Home from the European's with mixed emotions, but the 2017 international season is underway and there's a lot to be excited about!
As mentioned in my previous post, I've never actually qualified for the Senior Europeans Semi-final before, despite some awesome paddling, usually one small mistake had massive consequences that knocked me out in heats! So we went to Tacen with putting that right (and dreaming of more!) firmly in mind.
Charging hard in heats!
Heats wasn't without drama once again! I ended up almost backwards down the famous first drop after being slightly offline at gate 1. Despite a good effort to make up the lost time on the rest of the course the quality of the field was too high and I found myself outside of a qualifying position and into the 'pressure cooker' 2nd heat run, where only 5 of the remaining boats qualify!
It's an interesting place to be... There's often some good boats who miss out on first runs making the 2nd heats extremely competitive, especially with only 5 progressing. When you're warming up there's definitely an element of looking around seeing who else is in this position with you an you're thinking "they're really good, they're good too... and so on!" I was just telling myself that everybody else was looking at me and thinking the same, dreading the though of competing against me!
Focused, excited, in my happy place on the start-line. My stage!
Again I didn't get the move on the first drop right, taking a big 2 second penalty on the first upstream as I took out both poles with my boat and paddle. From then on I had to disciplined and trust my pace and the plan to deliver the rest of the run. I got the job done and qualified through in 5th place.. phew!
With the PB taken care of, I had my eyes on bigger things! I knew if I made the top ten final I could be competitive with anybody on that stage. Unfortunately, semi-finals wasn't my day. Despite showing good pace, and much better paddling than in heats. I also picked up 3 2-second penalties! 2 hard to spot brushes on the top half, a little out of character for me to pick up clumsy ones like that! and then the 3rd was at the end of the course, I was feeling tired and was relying on a wave to 'pick me up' and do some of the work for me but I was rejected and sent crashing through the outside pole of the penultimate gate.
Showing off my rotation and my best pout!
Clean would've put me through to the final in 5th. I could even have absorbed 1 2-second penalty and qualified in 10th but unfortunately no more than that!
I'll clean up my act again in time for the World Championships in September. Clean runs is very much what shaped my 2015 and 2016 seasons so I have that discipline in my locker and I'll find it again. I feel like the missed water time over the winter because of my shoulder just leaves me a little less aware of my boat/body/paddle in space. Fortunately I'm fit and well again now (touch wood) so there's plenty of time for me to boost up that paddling volume again and find that comfort around the poles! On to the next one in Prague next week!
VIDEO from heats and semi-final can be found on my Facebook page