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Why Superbowl of Kayaking?

You could see it on their faces. Confidence. Determination. The world's best athletes came to win. Jacub Nemec wins the bronze medal.

It was the media.  A zip line camera with gyro was filming a 200 m up and down the river span. Reporters lobbied for position on the loose banks nestled into boulder pockets.  Shooting for Colorado Kayak Supply I shared a rock with a filmer for Outside Mag.  Athletes were getting media attention and there was security.  It’s a big event for kayaking.

Homestake Creek as an Extreme Course

Respected paddler Tao Berman's subbed craft with paddle poised for balance and stroke illustrates the high-speed tight lines.

It’s tight in there most use the word “manky.”  Add to that a high brown flow and the lines were pushy.  The mank part adds up to a kayaker pinball effect on tight side-to-side lines. Plus there are shallow hard to see momentum killing rocks.  With continual gradient plus good flow in a two-minute adrenalin surge you can expect lots of crashing.  It was high-speed. High-action.

Seventeen year old Dane Jackson plants a stroke at the lip on the upper section.

Leap of Faith Finish

It takes a perfect run. Co-Champ Honza Lasko (CZE) accelerates through the crux rapid while others subbed, pitoned, and flipped. Dawson has been titled by the world's most extreme kayaker's as BAMF.

Navigating a wall with a cross current when lactic is one of the hardest moves for a kayaker. First rate pro-kayaker Rush Sturges' craft gets slowed as he hip checks the wall.

Sport Ambassador Clay Wright commentates live as racers cruise, crash, flip, and sprint for gold.

Clay Wright with a white sunscreen nose, a USA Kayak Team PFD, blue Teva shoes seen everywhere repping the event, and mic in hand interchanges announcing with top of course announcer Dan Gavere.  Wright announces the exciting section of course and spectators lining the highway can feel it in his voice as athletes crash and burn just below his perch rock.

Adriene Levnecht has just completed her second run and I’m listening to Wright on his radio.

Wright pulls the remote radio from his PFD to his mouth, “Maybe give some times (of the other women) cause if I’m not mistaken Adriene just destroyed the field.”

The radio returns, “Adrienne 3:55.67.  (Nikki) Kelly 4:12.  (Martina) Wegman 4:12.”  Wright answers, “I thought so.  It would be cool if Adriene’s times are up there with the men’s.  It looks like she had two solid runs.”

Adriene Levknecht Dominates 2011 Teva Mountain Games Steep Creek Race.

Levknecht charges below one drop and above the next horizon.

Teva Mountain Games Goals

Coming into this year’s event the Southeast USA Green River Race Champ was nervous. Levknecht states, “I was worried about my shape.  Tanya (Faux) and Nikki have this thing where they can block out pain that makes them invincible in the heat of competition.  I wanted to be acclimated, to have confidence, and not be lactic by the time I reached Leap of Faith.”

The World's best kayaker's often lost speed subbing or hip checking a wall at Leap of Faith.

To prep Levnecht arrived to Colorado a week early and posted 12 runs on Homestake over a three-day period.  She expressed the need to win to pay off her new Yetti 575 Mountain Bike… “Winning the race would be golden.”

Extreme Strategy

Focus and staying calm were crucial to the athlete’s consistency.  “If I think about my race, hitting my lines versus what the other women’s runs are then that works for me.  Cause if I have a clean race then I can be content.  I can’t control what they do on the course.”

Aussie Tanya Faux is focused. Determined. Homestake is extreme with no room for error.

“How does it feel besting the field by 17 seconds?”

A big smile appears on the 22 year olds face as she turns and looks nodding with her eyes, “Awesome.”  Then just as fast she quits thinking about her great moment and decides to talk about her peers, “Nikki and Tanya and Martina… I’ve always looked up to them and I still do.  I was so stoked to be up there with the boys.”

Dane Jackson goes to battle maintaining balance in the crux "Leap of Faith."

What’s next?

Levknecht throws her hands in the air and half-shouts, “Walt Disney!  That would be cool.  Ohh… I’m actually taking classes full time to become a Paramedic.   This fall I’ll train for the Triple Crown:  Gauley, Russell Fork, and the Green.  Honestly.  I’m happy where I am.  I have a great boyfriend, supportive family, and a tight crew to paddle with.”

World’s Most Expensive Stickers

I wrote Liquid Logic partner and asked, “Shane (Benedict) I’m trying to write compelling kayak stories that express the kayaker’s character.  You got anything?”

Shane replied,

Stories: Adriene is always a story. How about a story just about her socks? Or about how hard we worked to get her a fucking sticker.

Ross Herr raising money for first descents.

John Grace is getting married so I guess kayaking is over for him.

Tommy Hilleke has a basketball team of kids now and is still giving it hard. A day in the life of Tommy would be rediculous.

“Get Adriene Some Stickers!”

Note- This is a behind the scenes, the reality of small kayak companies trying to do what they love, entertaining short.

Liquid Logic realizes the media potential in having a champ at Teva Mountain Games.  And that’s hard to come by for grass roots companies.  Stomper (LL’s new boat) stickers  were overnighted to Colorado Kayak Supply in Buena Vista.  The PaddleFest weekend Levknecht continually felt she was pestering, “Did my stickers come yet?  Are they here yet?”  Monday arrives and Levknecht is stickerless  and must get to Vail to train.

“Shane’s at the farm with Betsy not reachable by cell.”  Levknecht’s volume rises.  She admittedly has a VCD (Volume Control Deficiency).  I ask, “Sounds like you’re talking about a cow… I’ve seen photos of Betsy. You better explain.”  “OH… Yea…  She’s a hot momma.”  “OK… That’ll do.”  Levknecht continues, “Shane’s unreachable. The stickers arrive to CKS on Tuesday after I’m gone to Vail.  Shane calls, I’ve called 9 times, and he asks if I got the stickers.  So Hailey Mills couriers the stickers to Vail.”

$20 Stickers + Overnight Asheville to BV $40 + Mills Courier Service (Dinner in Vail $20-$220 Vail prices) = Stomper Media Exposure in World’s Biggest Extreme Covered Event

Adriene’s Kayak Recommendations:

Liquid Logic Freeride- “My mom has been in a Remix and now she wants to start surfing in a Freeride cause it’s easy and comfortable.  It’s fast and is a greet cross over for river running and surfing glassy waves.”

Liquid Logic Stomp… coming in August-  The Stomp will be released this August.  Toby McDermott, Ross Herr, John Grace, Woody Calloway, and myself under Shane Benedict’s direction designed it.  Dude!  It’s sick.  That’s all I’ve got to say.  Flat hull.  80 and 90 gallons.  It’s fast freaking fast. “

Click for Teva Mountain Games Steep Creek Results

Related Stomper Articles:

Teva Mountain Games Freestyle Controversy- Dane and EJ Openly Discuss Rides.

Stomper designer shares Guru secrets and talks about musical.

What happens when you cross slalom paddler with Demshitz?  Meet Isaac Levinson.

 

Did you enjoy this blog?  You might also enjoy, “Who is Johnnie Kayaker?”

When you need the best equipment… Choose CKS.

By David Hughes

CKS Content Media Specialist

Owner- Pucon Kayak Hostel, your economical Chile destination with beds, kayak rentals, and beginner to advanced rivers.  “Keep Kayaking.”

Director- Huge Experiences’ New River Academy, “And that has made all the difference.”

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