Last week the British slalom team headed to Prague, Czech Republic in preparation for the upcoming European Championships taking place there 1st-3rd June. C1M paddler (and team coffee connoisseur) shares his experience…
This was a ‘business as usual’ style training camp for us. Flying in on the Sunday to settle into our Hotel (the ‘Excellent’ by name and nature!), training Monday – Friday, and then flying home Friday evening. We’ve done these in the past as there’s a real quality about it. We operate as close to we do at home in Lee Valley as possible with the same coaching groups, same ‘core’ training sessions, and white water available twice a day.
I left my gym training for the Saturdays either side of this camp so I could prioritise the water time out there. It’s good to get familiar with the intricacies of the water early so on returning next week to race I can just focus on staying sharp! I took one afternoon off to ease the load and keep quality high but otherwise, as it always goes in Prague, there was A LOT of paddling!
The course out there is perfect for ‘repeats’ style training (my favourite!) The obstacles are offset which makes it possible to ‘eddy hop’ your way back up the majority of it. I find it really interesting here that despite the channel being dead straight (I always think ‘tunnel’) these offset obstacles create powerful diagonal flows – very easy to get caught out on when the course designers set long stagger sequences! I spent the majority of my time doing repeats to learn as much about every feature as possible, and also ticking off the ‘classic’ Prague moves which may be set on race day.
As part of our core training plan, we all do full runs on a Wednesday morning. There were a couple of extra challenges to the normal routine this week though… With around 100 gates hung over the river it’s extremely difficult to remember what course was set by our coaches. I felt like could’ve done with some Sat-Nav assistance:
“…at the next stopper turn left… now turn right… you have capsized, recalculating route… when possible make a u-turn…”
It was also the coldest morning of the week, but I was feeling pretty smug to have flown out my new prototype ST so I could stay warm whilst still staying close to the poles!
Prague features on the international slalom calendar almost every year so I’ve seen the main tourist attractions before (the Astronomical Clock is worth checking out!) This time, with my afternoon off I decided to take a solo trip to explore and also try to be guided by locals rather than the internet. With that in mind I started at a coffee shop I’ve visited before ‘I Need Coffee!’ (That’s the name of the shop, but funnily enough it was also true) and took advice from the barista for where to start. I ended up at two art exhibitions, saw a really cool tree (don’t believe me see the picture), had more good coffee (‘Dos Mundos’ for any speciality coffee enthusiasts out there), treated myself to an ice cream, and also stumbled across a Tibetan ‘open house’ which was very cool!