For the last couple months I have been working towards the European Canoe Slalom Championships. The two very last Olympic spots where available here and many national selections were fought for at this race. This meant it was a big one for most of us as Olympic dreams got realized and shattered!
For me this was my very first European Championship slalom, and never in my life before, I had focused on an event so much as this one …
Two years ago when I started slalom, people asked me if I had ambition to go to the Rio Olympics. I was laughed, thinking there was no way this would be possible in two years – the Olympic selections were held last September at the World Championships in London. I had a good race and I just missed out on the semi-finals and an Olympic spot by 0.49 seconds (including a two second penalty). As the Olympics weren’t yet my goal, I wasn’t upset about the race and was pretty content with my paddling.
Then I found out that there was another chance to qualify. One more women's spot was available for Europe, to be fought for at the Europeans 2016. I didn't seriously consider myself as a contender for this spot, until the very last weeks before the European Championships.
The small town of Liptovsky Mikulas held a stellar show! The town was swamped by the best slalom paddlers from all over Europe. The town's people shared the same excitement for this event as the athletes and coaches themselves.
Temperatures where still pretty fresh (it was the start of May) in this picturesque town surrounded by snow topped mountains. I enjoyed my time heaps training in this place. The course is Liptovsky is fast, narrow and unpredictable, with a tough drop in the middle section that can unravel a run in moments.
In qualifications I had a solid run with a couple of little mistakes but enough to advance through to the next round in 16th place. There were five countries fighting for the last K1 women Olympic spot. Only Viktoriia Us from Ukraine and I advanced to the next round and were still in the running.
In the semi-finals I started off with a good run. I had a wicked feeling on the water during the run! There were still some little mistakes here and there, but it felt good as the boat kept running most of the way.
In my second split time I was five seconds off the winning time! And I had a sick bottom run ... in the second to last gate I had a sixteen seconds lead on my competition from Ukraine. But the race isn’t over until you cross the finish line! :D
I made a massive mistake in the very last gate of the race-course, which was a massive time lost. I don’t know what happened in that last gate, but it felt like my whole body just shut down. It was super cold that morning and I only wore a neoprene thermal top. Just before my roll I felt a kind of despair as my brain and whole body was frozen and I did not had any control over my ligaments. I am not sure if I was fatigue, cold, or if I just choked as I thought I just had won myself a ticket to the Olympics ;).
Surprisingly after the race I wasn’t gutted at all. I was stoked with my performance and the feeling I had on the water. I feel like I have come a long way in two years! I do not feel like I lost something, I almost feel like I gained something. I’ve shown that I’m capable of preforming a decent run, and that on the very last moment I had a realistic shot in getting that Olympic spot. I never have been proud of any sports results or achievements but I was kinda proud with my performance in this race! It has been pretty cool not having a coach or national support and just doing it all by myself :) Of course I have had wicked training partners and been helped out and supported heaps by friends, which I am very graceful of! Thank you!
Anyways I had a super good time out there and enjoyed hanging out with all the rad people! I will be drinking a couple Caiparinas while watching and cheering everybody on who made it to Rio!
The upcoming three weeks I have three more slalom World Cup races in Italy, Spain and France, but I can’t wait to jump back in my Dagger Mamba and run some sick natural rivers! :D. See you on the ‘Rio’! Keep living the dream y'all!