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Reflection: The Northwest Creeking Competition

Posted: 05.06.2014

The Northwest Creeking Competition is an annual two-day gathering of paddlers from all over the Northwest, offering them a chance to test their speed and skill navigating Class IV/V whitewater on the East Fork of the Lewis and Canyon Creek.

 

This year was the NWCC’s 9th consecutive year, featuring the classic Downriver and Mass Start Kayak Races (long and short) that we know so well, as well as a new “Team” race in which two paddlers negotiate the course together, with the time stopping as soon as the stern of the last racer crosses the finish line. As always, there were Raft Mass Start, as well as R2 raft races, and an IK invitational “huckfest”. Each and every year I look forward to this community event, and while I was unable to race due to my shoulder, I was fortunate enough to help organize the event and hand out some fancy awards.

This year, we had over 150 racers on each course- a new record- with representation from B.C., WA, OR, MT, CA, ID, and the East Coast. Saturday’s events started with the mass-start raft and kayak races, from Sunset Falls to below the Gorge, finishing promptly at the Copper Creek Stairs.

In the mass-start kayak, the Serrasoles brothers got an early lead over Sunset Falls with Gerd coming away with the win, followed quickly by Aniol and lady-shredder Sandra Hyslap!

Team and individual downriver races started soon thereafter, with Isaac Levinson and Katrina Van Wijk taking the Pro short boat titles with clean lines and fast times, despite low water. As always, Next Adventure provided athletes and volunteers with a prime-rib and roasted vegetable BBQ, and classed it up with a raffle for the record-books! Highlight of the evening was a throw-rope stuffing duel for a new Sweet Protection drysuit! There is still debate as to what a properly stuffed throw-bag is in this case….

Sunday broke sunny and warm as racers made the transition from the low-water East Fork of the Lewis to low-water Canyon Creek. At typical flows, Canyon Creek is a mecca of cute boofs, and fun boogie with a handful of waterfalls throughout the run. However, at low-water it is a racer’s nightmare with rocky shelves and F*** you rocks abound. Isaac Levinson cleaned up for the weekend with another win in the Men’s Pro category, while stout Sandra Hyslap showed her athleticism, pulling away from Katrina Van Wijk and taking the win! From what I hear there were over 150 racers on Canyon Creek alone, offering spectators a skittle rainbow in every eddy.

Final Results and 2014 photos can be found on the NW Creeking Competition Website:

http://northwestcreekcomp.blogspot.com

Be sure to stay tuned through the winter for updates on the 2015 Northwest Creeking Competition!

Kim Russell

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My Year in a Nutshell

Posted: 07.15.2014

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Sometimes shoulder rehabilitation goes well, while other times it's completely and utterly depressing, and feels like you've fallen off the face of the Earth. Maybe not completely, but mostly…

Fast forward six months from shoulder surgery, and I had the range of motion I should have had at two months. I couldn't kayak, I couldn't lift weights… I couldn't do a whole lot but crochet, ski and bike. In the attempt to keep a level head, I shook off my chicken wing status and made some adventure-epics happen.

Despite a late start to the season, I bagged Mt. St. Helens, gorilla-style (pole-less), and later in the spring Mt. Washington and Broken Top.

Hunting for easter eggs on Mt. Washington (Photo: Lizzie Rubado)

St. Helens (Photo: Jo Kemper)

When spring arrived and I couldn't race kayaks, I decided to race pedal bikes- go figure (Only of course once an elbow pad would stay up on my right arm)! Turns out it's super fun and the shred lingo is very interchangeable…

Boofing midway down Thrillium in stop #3 of the Oregon Enduro Series (Photo: Peter Foley)

A little 450 action after work (IG: kimannbecker)

Amidst the chaos, I decided to switch surgeons. I was immediately given the "big guns": two doses of Prednisone and three cortisone shots over a period of four weeks, with the goal of loosening up the joint capsule, and regaining range of motion. If I was ever to regain my motion without a second surgery, it was now. Fingers Crossed!

Tuesday Night Races on the White Salmon (Photo: LJ Groth)

Turns out the drugs worked, and I gained enough motion to comfortably paddle. What's more… with luck on my side, I hit my first combat roll in June, and shook some scar tissue loose. Enough to regain most of my range of motion, and push forward in my rehab.

Being stubborn is sometimes a good thing, as I rallied the Wind later that week, and the Truss the following. Turns out I can still boof-stomp...paddling is just like riding a bike, I guess.

Boofing below Bob's (Photo: Nicole Mansfield)

After a rough recovery, it's official: I'm back!

I'm thankful for all the support of friends and family during a physically and emotionally ridiculously hard time, as well as the support of my sponsors for understanding that shit happens, and bodies heal. I'm stoked as ever to get back on the water regularly, and rally with the family.

 

Follow my adventures here:

www.facebook.com/kimannbecker

Instagram: kimannrussell

See you on the river,

Kim Russell

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My AT Paddle of Choice

Posted: 10.07.2014

As a smaller paddler with a history of elbow tendonitis, I need a high performance paddle that doesn't beat up my elbows or shoulders: the AT2 Flexi. The shaft is just “flexi” enough to give my joints some cushion, yet durable enough to take whatever I can throw at it.

The AT2 Flexi consists of foam-core carbon blades, and a unibody shaft of carbon and fiberglass. This combination makes for a strong, durable, yet lightweight paddle. It has consistent flex throughout the paddle stroke is reliable in hard whitewater.

The foam-core blades allow for lightweight buoyancy, meaning easier bracing, and rolling as the blade rises to the surface on its own. The blade is thicker and more forgiving, allowing it to be moved through the water with ease. This translates into a smooth paddle stroke, and a more efficient paddling technique.

Each blade is reinforced with Dynell edging along the perimeter of the paddle blade, preventing your blade from wearing down prematurely, getting hairline cracks, or chips.

The full control grip is easy on the hands, and puts my wrists in a neutral position.

All in all, the AT2 Flexi is a very comfortable paddle. It’s lightweight, strong and durable, with the slightest bit of flex in the shaft. Whether your looking for a paddle that doesn’t add to the wear and tear on your joints, or are looking for that happy medium between a fiberglass and full carbon paddle, the AT2 Flexi is for you!

See you on the river,

Kim Russell

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