better half) had ironically been planning a trip back to Costa Rica, so he could meet all my friends and do some boating. We had already had the trip in the works long before I found out I was going there to race with the national team. I got home in October and finished planning our trip for the New Year. We only got to stay for a little over two weeks, but we got in some classic runs. I have to say that as much of an honor it was to paddle with the ladies in the raft at an international competition, I was really itching to get back in my kayak.

Here are some shots from our trip...
Mau looking dejected cuz the car broke down. Again. Don't worry we eventually got to the Naranjo
Scouting a rapid on the Naranjo

Relaxing, floating into Dos Montañas gorge, Pacuare River
Doña Auria makes THE BEST homemade ice cream, for sale at the top of Tres Equis put-in road to the Pacuare. My best buddy Tato and I are eating some.
Scouting Indigestion, Pascua section of the Reventazon - all about to be under water because of a massive dam project.
La Bestia, Chirripó River, photo: Mauricio Mora Lindo
More Chirripo, photo: MML

Dan and I in Aquiarres. We are very photogenic.
This man was totally unfazed by me asking to take a picture of his dog-in-a-sack. We were waiting in a line of traffic because of a massive landslide blocking the road. They cleared one lane and got traffic moving.

Starting back in February the team reunited, and began ready for Nationals in May. We are defending our national title on the Clackamas River in Oregon May 14th and 15th. Right now we are training on the water three days a week and pumping lots of iron.

After Nationals, I get the rest of the run-off to kayak. YEAH!

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